#41 Georgia Tech Football 2017 Preview


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Overall Rank: #41

#8 ACC

Georgia Tech finished last season strong and enter the 2017 campaign with enough momentum to make a serious run at an ACC Coastal Division title. The Yellow Jackets upset a ranked Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg on November 12th. Following a home victory over Virginia, Georgia Tech traveled to Athens and upset Georgia 28-27. A month later Coach Paul Johnson led his team to another victory over an SEC team, this time Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl. 
2016 Record: 9-4, 4-4
2016 Bowl: TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Kentucky (W 33-18)
Coach: Paul Johnson (71-48 at Georgia Tech, 177-87 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Ted Roof
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dedrick Mills, RB, 771 yards
Passing: Matthew Jordan, QB, 111 yards
Receiving: Clinton Lynch, WR, 490 yards
Tackles: Corey Griffin, S, 82
Sacks: Anree Saint-Amour, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Lance Austin, DB, 3; Lawrence Austin, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Ricky Jeune, WR Brad Stewart, S A.J. Gray, LB Brant Mitchell, CB Step Durham
Key Losses: QB Justin Thomas, RB Marcus Marshall, OL Freddie Burden, LB P.J. Davis, DL Patrick Gamble, K Harrison Butker
This Georgia Tech offense has a lot of potential. The young offensive line showed their potential last season and should be a very strong group in 2017. Dedrick Mills returns at running back after rushing for 771 and 12 touchdowns as a freshman. Clinton Lynch, Qua Searcy and J.J. Green have some experience too and will add to the always effective Georgia Tech ground game. Those three will be options in the passing game too, but the traditional receivers are back too, led by Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart. But of course the most important position for an option offense is at quarterback. Justin Thomas has been the starter for the last three seasons and now it is time to pass the torch to Matthew Jordan. Jordan saw a little action last season as Thomas’ backup. However, an injury in the spring has kept the door open for other competitors. This should be Jordan’s team though by the fall and he will not only have to effectively run the option offense, but also be enough of a threat passing the ball to keep the opposition honest.
Georgia Tech has struggled getting to the quarterback lately and that needs to change if this team is going to compete for a spot in the ACC title game. With an offense that can eat up clock, forcing a couple turnovers is often enough to win. It happened at times last season, but needs to occur more. There is experience on the defensive line, but leading pass rusher Patrick Gamble, who accounted for 7.5 of the team’s 18 sacks, is gone. With the departure of P.J. Davis, Brant Mitchell will become the new leader of the linebackers. He recorded 71 tackles and two interceptions in 2016. With an improved pass rush, the secondary will be able to make more big plays. Lance Austin and Lawrence Austin picked off three passes each and both have the potential to make more big plays this year. Safety Corey Griffin is the leader of the unit after recording a team high 82 tackles.
The Bottom Line:
The ACC Coastal Division could be wide open, but it will not take long for Georgia Tech to establish where they are in the pecking order. They open ACC action against Pittsburgh and North Carolina, two teams who also have division title hopes. The good news is those two games are at home. Virginia Tech also comes to Bobby Dodd Stadium in mid-November. Getting those games at home is huge, but Georgia Tech still needs to break in a new quarterback and find a pass rush.
Projected Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 258.1 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 129.2 (124, 14)
Total Offense: 387.2 (85, 11)
Scoring Offense: 28.2 (70, 8)
Rushing Defense: 172.2 (64, 10)
Pass Defense: 229.4 (68, 9)
Total Defense: 401.6 (59, 9)
Scoring Defense: 24.5 (39, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (38, 4)
Sacks: 1.38 (114, 13)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (17, 2)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#244 Bruce Jordan-Swilling