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Georgia Tech Football: Five Breakout Players - Quez Jackson

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The Defensive Spark Georgia Tech Needs

Get them turnovers
Lets get some Havoc going
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Everyone. Before getting to the article I was asked to introduce myself. I am one of From The Rumble Seat’s new writers. My name is Logan Sandor, I am Georgia Tech Graduate from the 2013 winter class. My parents raised me as a college football fan from birth, although they are Alabama fans. Since I refused to sacrifice goats to their shrine of Bear Bryant (now a shrine to Nick Saban) They disowned me. I’ve been a big Georgia Tech fan since the early 2000s. It’s been a roller coaster of an experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hope my writing can reflect the feelings of most Georgia Tech fans and hope to bring some levity whether times are good or bad. So that’s a generalization about me… now let’s get to what everyone is really here for, the article.

You may have heard of Quez Jackson, even if you’re not a big Georgia Tech fan. With 80 tackles on the year last season and a pre-season All-ACC player award behind him, it’s fair to say that Quez is making a name for himself. Honestly that’s not why I became a fan of him in the first place; he has a really cool name. You can make some great slogans using that name, which I will now subject you to because I am a terrible person. He’s the answer to the QUEZtion “who brings the pain?”. He’s on a QUEZt to shut down the opponents’ offense. He’s looking for his Jackson 5 (tackles per game). I could go on, but I will spare you the torture.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It shouldn’t be surprising that Quez has been putting up some great stats. When he joined the team out of high school he was ranked as the No. 25 linebacker in the nation by Rivals. In his Freshman campaign he played in all of Georgia Tech’s games as a reserve linebacker. He got some extra playing time at the end of the season due to injuries and ended up acquiring 15 tackles over the last 8 games of the season. In his sophomore year he increased that number to 49 tackles with 5 tackles for a loss. This put him in at 5th on the team for overall tackles.

Last year is where Quez’s talent really began to shine through. He finished the season with 80 tackles, only linebacker David Curry had higher total number of tackles. While Jackson only had one sack on the year, it was an impressive one against a guy named Trevor Lawrence who you may have heard of. He also had 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery, tying him with Zamari Walton as the highest on the team in both categories. This performance was enough to garner him a Pre-Season All ACC selection going into the upcoming season.

What Puts Quez Above the Rest

The thing that separates Quez from most other linebackers on the Georgia Tech roster is what I like to call the “Oh Lawd He Comin!” factor. If you look at the game tape of Quez, you’ll notice most of his highlights involve him moving at high speed across the field to catch up to running backs and receivers who have a good 5 yard head start on him. Jackson’s speed cannot be underestimated.

Jackson also has a great eye for the ball which allows him to trace the best route to a runner out of the backfield. It has also assisted him during most of his interceptions where he can place himself in the right space to make a play on the ball. He attributes most of this to putting in hours for film study and learning which plays the opponent will run in different formations.

Check out some Quez highlights

Quez tends to use the force from running up to make a big impact on his tackles. This adds to the intimidation factor when you know you have a 225 lb heat seeking missile looking to lay the pain on you. Quez doesn’t necessarily need to be on the field to have an impact either. You can often see him on the sidelines getting his teammates and fans in the stand hyped up. Quez never stops. Seeing how most of us struggle to find the energy to get out of bed most days (or maybe that’s just me), you gotta respect a guy who shows constant overdrive on and off the field.

Another thing that future players can learn from Quez is his public persona. Take a look at some of his interviews. This is something that we often take for granted as sports fans, but being a college student dealing with the media is not easy. You have to deal with many questions you may not be comfortable with, especially on a struggling team. Quez has done a good job being a face for the team and presenting himself and the rest of the team in a positive light.

Here’s an interview from 2019

Expected Impact and Things I’d Like to See This Season.

For me one of the biggest disappointments of the Georgia Tech defense last year was the drop in Havoc Rate. To simplify things, Havoc Rate is the average of plays in which a Tackle For a Loss, Forced Fumble, Pass Breakup, or Interception occurs. Robert Binion has a great article summarizing our stats from last year showing that the Havoc Rate dropped from 19% in 2019 to 15% in 2020. This is well below the national average of 21%. Robert postulates, and I agree with him, that the drop in Havoc Rate can be tied to the lack of Pressure Rate on the opposing QBs. Nationally a team’s defense will pressure the opposing QB on 27% of plays. Last year Georgia Tech only pressured the QB on 23% of plays.

So that’s a whole lot of percentages, what does all that mean? Well data can be interpreted different ways, but to me it means that the defense needs to find different ways to disrupt the opposing offense in the backfield. In short, we should look at blitzing more. Given that we have a fantastic weapon in Quez Jackson who is so fast and so good at reading plays, I’d like to see him have the chance to get in the opponents’ backfield and hit some people. If he’s allowed to blitz from the outside I think Quez can get those percentages way up. That is exactly what I want to see this season, more sacks and tackles for loss for Quez.

NCAA Football: The Citadel at Georgia Tech Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

I also want to see Quez as a leader on the field. Previously the leadership role at linebacker was held firmly by David Curry, but with his graduation the role has been entrusted to Quez Jackson. This is not the easiest task. If there’s one thing that Geoff Collins has improved on at GT it is the ability to bring in young talented players. Often Highschool players come in with a big fish in a small pond mentality; something Quez himself dealt with his freshman year on the team. I’d like to see Quez take this opportunity to inspire and invigorate our younger guys to achieve greater heights, bring some excitement on defense, and get the crowd as invested in the game as he is.

Conclusion

Honestly I’m surprised to be talking about Quez as a breakout player. He really broke out last year, and I think everyone expects him to put up a performance which will get him into the NFL draft this year. It would be more realistic to call him the star of the team on defense this year. This year Quez has made a pact with himself to improve in all facets of his life. This should be a terrifying idea for any offense going up against Georgia Tech since he was already a beast on the field to begin with. He has switched his number from 44 to 4 to symbolize him taking over a leadership role, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for him on the field. Expect some head turning plays to come out of number 4 this season.