This Saturday at 3:30 on ABC the Seminoles will take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Doak Campbell Stadium.
In coach Geoff Collins’ first season with Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets endured lots of growing pains as they finished the year 3-9.
FSU is 14-10-1 versus the Yellow Jackets all time. The last time the teams played was in Atlanta in 2015 when Georgia Tech blocked a game-winning field goal attempt by Roberto Agauyo and returned it all the way back to secure an upset victory over FSU. The last time FSU won was in 2014 in Charlotte to clinch the ACC title.
Florida State offense versus Georgia Tech defense
The most intriguing match-up on this side of the ball will be James Blackman and his host of talented receivers against the experienced Georgia Tech secondary. FSU’s size on the outside at wide receiver should give FSU a big advantage, but Georgia Tech has two big cornerbacks that should make things more difficult for Tamorrion Terry and Warren Thompson. If coach Collins’ defense must adjust to cover the wide-outs, then slot receivers Keyshawn Helton and DJ Matthews and running back Jashaun Corbin should have a big day.
The coaches have decided to put Maurice Smith into the starting lineup at center and move Baveon Johnson to right guard. Most analysts thought that Brady Scott would be in the starting lineup but instead he will be the first lineman off the bench, as Norvell likes is versatility. When FSU has the ball we will find out who has improved the most over the off-season, the Florida State’s offensive line or GT’s undersized defensive line.
The jackets return all of their top five tacklers including the team leader in tackles David Curry with 97. Last season Georgia Tech was abysmal at getting to the quarterback ranking 103rd in the FBS with 1.3 sacks per game. Tech was slightly better than Florida State forcing 1.4 takeaways per game, which was in the middle of the pack at 70th.
Florida State defense versus Georgia Tech offense
FSU should have a major advantage on this side of the ball. Georgia Tech was 125th out of the 130 in the FBS in scoring last year at 16 points per game. However, having another year to learn the system and bringing in a graduate transfer on the offensive line, the Ramblin’ Wreck should be better on offense. I’m guessing that James Graham will get the nod at QB over freshman Jeff Sims due to his skill set matching up with their offense and his leadership.
Other playmakers to look out for are running back Jordan Mason (899 yards rushing and 7 TDs) and receiver Ahmarean Brown (7 receiving TDs). The biggest key for the Florida State defense for this game will be whether or not the linebackers will be able to hold their own in the run game.
FSU’s defensive line will be able to create gaps for the linebackers to run to the ball carrier on almost every play, so it’ll be up to Leonard Warner, Emmett Rice and Amari Gainer to bring down the running backs. If the linebackers continue their struggles from the last three or four years, the loss of preseason all ACC safety Hamsah Nasirildeen will be that much more evident.
The Seminoles defensive backfield should be able to make things difficult for Tech’s young receivers and whoever Geoff Collins decides to play under center.
Norvell prides himself on the play of his special teams and with the amount of athleticism at his disposal, FSU should be able to make some strides in the return game. Both teams have relative unknowns at kicker, but Georgia Tech has a solid punter in Pressley Harvin, who placed 18 punts inside is the 20 yard line.
I think FSU will be able to win it’s first season opening game victory since defeating Ole Miss in Orlando in 2016. Florida State 24 Georgia Tech 15.