With a roster that has been significantly depleted by transfers, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were picked to finish second to last in the ACC Coastal Division this season. The Yellow Jackets project to be the Virginia Cavaliers’ least difficult opponent in the back-half of their schedule when the two teams kickoff in Atlanta on October 20th.
The Yellow Jackets’ 2021 season was a pretty weird one altogether. Opening the year with a 22-21 loss to Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech followed that up with three fairly impressive performances by beating Kennesaw State 45-17, only losing to, what was then the sixth ranked team in the country, Clemson by a final score of 14-8, and then beating #20 North Carolina 45-22.
Of course, the early season hype trains for the Tigers and Tar Heels ended up being off the mark which translated to the success — or lack thereof — for GT over the remaining eight games of the season. A 31-27 win over Duke on October ninth was the teams final victory of the season as the Yellow Jackets opened a six-game losing streak in Charlottesville when UVA beat them 48-40.
Quarterback Jeff Sims led the way for the Yellow Jackets last season alongside a dangerous pair of running backs in eventual Alabama transfer Jaymyr Gibbs and current San Francisco 49er Jordan Mason. Simms did battle injuries throughout his sophomore campaign which often limited the Yellow Jacket offense with backup Jordan Yates not capable of the same production. Meanwhile, the GT defense provided little tangible support and struggled to defend both through the air and on the ground.
Key returners: QB Jeff Sims, RT Jordan Williams, WR Malachi Carter, LB Charlie Thomas, LB Ayinde Eley, S Jaylon King
Key departures: RB Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama), Jordan Mason, LB Quez Jackson, DB Juanyeh Thomas, DB Tariq Carpenter, DL Jordan Domineck (Arkansas)
Key new faces: RB Hassan Hall (Louisville), RB Dylan McDuffie (Buffalo), LT Pierce Quick (Alabama), RG Paul Tchio (Clemson), DT Morris Joseph (Memphis)
Entering the 2022 season, Georgia Tech will be hoping that the bulk of incoming transfers will be able to contribute right away. Running backs Hassan Hall and Dylan McDuffie will be critical components of the GT rushing attack and will be tasked with replacing the contributions of Gibbs and Mason from last season. At the same time, left tackle Pierce Quick and right guard Paul Tchio are two more transfers who have to fill into potential starting roles early in the season as the Yellow Jacket offensive line enters the season with right tackle Jordan Williams as the only proven quantity.
Of course, Sims will be who determines the majority of GT’s offensive success this year. If he can stay healthy he has the potential to have a really solid year with wide receiver Malachi Carter back and a couple inexperienced receivers on the up and up.
On defense, Tech’s strength will come from its linebackers with Charlie Thomas and Ayinde Eley returning to bolster the Yellow Jackets in the middle of the field. As there are on offense, there are questions in the trenches and last year’s depth will need to step up alongside Memphis transfer Morris Joseph.
In the secondary, a young group will similarly need to account for the departures of a few key contributors including Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter. Although safety Jaylon King is an experienced player who will be hoping to anchor an improving group throughout the season.
UVA’s all-time record vs Coastal: 21-21-1
Last meeting: October 24th, 2021 — Virginia 48 - Georgia Tech 40
UVA’s win over Georgia Tech last season was in every way the Brennan Armstrong show. The southpaw threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another 99 and scoring twice more with his legs. Joey Blount’s interception in the first quarter frankly proved to be the turning point as the ‘Hoos pulled ahead on the ensuing possession and never truly looked back, despite GT scoring two touchdowns in the last 2:34 of play to make a late push.