When Florida State has the ball
Seminoles sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston hasn’t been at the top of his game recently, but he’s still 25-0 as a starter in his one-plus seasons in Tallahassee. He threw three interceptions in the first quarter last week against Florida, but as he has all season, was good enough in the second half for the Seminoles to win their 12th game.
Winston has plenty of help, including freshman running back Dalvin Cook (728 yards, seven touchdowns) and tight end Nick O’Leary, who has 11 catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns in the past three games.
The Seminoles’ offensive line is anchored by senior center Cameron Erving, who recently won the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy for a second time.
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If Winston is again off target, he’s going against a defense that will take advantage. The Yellow Jackets are among the country’s most opportunistic units with six touchdowns – five interception returns and one fumble. They’ve scored 123 points off those turnovers, fourth nationally.
When Georgia Tech has the ball
The Yellow Jackets’ ground-oriented, triple-option offense is the most prolific in the ACC. Georgia Tech leads the league in several major statistical categories, including total offense (469.1 yards per game), scoring (37.2), rushing (333.8) and time of possession (34:02). Quarterback Justin Thomas, who has run for 861 yards, can also throw it, completing 50.3 percent of his passes for 1,460 yards and 16 touchdowns. Receiver DeAndre Smelter, who averages 20.4 yards per catch, is out with a knee injury. Michael Summers (five catches for 34 yards) will start in Smelter’s place.
So how does Florida State counter Georgia Tech’s offense? With a run defense that allowed ACC opponents 133.6 yards per game. Florida State linebackers Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup are among the ACC’s tackling leaders.
Florida State has one of the best kickers in the nation in sophomore Roberto Aguayo, who has made 22 of 24 field goals and all 49 of his point-after kicks. In his one-plus seasons, he had missed just three of 189 kicks, counting field goals and extra points.
Seminoles punter Cason Beatty, who played at Olympic High, had a career-long 67-yarder against Virginia. Florida State punt returner Rashad Greene averages 10.7 yards, second best in the ACC.
Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal to send the Yellow Jackets’ game against Georgia into overtime. David Scott