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Football: Week 12 Depth Chart Update

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Nearly everyone is healthy again—just in time for Senior Day

Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

A week ago, Tech walked into Blacksburg without five offensive starters—a group that included the team’s starting quarterback, leading rusher, and best offensive lineman. Amid all that, they walked out with a decisive victory over the No. 14 team in the country.

Tomorrow, when the Jackets take the field on Senior Day, they’ll do so at nearly full strength. Only one Week 1 starter will not be on the field on Saturday, and he’ll be returning for the season finale against Georgia. It’s a remarkably happy turnaround for a team that was ravaged by injuries a year ago, and it can only help as the team makes a push to finish the regular season with eight wins.

The official depth chart indicates few changes from last week, but several players who were listed as starters a week ago ended up missing the game with injuries. Thus, the depth chart below will reflect changes from last week’s actual lineup 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.)

Given that Matthew Jordan now has a perfect record as a starter, is there a QB controversy brewing in Atlanta? Let’s let Bill Belichick answer that.

No, Saturday will of course belong to Thomas, who has practiced all week and is ready to make his final start at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It’s been a bittersweet final season for Thomas, a decorated three-year starter who has been fantastic all season but has watched his team fall out of ACC contention nonetheless.

With Mills suspended for one more week, Marshall will make his second consecutive start (and fifth of the season, including the Vanderbilt game). The sophomore had one of the best games of his career against Virginia Tech; his 143-yard performance represented the highest rushing total by a Tech running back this season and his best rushing output since a 159-yard game against Pittsburgh last season. More importantly, he did not fumble once against a Virginia Tech defense that was frequently looking to strip the ball away. His backup will be Allen, a senior who barely saw the field on offense a week ago but should have a greater role against Virginia.

The big news for the A-backs is the return of Green, who missed Georgia Tech’s last two games after suffering a leg injury against Duke. Green should step back into the starting role he held all season, and his presence is a major boost to the offense’s collective perimeter blocking ability. His return enables Tech to return to a four-man rotation at A-back after relying on Lynch, Searcy, and Willis for the past two weeks.

Nothing has changed with the receivers, who had relatively little to do on Saturday with Tech relying so heavily on quarterback and B-back runs. Stewart brought in a reception on the opening drive and Jeune hauled in a big completion on third-and-14 in the fourth quarter.

Offensive Line

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

Burden’s absence last week bumped Cooper into the starting lineup, putting Tech in the bizarre position of starting three true freshmen alongside one another on the offensive line. The inexperience showed at times—particularly with Cooper, who had several issues with Jordan on the center-QB exchange—but their blocking was sound and helped to pave the way for big days by Jordan and Marcus Marshall. The line should get a boost with the return of Andrew Marshall at right tackle, but Lee appears to have a firm grip on the starting left tackle job.

Two notable oddities remain. The first is the right guard situation, where neither player has really stood out. Bryan was pulled early after a pair of false start penalties on the same drive, but Devine struggled to get any leverage against Virginia Tech’s linemen and linebackers and was frequently pushed around. The other is that Trey Klock, the right tackle early in the season before injuries took hold, has not been on the depth chart for several weeks. Klock has played in each of Georgia Tech’s games since the bye week.

It’s also worth noting that I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten at least one offensive line starter incorrect every week (even though, yes, I’m largely just reporting what the official depth chart says). So place your bets on which one it’ll be this week...

Defensive Line

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

The big surprise against Virginia Tech was that Kallon, who lost his starting job to Cerge-Henderson earlier in the season, reclaimed his spot on the first string and got the majority of the snaps. He was solid if unspectacular, recording a sack and three total tackles while his fellow senior, Gamble, had his way with the Virginia Tech offensive line. Officially Kallon and Cerge-Henderson are listed evenly on the depth chart, but it would be only natural to give the senior Kallon the nod on Senior Day.

The other player to watch here is Saint-Amour, who has been working his way into more playing time lately and picked up two sacks against the Hokies.

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.)

The linebacker depth remains the same. Expect Davis to deliver a strong performance in his final home game, and Alford should see plenty of action 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.)

The secondary too remains unchanged from a week ago. The playing time splits have been interesting, though: while the corners frequently rotate out to get less tired players in the lineup, the safeties Gray and Griffin tend to be on the field for most or all of the defensive snaps.

Reserves Jalen Johnson and Christian Campbell remain suspended pending an investigation by Georgia Tech’s Office of Student Integrity. It’s unlikely they will play again this season.

Special Teams

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.) Nate Cottrell (R-Fr.)
PR Brad Stewart (So.) Qua Searcy (R-Fr.)

The kick return game gets a nice boost with the return of Green, who has already taken one kickoff to the house this season. Cottrell did a respectable job in his absence, and his speed alone makes him an intriguing kick return option for the future, but Green is more experienced in kickoff returns and is more effective at cutting and changing direction when needed.