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Georgia Tech Football: Five Newbies to Watch For - DT Brandon Adams

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Brandon Adams

Countdown to Kickoff: 64 Days

With the last entry in the “Newbies to Watch for” series, we’ll take a look at perhaps the most important newbie for 2016: Brandon Adams.

Fit

The 2014 and 2015 editions of Ted Roof’s defense left much to be desired along the Front 7. The logical conclusion to be made here is that the talent is lacking, leading the Jackets to be bullied up front. However, a Georgia Tech DT was just drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft, and a DE was a Freshman All-American in 2014. That’s not Alabama levels of talent, but it’s not mid-major levels of talent either. One could argue that Ted Roof’s schemes have held the defense back, and I certainly have, but there’s more to it than that. Both of Georgia Tech’s starting DTs last year were both ideally suited for 5-Technique roles in a 3-4 defense, but were instead playing 1-Tech and 3-Tech roles in a 4-3. Tech’s young DTs, Cerge-Henderson and Glanton, are best suited for a 3-Tech role. There simply isn’t anyone on this roster who should be playing a 1-Tech at the Power-5 level. Brandon Adams could fill that role from Week 1.

Effect on Scheme

For those who are unaware, the 1-Tech’s job in a 4-3 defense is to eat blocks in the run game and push the pocket in the pass game. They don’t have 2-gap responsibility like NTs in a 3-4, but they are still relied upon to eat space. Tech hasn’t been able to do this effectively for years. The most glaring effect on the defense’s performance has manifested in the run game. Teams have been able to run efficiently on Tech for years, much like Pitt did this past year. Obviously, a big NT would help to cut down on opponent rush efficiency by forcing double teams and anchoring the line. The effect goes beyond simple run defense improvements, however, and reaches into the pass game and other perplexing struggles the Jackets have faced under Roof.

All Tech fans are aware of the pass rush struggles the Jackets have had since the departure of Jeremiah Attaochu, and are weary of watching the opposing team repeatedly have a clean pocket. Attaochu was a special talent who forced opposing defenses to compensate. With him gone, there was nobody across the line who forced opponents to adjust. Adams could bring that spark. It won’t show up on the stat sheet, but Adams will force opposing OL to pay extra attention to him so that he doesn’t simply bull rush his way to the QB. This will allow the DEs to rush more aggressively, allowing them to finally live up to their potential.

Ted Roof’s defenses have struggled mightily against dual-threat QBs during his tenure here, and this may be the area where Adams could have the most profound effect. To analyze his potential impact, we’ll need to first look at how opponents utilize running QBs. All levels of football have seen an explosion of the read-option over the past few years. Why? Well, when the QB is an active runner instead of just handing the ball off, the runner has 10 blockers instead of 9. For a defense like Georgia Tech’s, that’s a serious problem. Nobody on the team can eat up those extra blockers these runs utilize, and the margin for error becomes razor-thin for the defense. By adding a player like Adams, teams won’t be able to block the back end of the Tech defense quite as easily.

Expectations

While the prospect of Brandon Adams is exciting, it will be important to temper expectations. I will be shocked if Adams doesn’t play, but true freshmen are rarely stars in the trenches. This goes for both the Offensive and Defensive Lines. Many haven’t yet filled out their frames, and aren’t ready for the physicality of the college game. Adams does currently have Power-5 measurables, but it’s unlikely that he has developed the required playing strength at this stage. Few players his age have.

That said, Adams doesn’t have to be a star this year to help the Tech defense. He doesn’t even need to be good. Simply playing at a decent level will allow the Jackets to fill their most gaping hole on defense and cease compensating for the massive lack of a true Nose Tackle.