Moving forward into the second half of the season, Georgia Tech is sitting in a pretty solid position at 3-3, but as always, there’s still more we can learn about this team. Before we get there, let’s take a look back and review what we learned from the Duke game.
Can Georgia Tech win in Durham?
Yes! It turns out they can! Now let’s see if they can do it again, but in Charlottesville. More on this later!
Can Georgia Tech’s running backs have a bounce-back game?
Georgia Tech’s running game has surprisingly struggled in the last couple games, and Duke should have served as a nice bounce-back given their poor rush defense. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. While Dontae Smith was able to have a solid day, getting seven carries for 42 yards, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Mason did not have as good a performance, going for a combined 19 carries for 49 yards (2.6 yards/carry).
Brent Key serves as the offensive line coach and the run game coordinator, and I cannot tell you how infuriating it is to know that the man creating the run scheme is the same guy that knows firsthand how the offensive line is playing. It’s on the coaching staff to scheme to your strengths, and if the offensive coaching staff keeps calling run plays up the middle, then we are going to continue to see games like this.
Can Georgia Tech contain Mataeo Durant?
The answer to this is kind of. Durant went for 152 yards and a touchdown, yes, but it took Durant more than 40 carries to get there. Further, Duke also only had a rush success rate of 38.3 percent (lower than Tech’s in the game) and averaged -0.18 EPA per rush. So yeah, Durant was able to get a lot of yards, but ultimately, those yards mattered very little in the game.
Now going into the second half of the season, let’s focus in on this weekend’s game against Virginia in Charlottesville to see what Tech can learn this weekend.
Can Georgia Tech win in Charlottesville?
Since 1990, Georgia Tech is 3-12 when playing UVA in Charlottesville. More specifically, since Bronco Mendenhall took over as the head coach of UVA, he has not lost to Georgia Tech at home. For a Georgia Tech squad that hasn’t inspired a whole lot of consistent confidence, this doesn’t seem like it bodes very well for the Yellow Jacket faithful.
All hope is not lost, though! While UVA seems to be a pretty good team this season, they are not unbeatable. In fact, I would argue that they are a worse team than the Pitt team that handily took care of Georgia Tech a couple weeks ago. Specifically, I want to look at their conference games from September, which saw them go 1-2. They managed to overcome a Miami team that has proven to not be very good but lost to an equally bad North Carolina team. The remaining loss came to Wake Forest. Those games were close because those teams were able to bring a balanced offensive attack and were able to keep up in a shootout (when they happened).
Will the bye week do the secondary any good?
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong has a knack for passing for a lot of yards, which has helped him get a NCAA high 2,824 passing yards, though that is mostly by sheer volume (Armstrong is second in the country with 329 pass attempts).
Georgia Tech’s secondary, on the other hand, has struggled mightily this season, as Georgia Tech is giving up 0.24 EPA/pass, which also happens to be what UVA’s offense is averaging. The secondary was supposed to be a strength the last couple years, and it feels like they have regressed each season. Hopefully the bye week did them some good, and they are able to bounce back against one of the best QBs they’ve faced this season.
Will the running game finally show up this weekend?
I talked about this earlier, and I’ll talk about it again. Quite simply, there is no excuse for Tech’s running game to have been as poor as it has been the last few games. No one will deny the talent that Jahmyr Gibbs has, and to see that he’s underachieving mightily, just averaging 3.6 yards a carry and only one conference game where he has averaged more than 4 yards a carry. It is absolutely dreadful to watch.
I mentioned this earlier, but let me say it again. Brent Key serves as Georgia Tech’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator, meaning that he schemes the run plays for Dave Patenaude to call when it comes to be game time. Knowing the struggles of the interior offensive line, it is so irritating to see those run plays be consistently schemed to be runs up the middle. You know your running backs thrive in space, so let them get in space!
Anyway, hopefully the run game can get things going this week. Go Jackets!