As I've mentioned before, I hate the name "Chick-Fil-A Bowl". I don't know why, but that bothers me a lot more than, say, the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl or the All-State Nokia Sugar Bowl or whatever the heck it is now. Even when it was the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, I didn't have a problem with it. But now that it's the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Now With 100% Less Peach!) it bugs the hell out of me. So much so that I refuse to call it by its official name. It's the Peach Bowl, dammit.
But that's not why we're here. We're here to take a quick look at this game.
The message boards are rife with chatter about how this is a terrible matchup for LSU because Georgia Tech runs a triple option offense and we did not play good assignment-based football this year.
That is certainly true. We played somewhat undisciplined for much of the year, but still this is not such a terrible matchup for us. What would be better? Texas Tech?
The fact is that our defense was dysfunctional at best no matter what system was run against it. Everyone had success against us. There was no possible matchup that looked like a really positive one for LSU, but Georgia Tech looks a lot better for us than some of the other teams? This team would get run out the stadium by Graham Harrell and Texas Tech.
The key here, I think, is that Georgia Tech had a lot of success by playing a system that almost no one else played. Every team that played Georgia Tech was seeing something it had never seen before and would not see again the rest of the year. They only had one week to practice for it. The consequence is that they had a lot of success on offense.
The difference here is that LSU will have ten practice sessions and lots of film time to get ready for what the Yellowjackets will throw at us. That is an advantage that no team had while facing this team, and it puts Georgia Tech at a huge disadvantage. This will be the first time all year that Georgia Tech plays a team that will have the time to adequately prepare for them.
All that extra practice and film time will be much more valuable to LSU than it will be to Georgia Tech. Plus, Georgia Tech passes approximately 12 times per game or less than 20% of the time, which means they are not very well positioned to take advantage of our biggest weakness, which is pass defense. And when they do pass, they only complete 47% of them, and they throw more interceptions than touchdown passes.
Which is not to say this is going to be an easy game for us. Georgia Tech finished the season really strongly, while we finished it weakly. At the end of the season, Georgia Tech was a much better team than we were. They finished 9-3 on the year, losing only to North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.
Lost in all of this is that Georgia Tech's defense has actually been pretty good, at least on a per-game basis. They've given up more than 28 points only once this season, and gave up less than 20 points as often as they gave up more than 20 points. Of course, their style of play limits the number of plays and the number of possessions, which limits the number of points, but this is not a team that gives up a whole lot of points to opposing offenses.
This will be a tough matchup, but I actually like LSU's chances here, because we will have time to prepare for Georgia Tech's odd offensive system, and because Georgia Tech is not going to be passing a whole lot on us. Of course, those running backs and that quarterback are dangerous, and we will need our defensive line to play at its absolute best, but this is the sort of game that it seems Tyson Jackson was made for at defensive end. Let's just hope that the linebackers, corners, and safeties are up for making the big plays.