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Offensive efficiency will be more critical than usual for Virginia against Georgia Tech

It's no secret how a Paul Johnson-led offense will plan to attack an opposing defense. It will run. And then it will run some more. And then it will run a little more after that. Georgia Tech does not rank No. 6 in the nation in rushing offense (298.2 yards per game) by accident. Georgia Tech's triple-option attack is designed to chew up ground yardage ... and game clock.

Last season, the Yellow Jackets ranked No. 3 in the nation in time of possession (33:49.1 minutes per game). Georgia Tech led the ACC in that category in 2009 by more than two full minutes. And while the Yellow Jackets are not dominant in that category this season -- they rank No. 3 in the ACC, averaging 30:30.6 minutes per game -- their ability to run down the clock on long scoring drives continues to grab the attention of opposing coaches and players.

"They're sixth in the country in rushing offense, so that means they're running the ball and the clock's ticking," Virginia Coach Mike London said. "They hang onto the ball, and they'll drive 80 yards. And they've shown in the Wake Forest game that they can go 80 quickly with passing opportunities.

"It does require the offense or the special teams, any time you can get a possession, to be productive in that possession. Your kickoffs, your kickoff returns, your punts, your punt returns -- they all speak to field position issues, and you just have to try to gain an advantage in that in some kind of way."

As London pointed out, Georgia Tech has shown an ability of late to strike through the air, as well. In Saturday's 24-20 win at Wake Forest, Yellow Jackets senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt threw for a season-high 130 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Johnson said this week that he does not plan to pass the ball more often Saturday after experiencing success through the air against Wake Forest. He said one of the main reasons why Georgia Tech threw more than usual during the second half last week was because the Yellow Jackets trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter.

Johnson's firm belief in the run comes as no surprise to Virginia tight ends coach Scott Wachenheim. Back when he was the offensive coordinator at Rice and Johnson was the head coach at Georgia Southern, Wachenheim and other members of the Rice staff received a thee-day crash course of sorts from Johnson on the triple-option offense.

"Paul is very patient," Wachenheim said. "He's probably the most patient play caller I've ever seen. He's also willing to take a shot with a play-action pass, which is tough for an option coordinator or a head coach calling plays because you like to stay on a rhythm. You like to stay on schedule ...

"He will be willing to hand the fullback the ball 20 times in a row and let him keep getting three, three, three and go for it on fourth down and let him get three more. A lot of guys get impatient with that. They want to gain 15, 20 yards and throw a ball or run a trick play. But Paul's just very patient and willing to play that game. I've never seen him lose it. I think he's a great coach and difficult to go against."

By Steve Yanda  | October 7, 2010; 7:55 AM ET
 
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