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Know Your Enemy: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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The State of Georgia’s 3rd Greatest Football Power

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Who: The Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, The North Avenue Trade School, Little Brother, D&D HQ (Atlanta Chapter).

Mascot: Bradley the Calculus Wasp

Coach: Paul “Captain Jowls” Johnson

Strength: The ability to appear almost invisible to their “rivals” by becoming infinitely small #techmathjoke

Weakness: Thinking 2 out of 3 is a more indicative trend than 3 out of 16 or 6 out of 26

Stadium: Historic Mark Richt Field

Where: If you’re driving Southbound, it’s the exit past IKEA

When: Saturday, November 25th

I have a deep and abiding respect for Georgia Tech, the academic institution. In fact, that respect can only be countered by my personal distaste for their football team and a substantial (if non-representative) portion of its fanbase. If I’m being honest, that still doesn’t totally counter it. Georgia Tech has much to be proud of when it comes to the school itself and I won’t attempt to sully its sterling academic reputation by pretending otherwise. I am certain such respect will be returned to The University of Georgia by Tech’s fans in equal measure.

But when we put academics aside and focus on football, I get to take on my favored role as Associate Editor of Snark and Mockery here at Dawg Sports. And that is one of the two reasons I love this game so much. The other is that we almost always win it. I’ve gone on the record saying that we should eliminate the Georgia Tech game from our annual schedule. However, that is simply out of an understanding that this game just doesn’t benefit Georgia year to year. If we win, we were supposed to do so. If we don’t, it’s a disaster. That doesn’t mean I don’t cherish the rivalry itself (again, for the two reasons mentioned above).

So as we head toward the 112th edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate (which, allow me to reiterate, we lead with a record of 65-41-5 and Tech hasn’t consistently dominated since the mid-50s), let’s take a look at the 2017 Yellow Jackets as they stand before the season begins.

Offense

Justin Thomas is gone. And as many a Georgia fan will tell you, starting an inexperienced QB can be a bit of a problem. I would argue that this is doubly true in a system like Tech’s that requires such a high level of quality decision making. At the time of this writing, Paul Johnson still hasn’t named a starting QB. Juniors Matthew Jordan (last year’s backup) and TaQuon Marshall and a pair of redshirt freshman are candidates for the job. While I’m confident they all have the requisite skill set, what they have between the ears and how they respond in real-time game situations is much more critical. Needless to say, the position is clearly one of uncertainty for the time being.

When you look at the 52 different running back positions Tech employs, things seemed a bit more settled. Dedrick Mills was set to start and was named pre-season All-ACC. Then he was dismissed from the team. This leaves Tech with a stable of B-Backs that have a combined 14 career carries. Don’t think these backs won’t get their yards. They will. That’s how this offense is designed to work. That said, just how much of an impact this loss has on the Yellow Jackets remains to be seen. There is a bit more consistency at A-Back, as Tech returns regular contributors Qua Searcy, Clinton Lynch, and former Bulldog, J.J. Green (who somehow managed to meet Tech’s stringent academic requirements despite at one point being a Georgia student and, thus, completely incapable of doing calculus).

The offensive line for the Jackets sports considerably more experience. There are nine different linemen that started in 2016, although none of them started every game. My thought would be that Johnson wants a consistent rotation settled sooner rather than later. I mean, it takes time to really develop the ability to dive directly into your opponent’s knees and not get called for it.

It occurs to me that, so far, I’ve ignored the wide receivers. But if Tech is going to, I guess that’s good enough for me.

So the Yellow Jackets have questions at QB, questions at RB, and some experience but still questions along the offensive line. But none of that really matters, because I’m guessing those questions will have answers by the time the last game of the regular season comes around.

Defense

The defense is certainly Georgia Tech’s most experienced unit and the one which should instill the most confidence in the Jacket faithful leading into the 2017 season. In fact, all of the starting spots on the defensive side of the ball could ostensibly be filled by upperclassmen.

Tech did lose some production along the D-Line, particularly from Patrick Gamble who recorded 7.5 sacks in 2016. Anree Saint-Amour figures to be Tech’s largest looming pass rusher and he’ll be joined by a potential threat at tackle in junior Kyle Cerge-Henderson. The linebacking corps and secondary should remain mostly unchanged from last year’s squad and that may cause some headaches for a Georgia passing attack that amassed only 139 yards and 1 TD in 2016’s edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

Still, this is a unit that gave up 402 yards to the Georgia offense. The Yellow Jackets also ceded time of possession to the Dawgs in that game significantly, which is not typically a recipe for success with a run-heavy offense like Tech’s. If the same conditions were to repeat themselves, I’d be surprised if the outcome was similar.

Special Teams

The Yellow Jackets must replace both kicker Harrison Butker and punter Ryan Rodwell. This is a question mark. An awfully big one.

Intangibles

There is one thing (and only one thing) of note here. This year’s game is in Atlanta. Georgia Tech hasn’t beaten Georgia in Atlanta since 1999. Now, I’m not much for intangibles, but this one is both strange and definitive enough to catch my eye. If there is an advantage to be had in this area, it certainly belongs to the Dawgs.

RedCrake’s Prediction:

Georgia 35 Georgia Tech 28

Until next time, keep hating Tech and...

GOOOO DAWGS!!!