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Football: Week 7 Depth Chart Update

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Some recent lineup changes finally become official

Georgia Tech v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For the first time in a few weeks, the official depth chart released by the team has seen a major overhaul: there have been a couple changes in the starting lineup, and all but two positions now have a starter and a backup identified. Most of these changes took effect before the Miami and/or Pitt games, but they’re now formally recognized.

Since Tech is facing a non-conference opponent this week, coach Paul Johnson is not required to release an injury report, so any new information on player health is limited at best. The best case is that three key players dealing with nagging injuries—right guard Shamire Devine, right tackle Trey Klock, and cornerback Step Durham, in order of increasing severity—are mostly past them by this point. More realistically, they still won’t be quite at 100% and will need the bye week following this game to get back to full strength.

Let’s take a look through the lineup. Changes from the most recent official lineup are listed in bold, though as previously mentioned, some of them have been in place for at least a week or two.

Offensive Skill Positions

Offensive Skill Positions
Position First String Second String
QB Justin Thomas (R-Sr.) Matthew Jordan (R-So.)
BB Dedrick Mills (Fr.) Marcus Marshall (So.)
AB Qua Searcy (R-So.) Isiah Willis (R-Sr.)
AB J.J. Green (R-Jr.)
Clinton Lynch (R-So.)
n/a
WR Brad Stewart (So.) Harland Howell (R-Fr.)
WR Ricky Jeune (R-Jr.) Mikell Lands-Davis (So.)

Jordan has not taken a snap since Week 3 against Vanderbilt, but he’s mostly been a victim of circumstance, with Tech mostly scoring from at least a few yards out rather than reaching the two or three-yard line. True, Thomas is coming off of his best game of the season, but Jordan remains in line to run the goal-line package just as he did in Tech’s early-season games.

The updated depth chart still does not include senior Lynn Griffin at A-back. It could be a simple matter of sticking with only two players to list at each position, but it’s become fairly clear that the four-man rotation early in the season is now a five-man rotation. Production-wise, Lynch has been on fire for the past two weeks, averaging over 15 yards per carry in that span against Miami and Pitt and delivering some effective blocks on the perimeter.

The receiver depth has not changed since the season began, and Jeune and Stewart are even more entrenched after strong performances against Pitt. Lands-Davis remains in the rotation and will continue to spell both of them, but his fourth-down drop on Saturday hurt his chances of securing additional playing time.

Offensive Line

Offensive Line
Position First String Second String
LT Andrew Marshall (Jr.) Eason Fromayan (R-Jr.)
LG Parker Braun (Fr.) Will Bryan (So.)
C Freddie Burden (R-Sr.) Kenny Cooper (Fr.)
RG Shamire Devine (R-Jr.) Brad Morgan (R-Fr.)
RT Trey Klock (R-So.) Jake Stickler (R-So.)

For the first time all season, a clear starter is officially listed at every position.

The tackles shuffle quite a bit, but Marshall and Klock have been the best of the bunch and will get the nod if they’re healthy. Klock in particular has dealt with nagging injuries, and whenever he’s out or needs a breather, Marshall will shift to right tackle and Fromayan will take over the left side. If two of them are out, then true freshman Jahaziel Lee is next up... which makes it odd that he’s no longer listed as a reserve at right tackle, as he got the nod over Stickler when Tech needed a reserve tackle against Pitt.

The big change is on the interior line: Braun made his first career start at left guard at Pitt and will officially be the starter there going forward. This too will be an unofficial rotation; Devine has had stamina issues and has been playing through an ankle injury recently. Bryan will be the first reserve off the bench when one of them needs a breather, at which point he will most likely step in at left guard and bump Braun to the right side. Morgan is now the backup on the right side after previously being listed alongside Bryan at left guard, but more realistically he’ll simply be the second guard off the bench.

Cooper has only played sparingly this season, which is natural given that he’s backing up a seasoned senior who has been Tech’s best run blocker. But since Marshall now appears entrenched at tackle, Cooper is in line to take over for Burden as the starter next season, and it’ll be essential to get the freshman as much game experience as possible.

Paul Johnson has indicated he wants to get Lee and Cooper more playing time, so it would not be a surprise for one or both of them to enter the game early on if the Jackets on one or two of their early possessions.

Defensive Line

Defensive Line
Position First String Second String
WDE KeShun Freeman (Jr.) Anree Saint-Amour (So.)
DT Kyle Cerge-Henderson (So.) Francis Kallon (R-Sr.)
DT Patrick Gamble (R-Sr.) Brentavious Glanton (R-Fr.)
SDE Rod Rook-Chungong (R-Sr.) Antonio Simmons (Jr.)

Gamble has been an invaluable veteran presence in the middle of the line and is coming off a game with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Cerge-Henderson has started alongside Gamble at defensive tackle for the past two weeks, and the depth chart now recognizes that he has moved ahead of Kallon in the lineup. Health permitting, those two should be the starters the rest of the way.

The big question now is whether Simmons will find his way into the starting lineup, as he’s coming off yet another strong effort with six tackles (including one tackle for loss) and two QB hurries. To this point, Simmons has been the team’s best pass-rushing defensive end and Rook-Chungong has been the best run stopper. For a time, both of them were on the field at opposite DE positions last week, and that could be a preview of the starting lineup in 2-3 weeks unless Freeman or Saint-Amour can make more of an impact in the pass rush.

Linebackers

Linebackers
Position First String Second String
WLB David Curry (R-Fr.)
Terrell Lewis (Jr.)
n/a
MLB Brant Mitchell (So.) Chase Alford (Sr.)
SLB P.J. Davis (Sr.) Victor Alexander (So.)

Not a ton of news to report here. The WLB competition seems to have turned into more of a true time-share; Curry still has a leg up on Lewis, but both will be getting snaps in 4-3 sets.

Secondary

Secondary
Position First String Second String
FCB Lance Austin (Jr.) Dorian Walker (R-Fr.)
FS A.J. Gray (So.) Shaun Kagawa (Jr.)
SS Corey Griffin (R-Jr.) Lawrence Austin (Jr.)
BCB Step Durham (Jr.) Lamont Simmons (R-So.)

When healthy, Durham will be the starter at boundary corner, but he has now missed two straight games. Simmons has done a respectable job filling in, but without a doubt Tech has felt Durham’s absence. When he’s back, it’ll be interesting to see if Ted Roof starts to cross-pollinate the two corner groups to get both Durham and Simmons on the field at the same time. Walker previously saw a bit of playing time at boundary corner, but that was mostly the result of injuries forcing his hand.

Specialists

Specialists
Position First String Second String
K Harrison Butker (Sr.) Shaun Davis (R-Fr.)
P Ryan Rodwell (R-Sr.) Grant Aasen (Jr.)
LS Casey Wilson (R-So.) Lucas Patelles (Fr.)
KR J.J. Green (R-Jr.) Dedrick Mills (Fr.)
PR Brad Stewart (So.) Qua Searcy (R-Fr.)

After some ups and downs, the special teams unit collectively had a terrific game against Pitt. Butker was two-for-two on field goal attempts, hitting from 37 and 41 yards, and drilled four of his seven kickoffs for touchbacks. On his second kick return of the day, Green got some nice blocks to start him off and knifed through Pitt’s coverage unit for a 96-yard touchdown, the first for Tech since Jamal Golden ran one back against North Carolina in 2012.

Rodwell has secured the punter job, but his lone punt on Saturday was a bit of a letdown: with Tech stuck at their own 11-yard line, Rodwell’s punt went only 36 yards, enabling Pitt to start their next drive on the Tech side of the field. It doesn’t look like Aasen will push him to start again, but Rodwell’s inconsistency remains an issue.