The Virginia Cavaliers play host to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday in an ACC Coastal division clash. We caught up on GT’s 2019 season with Josh Brundage of From The Rumble Seat, SB Nation’s Georgia Tech blog. Be sure to check out our answers to their questions over on FTRS, as well!
Streaking the Lawn: Year One of the post-CPJ era. Is there general consensus among Yellow Jackets on Geoff Collins’ tenure so far?
From the Rumble Seat: Other than it going about as expected, not really. Vegas had us at 3.5 wins this season, and losing to The Citadel certainly hurt us and will probably keep us from hitting the over. I think he was a good hire for what this program was lacking… he’s been great at embracing the city of Atlanta, the team’s rebrand, and we’ve already seen an uptick in recruiting. This has always been a zero-expectations year, especially with how thin our O-line was before we lost 2 starters for the season, and so we’re just looking for growth and some sort of proof of concept as the season goes. I think it will be year 3 of his tenure before we can make any accurate assessments of him.
STL: What is the offensive identity under Collins and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude? Is there a particular schematic approach, and what style of defense is it best suited to attack?
FTRS: They’ve called our new offense a word salad of, “pro-style, hurry up, and spread” all year long. You’ll still see us run a lot of flexbone tenets, just out of the shotgun. There’s lots of optioning the defensive ends, QB power runs, etc… just probably closer to 66/33 run-to-pass instead of 80/20. Dropback passing situations have generally been a disaster so far this season, which was expected.
The best defense suited to this attack is generally the one best suited to stopping any attack, and that’s a good front 4. Tech had a lot of success running the ball against Miami’s weaker D-line, but then Pitt, who has one of the best in the country, all but shut the run game down last week. If UVA can get consistent QB pressure and run stuffing with just their line, it will be a long day for the Jacket offense.
STL: There’s a youth movement afoot on both sides of the ball this year. Who are the players on offense and defense that we should expect to be the dominant names in Georgia Tech football for the next few seasons?
FTRS: James Graham is a redshirt freshman starter at QB with a super high upside. He’s incredibly athletic, he just looks like a freshman in the first year of the offense often times, which he is. The name to know in the future on offense is his backup, true freshman Jordan Yates. He’s incredibly talented and is the highest rated recruit we’ve had since Calvin Johnson. So hopefully we see some of him this season. Also on offense, our starting RB is sophomore Jordan Mason, has been an absolute beast given a block or 2 in front of him. We’ll probably see him on Sundays in the next couple years.
Oh also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ahmarean Brown, a true freshman at WR. The kid has been electric this year. He’s probably the fastest person on the team and has made several dazzling catches for us so far this season, including 4 TDs. I’m super excited for his future.
On defense, our whole secondary has really looked good so far, and that’s largely with little to no pass rush. Tariq Carpenter, Juanyeh Thomas, and Kaleb Oliver have all looked good to great in coverage this season, so our future there is very bright
STL: One of the names familiar to fans outside Atlanta will be Tobias Oliver, who has switched from quarterback to wide receiver. How has that transition gone so far, and who are some other familiar faces in new places this year?
FTRS: Oliver is just an incredible athlete and so the coaching staff is just trying to get the ball in his hands. You’ll see him return kickoffs as well. He’s performed well at WR when he’s been targeted, it’s just that our passing game is often an adventure. You’ll also see him carry the ball on sweeps and things from the WR position.
Most of our A-backs under Coach Johnson moved into slot receiver roles, and they’ve transitioned fairly well. There were 13 running backs on the roster when Collins came in, so there’s honestly a lot of kids with experience in line vying for playing time and not many places to put them right now in the new offense.
STL: How do you expect the Yellow Jacket defense to scheme around a mobile quarterback like Bryce Perkins? Who will be the key player in that scheme?
FTRS: I’m not sure in all of my years as a Georgia Tech fan, that I’ve ever seen a Yellow Jacket defense contain a mobile QB or cover a TE, so we’ll see what happens haha. This is probably going to fall on our linebackers… it wouldn’t surprise me to see David Curry used as a spy in obvious passing downs, especially if we’re in man coverage. I would bet Perkins has a decent day scrambling due to our lack of pass rush, unfortunately.
STL: It’s been tough sledding in ACC play, but Georgia Tech has a win where Virginia doesn’t (at Miami). What’s your take on how this one plays out on Saturday?
FTRS: I think this game ends up looking a lot like the Pitt game last week. Tech’s defense has honestly looked pretty good and is on the upswing as of late. I think this will be low-scoring, and I don’t think the Jackets have a chance of winning without a defensive and special teams TD or two. Against Pitt last week, we went +3 in turnovers in the first half, yet still only managed 7 points. I think Virginia wins a low-scoring game that’s never really in doubt about 21-10.
UVA-GT is set for a 12:30 kickoff from Scott Stadium. The game will air on ACC regional network affiliates.