Every team has issues to address this offseason, and this week, we’re taking a look at the most glaring holes for each ACC team and figuring out where they might find answers between now and the season opener.
Position to improve: Defensive line
Why it was a problem: The Yellow Jackets knew entering the season that getting a strong pass rush wouldn’t be easy after losing the bulk of their experience in the front seven. Indeed, Georgia Tech finished 108th nationally in sacks per game, 118th in tackles for loss per game, and no Power 5 team in the nation had fewer opponent plays per game that resulted in a loss or no gain. The big-picture result of that lack of backfield penetration was a defense that yielded 6.3 yards per play in 2014 -- 111th nationally and second-to-last in the ACC.
How it can be fixed: Experience was perhaps the biggest problem for Georgia Tech in 2014. After losing four of its top five pass-rushers from 2013, Tech simply had to give young players an opportunity and hope they could learn on the job. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof largely played a bit less aggressively as a result, which cut down on negative plays created, but also helped to keep too many big plays from happening downfield. That dynamic should begin to shift in 2015 now that KeShun Freeman, Paul Davis and others have more experience under their belts, and Tech figures to get back Jabari Hunt-Days, who missed the season because of academic issues. A solid 2015 recruiting class that includes four defensive linemen should add to the mix as well.
Early 2015 outlook: This isn’t going to be a massive overhaul. The hope for the Yellow Jackets is largely that Hunt-Days can be a force in his return to the field, and the players who saw action last season will be better in 2015. Roof certainly knows how to coach up a defense, and he did a solid job with the limited resources he had in 2014. His playbook should be able to be opened up a bit moving forward. It helps, too, that Tech promises to once again have a potent offensive attack in 2015 that will chew up clock and keep the defense off the field. The Yellow Jackets don’t have to be incredibly deep up front on defense, but they do have to be more productive when they’re on the field. In many respects, there is nowhere to go but up for that unit.