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ImposterCauster

[2020] Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Season Preview - Presented by the ACC Network

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:gt: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2019 Record: 5-8 (4-3 ACC)

4th in the ACC Coastal

 

2019 was a year of growing pains down in Atlanta. The Touchdown Duo of Josh Beckett and Anthony Swanson finally got their time in the spotlight and played above standards, with Swanson earning the ACC Offensive Freshman of the Year. Woes in the running game bogged down the offense however, and Georgia Tech struggled to a 5-7 season record, including an embarrassing loss to rivals Georgia with bowl eligibility on the line. Fortunately, they Jackets were one of four teams with losing records to play in a bowl game. Unfortunately, the Jackets dropped yet another bowl game to an AAC foe, this time being UCF. While the offensive side of the ball gets older in most positions, a few key departures on the defensive side could make for another nervy season.

 

Notable Losses:

RB Victor Hill 5-6 221 (Sr) Loyola (Shreveport, LA) 3.5 of 3.5 [Power]

OG Daniel Lujan 6-6 272 (Sr) Seminole County (Donalsonville, GA) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking]

C Charlie Millard 6-3 271 Sr J.S. Clark (Opelousas LA) 3.5 of 3.5 [Pass Blocking]

ILB Devin Aguilar 6-2 237 (Sr) Lee Academy (Clarksdale, MS) 4.0 of 4.0 [Mike]

CB Sean Benson 5-10 178 (Sr) Bayou Academy (Cleveland, MS) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage]

FS Steve Williams 6-0 201 (Sr) Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (Neeses, SC) 4.5 of 4.5 [Man Coverage]

FS Bradley Vaughn 41791 224 Sr Durant (Durant MS) 3.5 of 3.5 [Man Coverage]

K Clyde Smith 5-8 207 (Sr) Elkins (Elkins, AR) 4.0 of 4.0 [Power]

 

Offensively, losing Victor Hill isn't huge in the sense that he wasn't a large part of the normally pass-heavy Yellow Jackets; however, losing an experienced play like Hill and replacing him with the young and inexperienced Bob Squires cannot possibly be any better. Losing two members of the offensive line also hurts, although Ronan Messina will be able to slide over and fill in for Lujan. The big losses come on the defense, where the Jackets lose their top cornerback in Sean Benson, their top safety-turned-third cornerback in Steve Williams, their starting free safety in Bradley Vaughn, and the lynchpin of their defense in Devin Aguilar. Aguilar and Benson in particular were huge contributors to a solid defense, and the defense will show some growing pains with subpar replacements. Smith was a decently reliable kicker, but the Jackets do have five other kickers to fill in (none with the power found in Smith's leg, however).

 

Notable Returners:

QB Josh Beckett 6-3 211 (So) Manchester (Manchester, GA) 4.0 of 5.0 [Pocket]

FB Anthony Langley 6-1 219 (Jr) Crestview (Crestview, FL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking]

WR Anthony Swanson 6-0 229 (So) Schley County (Ellaville, GA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Target]

TE Jahmir Rolle 6-1 216 (Jr) White Hall (White Hall, AR) 5.0 of 5.0 [Receiving]

OT Victor O’Connell 6-7 271 (Sr) Pope (Marietta GA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Run Blocking]

OG Ronan Messina 6-7 312 (Jr) Loganville (Loganville, GA) 4.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking]

OT Dylan Vaughn 6-4 269 (Sr) West Monroe (West Monroe LA) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking]

DE Josh Fenton 6-0 251 (Sr) Calhoun Falls (Calhoun Falls SC) 4.0 of 4.0 [Blitz]

DT Tasura Lesa 6-6 303 (Sr) Athens (Athens AL) 4.0 of 4.0 [2-Gap]
DT Noel Oliver 6-1 287 (Jr) Calhoun Falls (Calhoun Falls, SC) 4.0 of 4.0 [1-Gap]

OLB Julian Tolbert 6-2 221 (Sr) Calhoun (Letohatchee AL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Coverage]

SS Victor Browne 6-2 183 (Sr) Minor (Adamsville AL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage]

 

What will make the Jackets scary this year is the offense. Beckett and Swanson were rumored to have spent the entire summer together to strengthen an already powerful connection, and the tandem will be ready to show that off this season. Rolle returns as a solid option underneath once again for Beckett, and three outstanding members of the offensive line will be able to give Beckett all the time he needs to make an impact. All-ACC selections Josh Fenton and Tasura Lesa will look to wreak havoc on offensive lines for the last time together; the tandem combined for 21.5 sacks last season. Tolbert and Oliver round out some needed experience in the front seven, and Browne looks to be the captain of a weakened secondary, though his impact will be needed after accounting for two interceptions last season (both returned for touchdowns).

 

Potential Strengths:

Pass, Pass, Pass - Few quarterbacks in the conference were as productive as Beckett, with the former freshman throwing for 3,631 yards (2nd ACC) and 24 touchdowns (5th ACC). His receiving corp remains mostly the same with the exception of Alexander Bundy being redshirted and Victor Hill graduating, meaning we should hopefully see Beckett complete more passes and throw less interceptions (his 15 were topped only by Kyle Jefferson). The experience offensive line will give Beckett more than enough time to find some openings, meaning this passing attack could be a lot deadlier than in previous years.

 

Pass Rush - This is pretty much a given, with the defense returning the top two players in sacks recorded last season. Fenton was a beast off the edge, racking up 10.5 sacks and 36 tackles, while Lesa was a monster up the middle, picking up 11 sacks and 34 tackles. Noel Oliver should see more playing time this season, adding potentially another big body to this bulldozer of a pass rush. Offensive lines in the conference haven't gotten that much better, so expect Fenton and Lesa in particular to do their thing and hopefully sway games in favor of Georgia Tech.

 

Potential Weaknesses:

Run, Run, Run - For as good as this passing game is expected to be, the running game will be the complete opposite. Victor Hill wasn't great running the ball, only seeing 211 carries and getting 771 yards and 5 touchdowns off of them. Bob Squires will not be any better at picking up yards on the ground. Squires is a pretty big step back from Hill, and that's saying something. Tech should pull a 2019 Syracuse and turn to their fullback, Anthony Langley, to carry the load, but the ground game will still be another weakness yet again in what needs to be a year of improvement for the Jackets.

 

Cutting Corners - Losing Sean Benson hurts, and when your best replacement is sophomore Dwayne Lloyd, you're going to run into some problems. When you're second cornerback is actually a free safety, you're going to run into some more problems. Tech is not deep at corner, and they're not very talented there either. With Josiah McCray, Adam Coles, and Sean Spaczek on the schedule, the defense is going to be scorched. The skill at safety isn't that great to cover for the corners, even if Browne is one of the better strong safeties in the conference. The pass rush might force a few bad passes here and there, but if they're unable to make an impact, Georgia Tech is going to see the ball fly.

 

2020 Schedule:

Week 1: Georgia State (Atlanta, GA)

Week 2: at Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Week 4: at Clemson (Clemson, SC)

Week 6: North Carolina (Atlanta, GA)

Week 7: Wake Forest (Atlanta, GA)

Week 8: at Miami (FL) (Miami Gardens, FL)

Week 9: at Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

Week 10: Virginia Tech (Atlanta, GA)

Week 12: Auburn (Atlanta, GA)

Week 13: Pittsburgh (Atlanta, GA)

Week 14: at Duke (Durham, NC)

Week 16: Georgia (Atlanta, GA)

 

The Jackets are blessed with 7 home games, but they certainly won't come away with a perfect home record. Pittsburgh, Auburn, and Georgia seem slightly out of reach, though the rest of the home slate should be very manageable, with games against the always struggling Wake Forest and a rapidly declining North Carolina team on that slate. Virginia Tech loses a lot from last season, so that should be a strong rivalry win for the Jackets, and Miami both loses a lot and has a lot of young talent. I foresee wins against Georgia State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, and Duke. Tech should fall against Alabama, Clemson, Virginia, Auburn, Pittsburgh, and Georgia, meaning the Jackets should finish at 6-6 (5-3 ACC), good enough for 3rd in the Coastal.

 

Best Case Scenario:

The pass rush more than makes up for the secondary's woes, and Langley gets put in at running back and adds a very important element to the offense. Georgia and Virginia are overcome by strong passing performances and a powerful pass rush, and the Jackets pull off upsets to finish at 8-4, still 3rd in the division.

 

Worst Case Scenario:

The running game goes nowhere, and the offense becomes too predictable for teams with above average secondaries. Evan Grant runs into a weaker linebacker corp and tears off huge chunks of yards in another upset of an in-state team, and Duke's thriving expected aerial assault from Kyle Jefferson burns a subpar secondary, leaving the Yellow Jackets at 4-8, actually looking worse than they did a year ago.

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2 minutes ago, ImposterCauster said:

Beckett and Swanson were rumored to have spent the entire summer together to strengthen an already powerful connection

I ship it

 

Okay, but for some actual commentary: Georgia Tech looks like they could be very boom-or-bust. Lots of teams in transition on their schedule, and having a dynamic passing attack gives them a puncher's chance. Not expecting a lot from them, but it's the Coastal so...

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1 hour ago, ImposterCauster said:

 

Beckett and Swanson were rumored to have spent the entire summer together to strengthen an already powerful connection

This meme will never get old. I'm gonna go and read that thread again right now.

TuscanSota likes this

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