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Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing Georgia Tech from the experts themselves

We spoke with SB Nation’s Georgia Tech site, From the Rumble Seat, to preview Saturday’s matchup.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Duke William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

With the Virginia Cavaliers welcoming the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to Scott Stadium this Saturday, we spoke with Josh Brundage of SB Nation’s From the Rumble Seat to get their thoughts heading into this contest.

Like the rest of the Coastal this season Georgia Tech has been fairly inconsistent so far with a dominant win over UNC and a close loss to Clemson contradicting a 31-point loss to Pitt and a bad defeat against Northern Illinois. What do you attribute that to?

Well, for starters, those of us who follow this team closely are just as mystified as you. Regardless, there’s no excuse whatsoever for that season-opening loss to NIU. That’s squarely on this coaching staff and getting their players prepared and ready to play. Getting our doors blown off by Pitt at home was pretty embarrassing too. We gave up 42 to points in the first half… to Pitt! Ugh.

We’re honestly just really puzzled by this season and many of the decisions this coaching staff have made. A lot of the O-line play seems like square-peg-round-hole with regards to how often we pull them on passing plays and they consistently miss their blocks. On the other side of the ball, our secondary should’ve been one of the best in the conference with regards to recruiting rankings, experience, and a defensively-minded head coach… but they’ve largely been a liability this season.

It honestly just seems like a coaching staff in over their heads. This is the first Power 5 job for Collins and most of the coaches he brought with him. We’ve seen an uptick in recruiting under him, to his credit, but it seems like “recruiters” are all we have on staff at this point, and not schematics guys who can help us win games… much less put their players in situations to be successful.

With the quarterback change that came against North Carolina that resulted in Jeff Simms taking the reins from Jordan Yates, what’re your thoughts on Simms’ performance? Is there reason for further controversy?

No, there’s not a reason for further controversy. Sims is the QB of the Yellow Jackets, and he deserves to be. He has the highest upside of a QB that we’ve seen on this team since Justin Thomas, who won us an Orange Bowl. Sims is a dangerous, dual-threat QB, who often has to run for his life behind a porous offensive line.

He seems to have grown a lot after being named starter during the weird, pandemic year of 2020 as a true freshman. He’s had some growing pains on the job, but the talent is there. He just needs to get some more experience and make fewer bad decisions with the ball, which he’s already shown the capability of doing this young season.

He’s a game-changer at the helm, like we saw during the UNC game. If the offensive line can ever give him time to throw and/or open up the ground game some more, I think this offense will take a massive step forward.

What are you most concerned about in this matchup with the ‘Hoos? Most confident about?

Oh I’m absolutely terrified of Armstrong ahead of this game. The combination of our lack of pass rush and secondary struggles create a nightmare scenario in my head against a passer as efficient as he is. I would assume he will be adding to his already impressive stats for much of the game.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Charlottesville is generally a house of horrors for Georgia Tech, and I feel like it’s impossible for us to win there, regardless of who’s favored or by how much.

It’s year 3 of the Geoff Collins experiment, and he’s yet to win back-to-back games. So between our entirely uninspiring win against Duke 2 weeks ago and facing the Cavs on the road, the only thing I’m confident about is the Yellow Jackets taking an L this weekend.

Is there one potentially under the radar player that Virginia fans should look out for to make a big difference on Saturday?

I don’t know how under the radar he is, but Jahmyr Gibbs at RB was largely stifled on the ground against both Pitt and Duke. However, he turned into a big passing threat coming out of the backfield in both games. He’s probably the most talented player on the roster, so despite our O-line struggles, I would expect him to return to form this week.

If Sims and the O-line can get Gibbs going, it really opens up the offense and takes some pressure off of our young QB. I think Gibbs’ ground game will be the biggest difference in whether or not the Yellow Jackets can hang with UVA this weekend.

How do you see this one turning out? How confident are you that Tech could pull off the upset against a hot Virginia team?

The spread favors the Cavs by about a touchdown, and that feels right to me. I think the teams trade blows early, then UVA pulls away and can put it into cruise control for the second half. I can see Tech making this a closer game than it was via a backdoor cover on a garbage time score at the end of the game.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.