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By contrast, Nesbitt plays with the fearless toughness of a linebacker disguised as a quarterback. At 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds, he prefers to lower his helmet and run over tacklers, especially in short-yardage situations. If the Yellow Jackets come up short on third-and-2, Nesbitt is the best bet to keep the ball on fourth-and-1.

“He’s not only a good runner, he’s a powerful runner,” O'Brien said. “He runs through tackles and he’s been in the offense for a couple years, so he feels very comfortable with what his job and assignment is. He’s very difficult to get down.”

O'Brien has found some new help for Wilson this year.

Freshman Mustafa “Moose” Greene led the Wolfpack with 84 yards rushing and a touchdown and five catches for 54 yards in a 30-19 win over Cincinnati on Sept. 16.

Greene and another freshmen, Dean Haynes, have combined for more than 300 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets fell from No. 15 out of the Top 25 following an unexpected 28-25 loss at Kansas on Sept. 11. Georgia Tech recovered to win 30-24 at North Carolina last week as Nesbitt threw and ran for touchdowns. Anthony Allen had 20 carries for 115 yards and Nesbitt added 26 carries for 104 yards.

“We just talked about our backs were against the wall,” Johnson said. “We lost a game on the road that we felt we probably had a chance to win and we didn’t want to dig ourselves into a deeper hole. Plus it was the first conference game.

“I think they responded with the attitude and the intensity that they needed to from the start of the season. Now the big question is can you maintain it? Is it a one-time deal or can you maintain it?”

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AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.