If you watched Georgia Tech‘s defense at all last season, you knew they were a unit that was on the verge of greatness. This season, defensive coordinator Ted Roof has made a change that may put them over that hump.
Spread offenses that combine speed and a no-huddle effect on many plays have become all the rage in college football (you know it’s not just a fad when Nick Saban wants a rule change to slow it down). Last year the Yellow Jackets were superb against the run, finishing 11th in the nation and allowing only 115.77 yards per game.
Against the pass? That was a different story.
Teams that had depth at wide receiver and could spread the line of scrimmage feasted on Tech’s 4-3 set. The Yellow Jacket defensive backs simply weren’t big or fast enough to keep up with the top receivers, and the linebackers were constantly put into mismatch situations. The end result was 244.5 yards of passing offense per game given up, good for 85th in the nation.
This season Roof has made a change to the Jackets base defense, going with a 4-2-5 look (nickel set), to compensate for 3-WR sets sent out by the offense.
Now in practice, the Georgia Tech offense is no Oregon to be sure, but the initial results from this change show that the defense feels more comfortable and confident in pass coverage, while really losing nothing on the run stop up front.
The change from three linebackers to two will mean those gaps are going to have to be filled against the run even quicker than normal, and if a linebacker guesses wrong, it could end up as a big gainer. But on the whole, the run defense looks just as solid in practice, and the pass coverage has vastly improved.
Watch for Quayshawn Nealy to really have a coming out party with this defensive set.
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