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Opponent Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Georgia v Georgia Tech Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

School Name/Mascot: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Or your great uncle Rufus’ OldsmoBuick. You can use either.

School Location: Leave Cheetah’s front door, take a left down Spring Street, then hang a right onto North Avenue. You know where I’m talking about.

Head Coach: His mother calls him Paul Johnson. 11th year (76-54)

2017 record: 5-6. (4-4 ACC) lol

Some Knowledge:
What a weird year. Here we were winning at a record clip, burying rivals on a weekly basis, enjoying the fruits and labor of senior leadership, taking over historic stadiums like Notre Dame and the Rose Bowl, basking in national admiration, and yet the Georgia Institute of Technology couldn’t even spoil a party.

In 2017 they had a chance to make Tennessee’s season even worse but abacus’d a loss in the season opener. They could have spoiled UCF’s mythical and delusional national championship run, however Hurricane Irma didn’t give them the chance. And they really could’ve done a prime number on UGA’s 2017 campaign, but those hopes were wrecked early and often.

So now G.I.T. rambles into 2018 with fresh hope, some experience under center, a new defensive coordinator, and a new offensive coordinator named… nah, just kidding. It’s still Jowls.

Offense:
Call it what you will, I’m gonna call it the triple option. While the system can theoretically defeat most any opponent, you still need talent to make it successful repeatedly (i.e. keep your defense off the field). And the GaTech backfield leaked scholarships pre-season like a sieve so they’re looking to get back on track with one of Paul Johnson’s best signing classes.

Here are some 2017 stats that only confirm what you know:

#74 in Total Offense at 391.6 yards/game. They ran 751 plays which ranks #122 in FBS, and only 4,308 total yards which is #104.

GaTech ranked #128 in completion percentage. Not sure if it’s causation or correlation, but they only threw 5 interceptions. Yayyy Math!

More positive news, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing is that they were the #5 rushing offense in the country at just over 307 yards per contest.

Taquon Marshall returns for his senior season and now has actual game experience at the quarterback position. He’s small, shifty, and he likely has better mastery of Paul Johnson’s playbook. And by playbook, I mean the scribble in the dirt made by a stick. Marshall’s arm is not a concern – when they throw and if the secondary maintains coverage is the only concern.

The offensive line looks to have more consistency, as in 2017 only 2 players started in all 11 games. The 2018 uglies up front will be anchored by interior juniors Kenny Cooper and Parker Braun. But like UGA’s defensive line, there were plenty of players who made appearances and gained valuable experience.

Leading rusher (outside of Marshall) Kirvonte Benson and Jerry Howard as B-backs return, and Qua Sercy returns as the top A back. Matter of fact, the top 6 rushers from the last campaign are still on the roster. JJ Green apparently ran out of eligibility. Their top wideout, Ricky Jeune, accounting for about 60% of WR receptions, departed and they will be young on the outside.

Defense:
We can’t count anymore on Ted Roof bringing his special style of bend, then bend some more, then break. They were #129 in Red Zone Defense last season out of 129 teams. If only I took calculus I could flesh this out into some sort of meaningful ranking.

So to shore up a known weakpoint, CPJ goes fishing (heh) and reels in Appalachian State DC Nate Woody. This coach has a knack for using his players to disrupt offensive rhythms and schemes. He inherited some positives: the defense looks to return 8 upperclassmen as starters (DL, LBs and Secondary), and while they weren’t good last year, Woody’s fresh blood and approach might be just the thing to wring results out of above-average talent. The defense redshirted a bunch in 2017 and signed 8 good players into the 2018 class.

What’s On The Line:
The schedule is brutal, at least if you’re Georgia Tech. They are currently favored in only 3 games (Alcorn State, Bowling Green, UVA), several are toss-ups (Duke, USF, UNC, Pitt), and are underdogs against Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, and of course the University of Georgia. That is a gauntlet that any coach would be leery of.

Coach Paul Johnson isn’t going to bring in new wrinkles to his system. He is just betting that you can’t stop it. We know they will run, we know they will try to control tempo and game clock, we know they will try to catch the defense unawares with something akin to play-action passing… matter of fact, they have many of the same mantras as UGA outside of the chop blocking. Make no mistake, they are NOT like us. But we’ve seen this before, and this year it will be Between The Hedges. And if you believe all our opponent previews, Georgia will be sitting pretty with plenty on the line when Tech comes ramblin’ into the Classic City.

GlimmerTwinDawg’s Prediction Sure to Matter Naught in the Grand Scheme of Things: UGA 38, GaTech 10.

And as always…

GO ‘DAWGS!!!