2020 was only a small preview for what is in store for the young, dynamic Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets team. In 2021, expect large strides from the school.
Last season, Georgia Tech was enjoyable to watch against the back end of the ACC because of their explosive, young offense. While their 3-7 record doesn’t look as impressive on paper, there were many factors to consider from the Yellow Jackets that played against them in 2020.
Last season was the second for Georgia Tech under head coach Geoff Collins. For the second time in almost two decades, the Yellow Jackets did not run a triple-option offense. Collins brought his multiple scheme style to Atlanta, Georgia, to allow Georgia Tech to be more competitive in the ACC. The Covid shortened year with a depleted roster really did hurt the team overall.
Despite the 3-7 record, Georgia Tech was competitive in most of their games. The weaknesses struggled on the defensive side of the football, as Tech had to deal with a ton of injuries to key impact players. Tech defeated Florida State in the opener, 16-13, despite three blocked kick attempts, took down Louisville, 46-27, and poured on Duke, 56-33.
The youth on the program that performed well last year is what is creating the buzz around the Yellow Jackets.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets dynamic backfield
The center of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets right now is quarterback Jeff Sims. A true freshman last year, Gibbs hints shades of the former Baylor standout, Robert Griffin III. Their statures and play styles are remarkably similar. Sims was very impressive at the helm for a true freshman, accounting for 2200 total yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who’s electric as a runner and displays a great arm.
Don’t forget that Georgia Tech will be running a three-person running back rotation throughout the season, each man having speed and explosiveness.
Jahmyr Gibbs is the first man that must be mentioned. A true freshman last year, Gibbs led the running backs in rushing yards (460) and the team in total touchdowns (7). His real threat element was both his speed and receiving ability, as he hauled in 24 receptions for 303 yards. Once he gets in the open field, Gibbs is difficult to track.
After that, Georgia Tech has a couple of bruisers in Jordan Mason and Jamious Griffin. While Griffin is the faster of the two, Mason will most likely see the field more, especially in short-yardage situations.
Head Coach Geoff Collins schemes to allow explosiveness to thrive
Geoff Collins has worked his way through the ranks in college football as an innovator. His schemes are very non-traditional but work well to confuse defenses. His two years at Temple University saw incredible success at times, but consistency on his team was always a factor.
The fun part of studying what Collins does is that he schemes his players to be successful. All they have to do is hit on the plays.
Shot plays on roll outs
The first example that I want to use is how Tech used Jeff Sims’ athleticism to create opportunities. This is a rollout design that creates two mismatches for the defense.
First, the play is designed to look like a stick concept. A stick concept is designed to be a quick throw on a third and short situation, much like the play design here. The receiver up top runs a very advanced route. His first break is designed to look like a slant and go, where he sells the slant and then cuts upfield. However, once he cuts upfield and gets the cornerback to commit to the deep ball, he cuts back inside.
The rollout option forces the defense to have to respect the running ability of Sims. He has it within him to gash the defense with his legs, so the rollout clears the middle of the field. The linebackers have to play downhill.
Sims has a quick throw option with the slot receiver on the out, like a traditional stick concept. Lastly, Sims can go over the top with the go route on the outside. It’s a play that allows Georgia Tech to utilize their speed across the field and schematics to work people open.
Mixing traditional spread schematics
Don’t think that everything that Coach Collins throws at opposing defenses is modern and up-tempo schemes. Collins works a good bit of traditional schemes into the mix as well. In this case, it’s a mesh-sit concept with a wheel route from the running back.
The part that makes Georgia Tech difficult to defend is that they run so many different schemes and looks. The entire time, you have to respect Sims’ ability to take off with the football. He’s ridiculously explosive and does an excellent job at keeping plays alive and making things happen.
Let’s get into the real nucleus of what Georgia Tech wants to establish – the run/pass option. I’ve pulled two examples of what Georgia Tech likes to run in these situations, both from the explosive win over Duke. In that game, the Yellow Jackets were able to establish what they really wanted to do.
In the play above, we have a simple bubble screen concept where Tech brings the slot receiver in motion to create a lot of space, especially in man coverage situations. The read in an RPO is typically the edge defender, who is left unblocked. In this case, the read is actually the middle linebacker. If he plays inside to take away the run, Sims keeps, and the play essentially turns into a triple option look. He can throw the bubble screen or run. If the middle linebacker plays outside, Sims gives inside.
This case is a little bit more of what is considered a play-action, but I have seen the Yellow Jackets run out of this look as well. Georgia Tech runs a cross-motion where the X receiver runs a deep post while the Z receiver runs a deep crossing route. The difference here is the motion behind the line of scrimmage to open up the potential wheel route to the outside.
The Yellow Jackets run so many different looks and give defenses so much eye candy that it’s difficult for them to stay with these dynamic players.
What you can expect to see from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 2021
I think you can expect to see a fiercely competitive Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets offense in 2021. Now that Jahmyr Gibbs and Jeff Sims have some experience on the field together and at the college level, the Georgia Tech offense can use this full offseason to really build chemistry with each other.
Sims has to improve with his consistency. His completion percentage last season (while suffering from a few drops as well) was 54.9%. There were a couple of games where that percentage dropped below 50%, including the match against North Carolina State that removed Tech from being as competitive as they should have been.
This team will take the next step and compete for a bowl game appearance. Georgia Tech fans and alumni have many reasons to be excited.