Georgia Tech's Pass Rush a Focus for Upcoming Season

In preparation for the 2020 college football season, the Yellow Jackets are continually improving the pass rush in preseason practice
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As the Atlantic Coast Conference proceeds with its scheduled plans for the 2020 college football season, Georgia Tech's football team is steadily preparing for the fall without interruption. 

One of the focuses for the Yellow Jackets is continuously improving the pass rush. Last season, Tech averaged 1.4 sacks per game (tied 111th in the FBS), and the passing defense allowed opponents to complete 60.4% of passes (tied 68th in the FBS). 

For defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Marco Coleman, the defense's experience from last year already plays a key role with the Jackets' development and progression in the pass rush.  

"Last season, we played a lot of young guys," Coleman told media on Tuesday via conference call. "I thought they played very, very hard. We definitely want sacks, and want to get these quarterbacks off of their spots and make sure it's difficult for them to get passes off, and rush them and create opportunities for our secondary also. I think we'll be a lot better this season just because of better understanding. Physically, they've gotten better and stronger."

The secondary is anticipated to be the best position group on Tech's defense. As the defensive backs generate pressure, Coleman said it'll be important for the edge rushers to fulfill their duties. 

"We've got to make sure we're doing things to take advantage of that experience in the secondary," Coleman added. "They're going to create opportunities for us to get to the quarterback, and we've got to make sure we're prepared to do that." 

An expected boost to the Jackets' defensive line this fall is the addition of defensive end Antonneous Clayton. The former five-star defensive lineman transferred to Georgia Tech last year from Florida. After sitting out the 2019 season due to NCAA rules and restrictions, Clayton is finally eligible to play his lone season on the Flats. 

"I feel like everybody's gotten better, including myself," Clayton told media. "Coming here really humbled me. I'm not going to sit here and say I thought I had everything figured out, but coach Coleman and also coach [Larry] Knight, they found some flaws in my game that stood out to them. They touched up on them when talking to me which has helped me develop into a better football player overall."

This year's fall camp marks the second preseason the Yellow Jackets have worked with head coach Geoff Collins and his staff. Although workouts and practices have been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the defense's overall growth is hard to ignore. 

"The focus on the details are a lot further ahead at this point than what we were at this point last season," said Coleman. "All of us, and the understanding of the defense, was expected within the framework that coach [Andrew] Thacker wants out of the defensive ends, with what he wants from me as a coach. There's a lot more confidence within the whole group, and then physically. These guys have had a really good offseason and gaining weight, getting stronger, getting faster."

"Just the development of every single player," Clayton said of the defense's noticeable improvement. "I feel like everybody's got play time under their belt this year. Especially coming from a new coaching staff, a new defense that everybody is playing. I feel like everybody is coming along pretty well. The run game and the pass game defensive wise has really come a long way in my eyes."

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Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins Says Yellow Jackets Will Be "Best Versions" of Themselves in 2020

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