Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·13 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Georgia Tech football season with what you need to know.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis
– Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 3-7 overall, 3-6 in ACC
Head Coach: Geoff Collins, 3rd year, 6-16 (21-26 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 82
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 65
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 122

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Offense

The transformation continues to take awhile. The Yellow Jackets are still trying to pivot away from the option offense under Paul Johnson, and there’s been more of a passing game to balance things out, but the consistency isn’t quite there.

The offense averaged 390 yards and just 24 points per game, but when it worked, it was terrific. Now it has to score.

After the 16-13 win over Florida State, the Yellow Jackets were 2-0 when scoring more than 27 points and 0-7 when scoring that many or fewer. There’s some work to be done, but …

Jeff Sims appears to be a keeper. The 6-3, 215-pounder stepped in as a freshman and threw 13 touchdown passes and ran for close to 500 yards and six scores. There were 13 picks, and the passing attack wasn’t consistent enough, but the skill and upside are there.

With backup and former starter James Graham off to Georgia Southern, it’s a thin group behind Sims with Jordan Yates the main option after getting in a little work.

The receivers aren’t all that bad. It’s a deep group and the passing game spreads the ball around, but as long as big plays are there, all is fine. The passing game wasn’t Alabama, but averaging over 13 yards per catch is a good thing.

Leading receiver Jalen Camp is gone, but Malachi Carter is a 6-3, 200-pound veteran who averaged 14.5 yards per catch with three touchdowns. Junior Adonicas Sanders is another good deep threat who caught 17 passes, and there’s more 6-2ish, 200ish pound receivers ready to shine. Also a big part of the passing game is …

Jahmyr Gibbs can do a little of everything. The 5-11, 200-pound second-year freshman was second on the team with 24 catches and was second on the team in rushing behind Sims.

2019 leading rusher Jordan Mason is the team’s best runner with good power and 100-yard, carry-the-offense toughness – he missed four games last year – and sophomore Dontae Smith is a quick hitter who averaged close to seven yards per carry.

Now the offensive line has to get the job done.

It’s been a decent line so far in the Geoff Collins era, but now it has to replace two starters and has to get more out of the young, big options being brought in over the last few years.

Junior Mikey Minihan is a solid interior blocker, and 6-6, 330-pound Jordan Williams is a promising young option, and 6-7, 320-pound former Vanderbilt grad transfer Devin Cochran is expected to finally be in the mix after he committed last year but didn’t play.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The offense might not have been special, but it was a whole lot stronger than the D. The Yellow Jackets had a problem against the run, had a bigger issue against anyone who could throw, and ended up allowing 459 yards and 37 points per game.

There’s enough in the back seven to expect an improvement, but …

The defensive front should be okay in time. The Yellow Jackets have several parts back to work in a rotation, but more stars have to emerge.

6-3, 247-pound sophomore Jordan Domineck led the team with four sacks to go along with 8.5 tackles for loss, 6-3, 270-pound senior Antonneous Clayton adds more bulk, and former Old Dominion transfer Keion White adds playmaking ability to a relatively deep group.

The interior doesn’t have a ton of size, but 6-4, 302-pound Mike Lockhart and 305-pound Dijmon Brooks are big enough to hold up.

Leading tackler David Curry is done, but 225-pound junior Quez Jackson is an active defender who came up with 80 stops from one of the two linebacking spots, and Maryland transfer Ayinde Eley brings over 111 tackles and 240-pound size to the other job.

The very, very deep group of defensive backs can tackle, but now they have make more plays when the ball is in the air.

6-3, 220-pound junior safety Juanyeh Thomas was third on the team with 59 tackles – he has the speed to be used on kickoff returns – and he’s not alone.

Veteran tackler Tariq Carpenter is a 6-4, 226-pound safety who pops, and after missing a bulk of last year, Tre Swilling should grab back one of the corner gigs in a good, deep situation.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Offensive Player

RB Jordan Mason, Jr.
Yeah, Jahmyr Gibbs might turn out to be the better all-around back, and he’ll take away carries and be a big part of the offense, but Mason is still the best runner and should be the main man.

The 6-1, 218-pound veteran got banged up early on, missed most of the first half of the season, and came back to take over late with 245 yards over the last three games as he showed off his workhorse ability.

Get him the ball 20 times and he’ll get 100 yards.

2. RB Jahmyr Gibbs, RFr.
3. OT Devin Cochran, Sr.
4. QB Jeff Sims, RFr.
5. WR Malachi Carter, Jr.

Related

2021 Georgia Tech Football Schedule: Analysis, Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Best Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Defensive Player

LB Quez Jackson, Jr.
The Yellow Jackets have several options who might rise up and become the top player – and transfers will be a part of the mix – but it’s the 6-1, 225-pound Jackson who should be the steady leader from his linebacker spot in the 4-2-5.

He’s coming off a big 80-tackle season with two picks, a sack, and 4.5 tackles for loss as he goes all over the field. The bulk might not be there – he should be helped by 6-3, 240-pound Maryland transfer Ayinde Eley – but he’s a tough hitter.

2. DE Jordan Domineck, Soph.
3. S Juanyeh Thomas, Jr.
4. S Tariq Carpenter, Sr.
5. CB Tre Swilling, Jr.

Top Incoming Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Transfer

DE Keion White, Jr.
Flip a coin. Former Maryland LB Ayinde Eley might be the team’s new leading tackler, and former Vanderbilt Commodore Devin Cochran – after signing on last year but deciding not to play in 2020 – could be the team’s leading blocker, but the team needs more disruption up front.

Enter White, a 6-4, 267-pound transfer from Old Dominion who dominated in 2019 with 62 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He didn’t get a chance to show what he could do last year with the program not playing, and now he’ll be a big factor for the Yellow Jacket pass rush.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Biggest Key: Offense

Score whenever there’s a chance. The offense could’ve done a lot more – it needs to start averaging over 400 yards per game – but the ground attack should be great and the passing game should be stronger with QB Jeff Sims getting more experienced and more comfortable.

As the offense gets better and the veteran defense starts to be more consistent, more games should be competitive. That means there can’t be so many misfires when the O gets inside the 20.

It didn’t matter all that much – all seven losses were by double digits – but the team failed to score in the red zone on ten of its 30 trips.

The kicking game was a problem with three red zone misses, and the team only converted all if its chances twice – once in the win over Louisville, and once in the win over Duke.

The third win – 16-13 over Florida State – would’ve been a whole lot easier if there weren’t a few missed field goals and another empty trip.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Biggest Key: Defense

All of the parts have to start working better together. That might sound basic and silly, but the Yellow Jackets really do have decent enough players to be a whole lot better, and it starts with stopping something.

It’s been a few years since Georgia Tech had a decent D, but the secondary is loaded with big, good tacklers and options to make the group stronger. The linebackers will come up with a ton of stops, and even though there’s not a ton of bulk, there should be a good rotation on the line. So to do this again …

Stop something.

It stopped just about everything in the opening day win over Florida State, and it stuffed Syracuse a few games later – even in a loss – but that was about it.

Everyone else either ran at will, or threw at will, or did a little bit of both – like Notre Dame – to be effective enough to win relatively easily.

So the Yellow Jackets have to find one thing it can do really, really well, and make teams try to move the ball doing something else.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Key Player To A Successful Season

OT Devin Cochran, Sr.
Really, it should be QB Jeff Sims – he’s the rising star who has to be brilliant, healthy, and more consistent – but he needs a line that can block for him.

There’s enough decent experience up front to be okay, but the line needs a star. That should be the 6-7, 320-pound Cochran …

Hopefully.

The former Vanderbilt Commodore was supposed to be a key tackle last year when he signed on, he chose not to play in the global pandemic year, appeared ready to go off to the NFL, and now, all of a sudden, he’s back in the mix.

If he’s a next-level force, the O line might go from good to a strength.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Key Game To The 2021 Season

Pitt, Oct. 2
There aren’t many sure-win games on the slate.

The first two against Northern Illinois and Kennesaw State have to be layups, and just assume that Clemson and North Carolina will be a bit too much for the Yellow Jackets to handle to start the ACC season. With a slew of rough games late in the season, beating Pitt in Atlanta could be a must.

The Yellow Jackets have lost three straight in the series and five of the last six, but they go the rest of October without a home game and have just two until the season finale against (deep breath) Georgia.

Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis

2020 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Fun Stats

– 1st Half Scoring: Opponents 247 – Georgia Tech 111
– Field Goals: Opponents 15-of-17 – Georgia Tech 3-of-8
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:52 – Georgia Tech 27:05

NEXT: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Georgia Tech might be a whole lot closer than it seems to being better than just good – even if it doesn’t look like it over the last two seasons.

Football players are football players. It shouldn’t take that much to go from a system that’s totally reliant on one style of offense to another way of doing things – it’s not like the defensive side had to switch from the option attack.

But third-year head man Geoff Collins and his staff are continuing to put the right parts in place after a two-year overhaul. It’s been rough with two straight three-win seasons, but this is what a rebuild looks like.

How bad has it been? The Yellow Jackets have lost 16 games over Collins’ two years. 14 were double-digit blowouts and one was to Citadel from the FCS. There has yet to be a win over a team that finished with a winning record, and counting the end of the Paul Johnson era, the program is on a rough 3-18 stretch.

But again, Georgia Tech might not be all that far off.

It’s not going to challenge for the ACC title or anything, but it should be far more competitive and might be just a year away from being a factor, at least in the Coastal Division.

Set The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Regular Season Win Total At … 4

There’s depth now to go along with experience.

It’s easier for the staff to get what it needs through the transfer portal, the offensive backfield is in place to be a positive, there’s a whole lot of upside in the defensive back seven, and the lines – the real problem over the last two seasons – at least have more options to work with. However …

At Clemson, North Carolina, at Miami, at Notre Dame, Georgia.

Start with that as part of the slate after what should be easy wins over Northern Illinois and Kennesaw State to start the season, and just getting to four victories would be a decent campaign.

And then there’s the issue of timing. Just when all the parts should finally start to come together, November goes at Miami, Boston College, at Notre Dame, Georgia.

But again, there’s enough on this team to start to make a bit of a positive move. It might not be fast enough, and moral victories are for losers, but there’s reason to be hopeful.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Georgia Tech Football Schedule Analysis

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting