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Friday, October 23, 1998
Tech leans on Hamilton

By Mike Gottfried
Special to ESPN.com

Everything for Georgia Tech revolves around quarterback Joe Hamilton.

 Joe Hamilton
 Joe Hamilton has been Mr. Everything for Georgia Tech, throwing and running for more than 1,600 yards combined.

He's asked to do more than any other quarterback in college football. He runs the option, he runs power plays, he's a dropback passer, he's a rollout passer, he's a play-action passer. And he takes a lot of hits. That should be a big concern for Georgia Tech. He hurt his knee in last week's win over Virginia. Hamilton needs to stay healthy because the Yellow Jackets use him an awful lot.

The ground attack is obviously most important for Georgia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets can get any kind of running game going, it would take pressure off Hamilton. They haven't done a great job running the ball, but they have to against Florida State.

Georgia Tech is versatile offensively in that it has two or three players who can play two different positions. With their personnel, the Yellow Jackets can line up with three wide receivers and two backs or jump into a wishbone formation. That type of versatility could give Florida State a matchup problem.

When you look at Georgia Tech's stats, Dez White's receiving numbers stick out. He's caught eight touchdown passes. The other receivers really haven't had a big year. Florida State's going to double-team White and press the receivers. The Seminoles will bump them around and try to slow down the pass routes. It will be a key if White can get away from press coverage.

I think another area that's going to be important in this game is the hidden yardage in the kick return game. Georgia Tech can match Florida State in the kicking game this year for the first time. The Yellow Jackets have scored two special teams touchdowns this year, one on a blocked punt and the other on a punt return.

However, an interesting special teams statistic is that Florida State has kicked off 46 times and only nine have been returned. The Seminoles have pinned teams inside the 20-yard line right from the start, so kicker Sebastian Janikowski is a weapon.

Randy Edsall, Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator, came from the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was the defensive backs coach. He runs a pro package, which really fits Florida State because the Seminoles don't have an option game. Their quarterback, Chris Weinke, is not a mobile guy, so he's not going to take off and run. The Yellow Jackets can double-team some receivers and blitz a little more.

The fit is perfect if they can slow down Florida State's running game. Last week Florida State only rushed for minus-17 yards in the first half against Clemson. Of course, the Seminoles came out in the second half and gained 160 yards. But they haven't shown a great passion for running the football.

Also, they have two big-play receivers in Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles. The amount of catches they get and the number of yards they gain after the catch will be big. What the Seminoles do better than any team in the country is they'll throw the ball up for grabs on the home run. Unfortunately, Georgia Tech has two small corners in Jason Bostic (5-foot-9) and Jamara Clark (5-8). Warrick and Coles have the ability to go up and take the ball away from a small corner. So the Georgia Tech corners can't give up the big plays.

Chris Weinke had a slow start, throwing six interceptions in the Seminoles' loss to N.C. State, but he hasn't thrown an interception in 134 attempts. Since then the Florida State coaches have cut back on their play-calling and what they're asking him to do. They've basically given Weinke one or two reads. On third down with seven or more yards to go, they're running play-action to settle him down a little.

Tech wants to rattle Weinke and make him move his feet. When he's forced to move around, he'll throw the interceptions like he did earlier in the year. Lately, he's been settling down more. His play has gotten better because they've asked him to do fewer things.

I think Florida State needs to attack the Tech linebackers. The Yellow Jackets have a pretty good front and secondary, but this year's group of linebackers -- minus first-round draft pick Keith Brooking -- is a little bit questionable. But if the Jackets can stop the run and go into their pro-type scheme, they can make life miserable for Florida State.