Explosive Jackets pour it on Cavs

The forecast at Scott Stadium called for heavy Nesbitt, along with increasing Dwyer, followed by occasional Thomas and intermittent Allen.

After three weeks of feasting on impotent offenses, Virginia was soaked by a Georgia Tech attack every bit as relentless as Saturday's rains.

The Yellow Jackets' ground-chewing, clock-eating option drenched Virginia with big plays and seeped into every crack the Cavaliers provided.

Georgia Tech's 34-9 victory seemed appropriate, given its statistical dominance and the Cavs' inconsistency on both sides of the ball.

The primary numbers: 42 minutes, 43 seconds of possession time; 362 yards rushing; 79 plays to Virginia's 44.

Shoot, given those numbers, it's a wonder the Cavaliers were in the game at all — which they very much were until early in the fourth quarter.

"Too many explosive plays," Virginia defensive end Zane Parr said. "It was a lot of cut blocks, getting the (defensive) guys on the ground. It was hard for us to get to the ball when too many guys were on the ground. It was people missing tackles. They ran real hard, and their line did what they needed to do, and we didn't make enough plays out there."

Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer did their usual damage for the nation's No. 2 rushing offense, and monster wide receiver Demaryius Thomas provided a glimpse of his high-wire act on one scoring drive.

"Dwyer and Nesbitt and Thomas are clearly the engine that drives that train," Virginia head coach Al Groh said, "and they're a powerful engine. They do a great job. We understood, throughout the organization, that it would be critical to not let those guys have the best of days."

Saturday's wild card was underrated running back Anthony Allen, who rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. It says something about Allen, and about the Yellow Jackets' offense, that he's usually Plan C, yet he's still in the ACC's top 10 in rushing and averages better than 10 yards per carry.

"He made himself hard to tackle today," Groh said. "We've seen in his limited opportunities that he's a big player. He's out there on those smaller defensive backs at 230 pounds, and we didn't do a good enough job on him, obviously."

One peculiar benefit to Georgia Tech's offense is that it stresses opposing offenses, as well as defenses.

During their five-game winning streak, the Yellow Jackets have held the ball for an average of 38 minutes per game. Twice this season, they have had the ball for more than 42 minutes. Fewer possessions translate to greater pressure to produce.

"There have been some teams that have had fairly productive offensive games, relative to the time of possession that they had," Groh said. "They just didn't have it long enough to score enough points. We were hopeful to avoid that circumstance today, but did not accomplish it."

Indeed, last season when the Cavaliers upset Georgia Tech 24-17 in Atlanta, they had an 81/2-minute advantage in time of possession and slowed the Yellow Jackets' option just enough in their first year under coach Paul Johnson.

One-plus year into the system, the improvement shows, particularly in Nesbitt. He rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, and made good decisions after an uneven first quarter.

The Yellow Jackets' opening drive of the second half embodied their keep-away mentality: an 82-yard touchdown drive that took up 10:47 and expanded the lead to 20-6. They would hold the ball for almost 23 minutes of the second half.

"I don't really think it affected us at all," Virginia nose tackle Nate Collins said of the disparity in possession time. "It's assignment football, and when we weren't in the right spots, that's when they made big plays, and that's what their team's good at."

And where Georgia Tech converted red-zone opportunities into touchdowns, Virginia settled for field goals. A first-and-goal at the Jackets' 2-yard line in the first half and first-and-goal at the 6 in the second half resulted in a pair of Robert Randolph field goals.

The Cavaliers pointed to those missed opportunities, as well as to a 15-yard personal foul after they had stopped the Jackets early in the fourth quarter and were within 20-9. Tech went on to score touchdowns on its next two possessions.

"Everyone was real intense," Virginia linebacker Denzel Burrell said.

"Everybody kept telling everybody else, 'Play like a pack of crazed dogs. Keep running to the ball, keep doing something and something good'll happen.' Unfortunately, not enough good things happened today."

Georgia Tech made certain of that.

Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at For more from Fairbank, read his blog at