Though the Georgia Tech Defense made modest improvements in 2019 (jumping from 100th to 71st in SP+), the defensive line remained the weakest unit. Looking at some defensive metrics from David Hale that highlight the impact of the defensive line, it’s not a pretty picture.
GT finished in the bottom three of the conference in getting pressure on third and long, stopping the run on third and short, and run stuffs (runs stopped for no gain or a loss). These weaknesses in disrupting the run and creating pressure on passing downs kept the defense from gettin off the field and putting the offense in more advantageous situations. For the defense to take the strides forward that we hope to see this season, the defensive line will make the biggest difference.
I set out to write this column about one Georgia Tech defensive lineman and ended up having my attention grabbed by defensive end Jordan Domineck. In only 7 games, the redshirt freshman recorded 25 tackles, he was fourth on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5, and he added two quarterback hits, which was second on the team. In areas where the GT defense was especially weak, Domineck was one of the few bright spots.
His performance against NC State demonstrated the rapid progress he made over the course of his first full season of play. On a third and medium, he shows good awareness and makes an impressive pursuit to keep the NC State QB from picking up the first down on a scramble.
In the most impactful defensive play of the game, Dominick single handedly knifes through the offensive line to bring down the wildcat back on a 4th and two from the GT ten yard line. As the chart above shows, our defense was particularly bad at run stuffs and at the % of short yardage runs converted against us. Here, Domineck makes both of those things happen at once with outstanding quickness and a good use of body technique and angle.
I love this third play. Domineck is about to begin a spin move as part of his pass rush on 3rd and 15, but he reads the play, adjusts and chases down the running back draw for no gain. He shows great instincts, body control, and acceleration to change up his strategy and direction in a split second.
Jordan Domineck was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against NC State, only 6 weeks after working his way above the line for the first time. After the NC State Game, Geoff Collins was impressed. Collins said. “Just talking about engaging in real time, his maturation, his development, and how far he’s coming in just a two-month period is really amazing.”
The trajectory of improvement from last year and the heights he could reach with continued improvement this year are tantalizing. As he continues to work on his body and strength, we may have our pass rusher and run disrupter of the future, ready to start for the next three seasons. I’m looking at Jordan Domineck to make an impact this fall.