The No. 1 goal for college football spring games is no major injuries. Mission accomplished for Georgia Tech. The scrimmage also should produce plenty of offense since defenders can’t tackle the quarterback and tend to hold back on all hits. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t deliver on that with the regulars on the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.

That’s no real worry for Tech. For one thing, coach Brent Key mixed and matched backups with starters. The chances are high that Tech’s offense will be good when it’s time for real games in the fall, same as last season. Nearly every key player is back for 2024.

The bigger takeaway from the spring game is that the Jackets have some capable players deep on the depth chart. That wasn’t the case even two seasons ago, when they were 5-7. You started to see more of it during last season’s 7-5 campaign. The spring game suggested that Tech will be even deeper in 2024.

“That’s the name of the game in college football is to constantly be working to build the depth of your football team,” Key said after Team Swarm beat Team Wreck ‘Em 27-24. “The last place I was at before here – and I can talk about him now because he’s retired – with (Nick Saban), you build your roster and you want to build the roster from the bottom up. ... You continue to improve the competition all-around.

“I think we saw that today with the depth that we are starting to build. We are a long, long way from where we want to be, but I think you are starting to see that depth show itself.”

It was apparent when quarterbacks other than standout starter Haynes King and experienced backup Zach Pyron took snaps. Freshman Aaron Philo, Georgia’s all-time prep leader in passing yards at Prince Avenue Christian, was 6-of-9 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Ben Guthrie (Alpharetta) had a touchdown pass and a 40-yard completion.

Tech’s good wide receiver group is even deeper for this season, if the spring game is an indication. Redshirt freshman Chris Elko (Roswell) had four catches for 136 yards, including a 54-yard TD from Pyron. Redshirt freshman Bailey Stockton’s 113 yards receiving included catches of 52 and 31 yards from Philo (the latter was a nifty one-handed grab).

Those numbers come with the usual spring game caveats. The pass-rush wasn’t all-out because no one wanted to hurt the quarterbacks. The pass coverage was leaky (the dialed-down pass rush probably contributed to that). Still, it was a good sign for the Jackets that so many young players made plays on offense.

The backups provided most of the offensive highlights. King was 11-for-15 passing, but his long completion was for 21 yards, and he threw an interception. Malik Rutherford had the only TD catch among the top returning receivers. All-ACC running back Jamal Haynes never really got loose, though Key said the run defense was sharp.

It wasn’t all good for Tech. Key said “there were times when that pocket was collapsing pretty strongly” because of inadequate blocking by the offensive line. Key said he liked the way defenders rallied to the ball early in the game, but that more depth is needed on that unit.

It could turn out that what happened during the spring game has no relation to the season. But sometimes it’s an accurate predictor of what’s to come. That was the case for the Jackets in 2023, when the offense looked much better than the defense.

“This is not indicative of the progress our defense has made, I promise you that,” Key said at the time.

But the 2023 spring game was a true gauge for the Jackets on offense and defense. They had one of the biggest offensive improvements in FBS in terms of points and yards per game. And Tech’s defense ranked among the worst in Power 5 for the second consecutive season.

That performance prompted Key to replace nearly his entire defensive staff after last season. Tyler Santucci is the new defensive coordinator. He ran the ACC’s No. 1 scoring defense for Duke in 2023. Before that, Santucci was coordinator for Texas A&M units that ranked fourth or better in SEC scoring defense from 2000-22.

We’ll have to wait for official games to see whether Santucci can help Tech get better on defense. The offense figures to be good with King at the helm, Haynes in the backfield and wide receiver Eric Singleton Jr. on the outside. And the spring game suggests that Tech has plenty of QBs and pass-catchers who can contribute if needed.