Kevin C. Cox
The Georgia Tech defense will have to find a way to contain Giovani Bernard. The North Carolina running back leads the ACC in all-purpose yards and is first in the nation on punt returns.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket defense faces a significant challenge from North Carolina Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The sophomore running back is first in the ACC in all-purpose running, averaging 214 yards per game.
That number includes an average of 20.75 yards on 12 punt returns, two of which have gone for a touchdown. That's tops in the FBS, and Yellow Jacket Head Coach Paul Johnson knows what the team is in for:
"He's the kind of guy, if you miss tackles, he's going to go the distance. He's got great speed. You've got to try to hem him in and rally around him. The first guy's not going to get him down every time, so you've got to have more guys coming."
Johnson suggested the team might rugby punt in order to neutralize Bernard, but stressed that ultimately fundamentals were what mattered. The team has been playing without regular punter Sean Poole since Week 4, when he injured himself making a tackle.
Bernard helped the Tar Heels steal a late win against the North Carolina St. Wolfpack. He returned a punt 75 yards with 13 seconds left in the game, breaking a 35-35 tie and handing the game to North Carolina.