UCF hosts Georgia Tech in the Bounce House

Written by: Andrew Johnson (@RealNews102)

Orlando, FL – After bouncing back in their first road trip of the season, UCF will host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Bounce House on Saturday. 

This will be an interesting matchup in that Georgia Tech (1-2) is experiencing head coaching issues and is coming off a brutal 42-0 loss to No. 16 Ole Miss last week. UCF (2-1) won the previous meeting between the programs in 2020, as the Knights compiled 660 yards of total offense in a 49-21 victory.

As the Knights armor up to head into conference play, here’s a look at yet another ACC opponent that UCF could potentially dominate on both sides of the ball. 

UCF Offense

UCF used last week’s game against Florida Atlantic to get things back on track offensively. Currently, the offense is the only FBS team to surpass 600 yards of total offense in more than one game: 653 yards versus FAU and 605 yards against SC State. 

John Rhys Plumlee was announced as the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week and named to the Davey O’Brien Great 8 List for his performance last week. Plumlee should continue to develop timing with his receivers, and not hesitate to trust his legs. Head coach Gus Malzahn will utilize his athletic ability in the RPO game to open up passing lanes against a struggling Yellow Jacket defense.

Look for the Knights to begin scheming around the run game early to set the tone in the trenches against Georgia Tech, who is giving up 184.7 rushing yards per game. Ole Miss ran all over them and nearly had two 100+ yard rushers with four total rushing touchdowns.

UCF’s rushing attack has been solid this season and can be something Malzahn and staff have noticed. The Knights are averaging 273.0 rushing yards per game, which ranks fourth nationally and leads the AAC.

Malzahn implemented the explosiveness of running backs Johnny Richardson and RJ Harvey into the offense more last week, providing different looks of speed and power backs. With the number of talented running backs on the depth chart, UCF will be able to confuse the defense while keeping fresh legs on the field. 

One of the more consistently productive players on UCF’s offensive has been Javon Baker. The Alabama transfer has both speed and hand strength to dominate most defensive backs on the schedule. If UCF’s coaching staff is able to spark the trio of Baker, Ryan O’Keefe, and Kobe Hudson into action, the offense could truly resemble great ones from previous years. With the additions of Florida transfer Kemore Gamble and Alec Holler, the passing attack is going to become dangerous in all areas as well. 

Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets are in year four under head coach Geoff Collins, who spent two seasons (2008-2009) as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF under head coach George O’Leary. Georgia Tech is off to a disappointing 1-2 start to the season, including an 0-1 mark in ACC play.

Since Collins accepted the head coaching job, Georgia Tech strayed away from the run-heavy, triple-option scheme to a more traditional style offense. The offense will be led by the 6’4, 219-pound sophomore Jeff Sims. The Jacksonville native played badly against Ole Miss but is both mobile with good arm strength. 

Despite lackluster performances in various departments, Georgia Tech’s defense has made big plays, ranking No. 7 nationally with 27 tackles for loss and 9.0 per game. Look for the defensive coordinator to call multiple blitz packages that attempt to confuse the offensive line. 

Key Players:

Dontae Smith | RB

Smith currently leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. On just 25 attempts, he’s totaled 154 rushing yards with three touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry. Smith has accepted the difficult task of replacing the talented Jahmyr Gibbs who transferred to Alabama during the offseason. 

Ayinde Eley | LB

Eley is second in the conference with 32 tackles, including five tackles for loss to lead the ACC. Additionally, he has forced a pair of fumbles.

Jeff Sims | QB 

Sims has played below average this season, but the lack of good offensive line play and skill position talent doesn’t help much. Sims is 49 out of 85 with 425 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions. He’s also second on the team with 87 rushing yards. 

UCF Defense 

Defensive coordinator Travis Williams and staff should feel positive about where they are through three games so far. No team has scored more than two touchdowns or reached the 21 points mark.

The defense had a dominant performance against the Owls last week. The Knights held FAU to zero yards of offense in the third quarter and just 18 yards in the fourth quarter. Through three games, UCF’s defense has allowed just 121.7 passing yards per game to rank No. 7 among FBS teams.

Impact Players:

Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste Johnson | LB

12 total tackles & 1.5 TFL

Divaad Wilson | DB

6 total tackles, 1 INT & 1 fumble recovery 

Tre’Mon Morrish-Brash | DE

11 total tackles, 3 TFL, 2 PBU & 2 QB hurries

Jason Johnson | LB

24 total tackles & 1.5 TFL

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