ATHENS, Ga. — Before facing Georgia Tech's triple-option offense earlier this season and the blocking elements that come with it, Pittsburgh football coach Pat Narduzzi blasted the Yellow Jackets for playing "dangerous football."
Georgia coach Kirby Smart didn't go down that road Monday as the No. 7 Bulldogs began preparations for their state rivals this weekend at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"There's danger in all of football, isn't there?" Smart said. "You've got to do a good job of executing and playing the blocks. We're allowed to cut them, too."
For a 10th consecutive season under coach Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets employ the triple-option offense that is accompanied by cut-blocking, which is legalized blocking below the waist for offensive players who are not in motion at the snap of the ball. It is illegal to cut-block a defender who is engaged with another blocker, and it can be used only for straight-ahead blocks.
Georgia defenders go all season without having to face many cut blocks, but they will endure a slew of them Saturday.facebook
SEC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE: Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who rushed 15 times for 151 yards (10.1 a carry) and two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder, against Kentucky.
DEFENSIVE: Texas A&M safety Derrick Tucker, who had 14 tackles, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and an interception he returned 19 yards for a score.
SPECIAL TEAMS: LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg, who had five attempts for a career-best 49.2-yard average and placed three punts inside the 20-yard line.
FRESHMAN: Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who tallied five receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns during the 48-17 whipping of Vanderbilt.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Alabama guard JC Hassenauer, who graded at 91 percent in his first career start as the Crimson Tide racked up 530 yards on Mercer.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Mississippi State end Montez Sweat, who had 2.5 sacks in the 28-21 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville to raise his season total to 12.
— David Paschall
"I'm not a fan of cut-blocking," senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. "They come at your legs, but there is nothing you can do about it. It's their brand of football. It's what they play, and you just have to protect yourself and play football. You have to be smart."
Said senior noseguard John Atkins: "You've got to keep running your feet. If you don't, you can get rolled up. I try my best to keep running my feet to stay alive."
Narduzzi accused Georgia Tech of "high-lowing" before traveling to Atlanta on Sept. 23, implying that the Yellow Jackets employ chop-blocking, which is illegal under NCAA rules.
"It's dangerous football, I can tell you that," Narduzzi said. "If you watch our nose tackle, there are times when a center is kind of hitting him up high and there is a guy coming in from the other side, which is really illegal, but they never call it. I don't quite understand how that happens."
The Yellow Jackets thumped the Panthers 35-17, and Johnson took issue with Narduzzi's accusations afterward.
"As a conference rule, we have to have four ambulances at our games because we hurt so many people," Johnson said sarcastically. "Come on. In 10 years, I can't remember anybody that's ever gotten hurt out there playing (because of Tech's offensive style).
"That's just trying to get the officials to call something that isn't there."
Smart said Monday that cut blocks are used throughout college football.
"They're probably better at it than most people because they work really hard at it, and it's what they specialize in," Smart said. "Everybody's got what they're good at, and what they're best at is running the football. They do it on the perimeter. They mix it up, and they wait and see what you do and have answers for what you do.
"So at the end of the day, it is your job to stop it, and that's what we've got to do. That's the challenge ahead."
Even if it's not much fun.
Neither Atkins nor Carter would go so far as to refer to Georgia Tech's brand of football as "dangerous," but Bulldogs senior left tackle Isaiah Wynn believes Narduzzi had a point.
"I agree, because you're aiming at the lower extremities of somebody," Wynn said. "I would rather face-up the defender than cut."
Odds and ends
Junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith was named Monday as one of five finalists for the Butkus Award and one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award. ... Georgia five-star running back commitment Zamir White tore his ACL last Friday night, ending his high school career. White is planning to sign with Georgia next month and enroll in January. ... The Bulldogs hold a 65-39-5 series edge according to Georgia records and a 65-41-5 advantage according to Georgia Tech records. ... Georgia is seeking its 10th season with 11 or more wins, joining the 1942 (11-1), 1946 (11-0), 1971 (11-1), 1980 (12-0), 1982 (11-1), 2002 (13-1), 2003 (11-3), 2007 (11-2) and 2012 (12-2) teams.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.