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Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) lunges for the football. Heading into half, the Bulldogs led the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 17-7 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Photo/Gabriella Audi https://gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

Heading into this year’s edition of rivalry weekend, the Bulldogs sit undefeated at 11-0. On the opposing sideline on Saturday Georgia Tech, who started 3-3, has lost five straight, including a humiliating 55-0 loss to Notre Dame last weekend. When the two teams take the field, the linebackers on both sides of the ball should have their hands full.

Stopping Gibbs

Georgia’s linebackers have been as good as can be this season. The unit boasts five of the top seven tacklers on the roster, including Channing Tindall and Nakobe Dean at one and two. Tindall has grabbed 55 total tackles this season compared to Dean’s 50.

Behind the two leaders, Nolan Smith and Quay Walker also sit in the top six. Walker boasts 46 total tackles while Smith has taken down 40 ball carriers. Rounding out the top seven is Adam Anderson who has been suspended indefinitely due to an investigation.

Outside of tackling, Georgia’s linebackers have found success in the pass rush. The Bulldogs’ top three sack leaders this season are all linebackers, proving that the unit is extremely valuable to the team. Anderson leads the way with five, while Tindall and Dean sit just behind with 4.5 each.

This weekend against the Yellow Jackets, Georgia will have to focus on stopping the run. Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs currently sits second in the country in all purpose yards and has proven to be elusive and explosive.

The Bulldogs, however, look to be the perfect match for the speedy freshman. Georgia’s defense has allowed a nation best 7.55 points per game this season. Even more importantly, they excel against the run, ranking second in the country and allowing only 77.3 yards per game to date.

Stopping Gibbs will be the key to a Georgia victory on Saturday.

Playing perfect

If the Yellow Jackets want a chance to play spoiler on Saturday afternoon they will likely have to be almost perfect on defense. While the offense scrambles to get points on the board against a top defense it is likely that Georgia Tech will have to limit Georgia’s scoring to stay in the game.

The Yellow Jackets run a 4-2-5 defense that has become all too familiar to Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs this season. The unit allowed 514 yards to Notre Dame this past Saturday while forcing zero turnovers throughout the game.

At linebacker, the Yellow Jackets will have to improve if they want to stay within reach of Georgia. Starting linebackers Quez Jackson and Ayinde Eley sit at No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in tackles thus far. Jackson boasts 98 stops while Eley sits at 86.

The duo will likely need to be rotated out to stay fresh on Saturday. Behind the starters, Charlie Thomas and Trenilyas Tatum will be ready to take the field at any time. Thomas has seen more of the field this season and currently boasts 66 total tackles while Tatum has grabbed 12 to date.

Stopping the run will be key to keeping Georgia Tech in the game this weekend.

Jake Jennings is a senior journalism major from Powder Springs, Georgia. He is minoring in sports management and political science as well. He reports on soccer, football and baseball.

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