Gators ready to 'circle the wagons'

If Florida can't win the SEC East, the next best thing is to make sure Georgia can't either.

Originally Published: October 27, 2004
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
Motivating college athletes to maintain a similar level of intensity during each and every game is one of biggest challenges for a college football coach. The "little guys" aren't so little anymore, and any letdown can literally wreck an entire season. Some teams are walking into particularly dangerous minefields this week.

Trap games

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets lost instant credibility when North Carolina beat them by 21 in Chapel Hill. However, take that "look-ahead-to-Miami" debacle out of the equation, and the rest of their season has been acceptable – their only other loss was to a far more-talented Miami team.

Both teams had this past weekend off, so there's no advantage in terms of preparation. The Hokies might be more talented and definitely have a more consistent quarterback in Bryan Randall, but Reggie Ball is more than capable of getting hot and taking over a game as the Jackets' dual-threat signal caller.

Georgia Tech's defense is one of the more underrated units in college football. It ranks 18th in the nation in total defense and has gotten a boost from the return of DE Eric Henderson, who will make Randall's life miserable in this game. The Yellow Jackets' offensive strength is on the ground, and RB P.J. Daniels should lead a strong charge against a Virginia Tech defense that is much better defending the pass than the run.

There's just something about the excitement of ESPN's College Football Thursday Primetime that electrifies a campus and brings out the best in a defense. In what shapes up as a run-oriented and defense-dominated contest, the Jackets will feed off the environment and outlast the Hokies, who won't be long for the Top-25.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer