Week 10 Preview: Georgia Tech
We have a 12:30 RSN gauntlet of a matchup pitting the Hokies against the Yellow Jackets in Blacksburg, VA this Saturday November 5th. The Hokies are coming off a tough loss in Raleigh under the lights on Thursday against NC State 22-21. While the Hokies have struggled in the win-loss column there have been some bright spots on the field in a tough year. The 3rd quarter in Raleigh was the most exciting by far this year where the Hokies had big plays and showed the potential when this offense is clicking. Georgia Tech had a bright spot in the middle of the season beating Pitt and Duke in back-to-back weeks after Geoff Collins was let go. Brent Key is 2-2 replacing Collins and has suffered two losses in a row to Virginia and a blowout loss against Florida State last week. Virginia Tech is coming off a long week of prep for Georgia Tech and both teams come in reeling heavily after losses.
Offense: Georgia Tech’s offense has been much like the Hokies this year, in a word, bleak. Part of the problem is that Jeff Sims their starter has been in and out of the lineup due to injury the past few weeks. Zach Pyron had a serviceable stat line last week in a losing effort against Florida State going 18-28 for 198 yards and a touchdown through the air. Anyone who has watched Georgia Tech this year knows that Jeff Sims adds a fire to the offense that Pyron and fellow backup Zach Gibson have not been able to match. As of today 11/3/2022, it seems like Sims is going to be ready to go Saturday and will likely be the guy if he is healthy. Sims’ best game came against Duke in a win where he led the team in rushing with 95 yards and threw for 227 yards and two scores. The two main pass catchers Sims will be slinging it to are E.J. Jenkins and Nate McCollum. Jenkins is also coming off a solid outing against Florida State with 3 receptions for 66 yards including a touchdown.
The running game has been really struggling as of late too. Hassan Hall and Dontae Smith split carries in the backfield for the Jackets. Hassan Hall has been the main guy and averaged 4.5 yards on 10 carries last week against Florida State. Hall has shown ability though this year in their biggest win of the year over Pitt he carried it 20 times for 157 yards. The offensive line has been a weak point as well with teams able to generate pressure on whoever is playing quarterback for Georgia Tech. The Georgia Tech unit presents somewhat of a favorable attack for the Hokie defense. Throughout this year’s struggles the Hokies have been able to plug up running lanes effectively, but the air raid has presented problems. The Jackets are a team that like to establish the run but to beat the Hokies they will have to find some success in the air.
Defense: The defense for Georgia Tech ranks firmly in the bottom 20% of FBS teams. They are giving up over 28 points per game. It has been an up and down year for the Jackets in general and the defense is no different. They gave up 41 and 42 points to Clemson and Ole Miss respectively at the beginning of the year. They rebounded well after the firing of Collins against Pitt and Duke holding both teams to under their average of 28 points. The Georgia Tech defense has really struggled in the past few games. They gave up over 600 yards of offense to Florida State. They only tallied one tackle for loss last week and no sacks.
Ayinde Eley leads the Georgia Tech defense in tackles with 82 tackles. Charlie Thomas leads the team in interceptions as a linebacker with 2 picks on the year. Eley and Thomas are a dynamic linebacker duo and have performed well together. The Hokies have looked to establish the run in most of their game plans throughout this year, but this game on paper presents a bit differently for the Hokie offense. Grant wells will have to utilize his weapons in Kaleb Smith and Daequan Wright often because the secondary for Georgia Tech has been porous against other ACC opponents. The running back situation is firmly up in the air for Virginia Tech so I would expect to see some more deep shots from Wells. The secondary for Georgia Tech is young and inexperienced so the game plan will likely be to attack these unproven defensive backs.
Prediction: This is a far cry from the years of the costal where the winner of this game went to the ACC championship. This is a good matchup for Virginia Tech because they will be able to stifle the run heavy attack of the Yellow Jackets. The X factor will be Jeff Sims. He is an incredible athlete playing quarterback for Georgia Tech and as he goes the offense goes. If he is truly at 100% the Hokies need to always account for his running ability.
Grant Wells will have the opportunities against a weak secondary for Georgia Tech and expect a big day for the experienced walk-on in Kaleb Smith. With the running back situation the way it looks at this point for Tech, the game plan has to be to let the ball fly. In a down year overall for the Hokies, the defense has really kept the team in a lot of games, most actively on display last week. The defense will do enough to limit the Georgia Tech offense and I expect a big game from Grant Wells through the air. I think we will see Wells eclipse the 250-yard mark for just the third time this year.
Georgia Tech 17 Virginia Tech 31