As the Yellow Jackets from Georgia Tech enter the 2009 football season, several people feel as though they are the team to beat in the ACC.
Can Paul Johnson continue to build on what he started last season, his first in Atlanta? Will the schedule be too tough to maneuver through with out stumbling in a couple of games?
I see there being five match-ups that the Jackets will encounter that will either make their season a major disappointment or extremely special.
1. Clemson RB CJ Spiller vs. Georgia Tech Front Seven
In the second game of the season, the Yellow Jackets will face probably the most dangerous RB they will face all season in CJ Spiller.
Last season Spiller missed the GT game with a hamstring injury allowing the Jackets to focus soley on James Davis.
With Spiller's breakaway speed and Tech rebuilding their D-line, it could be a long day in Atlanta if Spiller hits the corner and gets past the front seven.
2. Georgia Tech Triple Option vs. North Carolina Front Seven
With another year running the triple option, the Jackets will run into their first true test in North Carolina's front seven. They return six starters from last year's front seven that helped lead the Tar Heels to a 28-7 victory.
Last season Tech rolled up 326 yards rushing against the Tar Heels, but with two turnovers late in the game the Tar Heel defense proved to be the difference.
Will they be the difference again this year or will the Tech RBs hold on the football?
3. Florida State QB Christian Ponder vs. Georgia Tech Defensive Backfield
After leading the ACC in scoring last season, Florida State QB Christian Ponder will look to improve on his passing efficiency especially against Tech.
Last year, Ponder only threw for 149 yards with one TD and one INT in Tech's 31-28 victory. This year, Ponder has his entire starting offensive line returning to protect him from the Yellow Jacket pass rush.
If he is able to sit back and throw the ball around it might not be pretty for the Jacket defensive backs, but if they are able to get some pressure on Ponder, he has been known to throw INTs.
4. Georgia Tech QB Jonathon Nesbitt vs. Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Both of these QBs will be out to prove they are the real deal in 2009. Nesbitt will be returning to run the triple option for his second season and Taylor finally will have the starting job all to his self.
This game will be the game that decides who will win the ACC Coastal Division crown. Which ever QB plays his game and runs his offense better without turning the ball over should come out on top in this one.
5. Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson vs. Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt
Last season Coach Johnson delivered on his promise on beating Georgia and ending the seven-year losing streak to the Dawgs.
Can he make two in a row?
Odds will say that he will not as Coach Richt has a career record of 34-3 against non-conference opponents and his career record on an opponents home field is 30-4.
The game in 2009 will be played in Atlanta, can Johnson put another blemish on Richt's record?
With there being only a total of eight weeks left until Jacksonville State comes to Atlanta, Coach Paul Johnson will be trying his best to get his players and coaching staff ready to makes sure each one of these match-ups go in the Yellow Jackets favor.