clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Football: Week 9 Depth Chart Update

New, 2 comments

In which injuries shake things up at the last minute

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The bye week could not have arrived at a better time for Tech, as several starters on both sides of the ball were out or limited against Georgia Southern. So it should have been good news when this week’s injury report came out and only three players were listed, right? Well... not quite. Senior linebacker P.J. Davis will miss his second straight game, and—almost out of the blue—freshman B-back Dedrick Mills will be out this week after sustaining an upper-body injury in practice.

Just when things were mostly looking up health-wise, Tech now finds itself heading into a crucial divisional matchup without a key playmaker on each side of the ball. It’s not a great spot to be in, but if last season made one thing clear, it’s that things could always be much worse.

Besides, at least there’s one bright spot on Duke’s depth chart: it no longer features human wrecking ball Jeremy Cash on defense.

The Week 9 Tech depth chart breakdown follows. The official chart is up here (but does not reflect Thursday’s injury report), and changes from the previous game appear in bold text.

Offensive Skill Positions

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

The bad news is that Mills’ absence leaves the offense without its best power running threat at B-back. The good news is that Marshall is more than capable of carrying the load as he makes his first start since mid-September. If Tech’s interior linemen have trouble with Duke’s experienced defensive tackles, it could be a long day for Marshall, but he has the speed and agility to generate big plays if he reaches the second level or gets space on the perimeter.

Allen will resume his role as the second-stringer for this week. The senior can’t match the athleticism of the younger B-backs ahead of him, but he’s a decent pass blocker who can grind out tough yards and spell Marshall on long drives. Barring further injuries, it’s unlikely that redshirt freshmen Quaide Weimerskirch and KirVonte Benson will line up at B-back outside of garbage time.

The only other changes are minor shuffles at A-back. Green has started every game this season, and that is now reflected on the depth chart. He’ll continue to split the majority of the carries with Lynch and Searcy, the two big-play threats, and Willis and Lynn Griffin will continue to round out the rotation.

Jeune and Stewart are both coming off of two consecutive strong games after struggling early on to get separation on their routes. The caveat is that those two games were against the ACC’s worst pass defense and a Sun Belt team. Duke has been fairly average against the pass this season, but their secondary will still be an important test for Tech’s receivers.

Offensive Line

Offensive Line
Position First String Second String
LT Jahaziel Lee (Fr.) Jake Stickler (R-So.)
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 Andrew Marshall (Jr.)
Eason Fromayan (R-Jr.)
n/a

Offensive tackle has been a revolving door for Tech all season, and the true freshman Lee’s recent emergence has shaken things up even more. After a solid performance against Georgia Southern in his first career start, head coach Paul Johnson has named him the starter at left tackle until further notice, meaning two true freshmen are now the starters on the left side of the line. Lee and Braun acquitted themselves well against Southern, but they’ll face a challenge this week in neutralizing Duke’s disruptive linebackers and safeties on perimeter runs.

On the other side, Marshall will be the starter at right tackle, with Fromayan spelling both of them. The notable omission at tackle is sophomore Trey Klock, who has been dealing with injury troubles all season but was able to practice this week. It’s likely that he’ll remain on the sidelines if Tech moves the ball well early on and will only enter the game if Lee and Marshall struggle.

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.)

There are no changes on the defensive front. Simmons remains on the second string at defensive end, but he’s earned a permanent role in third-down situations and has begun to cut into the rush ends’ playing time. That trend will continue unless Freeman and Saint-Amour do a better job of getting to the quarterback and at least hurrying throws.

It may only be a matter of time at this point. Through seven games, Freeman and Saint-Amour have combined for three tackles for loss, one sack, and seven QB hurries. Simmons on his own has five tackles for loss, a sack, and 11 QB hurries.

Linebackers

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

Alford got the nod as Davis’s replacement against Southern, and that should happen again this week. As the primary backup this week, Alexander should see an increased role, partly because the sophomore’s speed and pass-rushing ability are the closest thing to Davis’s skillset among the linebackers. Duke runs the ball frequently to take pressure off of redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones, so Tech’s WLBs will get plenty of action in 4-3 alignments.

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.)

The big news in the defensive backfield is that Durham should be back to full strength. The junior missed the Miami and Pitt games with an injury, then started the Georgia Southern game before having to depart early. If he’s at 100 percent, Durham’s presence at boundary corner would be a major boost for the secondary. In his absence, Simmons proved to be a very capable corner, particularly in man coverage, and he will continue to factor into the rotation—possibly even at field corner, where Lance Austin has been useful in run support but has struggled in coverage all season.

The safeties were the stars of the defense a week ago, in no small part because defensive coordinator Ted Roof put Gray in position to make plays by allowing him to play closer to the line instead of 15-20 yards off the ball on every play. Gray had a strong game against Duke a year ago when he frequently lined up in the box, and Tech’s success on Saturday may hinge on how aggressively Roof deploys Gray and Griffin.

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.)

Nothing has changed on special teams for Tech. Butker had his first missed field goal of the season against Georgia Southern, missing a relatively easy 32-yarder that would have given Tech a 24-10 lead, but he was his usual automatic self on kickoffs and extra points. Punting remains hit-or-miss, but Rodwell is in no danger of losing his job at this point. The revelation has been the returners—Green on kickoffs and Stewart on punts—as they have shown a knack for gaining extra yardage, particularly Stewart.