Heading into ACC Coastal play, the Yellow Jackets were gonna need to find some playmakers. Despite losing 38-22 on Saturday evening, Georgia Tech was a lot of young talent to develop and bright spots were shown in Saturday’s match-up.
Offense: #4 QB James Graham
In his first career collegiate football start, Graham did everything. Despite throwing two interceptions, the RS Freshman QB threw accurate passes and scrambled out of the pocket well. Graham had 171 yards through the air on 11 out of 24 passes for 2 touchdowns. He also ran the ball well, despite being sacked twice, on 13 carries for 48 yards. Graham had two beautiful throws for touchdowns, one to WR Malachi Carter for 28 yards, and another to WR Ahmarean Brown for 32 yards. Lots of room to improve, but so many reasons to keep Graham as the starter moving forward.
Defense: #91 DL Kelton Dawson
The RS Sophomore defensive end from Stockbridge, GA had been quiet for most of the season, but he had a big day from what seemed to be a very lack luster day from the D-Line as a whole. Dawson recorded 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 2 TFL (Tackle for Loss), and a sack. He also had a forced fumble, but which was ultimately recovered by the offense. With such a young defense and a plenty of games to gain experience, look for Dawson to grow as a player and start disrupting the passing game more often going forward.
Special Teams: Kick Returners
QB Tobias Oliver and RB Dontae Smith saw a few bursts of energy during their kick returns Saturday, providing the best field position possible for, what has been most of the season, a struggling offense. Oliver had 2 returns for 83 yards, and Smith had 3 for 77 yards. After transitioning through multiple returners on the kickoff return team this season, I believe Smith and Oliver are easily our best returners. Smith is quick, Oliver is elusive. It’s very possible to see one of these guys take one to the house this season, so don’t be surprised if they do!
Week in and week out, Tech will need players to step up. Scoring 22 points last game was a step in the right direction. If the offense would have scored in the first half, and the defense could have played a little harder in the second, we could be talking about a win and not a loss right now. Each week it feels like progression, and that’s all I could hope for in such a massive transition. It is comfortable to be satisfied with yesterday’s game just seeing how hard every player played and the execution was more “fine set”. Despite the injuries, despite the rebuild, the team played hard and players stepped up to the challenge. I could easily see Georgia Tech winning 2-3 more games with this kind of heart going forward.