During his weekly press conference, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was asked what his team's biggest challenge would be in defending Georgia after the Bulldogs rumbled for 330 rushing yards in last year's 30-24 win.
He didn't blink an eye.
"Our challenge is to stop the run and make them punt this year," Johnson said. "That would be a good place to start."
Strange as it may sound, Johnson wasn't kidding.
Thanks to a career-high 183 yards by Washaun Ealey and 166 by Caleb King, not only were the Bulldogs able to control the clock and scoreboard in last year's 30-24 win, but the duo was so effective that punter Drew Butler never had to see the field.
"That was a big day. We wanted to run the ball that day no doubt. The more you run the ball, the more you can control the clock. Everybody knows that and everybody wants to keep it out of the hands of an offense that is dangerous. That was kind of our plan going in, but we didn't really expect to run it like we ran it or as well as we ran it or as often as we ran it, "head coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know if we could predict that to happen again. When you have some of the receivers that we have and the way Aaron has played as a passer, you don't just want to forget about that part of your plan, but running the ball will absolutely be a big part of what we are going to try to do."
But will they?
After last year's effort, much was expected of the Ealey-King duo. Unfortunately, those plans haven't exactly worked out.
From Ealey's costly fumbles against South Carolina and Mississippi State, to King's two-game suspension and bouts with nagging injuries, Georgia's rushing numbers haven't been quite up to par.
Ealey leads the Bulldogs (5-6) with 128 carries for 633 yards in 10 games, while King has rushed for 388 yards in just seven contests, stats that Ealey admits aren't what either back expected.
"We just haven't been consistent," Ealey said. "But we've gone out there and run the ball hard every down."
Still, King admits it's been a disappointing year, both from a team and personal standpoint.
"All I can say about that is everything happens for a reason," said King, who has been hampered by hamstring and ankle injuries. "Things that have happened this year that I can't control and I can't change."
A solid effort against the Yellow Jackets would certainly help the current situation.
Georgia Tech enters Saturday's contest susceptible against the run as the Yellow Jackets are giving up an average of 171.1 yards per contest, including 277 in a loss to Miami two weeks ago.
Could history repeat itself from a Bulldog perspective?
"I think we'll have the same type of deliverance that we had last year, so we'll just see what happens," King said.
Time will tell.
"Last year was a high intensity game and we knew we had to come out with fire and play harder than they did," Ealey said. "We just need to come out and do that again."
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