This article will kick off a new preview series I’ll be doing this season in which I will be previewing a couple things I think I know coming into that week’s game (hence the name of the series).
We won’t officially know the starters until the game starts
Louisville opted not to release a depth chart prior to this weekend’s game. Perhaps it was to gain some sort of competitive advantage, or maybe it was just to make things a bit harder for the first-year head coach. Whatever the case may be, it prompted Georgia Tech to include this absolutely wonderful page in their media guide:
Although it would have been easy enough to just leave this page out, I appreciate the pettiness of Georgia Tech, whether it be the SID staff or the coaching staff, to still include a blank depth chart in the media guide.
What this means is that we won’t officially know starters until we see them walk out there, and it will be Week 2 until we have an idea of what the formal depth chart looks like. I don’t know that there will be any surprises there, especially since we already know who is going to be starting at QB.
The Offensive Line might be better
It’s no secret that the offensive line has mostly been a cluster[Foreigner] since before Paul Johnson retired. It’s one of the primary reasons Brent Key was brought in to be the offensive line coach. Unfortunately, the former guy supposedly tampered with how Key wanted to develop the offensive line, and things never actually got better.
This year, I think the offensive line has a chance to flourish. Key is now the head coach, and he was able to hand-pick his OL coach, Geep Wade. Wade has bounced around a couple of lower-level schools, but he’s also had success at each of them. Last season at App State, rushers gained 5.2 yards/attempt. Rushing plays also saw a success rate of 44.7% (27th percentile). Their OL also allowed half as many sacks this year (17) as they did in 2021 (34), though quarterback Chase Brice also had about half as many attempts this season.
Georgia Tech is also now able to grow the offensive line more organically instead of relying mostly on graduate transfers. Sure, transfer guard Connor Scaglione will probably be a starter, but it’s entirely possible that he’s the only starter who has not played his whole career at Tech. I’m counting Corey Robinson in this because he only spent his freshman year at Kansas, where he redshirted. The other presumed starters (Jakiah Leftwich, Weston Franklin, and Jordan Williams) were all recruited to Tech as freshmen.
With all these pieces coming together, I think there’s a decent chance that Tech’s offensive line will take a step forward this season. At the very least, it won’t be nearly as bad as it was last season. Georgia Tech ranked 117th in the country last season in sacks allowed. Georgia Tech quarterbacks took 39 sacks across the season, which is an average of more than 3 per game. There is absolutely no way Tech should be that bad again on the offensive line.
We will get a better idea of Tech’s pass rush
The large majority of Tech’s pass rush last season came from Keion White, who led Georgia Tech in TFL (14) and sacks (7.5). After White, though, nobody had more than 3.5 sacks. Of the returning defensive linemen, nobody had more than 5.5 TFL. So frankly, at this point, I don’t know exactly where Tech’s pass rush is going to be coming from.
The first guy I’m looking at is the presumed replacement for White: Sylvain Yondjouen. I’ve been a huge fan of Yondjouen since he came to the US. He is a high-energy and high-motor guy who always seems to impact the game when he’s on the field, but between injuries and depth chart placement, he’s never been able to make a big impact across the season. Sitting behind White last season, Yondjouen still collected 2.5 sacks and 5 TFL. Now that he’s going to be THE guy on one side of the defensive line, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him more than double those numbers this season.
Georgia Tech isn’t the only one with a new head coach, and that might play to Tech’s advantage
Georgia Tech head coach Brent Key isn’t the only new head coach making his debut this weekend. Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm will also be making his debut Friday night. Both head coaches are also alums of the schools they are coaching. Louisville coaches have a total record of 9-12-2 in coaching debuts, and Brohm sits at 5-4 in season openers, though he’s won just two of his last six openers.
With Louisville and Brohm both less than stellar in debut games, I think that only helps Georgia Tech’s chances. It’s also important to note that Georgia Tech has never in its history lost to Louisville, granted the record stands at 2-0. But still, let’s ride this win streak to three straight!