Heel Tough Blog: Georgia Tech Preview


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In what might be the most important game of the 2019 season, the Tar Heels head on the road this Saturday to Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta to take one the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The home of the Ramblin’ Wreck has been a house of horrors for the Tar Heels, who have won just once there since the turn of the century. Let’s breakdown the Tar Heels crucial matchup with Georgia Tech on Saturday.


Team Breakdowns

Tar Heels

When you talk about this Tar Heel offense, the storylines almost always revolve around promising true freshman quarterback Sam Howell (90-144, 1168 yds, 11-2 TD-INT, 51 rush, 14 yds, TD), who is off to a strong start to his young career. Howell continues to be dominant in the clutch moments and many are asking offensive coordinator Phil Longo to open up the offense to Howell and let him carry this team the way he has late in games. It helps to have receivers such as Dyami Brown (18 rec, 347 yds, 4 TD) and Dazz Newsome (21 rec, 286 yds, 2 TD) to get the football to, something that is much easier with the type of offensive line play that the Tar Heels had this past week against Clemson. Charlie Heck return at left tackle helps, but the unit has to be more consistent going forward. The Tar Heels are also looking for more consistency from their running game, which boasts both Javonte Williams (63 rush, 348 yds, 2 TD, 7 rec, 71 yds) and Michael Carter (64 rush, 319 yds, 8 rec, 55 yds, 2 TD).

The Tar Heels defense is awfully beaten up at this point of the season, but as they showed on Saturday, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to keep fighting. The linebacking corps might be the headline on this defense, as they continue to overachieve expectations led by converted quarterback Chazz Surratt (34 ttkl, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 scks, 2 PD) and sophomore middle linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel (35 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sck, FF, PD). The best overall unit on this defense might still be the defensive line, but injury to Jason Strowbridge (11 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, FR) hasn’t allowed the Tar Heels to be as effective as they were in the first two weeks. The good news is, Aaron Crawford (26 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, 2.0 scks) is still having a great senior season and the Fox brothers, Tomon (19 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, 3.5 scks, FF) and Tomari (9 ttkl, 0.5 TFL) have settled into their roles very well. The secondary is the major concern with this defense, especially at the safety spot opposite of Myles Dorn (37 ttkl, 3.0 TFL, INT, 2 PD). Both Myles Wolfolk (24 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, 3 INT) and Cam’Ron Kelly (7 ttkl) are likely to be out of the lineup this week, leaving Don Chapman (3 ttkl), who saw his first action of his college career on the defensive side of the ball last week, as the starter. At corner, Trey Morrison (21 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 3 PD) and Storm Duck (10 ttkl) are expected to start, the latter of which had a stellar performance in his first career start a week ago.

The special teams unit still remains a bit of a hit or miss, but the good news is that punter Ben Kiernan (30 punts, 42.1 avg) finally appears to be hitting his stride. The return games haven’t seen much opportunity, but Michael Carter (7 KR, 26.1 avg) does look the part at kick returner. Noah Ruggles (10-10 XP 7-10 FG, Long of 49) remains a question mark.


Georgia Tech

We’ll be blunt here; this Georgia Tech offense is not good. There were expected to be some bumps in the road with the switch from the triple option to a more traditional scheme, but it has been brutal so far. The Yellow Jackets have played three quarterbacks in their first four games and have yet to settle on a starter just yet. Tobias Oliver (11-26, 177 yds, 0-2 TD-INT, 51 rush, 264 yds, TD) looks like the best option, but that’s mainly because of what he has done with his legs so far this season. Running back Jordan Mason (49 rush, 257 yds, 4 TD, 7 rec, 43 yds) will flank whoever starts at quarterback and is the most talented player on the offensive side of the football for the Yellow Jackets. The wide receiving corps hasn’t been able to shine with the passing struggles and Jalen Camp’s (6 rec, 125 yds, TD) injury means the struggling unit will now be short-handed. The Georgia Tech offensive line has had their struggles, as well, something that should be expected with the major switch in blocking schemes in the new offensive system.

The Georgia Tech defense hasn’t been as bad as the offense, but they have certainly had their struggles as well. The linebacking corps has some stat stuffers in David Curry (29 ttkl, 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sck, FR, INT) and Charlie Thomas (28 ttkl, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 scks), but the unit is one of the main reasons the Yellow Jackets are allowing over 250 yards per game on the ground. The defensive line has to share some of the blame and the fact that they have just two quarterback sacks in the first four games is discouraging for sure. The stars of this defense sit in the secondary, led by nickelback Kaleb Oliver (16 ttkl, FF, 2 INT, PD) and safety Tariq Carpenter (19 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, FF, PD).

The special teams might be the best unit on this Georgia Tech team thanks to punter Pressley Harvin III (24 punts, 42.3 avg) and kick returner Tobias Oliver (4 KR, 33.3 avg). At placekicker, though, Brenton King (3-3 XP, 1-3 FG, Long of 34) and Wesley Walls (2-3 XP) continue to share the kicking duties five games into the season.



Team Stats

Tar Heels

Off. PPG: 24.2 (96th)

Off. PYPG: 238.6 (69th)

Off. RYPG: 154.2 (73rd)

Off. TYPG: 392.8 (80th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 30.7% (T-121st)

Def. PPG: 24.8 (T-58th)

Def. PYPG: 219.0 (66th)

Def. RYPG: 163.0 (82nd)

Def. TYPG: 382.0 (64th)

Sacks: 11.0 (T-43rd)

Interceptions: 4 (T-49th)

Turnover Margin: Even

Offensive Efficiency: 52.3 (58th)

Defensive Efficiency: 65.1 (41st)

Special Teams Efficiency: 40.2 (93rd)

Overall Team Efficiency: 58.5 (52nd)


Georgia Tech

Off. PPG: 13.5 (130th)

Off. PYPG: 126.3 (125th)

Off. RYPG: 163.0 (T-65th)

Off. TYPG: 289.3 (127th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 27.8% (126th)

Def. PPG: 28.3 (76th)

Def. PYPG: 136.8 (5th)

Def. RYPG: 254.5 (128th)

Def. TYPG: 391.3 (69th)

Sacks: 6.0 (T-104th)

Interceptions: 4 (T-49th)

Turnover Margin: -2

Offensive Efficiency: 16.5 (121st)

Defensive Efficiency: 42.5 (86th)

Special Teams Efficiency: 42.3 (89th)

Overall Team Efficiency: 23.4 (116th)



Keys to the Game

Bring the Energy

Mack Brown said in his mid-week press conference on Wednesday that the team was struggling to bring the same effort this week as they brought the week before in preparation for Clemson. Brown stated that whoever did not practice hard during Wednesday’s practice was not traveling with the team to Atlanta. Brown expects his team to come out energized and that’s exactly what they need to do if they want to get a crucial win over Georgia Tech that could this back in the right direction towards a bowl appearance.

Strong Offensive Line Play Continues

Injuries have the name of the game for this Tar Heels offensive line unit, but last week’s return for Charlie Heck at left tackle really boosted the entire unit. Against a Georgia Tech team that has really struggled to get any push up front all year, this is a great opportunity for this group to step up and help this Tar Heel offense move the ball.

Stop the Run

There was some concern as to whether or not this defense had really improved stopping the run, but Saturday’s matchup with Clemson showed that they are heading in the right direction. Georgia Tech may be switching schemes to a more traditional offense, but the running game is what still drives this offense. If the Tar Heels can slow down that running game, particularly on 1st and 2nd down, Georgia Tech will have a difficult time moving the football.



Injury Report

Tar Heels

OUT- Matthew Flint (leg), Brandon Fritts (knee), Nick Polino (lower body), Patrice Rene (knee), Bryson Richardson (knee), Jace Ruder (leg)

DOUBT- Myles Wolfolk (lower body)

QUEST- Antoine Green (lower body), Cam’Ron Kelly (leg)

PROB- Charlie Heck (hand), Dazz Newsome (undisclosed), Aaron Crawford (undisclosed)

Georgia Tech

OUT- Jalen Camp (knee), Kenny Cooper (knee), Jahaziel Lee (leg)

QUEST- James Graham (foot), Lucas Johnson (shoulder)



Projected Starting Lineups

Tar Heels

Offense

QB

# 7 Sam Howell, Fr.

RB

#25 Javonte Williams, So. OR

# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.

WR

# 2 Dyami Brown, So.

WR

#15 Beau Corrales, Jr.

WR

# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.

TE

#86 Carl Tucker, Sr.

LT

#67 Charlie Heck, Sr..

LG

#63 Ed Montilus, RFr.

C

#68 Brian Anderson, So.

RG

#73 Marcus McKethan, So.

RT

#74 Jordan Tucker, So.

Defense

DE

#56 Tomari Fox, Fr. OR

#51 Raymond Vohasek, So.

NG

#92 Aaron Crawford, Sr.

DT

#55 Jason Strowbridge, Sr.

OLB

#12 Tomon Fox, Sr.

ILB

#44 Jeremiah Gemmel, So.

ILB

# 3 Dominique Ross, Sr.

OLB

#33 Allen Cater, Sr. OR

#56 Tomari Fox, RFr.

CB

#29 Storm Duck, Fr.

FS

# 1 Myles Dorn, Sr.

SS

#13 Don Chapman, Fr.

CB

#4 Trey Morrison, So.

NB

#16 D.J. Ford, Jr.

Special Teams

K

#97 Noah Ruggles, So.

KOS

#90 Michael Rubino, Sr.

P

#91 Ben Kiernan, Fr.

LS

#61 Drew Little, Fr. (K)

#60 Trevor Collins, Jr. (P)

H

#96 Cooper Graham, So.

KR

# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.

PR

# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.


Georgia Tech

Offense

QB

# 8 Tobias Oliver, So.

RB

#27 Jordan Mason, So.

WR

#15 Malachi Carter, So.

WR

#20 Jair Anderson-Hawkins, Jr.

WR

#10 Ahmarean Brown, Fr.

TE

# 9 Tyler Davis, Sr.

LT

#73 Zach Quinney, So.

LG

#70 Jared Southers, Sr.

C

#79 William Lay III, So.

RG

#68 Hamp Gibbs, So.

RT

#78 Jack DeFoor, Jr.

Defense

DE

#91 Kelton Dawson, So.

DT

#96 Chris Martin, Jr.

DT

#97 Brentavious Glanton, Sr.

DE

#89 Antwan Owens, Jr.

ILB

#12 Bruce Jordan-Swilling, Jr.

ILB

# 6 David Curry, Sr.

NB

#22 Kaleb Oliver, So.

CB

#38 Ajani Kerr, Jr.

FS

# 1 Juanyeh Thomas, So.

SS

# 2 Tariq Carpenter, Jr.

CB

# 3 Tre Swilling, So.

Special Teams

K

#37 Brenton King, So. OR

#38 Wesley Wells, So.

P

#27 Pressley Harvin III, Jr.

KO

#38 Wesley Walls, So.

LS

#52 Cade Long, RFr.

H

#27 Pressley Harvin III, Jr.

KR

# 8 Tobias Oliver, So. OR

#22 Kaleb Olvier, So. OR

#28 Dontae Smith, RFr.

PR

# 1 Juanyeh Thomas, So.

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