Video courtesy of ACC Digital Network

ATLANTA, GA – Finally, we have it. The first win of the Coach Collins era at Georgia Tech. Given that many expected a 0-1 record following our season opener, winning in week 2 became an even more important milestone to achieve. With the win over USF on Saturday afternoon, Tech fans can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy a small taste of revenge in light of last year's second half collapse in Tampa. This game also provided a clearer look at the strengths and needed improvements for this new-look Georgia Tech squad.

Pressley Harvin

There is not enough that can be said about punter Pressley Harvin so far this year. Without him, Tech would not have won this game. He proved absolutely critical in terms of field positioning, and his high, end-over-end punts were difficult to field for USF's return team. Both of Harvin's first two punts sailed 55 yards and pinned USF at their own 14 and 6, respectively. His third punt was fumbled by the returner which set Tech up for their second and final touchdown. Harvin also had another muffed punt and another 55 yard punt in the game, but the former was recovered by USF and the latter went uncounted following a USF penalty that gave Tech a first down instead. Even with a shanked punt in the game, Harvin maintained an average of 41.3 yards per punt. He will be a weapon moving forward.

Who is our Kicker?

As for questions in the placekicking game, Wesley Wells was dressed for yesterday's game, however Brenton King took all of the reps. When asked about the decision to play King at the postgame press conference, head coach Geoff Collins stated that King was the better kicker in practice and earned the start. There weren't many opportunities for King, with two made PATs and a missed 51 yard FG wide right.

O-Line Depth a Big Concern

The offensive line did best providing a rushing push for most of the game, but had some serious issues with pass protection. This was, in part, due to losing two key starters, Mikey Minihan and Kenny Cooper, in the first half. If anything, this game should show how resilient the line is and how important Coach Key has been on The Flats. Collins reiterated this in the postgame, saying that coaches including Key stress positional flexibility for everyone on the O-Line. Without positional flexibility, including the likes of Jahaziel Lee who due to attrition moved back to offensive tackle full-time from the defensive line, Tech would have had an even more difficult time moving the ball.

Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude tried to work within the strengths of the team's personnel, calling a number of screens and quick passes to take some of the stress off the line. With a number of scholarship linemen down after only Tech's second game (Hansen, Clark, Minihan, Cooper), the line is facing a huge hurdle for the rest of the season.

D-Line Improvement

The interior defensive linemen provided a lot of help stopping inside runs on Saturday. The line got a great jump off the ball and allowed just one broken play, a QB scramble by USF quarterback Blake Barnett. That unit's highlight was arguably the turning point in the game, when tackle TK Chimedza knocked the ball loose during Tech's fourth quarter goal line stand.

As for the pass rush, the Jackets got inside and forced check down throws and scrambles out of the pocket, while also tallying 4 sacks for the game. Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and his line coaches, Marco Coleman and Larry Knight, did a great job of continuously rotating linemen throughout the game to keep them fresh and attack the ball.  They disguised coverages and stunts, causing confusion in the trenches.

Charlie Thomas, Tre Swilling, and Pass Coverage

This was another very good game for the secondary, who allowed just 169 yards through the air. We saw lockdown coverage force check down throws or misreads by the QB. Cornerback Tre Swilling stayed sound in the secondary, while safeties Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter played very well in coverage and on the blitz.

One big standout at the second level was outside linebacker Charlie Thomas. Thomas was generally solid in coverage and got in the backfield multiple times, causing 2 sacks and 2 tackles for loss. He is becoming an asset for the team. His skills should be helpful against The Citadel, where having a smart, rangy outside linebacker that can get into the backfield should allow Tech to make plays against the option.

The QB Wheel of Destiny

A lot of fans are undecided about the three QB rotation we are showing thus far. While having one QB that could do it all would be great, we saw flashes of excellence (and needed improvements) from all three candidates yesterday.

Lucas Johnson got the majority of the reps under center and did well in the short passing game. He often made the right calls and was very careful with the ball. He did fairly well in the option looks, but sometimes mad wrong reads.

James Graham was my favorite QB yesterday, showing his willingness to go downfield and do so accurately again. He showed some agility and an ability to make plays with his legs, escaping for a 15 yard run early in the 3rd quarter.

Tobias Oliver was a huge threat in our red zone offense, making things happen on the ground on the second touchdown drive. I also thought the option plays with Oliver at slot/running back were effective.

Moving forward, I hope to see more of Graham behind center with running back Jordan Mason and Oliver at skill positions. Their strengths play very well in this new spread system. Both are hard to track and tackle.

Discipline and Intensity

One of the biggest factors in this game was USF's lack of discipline, which led to a number of additional chances for Tech. Collins spoke to that during his postgame press conference, saying he was proud of the team for staying calm and avoiding distractions during the game. This is something we obviously hope to see going forward.

Collins also spoke to his "every play has a life of its own" mentality. Throughout the second half, there were momentum plays that went against Tech. Collins has coached the importance of playing in the moment and being aware and alert on every play, which proved vital when it came time for the goal line stand.

Discipline will be important next week against Citadel. Being in the moment, staying patient and reading keys will be crucial for this team to continue to execute on defense and for the team to improve to 2-1 on the season.

I have no problem saying it - I had high hopes that Tech could pull off a miracle at Clemson last night. This was a highly anticipated match up and I was just as ready as the team to put on a helmet and try my best against the top team in the country. While the scoreline may not show much, this Tech team already has their goals set high and can achieve them. With 11 games remaining until the postseason, the ceiling is yet to be determined for this team.  Here's a few reasons why it could be higher than most believe.

Pass Coverage. Or more specifically, Tre Swilling

There is no doubt that Tre Swilling and our secondary had an amazing night against one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country. Holding Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence to 13/23 passing, 168 yards with one TD and two INTs is an impressive feat for any team in Death Valley. For reference, Lawrence only threw 4 INTs all of last year, and had 3 TDs and no INTs against Alabama in the national championship. Tre Swilling had one of the best reads on a play I've seen and almost took it the other way for the Jackets. The secondary looked complex, disguising coverages and causing a couple of errant plays by Lawrence. With only a few busted plays against the team dubbed as Wide Receiver U, it is encouraging what this secondary was able to do. Their ability is going to be a huge threat in every game going forward (except, of course, the Citadel which runs some weird offense with the triple option...).

Depth at Running Back

It should come as no surprise to any Tech fan that the position we have the most depth at currently is the running back spot. Jordan Mason looked explosive between the tackles and had a number of high effort plays, including an impressive fight into the end zone early on in the third quarter. Our O-Line provided a decent enough effort against a tough interior D-Line to create space for a couple of busted plays. What was possibly more impressive, though, is the effectiveness and threat of a run-pass option with Oliver at the helm. He had a number of great busted plays and broken tackles in the open field. With those two in the backfield, it should force teams to stack the box and open up our new passing game. The corollary is, can we make them pay? It was also good to see Jamious Griffin getting reps as a freshman in the system. The highly-regarded prospect will hopefully prove to be an effective weapon as he adapts to the college level of play.

Special Teams

Oh yeah, I love the special teams. As a former specialist myself, it was awesome to see what we looked like from the kicking side of the ball. First, Pressley Harvin is going to be a dominant weapon as possibly the best punter in the ACC. With an almost textbook punt hitting the top of the pylon, his accuracy seems to have improved. Harvin had an unthinkable 8 punts for 345 yards, averaging 43.1 yards a punt. His ability to flip a field will be crucial in games going forward. And of course, we know the skillset of Wesley Wells after his OT winner against UVA last year. He only had the opportunity for 2 PATs last night, but we know what he is capable of. Kickoff coverage looked fairly consistent for most of the night. While returns were fair at best, let's remember that Juanyeh Thomas is one of the most consistent players on this team. I personally think there was fair catch interference on that first return (the "one-yard rule" or NCAA Rule 6 Section 4 Article 1 part b), and therefore believe there is nothing to be worried about there.


After a long offseason of wondering, we finally have an idea of what our QB situation looks like, and it looks better than you might think. Tobias Oliver mastered the run-portion of the run-pass option (which should not shock anyone given his VT performance last year). James Graham looked poised under center and could be a passing threat for us this year. The timing on his throw to Ahmarean Brown's wheel route for a TD was a thing of beauty and a highlight-reel effort for the night. As we transition away from the option, expect to see Graham behind center a lot more. In my opinion, we had to do what we were comfortable with against a team like Clemson in our first match-up, which is why we relied so heavily on Oliver's legs to make plays last night. As the season moves on, expect to see a lot more of the shotgun-RPO.


This is one thing that I was relieved to see out of this team. Our guys look ready to fight for a win at any opportunity and showed it through effort on the field. This team took a huge emotional hit on the first punt of the game, yet the defense showed promise for much of the first half. In many cases, we were watching 4-5 yellow helmets swarm the ball and take the ball carrier down in the backfield. All of that against a talented O-Line and Heisman candidate RB no less. One play that stands out is Bruce Jordan-Swilling's effort against Etienne to finish a tackle and ultimately knock the ball out for the Jackets. The Jackets are consistently finding the ball and making form tackles to finish the play, something many of us complained about not too long ago. These guys came into Clemson against impossible odds and forced the reigning national champions to punt when the stadium was begging for a TD. That's something you like to see, and is a direct result of Coach Collins' and Coach Thacker's training on defense.  Expect that to pay off for the Jackets in the form of wins down the road.

Coastal Up for Grabs

One thing that is a little more out of our control is how the ACC Coastal looks this year (TBD) and how we could come out on top and force a neutral-site rematch against Clemson. Miami is the only team that has played so far and played to a sloppy loss against Florida, allowing ten (10!) sacks, 16 TFLs, and a final QBR of just over 17. As for the rest of the Coastal, it is anyone's guess who comes home with the crown. Pre-season pick Virginia's primary argument is that they are returning QB Bryce Perkins. Two teams, UNC and Miami, are undergoing coaching changes. Duke hopes to not face the fate of so many doomed programs after taking on Alabama in their first game, while also hoping to find a suitable replacement for NFL preseason superstar Daniel Jones behind center. The Coastal is wide open for any team to take control and face Clemson (or a mini-miracle-worker) for the ACC title.

If the Jackets can lean on their strengths, there's a real chance we could see Clemson part 2 in Charlotte.

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Coming out of Spire Academy with the ability to run the floor, make flashy passes and play above rim, many would assume I am talking about LaMelo Ball. But in fact I am talking about a 6’10” big man originally from France, Josaphat Bilau.

The Frenchman has been on Georgia Tech’s radar for a little while and on April 10th the Yellow Jackets pulled the trigger with an offer. “Coach (Julian) Swartz is leading my recruitment,” said Bilau. He has been hearing from the head man Coach Pastner too and how much he would love to have him at Tech.

Bilau is still in the research phase on Georgia Tech but wants to learn more. “I am definitely trying to come down for a visit soon,” said Bilau. “I just don’t know when yet.”

When you watch the tape of Bilau, you see a big man whose can really run the floor well, make plays for his teammates and hit the open shot. When I asked who he would compare himself to, Bilau responded with the same initial thought as me - Draymond Green. “I’m able to grab the rebound, push the ball, and either set up my teammate or make a play for myself.”

Bilau currently holds a 3.0 GPA and wants to major in Business Management. He has identified Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Washington State as his other top schools along with Georgia Tech at the moment, and he wants to go to a place where he can continually get better. “I’m looking for a school where I can come in and have an impact right away and where I can keep developing my game.” That should be music to Georgia Tech’s ears since they employ the unofficial “big man whisperer” in Coach Eric Reveno. Reveno has had a wide field of success developing bigs from the Lopez twins to the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Lammers.

If Tech can make it to the finish line with this baller from France, and with rising senior James Banks being the only true post player currently on the roster, Bilau could see tons of minutes early on in Atlanta.