Oct 13, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey (18) reacts after intercepting a pass in the first quarter against the Washington Huskies at CenturyLink Field. USC defeated Washington, 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

USC Linebackers Will be Key to Stopping Georgia Tech in Sun Bowl

It’s no secret that the USC linebackers have struggled to defend the mesh point at times this season, as evident with Oregon’s huge output on the ground back in early November.

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With Georgia Tech deploying a triple option attack, the key to stopping it comes from the linebackers, as they will ultimately react to the direction that Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington attacks when departing the mesh point.

The mesh point is similar to Oregon’s zone-read, only slower as the tonic of the triple option are fullbacks, not Kenjon Barner.

The Tampa-2 defense of Monte Kiffin allowed for break downs on third and long passes over the middle during the season as Lamar Dawson would drop into the deep secondary as a third man in cloud coverage.

With the triple option, Dawson’s role at middle linebacker changes as he will need to defend against fullback dives and may be used as a spy for Washington, while outside backers Dion Bailey(right) and Hayes Pullard will pursue against Tech’s two speed slotbacks off the edge.

Plus, the Trojans’ defense has been predicated by establishing a strong four-man rush from the defensive line which has enabled the linebackers to defend both the pass and the rush without the need to blitz.

Since Georgia Tech’s offense has a very minimal threat of  the pass and few drop backs, the line will have more assignments to engage in run stopping, allowing more pursuit from the linebackers on the edges and putting more emphasis on spy packages.

With several weeks of film preparation under their belts, the Trojans can have the advantage in deciphering Washington’s reads. But, how much of an advantage is yet to be seen, as the Jackets ran for 311 yards against Utah in last year’s Sun Bowl despite a month of preparation for the Utes.

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Tags: Football Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sun Bowl USC Trojans

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