The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to finish their season off on the right foot with a TaxSlayer Bowl victory over the SEC’s Kentucky Wildcats.
It’s the final day of the 2016 and the last day of Georgia Tech’s 2016 football campaign. In a season in which the Yellow Jackets bounce back from a disappointing 2015 season that saw them go 3-9. When all said and done, the Yellow Jackets had a successful season that was filled with plenty of great moments.
Before diving into today’s game day preview, feel free to take a look at the previews of Kentucky’s offense and defense.
Now, here’s our game day preview of today’s game.
- Where: EverBank Field – Jacksonville, FL
- When: 11 a.m
- Channel: ESPN
- Announcers: Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, and Quint Kessenich
- Spread: -3 1/2 (Georgia Tech)
- S Darius West – Knee (OUT)
- LB Kobie Walker – Shoulder (OUT)
- QB Drew Barker – Back (OUT)
- LB De’Niro’ Laster – Knee (OUT)
- WR Jeff Badet – HIP (Questionable)
- LB Jordan Jones – Back (Questionable)
- Georgia Tech
- DL Jordan Woods – Upper Body (Questionable)
History Between Georgia Tech and Kentucky:
Georgia Tech and Kentucky have met a total of 18-times over the course of college football history but have not met since 1960 when the Yellow Jackets won 23-13. That being said, the Yellow jackets all-time hold an 11-7 series edge and have won the last two games these two teams have met.
- The Yellow Jackets will play in the 44th bowl game overall and the eighth under Paul Johnson in nine years.
- All-Time Bowl Record: 24-19-0
- Under Paul Johnson: 2-5
- Last Bowl Game: 2014 Orange Bowl – 49-34 victory over Mississippi State
Two Keys to Victory for Georgia Tech:
- Contain Benjamin Snell Jr and Stanley Williams
It’s no secret that the Georgia Tech defense has struggled when it comes to the rush defense. Like the Yellow Jackets, Kentucky’s offense is heavily reliant on the rushing attack. This season, Kentucky had two 1,000-yard rushers in Snell Jr and Williams. If the Yellow Jackets can keep the two limited and not allowing them to break away for big runs, they’ll already have a great advantage on Kentucky.
- Force Turnovers
While Kentucky’s defense is as just as good at forcing turnovers, if Georgia Tech wants to win on Saturday. They will have to win the turnover battle, when Kentucky choose to throw the ball, Georgia Tech will have to be ready to pounce on the ball.
Last Time Georgia Tech Took the Field:
Last time the Yellow Jackets took the field, they pulled off a spectacular 28-27 come from behind win on a last second touchdown against in-state rival Georgia.
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns while also throwing for 164-yards through the air. Sophomore RB Clinton Lynch lead all rushers for Georgia Tech with 59-yards and a touchdown on just four carries.
You can view the games highlights in the video below.
Last Time Kentucky Took the Field:
Like their opponent in Georgia Tech, Kentucky also pulled out a thrilling last-minute victory over their in-state rival in 11th ranked Louisville.
In a game that saw the Wildcats trade punches with the Cardinals eventually saw Kentucky win on a 47-yard field goal by Austin Macginnis with just seconds left on the clock. The Wildcats a team had over 581 yards including 229-yards on the ground.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson showed he could throw the ball, putting up 352-yards and three touchdowns on 29 passing attempts.
Players to Watch:
- Georgia Tech: RB Dedrick Mills
Without running back Marcus Marshall, Dedrick Mills will see most of the carries during the game, and most likely more than usual. That being said, Mills has the talent to break a few big runs on the Kentucky defense, who struggles against the run. If the Yellow Jackets can get Mills go early on, the sky is the limit in terms of the amount of yards Mills could potentially put up when it’s all said and done.
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- Kentucky: LB Denzil Ware
As talked about in the preview of Kentucky’s defense yesterday, Kentucky LB Denzil Ware will arguably be the x-factor of Kentucky’s defense. The hybrid DE/LB is heavily disruptive which includes 12 tackle for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season.
Ware will most likely see time early on both at defensive end and linebacker until Kentucky figures out which way will be more beneficial for the Wildcats and which will be more disruptive against GT’s offense. If the Yellow Jackets aren’t careful, Ware could very well turn into a dangerous and extremely disruptive player.
In the end, Georgia Tech’s offense which was rejuvenated this season will be too much for the Wildcats defense to hold on Saturday. Kentucky’s biggest weakness happens to be where the Yellow Jackets offense is focused, the rushing attack.
Expect Dedrick Mills to potentially have a career day especially with the news that Marcus Marshall is transferring to James Madison and will not be playing Saturday. It wouldn’t be all that surprising either if Justin Thomas has a good day on the ground either.
As long as the Yellow Jackets can keep the Wildcats own strong rushing attack, the Yellow Jackets should be able to keep Kentucky from putting up over 24-27 points.