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True freshman wide receiver Ahmarean Brown (photo courtesy of ramblinwreck.com)

Another close game ends in defeat on The Flats. While the Jackets are seeing signs of improvement throughout the season in their first under a new head coach, they'd like to see that translate into stealing a few wins and shaking up the ACC Coastal (and, dare I say, take a shot at the Dwags). While Saturday's Homecoming loss was not the most exciting result, there is plenty to be excited about in the near future for this team. Let's take a look at what went well against Pittsburgh and what to watch for this week against UVA.

The Secondary

Georgia Tech's secondary had yet another strong game. Juanyeh Thomas proved again to be a focal point of the defense with an incredible one-handed interception and a chase-down tackle for loss against Pitt last weekend. But Thomas was not the only one who performed well. Thomas and Tre Swilling combined for 3 of the team's 4 tackles for loss, while Tariq Carpenter added another interception. Tech forced 3 takeaways all from the linebackers and secondary in the match-up. The secondary will be a vital piece moving forward against a team as strong as UVA. While Cavaliers Quarterback Bryce Perkins is fighting off a knee injury, he is still dynamic on the ground and is connecting on 64% of his pass attempts this season. Tech's secondary could make this a game by forcing the Cavaliers offense to become a one-dimensional unit.

Special Teams

I, along with a number of other fans, was relieved to see some magic from the special teams unit to keep Saturday's game alive. Jerry Howard busted through the line early in the third quarter to set the Jackets up inside Pittsburgh's red zone. On top of this, Tech's return team looked vicious and ready to set the tone for the game. While their exuberance led to a few flags, it is important to see physicality from the special teams unit. Howard's blocked punt really shifted the momentum of the game at the time, and big special team's plays will be very useful against a team like UVA. It also helps to have an NFL-ready punter, one also with a perfect QB Rating in Pressley Harvin, who can seemingly guarantee a flipped field when needed.

Improved Play From Both Lines

Coming into this season, one of the biggest questions for the new regime would be how they'd utilize and train an offensive line recruited for the under-center option offense. While this unit's productivity has been an uphill battle, there seem to be signs of life. Last Saturday, taken in context of playing against a Panthers defense that ranked #6 in the nation in fewest rush yards allowed per game, Tech's run blocking to the outside looked good and helped top-rated RB Jordan Mason bust a crucial 18-yard run to the Panthers' 6-yard line late in the 3rd quarter. Another big play was James Graham's 51-yard touchdown toss to true freshman WR Ahmarean Brown. On that play, the line was able to hold a pocket for Graham to step up and deliver a perfect throw in stride.

On the defensive line, Antwan Owens showed out with a sack. There were missed assignments across the defense on Pittsburgh's Wildcat run for a touchdown. While the defensive line is not getting into the backfield on every play, they matched up well and allowed the linebackers an opportunity to fill gaps and make a play. This measuring stick is also useful when you have headhunters like Thomas and Carpenter sneaking into the box from the secondary to slow down the run game. This week the Jackets' defense faces a Virginia offense ranked #88 in offensive efficiency on the year. Keeping them in check is easier said than done when challenged with a dynamic quarterback in Perkins. Doing so will of course be crucial in helping the Jackets navigate to a victory.

Bring Back the QB Carousel?

Oh boy, do I look forward to the discussion on this one. The Jackets have not necessarily found their bona fide starter of the future this season. While Graham looks to be the guy first in line, he had some trouble Saturday moving through his progression on RPO's and hitting the open receivers for short yardage. In came Lucas Johnson, who delivered a perfectly thrown ball to TE Tyler Davis on his first snap. Johnson's consistency in hitting those throws helped put together a promising 3rd quarter drive for the Jackets. Should Collins should continue to roll with the hot hand in this scenario?

My hot take is red zone offense. Against teams like UVA and especially Georgia, we cannot afford to have drives end at the one yard line. In this case, my preference is to put Tobias Oliver back behind center running the option that he does so well with. In short yardage scenarios, I'd rather see Mason, Howard, and Oliver carry the load with their legs than take chances like we saw last week.

The Jackets match up with UVA for a 12:30 kickoff in Charlottesville on Saturday.

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Bishop Montgomery center Bradley Ezewiro (24) dunks at El Camino College in Torrance (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Coming from Torrance, California, you might expect a 'Mr. Sunshine', look-at-me flashy player on the hardwood. Instead, Bradley Ezewiro's game is the complete opposite. As he makes his way east to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, Ezewiro is looking to put himself into position to make that next step to playing high level collegiate basketball. Though listed at 6 foot 8 inches and anywhere from 230 to 250 pounds on the recruiting sites, he actually stands at 6 foot 9 inches and 270 pounds. The strong, physical big man sat down with GTSwarm.com to fill us in on the latest with his recruitment.

Recently, Georgia Tech flew out to California for an in-home visit with Ezewiro and his family. Assistant coach Anthony Wilkins is leading the charge for the Yellow Jackets. With James Banks set to graduate, Ezewiro heard what every freshman loves to hear. “He told me that Coach Pastner wants me to come in and play and be effective right away,” states Ezewiro. “They told me how they can really use me and how their system fits me and is the best option.”

The three-star big man has visited LSU and Virginia Tech. He is setting up an official visit with New Mexico, working on setting one up with Arkansas, and planning on heading to The Flats for an official on a date still to be determined. Tennessee is also in the mix to receive a visit.

A visit to Georgia Tech would allow Bradley to get an up-close look at what the coaching staff is telling him. Ezewiro already knows a lot about the city. “I have been to Atlanta for EYBL and adidas last year, and I really love the city. They have a lot of culture.”

Ezewiro is being methodical and thorough in his recruitment and knows exactly what he is looking for. “The most important variable is playing time and a coach that will help me get to the NBA,” says Ezewiro. Just one look at Ezewiro’s film and you can tell he plays a tough style of basketball. He can also run the floor and plays with some touch. “I compare my playing style to Julius Randle,” states Ezewiro, “I just want to help my team win.”

Bradley Ezewiro is an impressive young man and is saying and doing all of the right things. If Tech can secure the visit to Atlanta, and with the huge need for a center in next year’s class, the Yellow Jackets could be in a good position for the Oak Hill product.

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2020 Wide Receiver Bryce Gowdy (photo courtesy of 247sports.com)

Baller | noun | pronunciation: [bawl-er] | definition: A 6 foot 2 inch sure-handed, play-making wide receiver out of Deerfield Beach, Florida | example: Bryce Gowdy.

Bryce Gowdy, a class of 2020 prospect, is ranked as a 4-star prospect and 167th overall in the country per rivals.com. As important to Georgia Tech fans, he is committed to the Yellow Jackets.

Gowdy has had a strong start to his senior season and is looking to get even better. “My season is going great. I am making all my plays and starting to focus on becoming a stronger leader so I can take my team to state,” said Gowdy in a recent interview with GTSwarm.

Gowdy acknowledges his strengths but also wants to keep improving. “My best trait is my competitive nature and the one thing I would say I need to work on is my overall consistency.”

Even though he is working hard and focused on his own season, he has been tuned in all year to Georgia Tech and the offense especially. “Looking at the offense, I see a lot of promise and opportunity that won’t be fully showcased until more players like me are headed to the flats,” said Gowdy.

The Deerfield Beach product senses he has a chance to come in and make an early impact and that is exactly what he plans to do. “I’m really confident that I can come and start day 1 at Georgia Tech with my skillset. I am big and strong. I am college ready right now." Bryce clearly exudes confidence but puts his money where his mouth is and will continue to work hard and put himself into a position to succeed. He does not know when he is going to visit again but will be on campus soon. “I plan on signing, then enrolling early.”

If Gowdy continues to work hard and arrives for Tech's spring semester to get accustomed to the team and school, watch out for Gowdy to be a biGTime contributor to Tech’s offense as early as next year.

ATLANTA, GA - Credit to The Citadel. They knew who they were and stayed true to themselves for all 60 minutes, plus bonus time, of Saturday's game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The outcome? A 27-24 overtime win for the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is struggling to find an identity. Questions are aplenty after any loss, let alone one to a FCS team three games into a coaching transition. Let's look at a few, and go quickly, to avoid further agitation following a disappointing afternoon on The Flats.

Who is QB1?

Still, no answer. Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude is on record saying he prefers to have one quarterback be "the guy". During today's game vs. The Citadel, Lucas Johnson and Tobias Oliver continued to split snaps, sometimes within the same drive and same series. James Graham did not dress due to injury.

Who is PK1?

Tech has two "above the line" placekickers in Brenton King and Wesley Wells. King missed his lone field goal try last week, albeit from 50+ yards. This week was more discouraging, with King converting 1 of 2 field goal tries and Wells missing his lone extra point attempt. Give credit to King for being in position to have two attempts. His first was a pressure-filled effort from 34 yards out as regulation time expired to send the game to overtime. The latter attempt was 46 yards out and again in a scenario of "survive and advance". It had the leg, but unfortunately sailed wide.

What are reasonable expectations of the offensive line?

It's no secret that head coach Geoff Collins and offensive line coach Brent Key prefer big, long lineman. They inherited a mixed bag of size and skills. The line has been decimated early by injuries, with 4 scholarship linemen out due to injury during the majority of each of the last two games. On the positive side, the Jackets averaged 5.5 yards/rush and 6.5 yards/play today vs. The Citadel. On the negative, they allowed 3 sacks, gave up 6 total tackles for loss (TFL) and achieved just 14 first downs. In other words, fits and starts, and a ways to go to be competitive against better competition.

Is the defense for real?

There were reasons to be encouraged and reasons to "wait and see" about the Jackets' defense following the first two games against Clemson and South Florida. Today's game did little to clarify expectations. The Citadel executed their offense efficiently, averaging 4.5 yards/rush while converting 8 of 16 third downs and their lone fourth down attempt. They possessed the ball for almost 42 minutes, albeit aided by Tech's own inefficiency and penalties (we'll get to this in a second). It's an offense that Tech will not have to face again, and because of that it's difficult to project a ton from today's effort.

Why were penalties an issue all of a sudden?

Tech committed just 4 penalties in its first two games. Today, the Jackets committed 8, many of which came at absolutely critical junctures and deflated what otherwise would have given Tech a lot of momentum. The dead ball penalties by the defense in the first half extended drives, ultimately yielding points that otherwise would have been left off the scoreboard. Tech's last penalty of the game was a false start by the offense with 23 seconds to go, and unraveled an otherwise promising, potentially game-winning drive. Should we expect more of the first two game or more like today? TBD.

Perhaps the most frustrating question is, when will all these questions be answered? Some may take more than a season. For the sake of wins on the gridiron, let's hope that many are resolved expediently and positively, otherwise there may be more frustrating days ahead like today.