When two desperate teams face off, the one with more desperation tends to come out on top. You’d be hard-pressed to argue that both Syracuse and Georgia Tech are not two desperate programs right now. Both teams sit at 5-5, just one victory away from that magic #6. You know all about the Orange, but what’s gotten the Yellow Jackets to this point of desperation?
Georgia Tech is currently trying to reinvent itself as the program it was for 11 years with Paul Johnson as the Head Coach. From 2008-18, the Yellow Jackets only missed a bowl twice and hair a pair of double-digit win seasons. After Johnson stepped down, Geoff Collins took over, only to win a combined 10 games over four seasons and get canned after a 1-3 start to 2022. 2023 has been uneven, with an inexplicable home loss to Bowling Green but an improbable road win at Miami. This all comes under the leadership of…
HEAD COACH BRENT KEY
AKA one of the most passionate guys we talked to at ACC Kickoff in July. The energy and passion with which Key spoke to the media, frankly it had us fired up. He preached lack of satisfaction with the 4-4 record he had after taking over for Collins, and wanting to constantly take the next step forward. This season has been just that for his football team and as an individual. Key coached at Western Carolina, UCF, and under Nick Saban at Alabama before settling in at his alma mater, eventually working up to Head Coach. Many of Saban’s disciples have had success elsewhere, and Key seems poised to continue that trend at Georgia Tech.
QB HAYNES KING
In a conference where the likes of Drake Maye, Jordan Travis, and Riley Leonard dominate headlines, King has slipped under the radar of many. The Texas A&M transfer has a flashy but erratic play-style, having thrown for over 300 yards three times this season and finding himself second on his team in rushing yards. Interceptions have been a problem though, 14 of them is quite a few. SU let another guy under the radar in Kyron Drones light them up in Blacksburg, can it prevent King from doing the same?
RB JAMAL HAYNES
Haynes had 11 career games entering the season, but no statistics attached to them, so he entered the season as a relatively unknown player. Rest assured people know who he is now. The redshirt sophomore finds himself at 4th in the ACC with 768 rushing yards, trailing only Omarion Hampton, Jawhar Jordan, and LeQuint Allen. Haynes’ efficiency is what makes him particularly dangerous, averaging nearly six yards per carry. With him and King roaming, SU’s defensive linemen and linebackers have quite the task in front of them.
DB JAYLON KING
No relation to Haynes, but this King has also made his mark on Georgia Tech. The Tennessee native is one of just four players in the ACC this season to have hit the four interception plateau, and it’s not just being a ball thief that makes him one of the best all-around corners in the conference. King is tied for the team lead with 56 tackles, including a TFL, and also has seven pass breakups and a pair of fumble recoveries. Who knows if Syracuse will pass at the same volume it did against Pitt, regardless it will need to keep an eye on King in the defensive backfield.
DL KYLE KENNARD
It’s always cool when hometown kids turn into studs at the schools in their backyards, and Kennard has done just that hailing from Atlanta. The junior finds himself at eighth in the ACC with six sacks and 12th in tackles for loss with 8.5, both of which lead Georgia Tech. SU’s offensive line was fantastic last week, so good that Chris Bleich earned conference recognition. But Pitt did not have a player quite as potent as Kennard.
On the aforementioned topic of desperation, Syracuse has Wake Forest at home next weekend. What goes Georgia Tech have in store? Nothing too drastic, just a date with the two-time defending national champions. The Yellow Jackets are going to come out with an extra fire lit, the Orange must do the same if they want to emerge victorious.