The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets made an unlikely trip to the ACC title game in 2012 thanks to the postseason bans placed on the other contenders in the Coastal Division. Head coach Paul Johnson would like to make a return trip (legitimately) in 2013 and improve on Tech’s 7-7 effort from a year ago. While Johnson’s attention will likely be on unleashing his triple-option attack, the key for the Yellow Jackets’ success next fall rests with Jeremiah Attaochu.
The senior linebacker has been a force in the GT pass rush the last three years, but completely took it over in 2012. He posted a team high 10 sacks last season, more than the next four highest totals on the team. In all, he recorded 69 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, with a forced fumble to his credit. He is a long defender with the speed to play linebacker and the strength to put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end and his ability to rush the passer will set him apart in 2013 as he makes the permanent move down to the defensive line.
Attaochu has to harness his raw athleticism, however, before he can take his game to another level. He has put his range and closing ability on display, but he must refine his pass rush to more consistently apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks. While he posted double-digit sacks in 2012, he added just two additional quarterback pressures during the season. While his efficiency in taking down the quarterback when he got in the vicinity is excellent, he must become a more consistent presence in quarterback’s faces.
Georgia Tech has to field an excellent defense in 2013 to make their ball-control triple-option offense work for them. They key for the Jackets keeping ACC offenses in check will be the pass rush of Attaochu next fall, but is he enough to get Tech to the top of the Coastal Division?