Georgia Tech Football: Are The Jackets Really Ready for Conference Play?


The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are set to go into ACC Conference play this Saturday at 12 PM on ESPN against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

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Let’s face it, the Yellow Jackets are Georgia’s only undefeated D-1 team right now at 3-0, but the way that it has been done is pretty lackluster.

The Yellow Jackets do have a built in excuse on the defensive side of the ball with all of the youth that is in the lineup learning Ted Roof’s new 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

But at the same time, it is not as though they are getting killed by complex offenses. It really just seems that the Jackets’ defense is getting gashed by basic run plays or hit deep in the air on a missed assignment.

Every game that the Yellow Jackets have played  so far this year there has been a big run made by the opposition.

Against Wofford it was the 92-yard touchdown run up the gut by Ray Smith. Against Tulane it was a 61-yard pass from Tanner Lee to Xavier Rush.

Then, against Georgia Southern, it was a Matt Brieda 69-yard TD run and a 68-yard TD pass from Kevin Ellison to B.J. Johnson.

The Jackets defense has given up big plays all season long giving, what some would consider weaker competition, confidence that made the game more interesting than it needed to be.

Quayshwan Nealy and Paul Davis have been the most active on defense when it comes to tackles. However, you can see the growing pains that this defense is going through as they learn this new scheme.

The offense for the most part has been strong. The team is averaging  39.3 ppg through it’s three games and Justin Thomas has shown improvement week after week.

Thomas is easily the straw that stirs the drink for the Jackets triple-option attack. He has rushed 43 times for 278 yards and a touchdaown.

Thomas  is also slinging the rock pretty well completing 53.2% of his passes for 485 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception.

The thing that Yellow Jacket fans really have to like is how the Yellow Jackets are running the ball with authority.

Paul Johnson’s offense is pounding the rock at a 6.0 yards per carry clip and averaging 306.0 yards per game.

When the Jackets are running the ball effectively all bets are off. Zach Laskey has been running down hill all season long and is the second leading rusher behind Thomas with 236 yards on 44 carries.

Deandre Smelter has been the big play receiver for the Yellow Jackets when they have gone to the air averaging 26.4 yards per catch. He has nine grabs for 238 yards and three touchdowns.

The thing is that the offense is starting to look like it is rounding into form while the defense is still looking to get some consistent traction.

The offense has had times when they have stalled but that is to be expected on occassion. In the end, the offense has been the most consistent bunch.

Defensively, the Yellow Jackets have been consistent about one thing in particular and that is giving up big plays.

That is something that is going to have to be tightened up starting this weekend when the Yellow Jackets go in to Blacksburg, VA to take on the Virgina Tech Hokies.

So are the Yellow Jackets ready? They seem to be resilient enough to take on whatever is thrown at them in conference play, and sometimes resilience can overcome deficiencies and mistakes.