Over the summer, we have looked at the Quarterbacks (Parts 1 and 2) and the running backs (Parts 1 and 2). Today I want to go on the other side of the ball and discuss the opposing defensive secondaries of first half of the season. When functioning properly, a good defensive secondary can wreck havoc on the triple option offense. Like any good Tech fan, I am oozing optimism.
South Carolina State Bulldogs
Just as in every other category we have discussed, I am more worried about one of our players getting injured in this game than what the Bulldogs will actually do. I expect this to be more Jacksonville State than Gardner-Webb since our fans will be (mostly) in the stadium and we don't have our 3rd string quarterback running a system that was not made for him.
Threat Level: Non-Existent
Returning Starters: 5 - Drew Dudley (SLB), Justin Springer (MLB), Steven Johnson (WLB), Chase Harris (CB), Lubbock Smith (FS)
A returning linebacker corps playing under a coach who ran an option based system with Nebraska could be intriguing. However, without any real star power, the Jackets roll in this one.
Threat Level: Low
North Carolina Tarheels
Returning Starters: 7 - Quan Sturdivant (WLB), Kevin Reddick (MLB), Bruce Carter (SLB), Charles Brown (CB), Da'Norris Searcy (SS), Kendric Burney (CB), Deunta Williams (S)
Jim Thorpe Award (Best DB): Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney
Preseason All-ACC: Quan Sturdivant, Kendric Burney, Deunta Williams
How We Burned Them Last Year: The 2009 matchup was a rainy day, won hard by the Georgia Tech defense and a solid performance by the offense. The A-and B-backs pushed through the defensive lines hard into the secondary as 5 players has longest rushes of over 5 yards.
Perhaps I have listened to the media a little too much, but the numbers I looked at, at least look good. The entire secondary returns for another go-around led by ACC Blogger PDOTY Linebacker Quan Sturdivant who is surely out to make this round's game outcome significantly different. When you return a full secondary squad, threat alerts increase. Once again: Biggest game of September!
Threat Level: High
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Returning Starters: 4 - Terrell Manning (WLB), Andre Cole (SLB), Earl Wolff (S), CJ Wilson (CB)
The Wolpfack bring back four players that started in the secondary last year on a defense that finished 8th in Total Defense, 9th in Passing Defense, and 5th in Rushing Defense. However, as we all know, you can throw rushing defensive numbers out the window when you play Georgia Tech.
NCSU does not have the talent to hang with the Jackets long enough for the secondary to adjust and defeat the option for the first time.
Threat Level: Medium
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Returning Starters: 6 - Jonathan Jones, Matt Woodlief, Dominque Midgett, Brandon Ghee (CB), Kenny Okoro (CB), Cyhl Quarles (S), Josh Bush (S)
How We Burnt Them Last Year: Well. We didn't really because our defense was getting run ragged by Riley Skinner. We brought our running shoes against the Demon Deacons that Saturday as again, multiple players ran for greater-than -5-yard averages with long runs well over 20 yards.
The big scare for Georgia Tech last year was that Wake saw Navy two weeks prior to our matchup in Atlanta. This week, the Middies meet up with the Deacs the week after our game, giving them two weeks of prep time. Here's to Wake fixing their mistakes from our game for the Navy game (*clink* drinks)
Threat Level: High
Returning Starters: 4 - Ras-I Dowling (CB), Corey Mosley (FS), Rodney McLeod (SS), Chase Minnifield (CB)
Ras-I Dowling - Bednarik Award (Most Outstanding Defensive Player)
How We Burnt Them Last Year: We ran all over the field in ‘Hooville and did it ever so slowly. This game, the Jackets took almost 11 minutes to punch the ball in the endzone and wear the Cavaliers down. You can't win the game when you can't touch the ball. Four players averaged five yards or greater running the ball while five of them had long runs of 10 yards or greater, forcing the secondary to drag them down.
2010 brings their loss of Al Groh and our gain of the man. With a new coaching system taking form and few returners in place, I don't foresee any threat from the Cavalier secondary.
Threat Level: Low
What are your thoughts?