posted on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM
We’re previewing the college football season with help from SBNation.com. Today, Joey at From The Rumble Seat helps us talk Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech will be a major player in the ACC Coastal Division, returning the majority of their starters from last season. The Yellow Jackets have a difficult road, however, traveling to Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia in three of the final four weeks of the season.
2011 Record: 8-5
2011 Bowl: Sun Bowl, Loss vs. Utah, 30-27
2012 Bowl Projections:
Orlando Bowl History
1991 Florida Citrus Bowl vs. Nebraska, 45-21
2004 Champs Sports Bowl vs. Syracuse, 51-14
Describe the 2011 season in two words.
No Excuses. We've got experience, we've got talent, and we've had systems implemented for long enough, so I think it's fair to say that low amounts of success this season would make questions much harder to answer than they were last year, when Al Groh was still implementing the 3-4 and Johnson was still playing with guys he didn't recruit. But at this point none of that should be a factor, so if the team doesn't excel most weeks, we're going to have a lot of difficult questions to answer.
On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?
The Georgia game seems to be our toughest year in and year out based on our record against them over the last decade (ask any Georgia fan that record, they'll gladly inform you). They have a ton of talent, and while I think our guys are much, much better coached, that talent difference is more than our level of coaching has been able to overcome. In-conference I'd say our toughest games will either be on the road in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech or on the road against our other rivals, Clemson, who will be looking for revenge after last year's loss in Atlanta.
Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.
Best-case scenario for the postseason, as any fan would tell you, is a national championship, but that's so farfetched at this point I'm almost embarrassed to say it. I think it's very reasonable to think that this team could return to the Orange Bowl as ACC Champions though -- we have lots of talent and plenty of reason to be optimistic, but I also worry about how delicate our season will be. A couple early losses could have us completely derailed by mid-October, which would make the end of the season very painful. Worst-case at this point is no bowl berth (5 wins or less), while best-case within reason would be an Orange Bowl appearance following an ACC Championship. Here's to hoping it's closer to the latter.
This year GT returns almost its entire offense, but the one hole is a group of receivers with no career receptions. Given Paul Johnson’s offense, how much will that matter?
The lack of experience among the receivers may have its biggest impact in the running game, honestly. In the passing game their responsibilities are really quite simple -- run a seam, post, or slant, and be ready to use their size to go up and catch the ball. There's no complex routes where decisions must be made, because frankly there don't need to be. Our passing game is effective at this point only because teams get so tuned into stopping the run that sometimes they forget about the legality of the forward pass. However, the experience issue may come into play in the run game by a receiver missing out on a blocking assignment that stops a play after 3 yards when a good block would have let the play go 30. Jeff Greene and Darren Waller are big guys at 6'4" and 6'6" respectively, and are very athletic, but will have to make sure that they're on top of their assignment each play if we're going to have success running the ball.
The Jackets’ schedule is frontloaded with all the other ACC Coastal contenders and Clemson. In 2011 they faced a similar gauntlet in the second half and stumbled. Will the early challenges be an advantage or disadvantage?
We certainly have early challenges with 3 divisional games in the month of September. I don't think that the early challenges will necessarily have a positive impact on our guys, though I think that we could benefit from other teams not having reached mid-season form. Virginia Tech in particular lost 7 starters on offense, including 4 offensive linemen, which I think will have a big impact on the outcome of that first game. Meanwhile, our team returns lots of depth, only losing 6 starters altogether (Roddy Jones, Stephen Hill, Tyler Melton, Phil Smith, Julian Burnett, and Rashaad Reid), which I think will be an advantage of ours, at least early on.
Thanks to Joey and From The Rumble Seat for helping us out.
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