Boston College makes the trek down to Bobby Dodd to face Georgia Tech this weekend. Both teams were last seen winning prior to their bye weeks. Our [bald] Eagles defeated the entire United States Military, while the Yellow Jackets had a memorable last dash win over Miami. But just the week before that, that same team lost to our old friend Scott Loeffler’s Bowling Green team. This team has been a rollercoaster all season. Will the real Georgia Tech please stand up? Here’s what versions might show up this weekend.
Potent Passing Game
Quarterback Haynes King has greatly lifted the Georgia Tech offense. The Texas A&M transfer now leads the ACC in passing yards (1,631) and touchdowns (16), and is fifth in passer rating. Georgia Tech is now top 50 in both passing success rate and passing EPA per game. He’s also proven to be an effective runner, which we’ll get into in a moment. The only real concern has been the turnovers. King has thrown six total including two apiece in his last two outings.
Tech really shook up their team with transfers including four in the receiver room — all four of whom have over 100 yards through six games. Dominick Blaylock from Georgia and Christian Leary, who brought home the game winner against the U, from Alabama are two key veteran targets. However, it’s true freshman Eric Singleton and redshirt sophomore Malik Rutherford who are leading the show. Singleton leads the team with 355 yards and five touchdowns, and both he and Rutherford have high end speed to cause problems down the field, a sore spot for the Eagles secondary. Another A&M arrival, Chase Lane, has been dealing with injuries the past few games, but is expected to be back for this game.
This isn’t the strongest run game, rated outside the top 100 in most statistical categories, but they do have a few options to tote the rock. The leader of the pack is Jamal Haynes. He’s fifth in the conference with over 400 yards. The former wide receiver has shown good explosiveness and is averaging over 5 yards a clip. Haynes’s old position skills carry over here well, with 12 carries for 112 yards on the season.
Former Louisville man Trey Cooley is second on the team with 300 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns, primarily on the ground. However, he has been largely ineffective these past few games. The aforementioned King has also aided the rushing attack with 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. It might serve well to try and force the Yellow Jackets to run more given how BC’s secondary has been fairing thus far.
The offensive line has taken huge strides from its poor form last season and is now more than serviceable. They’re equally solid in both pass pro and run blocking. They’ve kept King upright, only allowing a shade over 1 sack a game — top 20 in the country. PFF has them rated just slightly worse in run blocking, but again they’ve leaned very heavily on the passing game where it only matters so much.
Defensive Coaching Change
After the loss to Bowling Green, head coach Brent Key made a big shake up demoting the team’s defensive coordinator of four seasons and giving Kevin Sherrer full control. That change clearly paid dividends against Miami. The team doubled their interception total with three on the night, and kept the Hurricanes in check in the red zone.
Run defense has not been a strong suit for Tech, but they did manage to keep Miami’s then top-10 rushing offense in check. Regardless, they are still the third worst in the country allowing 214 yards per game on the ground. Per Hafley today, Kye Robichaux is expected to be fully fit so the whole group should be good to go.
Kyle Kennard has been the team’s top edge rusher with four sacks against Wake alone. He’s shown strong consistency and pass rush ability throughout the season. The 6-5 Kennard has made a whole lot of game wrecking plays.
Linebacker Paul Moala has been disruptive all over including the highlight forced fumble when Miami refused to kneel. The senior is tied with Kennard for the team lead in TFLs (5.5), and second in sacks (2). He leads the linebacking corps in snaps and is their go to guy. Kyle Efford doesn’t start, but is their highest graded linebacker and is expected to earn more time as the season goes on.
The team’s overall passing defense has been about average, but they do put out a tall secondary to contend with. LaMiles Brooks was given all ACC honors at safety. Corner Clayton Powell-Lee has been the team’s brightest star. He’s the second leading tackler and has one of the unit’s six interceptions. Brooks has another one and leads the team with four passes defended. Powell-Lee has had a few missed tackles however.
Aside from Joe Griffin, the Eagles have a smaller wide receiver room, so we won’t be trying many 50-50 balls. Hafley did indicate that tight end George Takacs might finally get more involved again. He could help close the gap on that disparity if needed.