Georgia Tech has a matchup with ACC Coastal rival Duke this weekend that also serves as the Yellow Jackets homecoming game. Tech is looking to win consecutive games for the first time since 2018, but are going to have a more challenging game than initially thought at the beginning of the season.
Both of these teams were projected to finish at the bottom of the ACC Coastal at the beginning of the year, but the game looks much different now than it did. Duke is 4-1 and coming off of a three-touchdown win in their ACC opener against Virginia. Under first-year head coach Mike Elko, Duke is playing sound football and quarterback Riley Leonard has been one of the surprises of the season so far in the ACC. With their only loss being on the road to the 19th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, this Duke team has aspirations of making a bowl game and possibly more.
So how do these two teams match up ahead of Saturday? Let’s take a look.
Duke comes into this game with the fifth-best scoring offense in the ACC at 35 PPG and will be going up against a Georgia Tech defense that is 13th in the ACC in scoring defense, giving up an average of 29 PPG. It should be noted that the strength of schedule has been much more difficult for Georgia Tech and this defense has faced some potent offenses.
Leonard is the guy that makes this offense go and he has had a good start to the 2022 season. He has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards this year with a 72% completion percentage. He does not make many mistakes and knows where to go with the ball. Getting pressure on him and affecting his rhythm will be key in this game. He is not only dangerous through the air though. Leonard has 260 yards on 41 carries this season.
The real strength of the Duke offense is their rushing attack, which ranks 26th in the country and third in the ACC. Jaylen Coleman is the teams leading rusher and has 308 yards on 58 carries and averages over five yards per carry with four touchdowns. He is not the only capable back though. Jordan Waters 248 yards on 51 carries and also has four touchdowns.
The receivers are led by Jalon Calhoun (last year’s leading receiver) and Eli Pancol. Both guys average over 15 yards per catch and are the go-to guys for Leonard. This is not the most dynamic receiving corps, but Calhoun is a good player that can beat the Tech defense.
Last year, I thought the Duke offensive line was underrated and it might be again this year. It is a good unit that has helped pave the way for Duke to be one of the top rushing teams in the ACC.
The Duke defense is an improved unit but is not one of the ACC’s best by any stretch. If Georgia Tech’s offensive line can find a way to hold up against the Duke front, there are ways to move the ball against this Blue Devils’ defense.
The defensive line is led by interior lineman Ja’Mion Franklin, who leads the team in sacks with 2.5. This is not a unit that brings the quarterback down though. Duke is 13th in the ACC in sacks with only nine. The rushing defense is only ranked 7th in the ACC. Georgia Tech has faced a good defensive line in nearly every game this season, but won’t be facing quite the same caliber of players that they usually do.
Duke’s defense is led by linebacker Shaka Heyward, who has 34 tackles and six pass deflections this season. Heyward is a veteran leader and a guy that makes plays every weekend. Dorian Mausi is the other starting linebacker to watch on Saturday.
The passing defense is one of the worst in the ACC, ranking 10th and giving up 242 yards per game. Georgia Tech’s passing offense has not exactly been a strength, but there could be some success to be had vs this secondary. Darius Joiner is the standout of the group and actually leads the team in tackles with 41. Duke has only intercepted two passes this year
Georgia Tech is going to have a chance to win this game on Saturday. Like most things with Tech this year, I think a lot of it comes down to the offensive line. If they can protect Sims, Duke’s secondary can be tested. Duke’s runs defense is also subpar and I expect Georgia Tech to go right at that. Hassan Hall had a great game vs Pitt and could see another big day on Saturday.
On defense, Tech’s run defense is once again going to be tested. After poor performances against Ole Miss and UCF, the Yellow Jackets stopped one of the ACC’s top running games last game vs Pitt and will need to do that again this week. Georgia Tech was able to get pressure on Pitt last weekend and stopping the run on early downs and letting this defense rush the passer is the recipe for success.
Georgia Tech vs Duke will kick off on Saturday at 4:00 p.m in Atlanta.
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