Toe meets leather at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Grant Field at 1:00 pm eastern time September 5th, 2009. Here is an inside look at the jackets schedule this year.
9-5 Jacksonville State – The Jackets crushed Jacksonville State last year in their very first game under Coach Paul Johnson. They put up 349 rushing yards and 135 passing yards. Being way more disciplined now then they were a year ago there is no reason to believe this will be anything less than a spanking. The score will probably be run up early and a lot of second and third string players will see game play so the first string can rest.
Also of note: Jacksonville State's team will again be led by former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux who in 2007 led the LSU tigers to victory in the SEC Championship against Tennessee.
9-10 Clemson – This game was somewhat close last year but GT played with confidence for sixty minutes, something it did all season, which helped reach victory. This year it is a Thursday night game at home for Tech and will be nationally televised on ESPN. In addition it is rumored that this game will be a “white out”.
Also of note: Last year Tech hosted a white out on a Thursday night against Miami and we all know the outcome of that game.
9-17 @ Miami – This will be Georgia Tech’s second nationally televised Thursday night game of the season and its third game in just twelve days! Unlike last year I think Miami will put up much more of a fight. Miami was very on and off last year (They beat VT exactly one week prior to losing to the jackets). I believe this game will be a very good indicator of how GT will fare the rest of the season.
Also of note: GT currently has a 4 game win streak going against the U.
9-26 North Carolina – Paul Johnson will not have forgotten the loss in Chapel Hill last year and will have the Jackets ready to win. While many people hype Butch Davis and his team I just don’t see UNC being a football power house.
Also of note: UNC’s defense gave Tech problems last year (Tech rushed for 326 yards but only got 7 points out of it) and all four defensive line starters are returning along with most of the rest of their defense. For this reason this game will be an interesting gauge of the so called “you can figure Paul Johnson’s offense out after a year” syndrome that many people seem to have. If UNC beat Tech last year they should be able to do it again right? Right??
10-3 @ Mississippi State – Last year Mississippi State was the first of three “Bulldogs” that the Ramblin’ Wreck knocked off (the others being Gardner Webb and UGA). At the time last year most people were still very skeptical of GT’s apparent success and dismissed the victory as a win over an SEC “bottom feeder”.
Also of note: Josh Nesbitt was injured in GT’s first drive of this game last year and Jaybo Shaw did an excellent job leading the jackets to victory.
10-10 @ FSU – This will be perhaps the Jackets hardest game of the regular season and here are the reasons why; it’s an away game, the Jackets are 1-12 against Bobby Bowden, FSU’s players will be out for blood after last years last minute defeat and finally because FSU has a very solid team this year that could make a run for the ACC championship. Like the Miami game this will be a good indicator of just how good the jackets are.
Also of note: This was another game last year where Nesbitt got injured (in the third quarter) and Jaybo came in to cover. This time Jaybo did not perform as well, turning over the ball twice which helped lead to FSU’s “almost” comeback.
10-17 Virginia Tech – While I have already said that the FSU game will be GT’s hardest game in the regular season this one will be the most important. The winner of the GT - VT game has gone to the ACC Championship every year. It’s even true before VT joined the ACC when in 1990 GT defeated VT and went on to get a piece of the National Championship. Paul Johnson and the jackets know the importance of this game and will come out playing with everything they have. With both teams having strong offensives I believe this will be a high scoring and close game.
Also of note: You can’t read an article these days about Virginia Tech football without seeing the name Tyrod Taylor. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for VT? One thing is certain; VT has very little depth at quarterback beyond him. For this reason and a number of others I believe VT is somewhat overrated in preseason rankings.
10-24 @ Virginia – Let me start off by saying Paul Johnson likes to break streaks. In his first year at Tech he broke the 12 game losing streak to FSU, the 7 game losing streak to UGA and the 12 game homecoming winning streak for Tech. (Every GT fan would gladly trade breaking those first two for the latter). And that homecoming loss came at the hands of Virginia, a team that most people believed GT could beat handily. So based on the first sentence of this paragraph the fact that Tech hasn’t won in Charlottesville since 1990 bodes well for the Jackets.
Also of note: This year Virginia is switching to a spread offense and gets a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator (their head coach Al Groh), and a new special teams coordinator.
10-31 @ Vanderbilt – It’s a Halloween game in Nashville! Tech will be playing its fourth away game out of the last five. I have heard some say that since Vanderbilt plays army every year, which runs a somewhat similar offense to Tech that they will be better prepared for the triple option offense. However I believe that no other offense can prepare you for what Paul Johnson brings, he’s offense is completely unique.
Also of note: Vanderbilt will have played Tech’s arch nemesis UGA exactly two weeks prior so it will be interesting to compare the scores of these two games. Of course everyone knows that that sort of circular connection means nothing in college football, especially when a rivalry is on the line.
11-07 Wake Forest – The last time these two teams played was in the 2006 ACC Championship where Wake Forest won. With the exception of that 2006 run Wake Forest hasn’t necessarily been a football power house under Jim Grobe and a lot has changed for GT since then with a new coach and a new offense. A possible advantage for Jim Grobe however is that he played Navy twice last year which still runs the same triple option offense under Paul Johnson’s previous apprentice Ken Niumatalolo.
Also of note: Paul Johnson and Jim Grobe have played each other twice before, in 2002 and 2007, when Paul Johnson coached at Navy. Paul Johnson lost both of those match-ups. Could it be time for revenge with a new team of players under his command?
11-14 @ Duke – This game is always an expected win for Georgia Tech for obvious reasons, Duke has never been known for its football program. As with UNC many people have hyped the arrival of David Cutcliffe to Duke but I think it will take many years to turn that program around if ever. GT currently has a five-game winning streak against Duke.
Also of note: This was yet another game last year where Nesbitt was out on an injury and Jaybo Shaw stepped in, his first and only start at Tech. He performed very well with 230 yards passing, the most ever by a Tech quarterback in his first career start (and they say the jackets don’t ever pass).
11-28 UGA – The game to end all games, its clean old-fashioned hate. Last year this game was by far the most important game for every Georgia Tech player and fan. At the beginning of last season any true Tech fan would tell you that they would gladly lose every game of the season if only to beat UGA. Luckily Paul Johnson has much higher standards and not only did something that Chan Gailey couldn’t in his six years with Tech but also lead the team to eight other wins. This year things are different for the jackets, while always wanting to beat Georgia the team now has much higher goals such as winning the ACC Championship (which they came very very close to doing last year).
Also of note: Mark Richt has had a great track record at Georgia averaging ten wins per season over eight years but I wonder if the winning streak against Tech was the lucky rabbits foot in Richt's pocket which he just lost. I know there is no logic to this suspicion but I have a feeling Georgia is due for a poor season in 2009.
So that wraps up my analysis of the 2009 Georgia Tech schedule. It seems to me that they are on the cusp of greatness under Coach Paul Johnson. Could he lead the team to a National Championship in the years to come? I’m not sure but I do believe that that is why he came to Atlanta and anyone who knows Paul Johnson can tell you that he stops at nothing less than perfection. Could he be the perfect option?