No other team in the nation runs a triple-option exactly the way the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets do.
Paul Johnson is an innovative head coach. Many so-called experts believed his offense would never work in the ACC, but the Yellow Jackets continue to prove those naysayers wrong.
After a subpar season in 2010, Georgia Tech bounced back with an 8-5 record in 2011. The Yellow Jackets didn’t have any trouble moving the football last year, but stopping their opponent was a different story.
Offensively, Georgia Tech averaged 34.3 points and 459 total yards per game in 2011. Defensively, the Yellow Jackets allowed 26.1 points and 359 total yards per game.
The most concerning part about that for the Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Wreck is that it was the fourth straight season that the defense did worse than the previous year.
Florida State is expected to be a national power this year, and Virginia Tech has eight straight seasons of double-digit wins. Georgia Tech returns 13 starters from last year’s team. The Yellow Jackets would like to get back to the top of the ACC like they did in 2009.
Does this team have what it takes to get back to the apex of this conference?
Johnson is 33-19 in his five-year career with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He has done a great job quieting the critics of his triple-option offense.
Georgia Tech runs the option in a way that just about everyone can know it is coming, but they still can’t stop it. Johnson’s version of the triple-option has even more gadgets and running possibilities than most. The Yellow Jackets seem to have an endless amount of runners ready to break a big-gainer.
Al Groh is the man in charge of turning the defense around. Groh is a highly-respected coach, and he is trying to put his imprint on this Yellow Jackets defense.
Tevin Washington may not be a very good passer, but he is tremendous at running the triple-option, which makes him fit beautifully into Johnson’s system. Washington threw for 11 touchdowns and ran for 14 last season. He was the team’s leading rusher with 986 yards on the ground.
The team has been toying with the idea of using a shotgun formation a bit more to try to help the passing game.
Georgia Tech running backs averaged more than 300 yards per game last year. The Yellow Jackets have finished fourth or higher in the nation in rushing yards each of the last four seasons.
David Sims is the B-Back and Orwin Smith the A-Back for the Yellow Jackets. Sims looked a bit confused in the offense last year, but the coaching staff is very high on his potential. Smith averaged more than 10 yards per carry last year, and is the quintessential home-run hitter in the backfield.
The Yellow Jackets have plenty of young talented backs who will see action in 2012.
Georgia Tech’s starting wide receivers this year have combined for zero receptions in their career. The Yellow Jackets don’t throw it very often, but it has to be frightening to have no experience on the outside.
The news is better along the offensive front, where Georgia Tech has a combined 83 starts returning. Four of five starters from last year are back, and the coaching staff is high on this group.
Georgia Tech’s defense allowed 30 or more points in each of their last six games. Opponents scored touchdowns on almost 67 percent of their red zone trips against the Yellow Jackets in 2011.
Coach Groh hopes this is the year where the defense gets going in the right direction again.
Seven of the team’s top nine tacklers from a year ago return in 2012.
The problem with this defense has been the defensive line. The line picked up only six sacks in 2011. Only one starter returns from last year, and the Yellow Jackets appear to be quite thin on the front line heading into the new season. Izaan Cross is the lone returning starter, and the coaching staff is counting on a big season from him.
The secondary was an area of strength last year. Georgia Tech allowed only 198 passing yards per contest in 2011. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 56 percent of their passes against this secondary.
All-ACC cornerback Rod Sweeting is the leader of this secondary, but Isaiah Johnson is a smart free safety who does a great job at the back of the defense. Five guys return with starting experience at the linebacker positions.
The back seven is solid, but the Yellow Jackets will need the front line to pick up the production.
2012 Schedule Analysis
The league action begins on the season opener for the Yellow Jackets, and it won’t be an easy test.
Georgia Tech must travel to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech in a nationally-televised game on Labor Day. Virginia Tech is Georgia Tech’s top competition in the ACC Coastal Division, so if they could somehow pull off an upset it could be the sign of big things to come.
Road games at Clemson and at North Carolina will be major tests for the team later in the season.
Overall, Georgia Tech’s schedule starts out difficult and gets easier as the season moves along in ACC action. The final regular season game of the year is at Georgia, and that rivalry game is always a hard-fought battle.
2012 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets ACC and BCS Odds
The oddsmakers aren’t too high on the Yellow Jackets chances in 2012.
5Dimes lists Georgia Tech at +40,000 to win the BCS Championship and +11,000 to play in the BCS title game. Georgia Tech is listed as the fifth favorite at +1,500 to win the ACC Conference at JustBet. BetOnline lists the Yellow Jackets at +500 to win the ACC Coastal Division.
Virginia Tech is the heavy favorite at -125. According to 5Dimes, the Yellow Jackets are a big eight-point underdog in their season opener at Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech’s season win total is set at 8.5.
2012 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Predictions
I’m definitely a believer in the offense that Johnson has this Yellow Jackets team running. Very few teams have been able to stop it, even when they have weeks to prepare.
Georgia Tech may not be able to throw the ball much this year, but they’ll still score a bunch of points. The big question mark is whether they can keep the opposition off the board enough to win some big games.
It looks like Florida State and Virginia Tech are head and shoulders above the rest of the ACC right now. The Yellow Jackets can run the ball with the best of them, but their defensive front concerns are likely to be a major problem inside the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets will likely pull an upset or two, but their weakness on the defensive line will likely lead to a surprising loss or two as well. I don’t see any value on this team’s futures odds until the defense shows some serious improvement.
Look for the Yellow Jackets to finish right around the eight-win mark again this year.