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Preview 2018: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Discussion in 'Georgia Tech Football' started by GTFLETCH, Jun 12, 2018.


    GTFLETCH Helluva Engineer

    College Football News Previewing and looking ahead to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket season with what you need to know. By: Pete Fiutak

    The thing still works.
    Navy obliterated Virginia 49-7 in the Military Bowl, blew out Florida Atlantic, and pushed both UCF and Notre Dame hard in tight losses.

    Army survived Rashaad Penny and San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl shootout because the O was able to hang on to the ball for ten years.

    While it operates in different forms, the option attack is still a devastating way to move an offense. On a cool scale, to some, it might be the equivalent of shooting a free throw underhanded, but use it, do it at a high level, and big things happen.

    There’s a reason Army, Navy, Air Force and Georgia Tech finished among the top five teams in rushing yards per game. But this year at Georgia Tech is going to be the big philosophical test on a Power Five scale.

    Head coach Paul Johnson is going into his 11th year with the Yellow Jackets, with four division titles and an ACC championship. But the team is 17-19 with two losing seasons in the last three since taking out Mississippi State in the 2015 Orange Bowl. That’s as many losing campaigns as Johnson had in his previous 18 seasons as a head man.

    He’s a brilliant, legendary coach who’ll end up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but even for him, a third losing season in four years is a problem.

    And here’s where Georgia Tech will be an interesting case study once the season is over.

    Outside of the elite teams coming into the season, find anyone else who might have a shot at doing something positive with a slate that includes road games at Georgia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Pitt and USF, and home games against Clemson and Miami. Throw in dates against Duke and Virginia – who went bowling last year – and a road trip to North Carolina, and good luck.

    And why does Georgia Tech have that chance to survive and even thrive against this slate? If the option offense works, it can overcome talent, momentum, coaching, and even the best of preparation.

    Ask Army and Navy – two programs that aren’t exactly dominated by FBS-caliber recruits – what kind of an X factor a precision option attack can be.

    Of course, sometimes teams do figure out how to hit the curveball. But if you’re Clemson, or Georgia, or Miami, would you rather face some okay pro-style balanced attack, or hope the Yellow Jackets don’t have it that day?

    This year’s Yellow Jacket attack has enough good parts to be far more consistent and far more explosive. Start with QB TaQuon Marshall, who along with going into his second year as a starter, appears to have improved his downfield passing skills enough to be more of a factor when he has to put the ball up in the air.

    The line is full of veterans, and the deep backfield has more than enough options to let others do the work for Marshall. And if the main man can’t go, the quarterback depth is in a good place.

    The defensive coordinator change brings in a 3-4 D that should be more aggressive and more dangerous in the backfield – it wasn’t much behind the line last year.

    There are holes – a No. 1 receiver has to emerge, and the entire secondary is a concern – but as long as the machine of a running game is doing what it’s supposed to, look out.

    And maybe, offensive style or not, Georgia Tech just might be that good after a year of rebuilding and reloading.

    It doesn’t hurt to have the right offense, though.


    GTFLETCH Helluva Engineer

    What You Need To Know About The Georgia Tech Offense
    – As always, the running game rocked, and it will again. The Yellow Jackets finished fifth in the nation in rushing – averaging 307 yards per game – with their option attack, and now the triggerman is back to make it all go.

    TaQuon Marshall was the tough speedster who lit up Tennessee to start the season and kept on rolling on the way to a team-high 1,146 yards. He’s good, the depth is great – Tobias Oliver will be a rushing superstar if he gets the shot, but others, like Lucas Johnson, are in the mix for the No. 2 job, too – and now all that’s missing is more from the passing game.

    Marshall was able to hit the deep throws, but he didn’t connect on enough routine throws, connecting on just 37% of his throws. But …

    – As always, Georgia Tech has running backs. KirVonte Benson ran for over 1,000 yards and six scores, and Nathan Cottrell hit home runs averaging over eight yards per pop on his 33 carries. There are a whole lot more options ready to do more to fill in the gaps – Clinton Lynch is back and ready to go – but as long as Benson and Marshall are rolling, they’re the main men.

    The line gets almost everyone back, and can play around with the lineup a little bit to find the right starting five. Three sophomores started throughout last year – they’ll be solid veterans now. The twos struggled at times through the spring session and in the game, but once all the ones are healthy and rolling in fall camp, this group will be a plus.

    – Main man Ricky Jeune is gone after leading the team with 25 catches and six scores, averaging almost 22 yards per catch. The No. 2 receiver caught four passes. The receiving corps needs a No. 1 guy to emerge – Brad Stewart and Jalen Camp combined for five grabs, making them the crusty veterans – but Marshall’s deep passing game should be better.

    Biggest Key To The Georgia Tech Offense
    Marshall has to hit his throws. No one’s asking him to be Drew Brees, but he has to be more accurate after the Yellow Jackets finished with the second-lowest completion percentage in the country.

    Justin Thomas and the 2016 offense hit over 50% – the Yellow Jackets won nine games. Thomas connected on just 42% of his throws for the three-win 2015 squad. For a team that lost three of the six games by a total of six points, the difference between an okay year and a great one might be that one extra deep completion.


    GTFLETCH Helluva Engineer

    What You Need To Know About The Georgia Tech Defense
    – The defense wasn’t all that bad last season overall – allowing just 354 yards and 26.5 points per game – but it’s about to undergo an overhaul. Out goest Ted Roof to NC State, and in comes new defensive coordinator Nate Woody and his 3-4 alignment. However, some key parts have to change, especially in the linebacking corps.

    Leading tackler Victor Alexander came up with 60 tackles from his role on the outside, and now he and spring star Jaquan Henderson will be turned loose as a pass rusher who’ll have to shine in the hybrid spots. Brant Mitchell is back in the middle to clean everything up, but in this defense, depth and options for the corps will be the key. The ends will have to be a bit bulkier.

    – The Yellow Jackets need more size up front. There’s a little bit of size on the nose in the 329-pound Brandon Adams, but the ends are mostly outside linebacker-sized types who have to find roles. However, 290-pound Brentavious Glanton and 277-pound Desmond Branch fit as 3-4 ends for more size. 247-pound Anree Saint-Amour could work when the D needs more speed.

    – The secondary needs an overhaul. All five starters are gone, with four seniors lost to graduation and terrific safety A.J. Gray being forced to retire because of a heart condition. The D came up with a mere six interceptions – Gray led the way with two of them – but first, the sure-thing starters have to emerge

    6-3, 216-pound Jalen Johnson needs to find a spot somewhere, and plenty of other big options are in the mix for safety time. Jaylon King was one of the team’s top recruits as it’s all hands on deck to come up with the right combination.

    Biggest Key To The Georgia Tech Defense
    The new style has to crank up the pass rush. Part of the reason for a shift to the 3-4 is to generate more pressure. With the loss of the key parts in the secondary, the front seven has to rock.

    Last year’s defense came up with a mere 17 sacks – five coming in the win over Jacksonville State, and just four in the last six games – and had an even bigger issue with simply getting behind the line with a mere 47 tackles for loss. That’s about to change.

    jayparr, gt365, vamosjackets and 3 others like this.

    GTFLETCH Helluva Engineer

    Best Georgia Tech Offensive Player
    QB TaQuon Marshall, Sr.
    If the Heisman was awarded after just one week, Marshall might have won it after destroying Tennessee on national TV with 44 carries for 249 yards and five scores. The Yellow Jackets lost, but they found their star quarterback.

    He ended up leading the team with 1,146 yards and 17 scores on the ground, but he had a hard time doing anything with the passing game, completing just 37% of his throws for 927 yards and ten scores with five picks.

    The 5-10, 185-pounder has blazing speed and is great at buying himself time to operate, and now the passing game appears ready to improve. As long as he’s hitting on his deep throws, he’s doing his job.

    2. OG Parker Braun, Jr.
    3. RB KirVonte Benson, Jr.
    4. C Kenny Cooper, Jr.
    5. QB Tobias Oliver, Soph.

    Best Georgia Tech Defensive Player
    LB Victor Alexander, Sr.
    Can he really be the new star in the 3-4 alignment? The 5-10, 235-pounder led the team with 60 tackles with two sacks, but now he’ll be turned loose on one side of the linebacking corps, with spring star Jaquan Henderson likely to get the call on the other. He might be a bit undersized, and he might not have been much behind the line, but that’s about to change.

    2. LB Brant Mitchell, Sr.
    3. P Pressley Harvin, Soph.
    4. LB Jaquan Henderson, Soph.
    5. DE Andree Saint-Amour, Sr.

    Key Player To A Successful Season
    DT Brandon Adams, Jr.
    There are a whole slew of things the new defensive alignment needs to rock right out of the gate, and none more than a star defensive tackle to anchor the nose of the three-man front.

    At 6-2 and 329 pounds, he’s got the size, the bulk, and the talent to handle the job – and the biomedical engineering major smarts to figure out the slight tweak to what he has to do, too.

    There are other options to work on the defensive front, but he’s the biggest body of the bunch. He only made ten tackles last season with a tackle for loss, but his role is about to take on a whole lot more.

    Key Game To The Georgia Tech Season
    Miami, Nov. 10
    The Yellow Jackets had them. They HAD them.

    Georgia Tech had a lead late against the Hurricanes on the road, but they gave up a miraculous fourth down pass that led to Miami’s game-winning field goal. For the Yellow Jackets, it was the second painful one-point loss in the first five games, the first being in the opener against Tennessee.

    Miami went on a run to the ACC Championship appearance, and Georgia Tech lost four out of it next six games to miss out on a bowl. This year, there might be dates against Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech to deal with, but to take the Coastal, it’ll have to beat Miami for the first time since 2014, too.

    2017 Georgia Tech Fun Stats
    – Red Zone TDs: Georgia Tech 26-of-36 (72%) – Opponents 22-of-37 (59%)
    – Rushing Yards: Georgia Tech 3,381 – Opponents 1,690
    – Time of Possession: Georgia Tech 33:30 – Opponents 26:30


    GTFLETCH Helluva Engineer

    Georgia Tech Prediction: What’s Going To Happen
    It’s an interesting team full of parts that somehow need to fit to make it all work.

    The great runners are there to make the amazing ground game go, but the line has to be more consistent and take control of games. TaQuon Marshall appears to be on the verge of becoming a better passer, but the sure-thing receivers aren’t in place quite yet.

    The defensive shift to the 3-4 is a good tweak for the personnel – at least it will be in time – but the linebackers have to learn a whole new ballgame. Meanwhile, the secondary is all but starting over, and the pass rush has to start working in the new scheme.

    But there’s talent in place, there are veterans in the right jobs, and as always, the coaching will be outstanding.

    If last year’s team couldn’t seem to catch a break early and let the season get away late, this one should be able to get those close calls going their way.

    From the great punting from Pressley Harvin to improve the field position, to Marshall’s experience after starting for a year, to the likely more consistent offense and more disruptive defense, the Yellow Jackets will get back to a bowl game despite the brutal schedule.

    Guessing The Preseason Regular Season Win Total Will Be Set At … 5.5

    The good news is that Georgia Tech gets Clemson in Atlanta. The bad news is that it has to play Clemson.

    Going to Pitt, USF, Louisville, Virginia Tech, and then closing it all up with Georgia would be the end of most teams before the season even started. And then, throw in home dates against Miami along with Clemson, and the season is all about having a little fun and killing some time.

    But with the option attack, and the likely improvements on defense, there will be an upset or three – like the win over Virginia Tech last year – and without the clunkers like there were against Virginia and Duke.

    Oh it’ll be a struggle to get to bowl eligibility, but it’ll happen.

    At home, plan on a split between the Clemson and Miami showdowns at home, assume losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia on the road, and build off the home wins over Alcorn State, Bowling Green, Duke and Virginia.

    With this slate, seven regular season wins will be a terrific run.

  6. Supersizethatorder-mutt

    Supersizethatorder-mutt Helluva Engineer

    Thanks for posting all that.
    CTJacket and MikeJackets1967 like this.
  7. HurricaneJacket

    HurricaneJacket Helluva Engineer

    Thank you sir! Guys, please click the links even if you read GTFLETCH's posts here instead, bringing traffic to their stories about our teams is a good way to get more stories about our teams.
    vamosjackets, CTJacket and GTFLETCH like this.
  8. HurricaneJacket

    HurricaneJacket Helluva Engineer

    A fair assessment and surprisingly positive. Seems to think we have a good chance, but an extremely tough schedule. Should be fun.
    CTJacket and drdfk like this.
  9. MikeJackets1967

    MikeJackets1967 Helluva Engineer

    Georgia Tech will be flying like an eagle over the ACC Coastal Division in 2018:cool:

  10. Jmonty71

    Jmonty71 Helluva Engineer

    I guess the over/under is set for 5.5 wins?
  11. MikeJackets1967

    MikeJackets1967 Helluva Engineer

    The media always says GT's ceiling is 5-7 games:rolleyes: This will be a fun season GT will win 8-10 games:cool:
  12. Jmonty71

    Jmonty71 Helluva Engineer

    The one thing I have realized: When no one expects GT to do crud, we win. When people pick us to win, we tend to flop. I'm sure there are some actual numbers out there.
    vamosjackets and MikeJackets1967 like this.
  13. augustabuzz

    augustabuzz Helluva Engineer

    They always "predict" what happened last year!
    GTNavyNuke and MikeJackets1967 like this.
  14. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

    This is an excellent summary and I agree with most of it.

    However, I think the D Player of the Year will be Branch. Turned loose at his natural position he should be a force to deal with. He was pretty darn good as an undersized DT last year and I expect great things now. If Alexander plays on the same side and rushes effectively, it should force fewer double teams on Branch, with salutary effects.

    I don't know about picking Adams as the "must come through" player on D either. He could be the starter; he's talented and a space eater. But … Woody's outfits at ASU played two or three players at each DL position in every game. The preview seems to think that we'll line up with starters and they'll play most of the game. Given past tendencies, I doubt that'll happen. Adams may start, but Henderson and Martin and maybe Glanton may see time there as well. That'll be up to Coach Woody. I think everybody in the 2 (maybe 3) deep DL will see the field in every game. For which three cheers.
  15. GTech63

    GTech63 Helluva Engineer

    I guess no one but me is concerned about TM being able to make proper reads. IMHO that is as important, if not more important than improving the passing.
  16. 1BearJACKET

    1BearJACKET Helluva Engineer

    NO. You're not the only one concerned. I am concerned that he may improve his pass completion drastically but still not be >50%. And I hope that he gets those reads down. If he still trusts himself more than his teammates then he will lead the team in rushing again, the better defenses will key on him and limit our offensive effectiveness, which will yield a only marginally better W-L record. We might be eligible for a bowl game but probably not one that would get the fan base excited.
    GT14, RamblinWreck92 and stech81 like this.
  17. Coloradojacket

    Coloradojacket Helluva Engineer

    I think we will see the break out of Bruce Jordan Swilling. Look for him to be All ACC
  18. g0lftime

    g0lftime Helluva Engineer

    You nailed it. We need improvement in our kicker as well. That alone cost us the UT game.
  19. dressedcheeseside

    dressedcheeseside Helluva Engineer

    Last year's offensive problems were a collection of little things, not one glaring issue. It was never the same thing going wrong from play to play. One play we'd miss an interior block that would blow up the play. The next it'd be a missed lead block on the perimeter. On another play, the qb would make a bad read. Imo, with another year's experience and most of the guys back, we can iron out all these issues and really hum on O.

    I was just watching highlights from last year's UNC game and one particular play sticks out in my mind and kind of characterizes our O on the whole season. It was a rocket toss left with nice timing and spacing, nice pitch, a devastating crack back block by the wr cleared the way to the edge. All we needed for a big gain was the lead blocking Aback taking out the edge man. Unfortunately, he got confused, took a bad angle and the edge guy got around him and in the backfield for the tackle. The difference between a loss and a huge gain was one guy not executing his assignment. Everybody else did their job to perfection.
    Whiskey_Clear and GT14 like this.
  20. Gtbowhunter90

    Gtbowhunter90 Helluva Engineer

    IMHO.. not that it really matters, but I think the defense will be fine. I'm very excited to see what the new D looks like under CNW. My main concern is Kirvonte holding on to that damn ball lol he put it on the ground a ton last year, if he can hold the ball and TQM can hit atleast 50% of his passes, we go bowling. Might even sneak into the ACCCG. Who knows? But I'm staying optimistic..

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