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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #32 Georgia Tech

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 14, 2017

#32 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2016 Recap:
Georgia Tech overachieved for a 9-4 record and winning their last four games including a 33-18 victory over Kentucky in the Tax Slayer Bowl. The Yellow Jackets exceeded all expectations due to the sheer number of starters they had lost after the 2015 season.


Coaching:
Paul Johnson enters his 10th season at Georgia Tech with a very respectable 70-48 record and bringing his triple option attack over from the Naval Academy.  Johnson will continue to serve as the offensive coordinator and call the plays along with his heading coaching duties. Ted Roof runs a defense that returns eight starters from 2016 and ranked in the middle of the conference in nearly every major statistical category.


Offense

The bread and butter of a Paul Johnson offense is the triple option rushing the football. The three main weapons running the football aside from the quarterback spot all return in Dedrick Mills, J.J. Green and Clinton Lynch. The big difference in the offense will be the quarterback position where Matthew Jordan will take over. Jordan saw the field in short yardage situations often last season and is the best option Georgia Tech has throwing the football. Look for TaQuon Marshall to also see some time as he is the faster and better running option of the two. We see Jordan opening as the starter vice a two quarterback system but it may be a short leash. The offensive line was a patchwork of inexperience a season ago but this was the area that saw the most improvement as the season wore on. Will Bryan and Andrew Marshall anchor a powerful right side of the offensive line. The receivers at Georgia Tech are tall and more possession type receivers as we have seen in seasons past.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Dedrick Mills RB 6th Round 2020.

                                       Will Bryan OG 7th Round/FA 2019.


Defense

The defense is loaded with returning talent along the back in the secondary and the team will cause some turnovers if they achieve consistent pressure. The lack of a true sacks artists seems to hurt the defense as the Yellow Jackets look like they are waiting for someone to emerge as the playmaker along the line. The most likely candidate would be defensive end KeShun Freeman who has shown flashes of brilliance getting after the quarterback and defending the run. A.J. Gray and Corey Griffin lead a secondary loaded with speedsters who are not afraid to tackle and help in run support. Positioning and giving up big plays seem to be what got Georgia Tech in the most trouble a season ago. Brant Mitchell will be the leader of the defense at middle linebacker, briding the gap between the line and the secondary.

Best Draft Prospects: Brant Mitchell LB 5th Round 2019.                

                                       A.J. Gray S  3rd/4th Round 2019.


Special Teams:

The Yellow Jackets lost one of the most stable kicking pairs in the ACC with the graduation of kicker Harrison Butker and punter Ryan Rodwell. Brenton King and Presley Harvin III. are a pair of highly ranked and recruited freshman that have been identified as the starters. Georgia Tech does not have cleaerly defined backups right now so the success of both will  be key for 2017.


Schedule:

A neutral game with Tennessee to open the season will be key especially with all the talk of the ACC being the "premier conference in the nation". We find that laughable but they more than held their own last season. Clemson and Miami seem to be the toughest conference tessts that will be road games with both coming in October. Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Pitt will all be home games in what seems to be a tough but favorable schedule for the Yellow Jackets.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Most of the draft prospects look to be on the defensive side of the ball for this and the next few seasons. The outlook looks favorable for Georgia Tech but with the ACC becoming more and more competitive this is far from being a sure thing.

DJ Boyer