The Yellow Jackets run a triple option offense. They use a lot of motion to move their running backs all over the formation to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Normally, Georgia Tech runs the ball about 85% of the time. This season, that number has dropped to about 75% of the time. This is due to having a young quarterback who has not mastered all of the nuances of the triple option.
Georgia Tech uses the traditional ground attack more often than in years past, but still tests the discipline of defenses with the option. You will see a lot of tight formations with frequent motion.
The starting quarterback is Vad Lee, who will be the guy under center for the Yellow Jackets. Given the offensive system that the Yellow Jackets run, Lee is used primarily as a runner. In fact, he leads Georgia Tech in rushing attempts on the season. Lee is a shifty runner with decent speed.
As a passer, Lee struggles with accuracy as he is only completing 42.7% of his attempts. He does have a good arm though, and can hurt a defense over the top off of playaction.
The Georgia Tech running backs feature a trio of ground threats. David Sims gets the majority of the carries. He has a similar running style to Jerome Smith featuring power on the inside. Sims generally gets the ball quickly and is a pure north/south runner who makes his living between the tackles.
Robert Godhigh is a quicker runner who generally attacks the outside. He is third on the team in carries behind Lee and Sims, but adds that breakaway speed dimension to the offense.
Junior Zach Laskey is in between the other two backs. Not as powerful as Sims but not as quick as Godhigh. Deon Hill and Synjyn Days are also involved. Both are a powerful backs with good footwork on inside runs who can also attack the outside at times.
Georgia Tech generally does not use more than two receivers on the field at the same time. Darren Waller and DeAndre Smelter are the starters. Waller is a big, physical receiver who is more of a possession guy at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds. He runs good routes and has solid hands.
Smelter is the deep threat who also has good size at 6-foot-3, 220-pounds. He has more straight-line speed than Waller but is a good enough athlete to out-jump opposing defensive backs.
Michael Summers and Corey Dennis will rotate in at times, but Waller and Smelter are the primary threats. All four are strong blockers that are physical in helping to open up holes within the triple option scheme.
In the Trenches
The Georgia Tech offensive line is a bit undersized with only one starting lineman over 300-pounds. They make up for their lack of size with great quickness and athleticism for the position. All five guys can move and pull at various times to try to get blockers into the second level.
Ray Beno and Bryan Chamberlain are the starting tackles. While they play physical against the run, they struggle in pass protection. Will Jackson and Shaquille Mason are the guards who get out of their stance quickly and use their hands very well. Center Jay Finch adjusts the blocking according to the defensive alignment. Finch is a very smart interior lineman who has solid footwork.
Georgia Tech runs a base 4-3 but use a variety of defensive fronts. They use three man and five man defensive line fronts at various times. It is an aggressive scheme that will try to use various blitzes to confuse the opposing offense.
In the Trenches
Jeremiah Attaochu is the best pass rusher on the team at one starting defensive end. He can create havoc for opposing passing attacks with his speed rush off the edge. Attaochu is also solid against the run, and features a bull-rush that continues to improve.
Opposite Attaochu is Emmanuel Dieke. Dieke is a solid run stuffing defensive end who is an average at best pass rusher. He has yet to record a sack on the season. Along the interior are Euclid Cummings and Adam Gotsis. Both are a bit undersized but make up for that with quickness and good technique, but are not pass rushing threats.
Anthony Wiliams and Patrick Gamble will rotate in at defensive end, but are similar run-stopping ends to Dieke. Shawn Green and Jimmy Kitchen rotate at tackle, but are also undersized players who do not collapse the pocket.
The Back Seven
The linebackers have decent size but can really run. Quayshawn Nealy is a speedster who can fill the whole against the run. Nealy is a solid blitzing linebacker who can also cover.
Brandon Watts is the other outside backer who can also run. He is the primary cover guy against opposing tight ends. He is physical and solid at shedding blocks.
In the middle is Jabari Hunt-Days who has good size, good instincts and is strong against the run. While not as fast as the other two, Hunt-Days can run and fills the hole very well.
The secondary is a weakness for the Georgia Tech defense. Corners Louis Young and D.J. White are solid but prone to giving up the big play. Demond Smith and Jemea Thomas are not big, physical safeties but do come into the box at times. Thomas also plays corner when the opposition spreads the field. Smith and Thomas are better in coverage but can be hurt by playaction.
Lynn Griffin and Coray Carlson rotate in at corner and safety respectively. The group is largely inconsistent despite being very athletic. Expect to see the corners be physical with the Syracuse receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Jamal Golden was arguably the Yellow Jackets' best cover corner, but is out for the season with an injury.
Freshman Harrison Butker has a strong leg but has struggled with accuracy. Butker is 4-5 on field goals over 40-yards, but only 1-3 on shorter attempts. Sean Poole is the senior punter who is solid but unspectacular. He does not have a big time leg, but makes up for that with hang time.
The aforementioned Golden was also the best returner on the team. Replacing him is backup corner Lynn Griffin and starting running back David Sims as kick returners. DeAndre Smelter handles punt returning duties. Each has been solid on the season, but Smelter is the bigger threat to break one.
The coverage units have been solid but have benefited from their strong kicking game. The strong leg of Butker creates a lot of touchbacks while the hang time from Poole results in a lot of fair catches.
Georgia Tech presents problems with their scheme. Syracuse will have to remain physical up front and disciplined in all areas of their defense. Defensively, the Orange have a chance to make plays with the power running game. It should be another intriguing matchup and a winnable game for the Orange.