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2017 Virginia Football Opponent Preview: Georgia Tech

Replacing a QB is never a good problem to have, but there’s plenty of returning talent in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

2016 Record: 9-4 (4-4 ACC)

Paul Johnson’s ninth season at Georgia Tech included a pair of big wins and a bowl victory, but a few losses that kept the Jackets from having a great season. Beating rival Georgia and winning in Blacksburg were certainly the high points, but they lost to three other Coastal Division opponents, leading to a good-not-great overall year. The Jackets ended up fifth in the Coastal - their second worst finish ever under Johnson, but an improvement on 2015’s last place. Will the improvement in record continue into 2017?

Notable Departures:

QB Justin Thomas (Three year starter)

C Freddie Burden (All ACC Third Team)

DT Patrick Gamble (All ACC Honorable Mention)

Notable Additions:

LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (4 Star 247sports)

S Jaquan Henderson (3 Star 247sports)

RB Jerry Howard (3 Star 247sports)

Best Name on the Roster:

So. RB Quaide Weimerskirch

Better Know a Virginian:

Today I found out that there are no Virginians listed on GT’s official football roster. That’s surprising to me. They also have no incoming commits listed from Va...

Also, 72% of the guys on their roster (including walk-ons) are from Georgia! That seems really high. Who knew.

2017 Outlook:

The offense has plenty of backs and receivers returning and should see some improvement along what was a disastrous offensive line in 2016. However, Justin Thomas is gone with no clear cut successor at QB. As of yesterday, Johnson’s been unable to appoint a starter at the position, partly because junior Matthew Jordan (who led GT to their 2016 upset over VPI) is still nursing a shoulder injury. Junior TaQuon Marshall will be competing against Jordan, along with freshmen Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones. Leading rushter Dedrick Mills is back though, as well as both starting receivers (Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewert), so whoever wins the job will have some talent to rely on. Still, that’s a huge question mark in an offense that relies on quick and accurate decision-making.

On defense, Georgia Tech truly employs a bend-don’t-break strategy. They’re comfortable giving up small gains while limiting big plays. Steady work from an experienced defense can use this approach effectively, but Tech has to replace four of is front seven from 2016. The secondary is in tact though, Lance Austin - and the Jackets should be able to field a viable, not standout, defense again.

The schedule for the Yellow Jackets is somewhat daunting, with two solid SEC opponents and a cross-division game against Clemson. Jacksonville State and UCF should be wins (though UCF is no gimme especially on the road) while road games against Miami, UVa, and Duke present potential slip-ups. They get Pitt, UNC, and VT all in Atlanta though and those three are stronger group of division rivals. Right now, GT should be favored in seven of their games, with two more being clear toss-ups (VT and UGA). If Johnson finds a suitable replacement at QB, the Jackets should make a bowl game - with a potential ceiling of challenging for the Coastal. However, not finding such could make GT finish 5th or worse in the division for the third straight season and really start warming Johnson’s hot seat.

Prediction:

Sitting here in August, it seems silly to predict many conference wins for UVa, particularly ones that will be played in November. BUT THAT’S JUST WHAT I’M GOING TO DO.

Last year’s loss for the Hoos wasn’t as big as the 14 point final score difference would indicate. UVa returns Andrew Brown, Michah Kiser, and Quin Blanding, so an improved and experienced defense should be able to outperform last year’s unti (who did pretty damn well in 2016 considering the mistakes made by the offense). We all expect at least a moderate improvement from the UVa offense this year - let’s assume it’ll be enough to make up the difference compared to a GT offense that should be taking a step back. HOOS BY A TOUCHDOWN. Call it 31-28.

Poll

Will the Wahoos beat GT in Cville?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Yes
    (95 votes)
  • 50%
    No
    (95 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now