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Pitt Football

Lackluster Georgia Tech Offense Still Features Threats to Account For

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It’s been a tough season for Georgia Tech, resulting in the firing of head coach Geoff Collins at the one-quarter mark of the season, and the offensive ineptitude has been one of the biggest reasons for his dismissal.

There are just four teams in Division I that have scored fewer points than Georgia Tech this season: Akron, Colorado, Colorado State and Massachusetts. With just 13.8 points per game this season, Georgia Tech is nearly five points lower than the second-worst ACC team.

It’s been a disastrous year for the Yellow Jackets’ offense, especially with star running back Jahmyr Gibbs now starring for Alabama, but it hasn’t just been finding the end zone where GT has struggled.

When it comes to the ACC alone, out of 14 teams, Georgia Tech is:

  • 13th in the total offense (311.5 yards)
  • 11th in rushing offense (126.8 yards)
  • 14th in passing yards (184.8 yards)

And when it comes to the NCAA as a whole, out of 131 teams, Georgia Tech is 112th in total offense, 105th in rushing offense and 110th in passing offense.

ACC (out of 14) NCAA (out of 131)
Points: 14th Points: 127th
Total Offense: 13th Total Offense: 112th
Rushing Offense: 11th Rushing Offense: 105th
Passing Offense: 14th Passing Offense: 110th

However, it’s not just Gibbs that’s gone. Jordan Mason, GT’s second-leading rusher last season, now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, and Kyric McGown, GT’s second-leading receiver, now plays for the Washington Commanders.

That’s 1,185 rushing yards and 1,012 receiving yards of production. Gone. That’s 58% of Georgia Tech’s rushing yards and 44% of Georgia Tech’s receiving yards lost between three players.

Jeff Sims is back for Georgia Tech. He’s spent two seasons as the GT quarterback already, completing 254-of-445 passing attempts (57%) for 3,349 yards and 25 touchdowns to 20 interceptions — adding 864 yards and 10 touchdowns on 190 carries.

Pitt has played Sims twice now, and he’s completed 41-of-64 passing attempts for 597 yards and four touchdowns to four interceptions. He also rushed for 54 yards on 20 attempts.

Narduzzi sees a very talented, very competitive quarterback in Sims, the same quarterback this time around that threw for a career-high 359 yards against Pitt last season.

“I really like (Sims),” Narduzzi said Thursday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I think he’s a talented, talented young man, and he’s starting to get old. Is this his last year? Does he have another year after this? He is talented. He probably does.”

“I really like (Sims),” Narduzzi said Thursday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I think he’s a talented, talented young man, and he’s starting to get old. Is this his last year? Does he have another year after this? He is talented. He probably does.”

Sims is a big, rangy quarterback — standing at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds — with the ability to make all the throws required to operate an offense, but he’s also a ready and willing threat to take off when his first read isn’t available. Narduzzi is well aware of Sims’ dual-threat ability, and despite a healthy level of respect, he sees a way to slow Sims down.

The way to slow Sims down isn’t too unfamiliar to any other quarterback. Pitt has to confuse him with defensive looks and not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. Sims is already somewhat of a flight risk, so if Pitt doesn’t allow him to get comfortable and make his reads or make the easy check downs, it forces unfamiliar plays.

“He looks to run,” Narduzzi said. “He’s gonna look, and if he doesn’t like it, they trust his legs. They’re telling him to go. I think he’s being coached hard that, ‘If your first read’s not there, where you thought you wanted to go, just take off and run.’ I think that’s what they do, and it’s worked. You watch third down and long tape, just put it on, it’s like half he’s throwing it or he’s taking off running — one or the other. There’s not a whole lot of going from there to there to there, not going to his third progression.”

Dontae Smith is Georgia Tech’s leading rusher with 191 yards and three touchdowns on 32 rushing attempts, but Sims’s 48 carries lead the team. 11 Yellow Jackets have caught a pass this season, but only two have racked up 100 yards — and one has caught double-digit passes.

Nate McCollum has caught 18 passes for a meager 148 yards (adding 51 yards and a touchdown on just four carries), and Malachi Carter has turned his eight catches into 153 yards and a touchdown. McCollum has served nearly exclusively as a slot receiver while Carter lines up out wide. And it’s not an offense that truly tests opposing defenses with deep balls — Sims’ average depth of target sitting just over eight yards per attempt.

Sims is also a quarterback who is just as likely to receive a designed rule play as he is to scramble out of the pocket. Pitt has played mobile quarterbacks in the past, and Narduzzi feels as though he’ll find out if his team is equipped to handle a dual-threat quarterback this time around. But there’s only one way to play a mobile quarterback.

“I always say this — we have to be in kill mode, not catch mode,” Narduzzi said. “I think you guys have heard me talk about that before, but there’s two modes. Let’s keep him in the pocket and get a slow rush and everybody’s scared he’s going to get out. We’re not going to play scared. We’re going to go get him. He’s a big guy, and he’s not easy to bring down, but we have to go get him. So, it’s a go get him; it’s not a contain him. I hate the contain word.”

However, even if Pitt feels as though its game planned and prepared for Sims and Georgia Tech, even if Pitt is in ‘kill mode,’ there will always be variables that cannot be accounted for. There are only 20 hours to work with a week, and all the tape in the world cannot prepare for plays that haven’t been run. Georgia Tech appears to be an offense that will lean upon areas where teams have had success against Pitt in the past few weeks.

December 10, 2020 Atlanta – Georgia Tech’s tight end Dylan Leonard (80) is not able to catch under pressure from Pittsburgh’s linebacker Cam Bright (38) during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, December 10, 2020. Pittsburgh won 34-20 over the Georgia Tech. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

“They seem to be a kind of a copycat offense, so we’ve gone through and run a bunch of plays from what we’ve seen in the first four games of things that they might copycat. People will go, ‘Oh, that worked against them, let’s put that in this week.’ We try to gauge are they a copycat team or are they not a copycat? What did they do last year? What’s this guy done in the past whether that be at Tulane or when he was at Notre Dame? So, we look at everything.”

“But you’re guessing. That’s why I said our kids have to go based on their knowledge, offensively and defensively, because you’re going to see different stuff you did not prepare for, period. Whether it’s an opener, which you know you’re going to see more stuff then compared to a game that they’ve got five or six days to prepare for.”

It’s a Georgia Tech offense that’s averaging just under 14 points per game through the first four games of the season, but Pitt isn’t taking Sims or the GT offense lightly. It’s college football, and the possibility of the unexpected taking place should be expected every week.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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TJ
TJ
2 months ago

Not sure how much Collins had his stamp on the offense and whether the interim staff will make major changes but … seems like based on the 4 games, it isn’t very explosive and it’s hard to believe it will magically turn around on Saturday.

They did go up against ranked Clemson and Ole Miss but each of their defenses is performing similarly to Pitt’s but each (especially Ole Miss) has had an easier schedule to date.

I feel we should contain them and win a grind out game by 14-17 points.

H2P !

Joe
Joe
2 months ago

Rain could make this a more interesting affair than we’d like. It could slow the pass rush, make tackling runners and receivers more difficult. Just want a win, no injuries.

Dukes

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