Saturday night is going to mark the first ACC road trip for Georgia Tech this season and it is going to be quite the challenge. The Yellow Jackets will be facing the defending ACC Champion Pitt Panthers, who are looking to once again win the division and earn their way back to Charlotte.
This is going to be the first game for Georgia Tech under new interim head coach Brent Key and he is going to be tasked with guiding this program for the rest of the season. Pitt is 3-1, with their only loss being to a really good Tennessee team and they are starting to get guys back from injury.
So what are the three things to watch as Georgia Tech takes on Pitt this Saturday? Let’s break it down
3. Can the offense be better in the red zone?
One of the reasons that Georgia Tech fell short against UCF last week was the fact that they were 0-5 in the red zone. The red zone offense as a whole has been terrible this season, but the cure for it could be Pitt’s red zone defense, which ranks 113th in the nation. Opponents have scored 13 times in 14 red zone attempts against Pitt and if Georgia Tech can get down there to have the opportunities to score, this is a defense that will allow you to. The trick is going to be moving the ball on a good Panthers defense and getting down there.
2. Special Teams
Special teams were an unmitigated disaster under former head coach Geoff Collins. With Key as the head coach now, he is putting linebackers coach Jason Semore as the special team’s coordinator now, and hopefully, that can turn things around on this side of the ball.
Georgia Tech has had four punts blocked in the first four games and field goal kicking is not good either. While I think the field goal kicking issue is not fixable overnight, the punt protection is. I want to see a clean game (for once) on special teams and for the Yellow Jackets to look like they have been coached better than they have this season.
1. How the team looks under Brent Key
This might be pretty obvious, but I am anxious to see if this team looks any different under new leadership. Against Western Carolina and Ole Miss this year, this team looked lifeless at the start and got down early. Will that still happen under Key or will this team be more fired up and have a new energy with the change in leadership?
In two instances in college football this year, the teams that have fired their coaches have looked really bad the week after. Nebraska was blown out by Oklahoma after firing Scott Frost and Arizona State looked terrible against Utah after firing Herm Edwards.
There is a chance that Georgia Tech looks better coached and plays more disciplined under Key, even if they lose the game. There is also the chance that there is no energy and the road environment is too tough for Georgia Tech and the game gets sideways. How this team looks in this game from those perspectives could be a glimpse at how they may look for the rest of the season.
This is the top thing to be watching when Georgia Tech takes on Pitt Saturday night,
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