At the beginning of last season, the Georgia Tech football team set five goals for 2008.
Let's take a look at what those goals were, how the Jackets handled them, and consider what their goals might be for 2009.
Georgia Tech’s 2008 Goals:
1. Beat UGA
Unless you have been living under a rock, you already know that Paul Johnson’s team successfully accomplished its top goal from last season.
That is quite an achievement, especially when looking from the perspective of last preseason. Tech was written off by ESPN and most media outlets while UGA was ranked No. 1 in the country. The Yellow Jackets truly overcame adversity during that game.
2. ACC Champs
While most of the country is high on Virginia Tech right now, a Georgia Tech fan will tell you that VT only barely squeaked by in winning the Coastal last season. The Jackets did not accomplish their No. 2 goal, but they came damn close.
The Ramblin’ Wreck was 5-3 in the ACC in 2008, a record that tied Virginia Tech for Coastal domination. However, Virginia Tech won the tie-breaker in the head-to-head matchup because they beat GT at Lane Stadium early in the season by three points.
3. Undefeated at home
The University of Virginia wrecked the Wreck’s third goal of the season. Other than this, the Jacket’s were 6-1 at home, with a couple of too-close-for-comfort games, but nonetheless wins.
4. Lead Nation in Turnover Margin
The Jackets finished 49th in the country in turnover margin last season and here's why.
Tech was 19th in total turnovers gained (thanks in large part to Morgan Burnett’s seven interceptions) but 89th in turnovers lost.
I believe this goal was thrown in the mix for two main reasons.
The first is that any new team learning Paul Johnson’s offense will be prone to turnovers. Therefore, having players keep an awareness of this at all times is crucial.
Secondly, a team’s turnover margin correlates very well with championship teams. I will not go into details but have a look at the stats for yourself at www.cfbstats.com. (Guess which team’s finished in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots).
5. Top ten rushing offense and defense
The Jackets accomplished half of this goal last season; they finished fourth in the country in rushing offense and 24th in rushing defense.
So what do you think Georgia Tech’s top five goals will be for 2009?
Here’s my guess:
1. ACC Champs
Paul Johnson had to beat Georgia last year so he could cross that goal off his list and move on to other things in year two. This is not to say that Johnson or the team or the Tech fans don’t want to continue to beat UGA every year.
It simply removes the game from its front and center status. In this sense, beating UGA was more than just an emotional victory, revenge, redemption or bragging rights.
If the Jackets do make winning the ACC their priority in 2009, Virginia Tech and the media would be wise to take note of what the Jackets did to their No. 1 goal from '08.
2. Undefeated at home
Simply bumping up goal No. 3 from last year, the nice thing about this goal in 2009 is that it includes beating UGA.
Paul Johnson seems like the person to me who takes winning at home very seriously and I believe he will always make protecting Grant Field a priority.
Not only does staying undefeated at home give you a base .500 record every year, but it builds the team’s confidence and tears down the opponents. Also, it sells tickets.
3. Lead Nation in Turnover Margin
Again, I’m just bumping up goals from last year.
Morgan Burnett and the rest of the secondary from last season return in 2009 to make sure turnovers gained remains a strength.
If Paul Johnson’s previous teams are any indicator of future performance, expect fumbles to drastically decrease in the Jackets second year.
I can see the Jackets making it into the top 20 in turnover margin in 2009.
4. Top ten rushing offense and defense
I think it is a very safe bet to say that Georgia Tech will lead the nation in rushing yards in 2009, after all Navy has successfully done it for the past four seasons thanks to none other than Paul Johnson.
Tech averaged 273 rushing yards per game last season. I can see the Jackets averaging 350 in 2009. In Paul Johnson’s 12 years as a coach, his teams have averaged 327 rushing yards per game.
The defense, however, is less predictable. While Tech lost three very valuable starters on the front line, their secondary is extremely talented. It will be interesting to see how Dave Wommack and the Jackets defense perform in 2009.
5. Special Teams
Since I ran out of goals from last season to bump up, I figured that maybe the fifth goal in 2009 will be related to special teams. This was a weakness for Tech last season and has a lot of room for improvement.
Toe meets leather in 55 days!
What do you think GT's top goals should be for 2009?