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Football: Week 6 Depth Chart Update

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Miami v Georgia Tech Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

For the third straight week, the official football depth chart remains the same for Tech. A few recent developments are not reflected on the depth chart, though, and after focusing on some specific position battles last week, we’re back to examining the full depth chart this time around.

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.)

While Jordan has not played over the last couple weeks, Paul Johnson said this week that he still plans to use the sophomore in goal-line situations going forward. Tech has able to rely on the B-back Mills lately to power into the end zone, but in the weeks ahead, getting Jordan in the game would open up the midline option and add flexibility near the goal line.

Fresh off a performance with 108 total yards and three touchdowns, Mills is the unquestioned starter at B-back. He now has eight total touchdowns on the season, and both his rushing total and yards-per-carry average have increased over each of the past two games. Marshall’s still a very capable back who will get the occasional series and is a weapon in the passing game, but his best route to increased playing time would be to improve in pass blocking, as both he and Mills have struggled there this season.

The only real surprise at the skill positions is an omission at A-back. Griffin had only had three carries for 18 yards against Miami, but the senior saw plenty of snaps and made a major impact as a blocker, paving the way for Lynch and Green to have productive days on the ground. While the unit as a whole still has to improve its blocking, Griffin’s emergence is a major boost; his absence on the depth chart is odd, because he’s almost certain to figure into the rotation against Pitt.

Offensive Line

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

For all the position battles that supposedly remain this late in the season, the line rotation has mostly taken shape. The biggest concern across the board is simply depth.

When Klock is healthy, he’s the clear starter at right tackle. However, he had to miss the Miami game, which resulted in Fromayan starting on the left side and Marshall lining up at right tackle. The latter two have split time at left tackle to date; Marshall seemed to have the upper hand early on, but neither has taken hold of the position.

When Devine is out—or limited, as he was this past week—Tech is relying heavily on two players who had not played guard in the Tech offense until this offseason, Bryan and the true freshman Braun. The offseason losses gutted the depth Tech was building at guard, and it’s created an unfortunate situation where one injury can expose the lack of experience at the position. Center is similar, as if anything happened to Burden, it would force Tech to either rely on a true freshman in the senior’s place or move Marshall back to center, damaging the already limited depth at tackle.

Defensive Line

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

Paul Johnson praised Simmons’ recent efforts in the pass rush and indicated the junior, who leads the team with 4.0 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback hurries, will continue to see significant action. His rush skills have earned him a third-down situational role, but Rook-Chungong remains a more effective presence against the run. A long-shot possibility is that Simmons shifts to WDE to get him more playing time on first and second down.

On the inside, Cerge-Henderson started alongside Gamble against Miami, and both of them were major factors in Tech’s strong effort to contain Miami’s run game. Expect Cerge-Henderson to start again this weekend and for that duo to continue getting the nod for as long as Tech does an effective job of stopping the run.

Linebackers

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

With Tech relying almost exclusively on the 4-2-5 against Clemson and Miami, the WLB competition has been on hold for two weeks. It may well have been resolved already, given that Curry unseated the more experienced Lewis to start against Vanderbilt, but the top two SLBs and MLBs have all gotten plenty of playing time recently and that should apply to the WLBs too.

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.)

With Durham forced to miss the Miami game, Simmons and Walker split time at boundary corner, with Simmons getting the start. Both players have had strong moments to date—Simmons prevented a long completion in the Clemson game, and Walker had an interception against Vanderbilt—but they are still relatively inexperienced, and veteran Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya took advantage of that. Durham will start if healthy, but Simmons has earned playing time behind him and Walker will similarly spell Lance Austin at field corner.

Gray and Griffin remain the clear starters at safety, and Lawrence Austin has made an impact when on the field as the nickel back. According to Paul Johnson, Lawrence’s backup, Jalen Johnson, is in line to see more snaps either at the nickel or at safety if he continues to practice well.

Specialists

Specialists
Position First String Second String
K Harrison Butker (Sr.) Shaun Davis (R-Fr.)
P Ryan Rodwell (R-Sr.)
Grant Aasen (Jr.)
n/a
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.)

Rodwell has a firm grip on the punter job at this point, though he needs to work on more consistently producing long punts—or at least good net yardage. His first punt went 53 yards and his (shorter) second punt forced Miami to start from their own 10-yard line, but his last two punts only went 38 yards each and gave Miami decent field position.

The returners are fairly entrenched. Green has had only one kick return in the past two games, but Stewart has proven effective on punt returns lately, averaging 19.7 yards per return over Tech’s last two games (three returns in total, so admittedly a small sample size).