Nov 30, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) scores the winning touchdown over Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Daniel Drummond (30) and defensive back Chris Milton (6) at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia won 41-34 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down the Georgia Bulldogs 2014 opponents: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The Georgia Bulldogs redeemed what seemed to be a lost season with the 41-34 double-overtime victory in the regular season finale against their in-state rivals, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Yet another fun chapter in the rivalry known simply as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”.

Georgia Tech’s defense had stepped up to the challenge of facing a hobbled Georgia offense led by a green and untested Hutson Mason. That lasted for a few quarters, before Mason led the Bulldogs back to tie the game, and eventually to the OT win.

In 2014, both teams will have a very different look, both a quarterback and in the surrounding casts.

Georgia Tech has experienced their own brand of attrition this offseason, with several players being suspended or dismissed, and others opting to take their talents elsewhere, most notably, former starting quarterback Vad Lee.

This year the game will be in Athens, and will once again be an important game for both teams in all likelihooed, even beyond the weight of the rivalry and bragging rights.

How things will hash out will depend greatly upon the health of both teams, and the stakes beyond the game itself.

Georgia Tech Key Departures

OFFENSE: Vad Lee-QB, Robert Godhigh-RB, David Sims-RB, Ray Beno-OT, Jay Finch-C, Anthony Autry-WR, Ty Griffin-QB

DEFENSE: Jeremiah Attaochu-DE, Jemea Thomas-CB, Brandon Watts-LB, Louis Young-CB, Euclid Cummings-DE, Emmanuel Dieke-DE, Darius Commissiong-DT, Travin Henry-DE

If there was someone making plays on offense for the Yellow Jackets last season, they aren’t there now. However, the beauty (if it can be called that) of the Paul Johnson system is that you just keep plugging guys in to run behind the cut blocks of the offensive line. But even with that, the production of Sims and Godhigh are going to be tough to replace for the Jackets, and Beno and Finch were huge parts of the offensive line.

Dec 30, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee (2) looks to pass against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee (2) looks to pass against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Losing the first and third string quarterbacks will definitely present a challenge for Paul Johnson, as he hasn’t gotten much in the way of game time out of projected starter Justin Thomas.

Defensively the Yellow Jackets weren’t very good, and losing all those players just made defensive coordinator Ted Roof‘s job that much harder. Ends Attaochu, Cummings and Dieke were lost to graduation, while Henry was dismissed from the team along with Anthony Autry and Darius Commisong. The defensive line depth just went from opaque to completely transparent in Atlanta.

They couldn’t defend the pass, and were average against the run. That won’t get it done in the ACC less yet against the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech Key Returning Players

OFFENSE: Justin Thomas-QB, B.J. Bostic-RB, Shaquille Mason-OL, Trey Braun-OL, Tim Byerly-QB, Synjyn Days-RB, DeAndre Smelter-WR, Micheal Summers-WR, Darren Waller-WR

DEFENSE: Jamal Golden-DB, Adam Gotsis-DL, Jabari Hunt-Days-LB, Quayshawn Nealy-LB, Isaiah Johnson-S

The Jackets do have most of their wide receiver corps coming back intact, however, as little as they throw the ball that isn’t much of a tactical advantage. The QB battle between Thomas and Byerly may end up going all the way until the game against Georgia. Any running production Tech gets will probably come from some of the incoming freshmen, along with Bostic and Days.

Defensively Tech will be glad to get Jamal Golden back, both in the secondary and returning kicks. Adam Gotsis is going to be looked at to step up and provide the type of line disruption and quarterback hurries and sacks that Attaochu was responsible for in the past. Whether or not the rest of the patchwork line will help him isn’t yet known.

Georgia Tech Possible Impact Incoming Freshman

Tech did have a fairly good recruiting class this year, but with all of the departures, dismissals and transfers, many of them are going to be expected to step in and start performing right away.

3-star athlete Myles Autry would have been a big help, but asked to be released from his Letter of Intent. 3-star cornerback Step Durham is one of the guys who will probably have to grow up in a big hurry. Running back C.J. Leggett is also likely to get a hard look this fall at being part of the regular rotation of backs. All in all there is a lot to be decided during Fall camp, and any number of Tech’s 21 commits could end up being a part of the first and second teams.

Outlook for Game

Georgia has won five straight contests in this series, and 2014 is going to be number six. Tech simply doesn’t have the personnel to compete with Georgia this year, and that will hold especially true if Georgia is at or near full strength.

Tech’s only hope for a win would be for Georgia’s entire starting offense to be out of the game, and….oh, wait. That didn’t help them last year either did it? Never mind. Dawgs pound the nerds hard this year, take the Bulldogs by 14 or more.

 

 

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