Campus Insiders has provided us with a nice breakdown of this weekend’s game against Georgia Southern, featuring some comparisons between the two teams and a predicted outcome among other pieces of insight. It’s interesting to see an outsider’s perspective on the game, but I personally disagree quite strongly with the majority of the points and predictions made. It’s true that the Eagles average more rushing yards per game than the Jackets at this juncture, but whether or not that gives them the offensive edge is debatable given that they’ve played exactly zero Power Five schools. Calling the defensive units “even” seems equally egregious given that the Jackets have played a much higher caliber of offense teams this season than the Eagles; Southern’s only true test came against Western Michigan, which despite being a top-25 team is still... Western Michigan. Tech should take care of business.
Though Tech’s run game and defense have been wildly inconsistent all season long, the Jackets have seen a resurgence on special teams so far in 2016. It appears that the decision to dismiss special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski at the conclusion of last season was both warranted and beneficial, as both kickoff returner J.J. Green and punt returner Brad Stewart have been able to inject life into a facet of Tech’s game that has been absent in recent years. The kicking game has remained solid as usual with the reliable leg of Harrison Butker handling kickoffs and field goals, and even punter Ryan Rodwell has looked better since his early-season benching despite not getting many opportunities last week. The highlight of the season from this unit is unquestionably the kickoff return for a touchdown at Heinz Field by J.J. Green, but the overall improvement in effectiveness of the return game has been a welcome sight.
Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson unquestionably headline the ACC’s impressive group of signal callers, but there are also a number of other quarterbacks worthy of recognition and praise from around the conference this season. It starts with UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, who has filled the shoes of longtime starter Marquise Williams quite nicely in Chapel Hill. I didn’t expect Trubisky to experience that kind of success, particularly so early in the season, but his completion percentage of 70.2 percent is tops in the ACC and he has the Heels rolling offensively so far. NC State’s Ryan Finley and Syracuse’s Eric Dungey are the other two who garner praise in the ESPN article, with Justin Thomas going unmentioned as Tech’s offense continues to struggle relative to what it has been able to accomplish in previous seasons. Thomas is likely still one of the best in the conference, but he also has the unfortunate distinction of playing in an offense that makes it nearly impossible for star quarterbacks to shine without excellent play from everyone around them. It’s not a dismissal of Paul Johnson’s offense, just a recognition that the personnel around Thomas needs to operate at a high level for he himself to reap the benefits.
Have a great Thursday!