On Tuesday, Georgia Tech football released their first “Above the Line” of the 2020 season in preparation for their season opener on Saturday afternoon.
Georgia Tech Football fans were introduced to the ATL Chart in Geoff Collins’ first season in 2019 as a variation from the traditional depth chart that many schools release in the preseason or each game week. The “ATL” stands for Above The Line as the players who see their name on the chart are the ones who have done enough in practice to warrant a chance at starting or getting some playing time on gameday.
Well, the same format continues in Year 2 under Collins as the Jackets’ first ATL Chart of 2020 was released on Tuesday morning as the team gears up for its opener on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Florida State in Tallahassee.
Here are six takeaways from the chart:
No further answers in QB battle
As I assume many did when the chart was released on Tuesday, the first place I looked was at the quarterback position to see if there were any nuggets of information to further hint at which player would be the starter. Unfortunately, no such nuggets were there.
All four quarterbacks who have been mentioned in the competition for the starting spot (James Graham, Jordan Yates, Jeff Sims, Tucker Gleason) were listed “Above The Line.” Later on Tuesday at media availability, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said a starting quarterback has been picked, but everyone would have to wait until Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to find out who it was. He also said that the plan was to play one main guy, but there have been certain packages implemented for another.
I guess we will have to wait and see which quarterback runs out on the field the first time the Tech offense goes to work on Saturday.
10 offensive linemen listed
There were several times during the 2019 season that the lack of depth on the offensive line showed. Injuries forced the hand of OL coach Brent Key into playing some guys that probably weren’t originally expected to be on the field.
It looks like the Jackets are on their way to improving that depth issue as the 2020 season begins as 10 total offensive linemen were listed “Above The Line” on Tuesday. Those listed included Kenny Cooper, Mikey Minihan, Jack DeFoor, Michael Maye, Austin Smith, Ryan Johnson, Charlie Clark, Zach Quinney, William Lay and true freshman Jordan Williams.
There have been some strong inclinations around camp about which five will be the starters, including the true freshman Williams, but the good news is there seems to be some quality depth behind those starters should it be needed.
Two names absent on the defensive line
On the defensive side of the ball, there were two noticeable omissions on the chart, more specifically on the defensive end and defensive tackle lists. Seniors Chris Martin and Antwan Owens were not listed at either position, which could send some Jackets’ fans into speculation after both were expected to contribute in a big way in 2020.
Who knows what the real reason is, but in the current times of the Covid-19 world and the lack of injury news that comes out of Georgia Tech, it’s hard not to jump to wild conclusions. My advice for Tech fans, just take a breath and wait and see what becomes of this news.
Howard already Above The Line at LB
One of the offseason storylines that caught some by surprise early on was the move of Jerry Howard, Jr., from running back to linebacker as he enters his senior year. With depth at running back to spare, Collins and his coaching staff decided to take a chance with the move, and it looks like it’s already paying off.
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Howard has apparently transitioned well to his new spot as his name was listed among the four Above The Line linebackers on the opening-week chart along with David Curry, Quez Jackson and Demetrius Knight II. Howard must have had a good offseason and impressive preseason camp to immediately insert himself into the mix at linebacker.
Three kickers listed
Georgia Tech has struggled to find consistency in the kicking game since the departure of fan-favorite Harrison Butker a few years ago, and it looks like a few new names will be looking to fill that role again in 2020.
After Brenton King and Wesley Wells left the team this past offseason, the kicking job was wide open. It appears that the competition is down to three guys as freshmen Gavin Stewart and Jude Kelley, as well as redshirt-junior Austin Kent, were listed as the Above The Line kickers on Tuesday. Coming out of the preseason, little is known about the trio or which one might step forward to claim the job as the season opens, but it appears they could all get a chance on Saturday to make their mark.
Playmakers abound in return game
Georgia Tech fans, be excited about kickoff returns this coming season as it looks like there could be some big plays made by the unit. Playmakers were all over the place on the kick and punt return lists on Tuesday’s Above The Line Chart.
On kick return, those listed were Juanyeh Thomas, Ahmareon Brown, Tobias Oliver and Jahmyr Gibbs. That is a quartet of guys that have the speed and elusiveness to take one back to the house at any moment.
On punt return, Brown was listed along with Marquez Ezzard and Josh Blancato. Long story short folks, don’t sleep on Georgia Tech’s return game this season. There is the potential for some big, game-changing, momentum-shifting plays in that area.