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Five things to know about Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets host USF on Saturday in Atlanta.
Clemson quarterback Chase Brice, center, is tackled by Georgia Tech's Bruce Jordan-Swilling, top, and Jaylon King during the second half of Thursday's game in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 52-14.
Clemson quarterback Chase Brice, center, is tackled by Georgia Tech's Bruce Jordan-Swilling, top, and Jaylon King during the second half of Thursday's game in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 52-14. [ RICHARD SHIRO | AP ]
Published Sep. 2, 2019

A quick look at Georgia Tech, which hosts USF in a battle of 0-1 teams Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in downtown Atlanta:

1. Au revoir, option

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins, right, speaks to an official before the start Thursday night's game at Clemson. Georgia Tech lost, 52-14.
Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins, right, speaks to an official before the start Thursday night's game at Clemson. Georgia Tech lost, 52-14. [ RICHARD SHIRO | AP ]

New coach Geoff Collins has supplanted predecessor Paul Johnson’s flexbone option with a more conventional ― and sometimes creative ― scheme. In Thursday’s 52-14 loss at Clemson, the Yellow Jackets brandished a lot of single-back, zone-read looks but also employed some two-back formations. Tyler Davis’ 7-yard reception in the fourth quarter made him the first Georgia Tech tight end to catch a pass in a game since November 2007.

2. Casting call at Clemson

Collins and his staff clearly still are experimenting with lineups and assessing personnel. Sixty-three players logged action against Clemson, with 18 freshmen (10 redshirt, eight true) playing. Jefferson High alumnus Ahmarean Brown, one of two freshman starters, had a 28-yard touchdown catch out of the slot.

MORE USF: In wake of Wisconsin loss, USF needs its veteran presence more than ever

3. Stout secondary

North Carolina's Beau Corrales (88) runs the ball while Georgia Tech's Tre Swilling tackles during the first half of a game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.
North Carolina's Beau Corrales (88) runs the ball while Georgia Tech's Tre Swilling tackles during the first half of a game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. [ GERRY BROOME ]

The defensive backfield may represent Georgia Tech’s greatest strength at this point. Playing an abundance of press coverage against Clemson’s receivers, the Yellow Jackets intercepted Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence twice. For context, Lawrence (13-for-23, 168 yards, one touchdown) tossed only four picks in all of 2018. Watch for sophomore cornerback Tre Swilling, whose first-half pick snapped Lawrence’s streak of 181 consecutive throws without an interception.

4. Turnovers tainted that final score

At the risk of suggesting the Jackets are sleepers in the ACC Coastal, only three or so plays stood between the rout that transpired Thursday and a respectable final score. Two Tech first-half fumbles inside its own 20 led to short Clemson touchdown drives, and Jackets quarterback Tobias Oliver threw a pick on fourth-and-goal at the Clemson 1.

5. Three-headed QB?

Georgia Tech quarterback Tobias Oliver tosses a pass during the first half of Thursday night's game at Clemson The Tigers won, 52-14.
Georgia Tech quarterback Tobias Oliver tosses a pass during the first half of Thursday night's game at Clemson The Tigers won, 52-14. [ RICHARD SHIRO | AP ]

Collins used three quarterbacks at Clemson, and it remains anyone’s guess who will start Saturday. Oliver, who torched the Bulls for 97 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the flexbone option last season, is the most athletic of the trio but doesn’t possess the passing touch of redshirt freshman James Graham (4-for-7, 72 yards, one TD vs. Clemson).

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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