Preview 2017: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Preview 2017: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Preview 2017: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Preview 2017: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Previewing and looking ahead at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Georgia Tech Preview: The O Still Really Works
2017 Georgia Tech Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Georgia Tech Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Georgia Tech Offense

Of course you know what’s coming. The option ground attack has been able to come up with yet another great season, cranking up 258 yards per game averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 34 scores.

And now almost everyone is back.

Second-leading rusher Marcus Marshall chose to transfer, but Dedrick Mills is back after leading the way with 771 yards and 12 scores, and four of the top five running backs return. Now the quarterback situation has to be set.

Matthew Jordan should be an easy choice after stepping in and saving the day in a win over Virginia Tech last year, but he suffered a foot injury spring ball. There are other quick options who fit the Georgia Tech mold, but the hope is for Jordan to be back to form.

Starting left tackle Trey Klock transferred, but three other starters are back – the line should be a strength. The receiving corps will be solid, too, with 78 of the 83 catches from lsat season returning. That includes home run-hitting back Clinton Lynch, and big play target Ricky Jeune and his 17 yard-per-catch average.

Biggest Key To The Georgia Tech Offense

Generate more first downs. It all ties together. When Tech went 11-3 in 2014, it was seventh in the nation in first downs and controlled the ball for over 34 minutes per game. The O struggled two years ago to control the game, and then last year it was even worse when it came up to first downs, finishing 111th in the nation and holding the ball for just 30:17 per game.

What You Need To Know About The Georgia Tech Defense

The Yellow Jackets came up with a solid season overall defensively, allowing a not-bad 402 yards and 24.5 points per game. Now, if the front four comes together, the production should be even stronger with all the talent returning.

P.J. Davis is done, but Brant Mitchell is a good one in the middle of the linebacking corps and with several options to take over on the outside. However, the group needs to do more to get behind the line – the defensive front four does almost all the heavy lifting in the backfield.

KeShun Freeman is back at one end, but that’s it. There isn’t a ton of bulk up front, and the big plays didn’t come, but now it’ll be a work in progress, especially at tackle.

Everyone returns in the secondary, including all of the backups. The defensive backs came up with ten of the team’s 11 picks and get back five of the top nine tacklers, but they need some help if the D can …

Biggest Key To The Georgia Tech Defense

Generate more of a pass rush. It’s been an issue over the last few years after cranking up 34 in 2013. It was a bigger issue over the first half of the season, but kicked in a bit late with ten in the final four games with five against Virginia Tech. The defense turned out to be fine, but overall, the more plays behind the line, obviously, the better. With Freeman the only returning starter to the front four, though, it might take a little while.

Georgia Tech Will Be Far Better If …

The defense comes up with more third down stops. Considering time of possession means everything to the Yellow Jackets, and getting and keeping the defense off the field is a must, generating third down stops is a big deal. In 2015, the D allowed teams to convert just 36% of their chances. Last year, it was a problem, finishing 126th in the nation allowing offenses to connect on 49% of their tries.

There was an ugly stretch of three games when the D allowed 29-of-46 tries to be converted – over 60% – but Tech won two of them. The team managed to survive – and lost to Miami when the Cane converted just one of seven tries – but life will be easier with more stops.

Best Georgia Tech Offensive Player

RB Dedrick Mills, Soph. – The team’s leading returning rusher came up with 771 yards and 12 scores – averaging over five yards per pop – despite missing four games banged up. However, the 5-10, 217-pounder was unstoppable at times when he was on, tearing off 132 yards and a score against North Carolina, and tearing up Kentucky for 169 yards and a touchdown in the bowl win. It’s Georgia Tech, so he’ll have to take his turn at bat, but he’ll get the ball at least 15 times a game.

2. QB Matthew Jordan, Jr.
3. RB Clinton Lynch, Jr.
4. OG Parker Braun, Soph.
5. RB Qua Searcy, Jr.

Best Georgia Tech Defensive Player

S Corey Griffin, Sr. – The team’s leading tackler, Griffin came up with 82 tackles with a sack and five tackles for loss and two picks. He’s not big and bulky – built more like a big corner at 6-2 and 195 pound – but he can fly. Fast enough and talented enough to play anywhere in the secondary, he should be even more of a ball hawker.

2. CB Lance Austin, Sr.
3. LB Brant Mitchell, Jr.
4. DE KeShun Freeman, Sr.
5. FS A.J. Gray, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Matthew Jordan, Jr. – Really? Jordan finally gets his chance to take over the offense, and he suffers a foot injury that knocked him out of spring ball. He’s expected to be fine, but for an attack that’s more about precision and timing than just about any other style, the missed reps hurt.

There’s going to be a quarterback battle now, but if 100%, the 6-2, 208-pound veteran should be a dangerous option to replace Justin Thomas. At his size, he brings more bulk and pop to the position, running for 243 yards and six touchdowns in a relief role last season – running 32 times for 121 yards and two scores in the win over Virginia Tech – but he only completed three of his nine pass attempts on the year.

The Georgia Tech Season Will Be A Success If …

The Yellow Jackets get to nine wins again. It’ll probably take a bowl victory to get there, but it’ll be tough with so much turnover, so much uncertainty at so many key spots, and with showdowns against Tennessee, at Miami, at Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia. They’ll be good enough to win a few of those, but certainly not all of them. Get to an 8-4 regular season, and it would be impressive.

Key Game To The Georgia Tech Season

Sept. 30 vs. North Carolina – The Virginia Tech game is in Atlanta, too. With a week off after the battle against North Carolina to prepare for the road game at Miami, it could be a rough, long two weeks if the Yellow Jackets can’t handle the Tar Heels. With a trip to the Atlantic’s Clemson to deal with, too, it’ll be tough to take the Coastal without beating UNC. Last year,

Georgia Tech won six of its last seven games last season – the one loss was a 48-20 clunker to the Tar Heels.

2016 Georgia Tech Fun Stats

– Average Yards Per Pass: Georgia Tech 10.5 – Opponents 6.9
– Field Goals: Georgia Tech 15-of-17 – Opponents 12-of-20
– Georgia Tech 3rd Quarter Scoring: 51 – 4th Quarter Scoring: 110

2017 Georgia Tech Preview: The O Still Really Works
2017 Georgia Tech Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Georgia Tech Previews: 2016 | 2015


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