As Georgia Tech prepares to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers this upcoming weekend, we compare the offensive position groups to see who has the offensive edge on Saturday night.
Quarterback: EDGE – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett is by no means a great quarterback but he’s a solid quarterback who often limits mistakes, a game manager style quarterback. This year, Pickett is 129-for-207 (62.3%) for 1,599-yards, eight touchdowns, and three interceptions. He did miss two games with an injury but returned last week against Florida State. Against the Seminoles, he was 21-for-27 for 210-yards.
Now, Jeff Sims certainly has a higher ceiling than Pickett but the mistakes that he makes at times end up costing the Yellow Jackets quite a bit. Pittsburgh has a quality defense and will be able to take advantage of Sims mistakes, I don’t feel that I could say the same about the Yellow Jackets defense right now about taking advantage of mistakes by Pickett.
Running backs: EDGE – Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets get the advantage here as they have multiple running backs that could get it done, now a lot of their success depends on the offensive line of course but talent-wise, the Jackets are also the more talented group in this game.
The Pittsburgh offense is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry this season with top running back Vincent Davis, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. On the season, he has 320-yards on 104-carries. Senior A.J Davis has only 35 rushing attempts this season but has had better success with 140-yards on those 35-carries, an average of 4.0 yards per carry.
The Yellow Jackets, of course, have four running backs averaging 4.0 yards per carry including 6.9 yards per carry by Dontae Smith. All four have totaled over 100-yards for the season. Jahmyr Gibbs leads the way with 369-yards on 83-carries.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: PUSH
This is a hard one to really give an edge to either team. I believe the Yellow Jackets may have the more pure talented receiving group but the Pittsburgh group is definitely one that has had slightly better production this season. Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison will be the best receiver on the field this weekend, he’s averaging 11.8 yards per reception this season with 52 receptions for 611-yards and three touchdowns.
Shocky Jacques-Louis and DJ Turner will be the Panthers’ other two primary targets (most likely) Jacques-Louis has 22 receptions for 273-yards while DJ Turner has totaled 21 receptions for 336-yards. Sophomore Jared Wayne is a big-play threat when thrown too, he’s averaging 18.5 yards per reception and has 11 on the season for 204-yards.
For the Yellow Jackets, they have a quality trio in Jalen Camp, Malachi Carter, and Ahmarean Brown with all three averaging 14.5 or more yards per reception. The one thing for sure with the Jackets passing attack is when Jeff Sims is able to connect with his receivers, it’s often for big gains. While Sims is averaging just 7.6 yards per attempt this season, he’s averaging 13.5 yards per completion. With that, you could say the Jackets receiver group is the group with the higher upside here but when considering the quarterback play into this, it’s more of a push.
Offensive Line: EDGE – Georgia Tech
While the Panthers offensive line hasn’t been the best when it comes to run blocking, their pass blocking hasn’t been all that bad this season. The Panthers have only allowed 16 sacks this season, an average of two per game this year. That being said, the 3.0 yards per carry with their rushing attack is hard to ignore.
The Yellow Jackets offensive line certainly hasn’t played to expectations the last few games. After entering the Clemson game allowing just one sack on the season, the Jackets have allowed 14 in their three games since. Now, while the pass protection has taken quite the step back of recent, the run blocking has been solid through most of the season, as evident with the Jackets team average of 4.2 yards per carry.
We’re going to give the Yellow Jackets the edge. here as we believe the bye week will be much to the Jackets advantage to work on the issues that were causing so many struggles over the last three weeks.
Overall: EDGE – Georgia Tech
Now, this is based purely on the position groups here. This may seem a bit weird too as the Yellow Jackets offense statistically is quite behind the Pittsburgh offense. That being said, games against Clemson and Notre Dame have played a big part in that disparity. Outside of their games against those two top-five teams, the Jackets have averaged 26 points per game this season. So the difference statistically between the two teams is not as drastic in my opinion as it shows right now.
The Pittsburgh offense is by far the offense that performs at a higher level more consistency but the upside the Jackets have I believe is greater and I’ll give them the edge here because of that. Talent-wise, they’re better but they’re also much more mistake-prone than the Panthers.