Week 2 holds a different kind of challenge for Georgia Tech on both sides of the ball. USF, coached by Charlie Strong is a team on the rise and could be a stumbling block for the Jackets if they aren’t careful. Here are a few players that Georgia Tech needs to look out for this week in South Florida.
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Nate Woody got his career with the Yellow Jackets off to a strong start on Saturday, pitching a defensive gem. This weekend, he’ll have a tougher matchup against the talented USF Bulls out of the American Athletic Conference. Here is a pair of offensive pieces that the Yellow Jackets will have to watch for on Saturday.
QB: Blake Barnett, 24-34 for 305 yards and three touchdowns with one rushing TD. Barnett dazzled in his debut with the Bulls leading the offense in convincing fashion and cementing his spot as the starter for Charlie Strong. The graduate transfer has been around the block in college football starting for Nick Saban two seasons ago before transferring to a junior college and then Arizona State where he was a backup. Barnett’s performance was impressive for the Bulls and he will look to build on his week one performance against Georgia Tech. He’s not a quarterback the Jackets can take lightly heading into this weekend.
WR: Randall St. Felix, 7 Rec 143 yds 20.4 Avg 1 TD. St. Felix is a freshman for the Bulls this season and had already turned a few heads at the USF Spring Game. This past weekend he may have announced his presence to the rest of the fan base and the country. He led the team in catches for the day and in receiving yards becoming a favorite target for Barnett and the other QB’s. If he gets going this weekend, he could be a threat to the new Yellow Jacket secondary.
The Georgia Tech offense got off to a good start on Saturday against Alcorn State but it still wasn’t up to the standard of head coach Paul Johnson. Unfortunately, it won’t get any easier for the Yellow Jackets as they face a strong USF defense.
LB Greg Reaves Jr. (2017) 52 Tackles, 14 TFL, 4 sacks. Reaves was a piece of the massive defensive line USF fielded last season and will need to keep that level of play going for the rest of this season.
The USF defense produced three sacks against Elon which is not a huge number in the grand scheme of things but could be something to watch out for if the Jackets offensive line doesn’t play up to potential. The heart and soul of the USF defense last season was their secondary which produced 15 interceptions last season. The defense is searching for new playmakers after losing stars like Deadrin Senat to the Atlanta Falcons. The defense last season was great for USF and they will have to find a way to recreate that talent with new pieces.
USF had a ten-win season in 2017 and that was not by accident. Charlie Strong had arguably one of the best rosters in college football and it played like one. Even with losing so much talent on both sides of the ball in the off-season USF has already shown that parts of what they have lost have been replaced. If Georgia Tech plays up to its own potential this Saturday, then the Jackets should win in Raymond James Stadium. However, as some of our writers have predicted in our season previews this could be one of those games that might sneak up and punch the Jackets from behind. Should be a great one to watch.