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North Carolina

UNC to see more than just option against GT

Posted September 17, 2013

Vad Lee (2) runs with the ball during the University of North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech NCAA football game, Saturday, November 10, 2012 in Chapel Hill, NC.

— Coaches, fans and media are apt to mischaracterize Paul Johnson’s offense with a triple option label. As Georgia Tech showcased in its 38-14 win over Duke on Saturday, however, Johnson’s scheme is much more diverse.

When Johnson first arrived in Atlanta, he often dismissed the notion that his offense was a strict triple option.
“That would be like saying a multiple-I formation team runs the ‘dive play’ or off tackle play,’” Johnson said in 2008.

UNC associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning half-jokingly pointed to 100 different formations that Johnson has run over the years. The option is a central component, although it could be the trap, counter, G, load, lead, arc, double or triple options, to name a few.

“We can go back 6-8-10 years with Paul and they’ve really only changed a couple of things,” Koenning said last week. “They’ve got a lot of offense and he’s the guru king daddy of it… You don’t exactly the scheme you’re going to get because he’s got so many little wrinkles but you know you’re going to get the option.”

Last November, Georgia Tech posted 68 points – the most-ever scored at Kenan Stadium – and rolled up 588 total yards of offense in its 18-point win over UNC.

The Tar Heels spent its bye week last week preparing for the Yellow Jackets only to watch a new scheme unfold against the Blue Devils.

According to UNC head coach Larry Fedora, Georgia Tech set up in a diamond formation – a pistol set with three running backs on both sides and behind the quarterback – “probably 50 percent of the time” in churning out 469 total yards of offense.

Red-shirt sophomore quarterback Vad Lee completed 8-of-16 passes for 125 yards, four touchdowns and an interception while also rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown.

“You’ve been working on everything for the triple option and now you have to slow down a little bit and go back and make sure you cover the new offense that they’re running also,” Fedora said. “I think Vad Lee enables them to do both. That’s the tough thing about him.”

Senior defensive tackle Tim Jackson, who missed last season’s game due to a knee injury, isn’t convinced that UNC will see a new-look offense this weekend in Atlanta.

“I feel like they did it just because they could, honestly,” Jackson said of Georgia Tech’s scheme against Duke. “They actually came out in another formation – a pistol set, full house diamond formation, whatever you want to call it. Another wrinkle for you to prepare for. I’m not sure if they’re even going to run that against us, but it just gives you another reason to prepare for them, another 30 minutes you have to spend watching film for a different formation.”

The key to limiting the Yellow Jackets’ offense is to limit their third down conversion rate, according to Koenning. In 2012, Georgia Tech converted 56.1 percent of its third downs in its seven wins, but only managed a 35.1 conversion rate in its seven losses.

The Yellow Jackets have converted 57.1 percent of its third downs (36-of-63) in four consecutive wins over North Carolina, including a 9-of-15 mark last season. Georgia Tech has also hit on 75.0 percent of its fourth down attempts (3-of-4) against UNC during that winning streak.

The fundamentals in defending the option haven’t changed. It’s still assignment football with a discipline requirement attached.

“One thing I’ve learned about Georgia Tech’s offense over the years is they do well adjusting mid-drive,’ Jackson said. “They’ll find out what a guy is doing, they’ll find out if he’s undisciplined in his job and then attack him.

“Every play they’re reading somebody different. So one play they might be reading me and what I do. Next play they might be reading a defensive end. Next play they might be reading a safety to see if he comes up so they can throw the ball. So you have to do your job every play.”

Lee’s arm may allow Johnson increased flexibility in his play calling, but the foundation of his offense remains intact. The Tar Heels failed to win 1-on-1 battles in space last season and the only thing that ultimately stopped the Yellow Jackets was the game clock.

There is optimism around the Kenan Football Center, however, that UNC’s defense is better suited to stop Johnson’s multi-dimensional offense this season.

“We’ll try to play fast and hard,” Koenning said. “The last two weeks we’ve really played harder than we did at any time last year, so hopefully we’ll continue to do that.”

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5 Comments

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  • Dudeanonymous Sep 20, 7:59 a.m.

    One things you can count on with a Paul Johnson team... cut blocking and lots of it. I love the way Colin Dunlap describes the cut block scheme... "gutless and lily-livered method of slowing down a defender". Read more in link below. It's a good read if you hate the cut block as much as I do.

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/09/11/colin-dunlap-cut-blocking-seems-a-cowardly-approach/

  • Tar Heels Victory-Show No Mercer Sep 18, 10:14 a.m.

    Paul Johnson rung em up for 68 and they still tried to claim they were Coastal Division... View More

    — Posted by 903 PJ suspended til NCAA clears

    38-14 got you down? LOL! GT will NOT score more than 30 points this Saturday!

    GO HEELS!!!!!

  • 903 PJ suspended til NCAA clears Sep 18, 7:30 a.m.

    Paul Johnson rung em up for 68 and they still tried to claim they were Coastal Division champions.

    Look for Paul to ring them up for more than 68 this time...

  • weaklings report Sep 17, 11:56 p.m.

    once again, i ask...what has the unc defense shown this year that makes anyone think they are better prepared to handle the gatech offense? they rank near the bottom of the league in rush defense AND rush offense..the weak rush d creates the obvious problem, and the weak rush offense means not enough ball control to keep the gatech offense off the field...no Gio has meant a lot less efficient offense for unc, which is a bad combo for winning in atlanta

  • uncsuckz Sep 17, 11:54 p.m.

    What's long and hard on a unc fball player? First grade.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
Final
CHI 103
NYK 97
Final
HOU 90
NOP 99
4th
SAC 83
MIL 83
 
Half
GSW 65
OKC 63
 
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
Final
SD 55
MNTST 53
 
Final
UAB 70
LSU 79
Final
EVAN 81
OHIO 69
 
Final
CSFU 72
CSDH 50
 
2nd
ORST 85
DEP 53
 
2nd
PAC 55
NEV 53
 
Final
USF 77
PORST 40
 
2nd
IDAHO 75
WALLA 31
 
2nd
UTST 44
CALST 33
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 5
Final
MON 1
ANA 2
2nd
SJS 2
EDM 3
 
2nd
LOS 2
STL 3
 
Final
JAC 21
TEN 13