Georgia Tech Football Opponent Rundown: Jackets seek revenge against USF

TAMPA, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 03: Blake Barnett #11 of the South Florida Bulls drops back for a pass during the second quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at Raymond James Stadium on November 03, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 03: Blake Barnett #11 of the South Florida Bulls drops back for a pass during the second quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at Raymond James Stadium on November 03, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins will look to gain his first victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium on September 7th against the USF Bulls.

Georgia Tech’s first home game of the Geoff Collins era will be against an opponent who last season caused early season heartbreak to the Yellow Jackets, giving them a 49-38 loss. In 2019, the Bulls will come to Bobby Dodd Stadium for the first time and the Jackets will look to hand out some revenge to the Bulls.

Last season, the Bulls put together a 7-6 season overall and saw their season end with a 38-20 loss to Marshall in the Bad Boys Gasparilla Bowl. Across the board, the Bulls were an average team last season. Their offense averaged 28.5 points per game, best for 71st in the country while their defense on average allowed 32.0 points per game for the 95th best defense in the country.

Offensive Preview:

The Bulls this season will return most of their offense from last season including quarterback Blake Barnett. Barnett didn’t have a tremendous season in his first year with the Bulls, completing 61.1% of his passes for 2,705-yards and 12 touchdowns. He di2d, however, did end up throwing 11 interceptions in the process. He’ll need a much better season in his second go around with USF especially if the Bulls want to compete in the heavily competitive AAC. Running back Jordan Cronkrite also returns to the Bulls after a strong junior season where he rushed for over 1,100-yards and scored four total touchdowns.

Sophomore receiver Randall St. Francis will look to follow up his fantastic redshirt freshman campaign where he had 33 receptions for 679-yards and four touchdowns. Randall St. Francis is most definitely a player to watch for the Bulls and could They did however lose wideout Tyree McCants who had 617-yards on 59-receptions while also scoring three touchdowns.

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USF’s offense was good last year but in 2019 they could step it up a notch and will be expected to thanks to the talent they return. Georgia Tech’s defense saw what the Bulls are capable of on offense last season, giving up 35 points (two touchdowns on special teams allowed). The Jackets defense will need to provide a much better showing this time around in week two.

Defensive Preview:

As mentioned above, USF’s defenses wasn’t exactly great. The Bulls allowed 32 points per game and they were in the bottom of third of yards allowed. That being said, Charlie Strong is known for being a strong defensive mind (no pun intended), so expect the Bulls to improve on that side of the ball in 2019. It may not be a dramatic improvement but the Bulls return a ton of talent and experience on defense that should help them at least become an average defense in 2019.

The Bulls did lose a few starters from last year but return a majority of their defense. They’ll be led by linebacker Greg Leaves who put together an 89-tackle junior season, best for second on the team. Cornerback Mike Hampton Jr also returns after putting together a great 2018 season and may very well be the Bulls most talented player defensively. A dangerous corner and big play maker, opposing defenses will need to be wary of Hampton.

The last player to know for now about USF is defensive lineman Kirk Livingstone, the Bulls leading returner when it comes to getting in the backfield. Last season, Livingstone had 56 tackles including 10 for a loss and four sacks.


Overall, USF in 2019 will be a talented group and should be one of the top teams in the ACC. Their offense was up-and-down last season, so they’ll need to find more consistency there especially out of quarterback Blake Barnett. If the former five-star can live up to his hype coming out of high school, there’s no reason the Bulls shouldn’t be challenging opponents on a weekly basis.

Defensively, the Bulls will need a lot more out of their unit in 2019. More consistency out of the offense will make their jobs easier but they must lower their 32 points allowed per game from last season. They were solid in shutting down passing attacks last season but will need to tighten up their run defense that allowed nearly 250 yards per game last season.

What to expect on a September 7th:

On paper, these two teams are pretty evenly matched all things considered. We saw it last year in USF’s victory and in reality that game came down to costly special teams mistakes. But offensively and defensively, these two teams are very much on the same level. The Jackets of course entering this game will be looking to win the first home game of them Geoff Collins’ era which should creative a very exciting and emotional environment at Bobby Dodd Stadium. While the Jackets defense should be able to keep a good grasp on USF’s offense, this game like many others in 2019 will come down to how the Jackets offensive transition is going and how quickly the Jackets can click on all cylinders. Even more so, it will come down to the Jackets passing game, can they make the needed passes? That being said, expect a close game similar to last season. While not many points should be expected, it should be a fun and exciting one that goes into the fourth quarter.

USF Season Outlook:

USF’s schedule in 2019 is incredibly back loaded, at least by AAC standards. The Bulls start the season off with two strong challenges in Wisconsin (home game) and of course, Georgia Tech. After that, the Bulls have a six-game stretch that they should at the very least go 4-2 in but going 6-0 is highly possible as well. That being said, their last four games will see them face three of the better teams in the AAC in Temple, Cincinnati, Memphis, and UCF. Those four games it’s safe to say could make or break their season. With that, it’s easy to see this USF squad looking anywhere between a 7-5 record in 2019 or a 10-2 record, both seem reasonable and realistic.