It’s the second game day of the 2020 season for the Georgia Tech football program and we start our game day previews, comparing the Yellow Jackets defense to their opponent, the UCF Golden Knights.
After an abysmal performance by their defensive line in 2018, the UCF defensive line took a big step forward last year and was an above-average defensive line. While they did lose some notable players such as Brendon Hayes, Brandon Wilson, and Jalen Pinkey, they still return an experienced and talented group that should be able to build off that experience and have a strong 2020 campaign. Now, how will they perform in game one of the season? That remains to be seen but overall, it’s a strong position group. Look for Tre’Mon Morris brash coming off the edge, he had nine tackles for a loss including three sacks last season.
The Yellow Jackets defensive line looked much better last week than they really ever did last season. Now, UCF does have a better offensive line than Florida State but having a game under their belt should be an advantage for the Yellow Jackets defensive line. Not having T.K Chimedza is a huge blow but they survived last week without him and should be fine. The absence of Antonneous Clayton is also notable based on potential. That being said, since last year, Curtis Ryans has really developed into quite the player for the Jackets and has become the man on that defensive line, we’ll see if he can step up and put in another big performance on Saturday.
I believe UCF is the more talented group but I’m going to give the Yellow Jackets the edge here as they have a game underbelt.
EDGE: Georgia Tech
Like most of the UCF team, the Knights linebackers group is experienced and deep, after all they return seven starters overall in 2020. Entering this season, they’ll have to replace Nate Evans, a first team All-AAC selection last year which is a notable loss for the Knights. Eric Mitchell, however, will step in to replace Evans after putting togehter a quality season last year with 44 tackles including 4.5 tackles for a loss. Eriq Gilyard also returns for the Knights after posting 38 tackles and five tackles for a loss last season.
The Yellow Jackets linebacker group coming into the season was the strength of the team and entering week two that statement still holds true. David Curry is one of the best linebackers not just in the ACC but in the country (in my opinion), Quez Jackson is highly underrated and they also have potential special talents in players such as Demetrius Knight.
EDGE: Georgia Tech
I personally think Georgia Tech’s secondary is pretty good and we’ll find out for sure on Saturday and Dillon Gabriel and the UCF offense. That being said, this UCF secondary is just loaded with talent and might be one of the most talented secondaries in all of college football. Brandon Moore, Richie Grant, and Antwan Collier all have great potential. The Knights will be without their best member of the secondary, however, as Tay Gowan opted out of the season after coming down with COVID-19 himself. He will prepare for next year’s NFL Draft. All in all, , the UCF secondary is extremely deep and will make it challenging for Jeff Sims.
The Yellow Jackets secondary certainly played well last week against Florida State but UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel is on a whole different level than James Blackman and is one of the most talented quarterbacks not just in the AAC but in the entire country. The numbers he put up as a true freshman were stellar and he’s only going to be better entering year two. While the Jackets secondary performed well last week, not having Tre Swilling is certainly going to be a challenge that’s tough to overcome against a strong passing attack in UCF.
Overall: Georgia Tech
Overall, we’re going to give Georgia Tech a slight defensive edge heading into this game. While the two defenses might be about a sequally talented in our opinion, we’re looking for the Jackets to really use having a game under their belt to their advantage. We’ve seen so far across college football, teams with that game advantage have success in the following week against opponents who may not have had that opportunity just yet (i.e Western Kentucky vs Kansas St last weekend). UCF may be more talented but I’m going to say the Yellow Jackets having those first game jitters out of their system is a big advantage for them. They got a taste of what a fast-tempo offense could do last week against FSU which was a good warmup, but they’ll need to step up even more against UCF.