Georgia Tech

Yellow Jackets face Bronco-busting run defense

Georgia Tech running back KirVonte Benson (30) fumbles as he is brought down by Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph (34) in their game Oct. 28 in Clemson, South Carolina. Saturday’s Tech opponent, Virginia, offers another tough test for the Yellow Jackets option offense.
Georgia Tech running back KirVonte Benson (30) fumbles as he is brought down by Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph (34) in their game Oct. 28 in Clemson, South Carolina. Saturday’s Tech opponent, Virginia, offers another tough test for the Yellow Jackets option offense. AP

Virginia doesn’t have the best defense that Georgia Tech will face this year. But when it comes to defending the option, the Cavaliers are among the best. Unlike some opponents who seem paralyzed or overwhelmed by the task, coach Bronco Mendenhall embraces it.

“It requires a lot of off-season work and a lifetime of lessons,” Mendenhall said. “Recent history has said we’ve done a pretty good job with that, but in any given week you can learn and be humbled and that hopefully provides growth.”

Last season was Mendenhall’s first at Virginia. The Cavs limited Georgia Tech to 191 yards rushing and 2-for-10 on third-down conversions. But three of Georgia Tech’s touchdowns came on plays that went at least 50 yards.

Mendenhall spent 11 seasons at Brigham Young before moving on to Virginia. His Cougars played Georgia Tech twice and won both meetings. In 2012, BYU limited Georgia Tech to 117 yards on the ground in a 41-17 win in Atlanta. In 2013, BYU allowed Georgia Tech to rush for only 189 yards and beat the Yellow Jackets 38-20 in Provo, Utah.

In three games against Georgia Tech’s option, Mendenhall’s teams have allowed an average of 165.5 yards rushing.

“The first time I defended an option team, it was humiliating and embarrassing and just enlightening,” Mendenhall said. “I didn’t know what it was, how to defend it or what to do to help my team, and I have spent a long time studying and trying to prepare as best as possible to give our team the best chance.”

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is aware that Mendenhall’s teams have historically done a better job than most against his option attack.

“He does a good job coaching,” Johnson said. “They played us very well defensively here a year ago. We hit them with some big plays, but all in all, defensively they played really well. I’m sure it will be a tough, hard-fought game, and the kids on the field will decide who executes the best. We’ll both have a plan. He’ll have a plan, we’ll have a plan. That’s the way it works.”

Georgia Tech is coming off a 198-yard rushing performance against Clemson and averages 347.9 yards rushing, fourth-best in the country.

Marshall to return for 2018: Andrew Marshall said he will return for another season. The veteran tackle has been out all year with a knee injury. Marshall, a senior, will opt to use his final season of eligibility, even though he will graduate.

Virginia Tech kickoff: The ACC’s television partners have exercised the six-day hold for the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech on Nov. 11. The game time will be announced Sunday.

Baseball series scheduled: The annual White vs. Gold World Series intrasquad baseball series has been set. Games will be 5 p.m. Nov. 10, 1 p.m. Nov. 12 and 4 p.m. Nov. 17.

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