Last week, we covered the various pieces of the offense, so this week we’re moving over to the defense, which is a bit more uncertain, having brought in new defensive coordinator Nate Woody. Many (myself included) think he’ll do well, but time will tell.
Georgia Tech’s defensive line is something that always confounds me. It seems like they always seem to have at least decent talent on the line, but can never seem to do much with it. This year, that has a real chance to change, as the responsibilities of the line are changing.
With the 4-3 (or really the 4-2-5) that Tech ran, the defensive line was responsible for being the main pass rushers, as well as also being able to stop the run. Switching over to the 3-4, the line is no longer the main pass rushers, as that spot now belongs to the rush linebackers. That doesn’t mean they won’t be trying to get to the quarterback, just that they will have more time to focus on containing the run, which will be extremely beneficial.
Projected Starters: Anree Saint-Amour and Desmond Branch
Primary Reserves: Brentavious Glanton, Tyler Merriweather
It’s a no-brainer to start Saint-Amour and Branch at DE (well, it is since Tech isn’t moving ASA to linebacker). Saint-Amour is one of the most talented players on the defense, with a good combination of speed, length, and strength. Woody does prefer a smaller, quicker defensive end, which is odd for a 3-4, and Saint-Amour fits that mold well.
Branch is a little bit bigger, but also stronger. He was able to make a few impacts in games last season, with a sack against Miami and seven tackles against Virginia Tech. This is a better suited role for Branch, and he should definitely see some improvement this season.
Brentavious Glanton has been a bit of a man without a position since Woody was hired. He started at nose tackle, but ultimately got booted out to end, which is a more natural fit for him. Having a year to sit and adapt to the defense will be good for him, as he’s a much more natural fit as a 4-3 defensive tackle.
Projected Starter: Kyle Cerge-Henderson
Primary Reserves: Chris Martin and Brandon Adams
As much as people would love to see Brandon Adams come out and be the starter, since he is physically the closest thing the Yellow Jackets have to a true nose tackle, Tech will likely be going with seniority here in Cerge-Henderson, who is still a solid player, though he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he came in with.
Martin and Adams should both see plenty of playing time this year, and both will do a good job with it. They are both young and have shown plenty of sparks last season.
The way this lineup is setting up, the Yellow Jackets will have three seniors starting on the defensive line. Pretty much any time that happens, it’s a pretty safe bet that they should be pretty solid, with a chance to be good. The bottom line is that there will be improvement from last season.
Days to Kickoff: 47 days