2010 College Football Predictions: Five Reasons Georgia Tech Will Surprise the Nation
It would appear people don't know what to expect from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets this season. The defending ACC Champions are ranked at #17 in the coaches poll (1 of 4 teams from the ACC Coastal division) and generally not regarded as a national title contender.
But, could the Ramblin' Wreck surprise the nation and vie for a BCS Championship?
Here are 5 reasons why Georgia Tech might shock people come December...
1: The QB
What do you get when you genetically mutate a passing prone high school QB, an option minded offensive system, a no nonsense genius head coach, an NFL safety's physique, and a dash of Mack truck?
The Yellow Jackets' QB, Joshua Nesbitt.
In his third year of the complicated flex-option system, one might expect an even better season from Nesbitt. That might seem hard pressed to believe based on his 2009 season with over 1700 yds passing, 1000 yds rushing, 28 total TDs, and a surprising 148.69 passer rating, but it is probably the truth.
The undisputed heart and soul of Tech's offensive attack, Joshua (as he now likes to be referred to) is primed to execute the option attack into the record books and on the scoreboard.
Doubters will likely point out the key personnel losses of 2009 counterparts B-Back Jon Dwyer and WR Demaryius Thomas, whose production will be difficult to replace.
However, with Nesbitt's added experience and understanding, combined with very capable replacements Sr, B-Back Anthony Allen and Soph. WR. Stephen Hill, onlookers might find Tech's offense is better than ever.
2: The Schedule
Upon initial glance, Georgia Tech's 2010 football schedule would instantly appear to be a serious disadvantage to winning an ACC Championship, let alone national title contenders.
After a warm-up opener against FCS combatant SC State, the Jackets go straight to the road for bouts with Kansas and #18 North Carolina; which is possibly the most important game of the season.
Following that; Tech hosts NC State, travels to Wake Forest, the comes back home to face Virginia and Middle Tennessee.
Then it gets ugly: at Clemson, at #6 Virginia Tech, home versus #13 Miami and Duke, then finishing at hated rival #21 UGA.
But there might be reason to look optimistically at the Yellow Jackets' schedule. Should Tech beat North Carolina on September 18 in Chapel Hill, it is likely they will have a record of 7-0 going into Death Valley to face the Clemson Tigers.
An option team on that type of roll will be hard to slow down. Momentum in college football might be one of the most difficult variables to judge.
Should the Yellow Jackets find that momentum, it could power them through the toughest part of their schedule.
3: The 3-4 Defense
The numbers skewed; Georgia Tech's 2009 defense was not as good as it's national raking at #53 would have you believe.
Consistently being provided excellent field position by their offense, the "chaos" defense installed by former defensive coordinator Dave Wommack failed to take advantage of future NFL draft picks DE Derrick Morgan and S Morgan Burnett, and gave up an average of over 24 points a game.
Many of those scores came on plays of over 25 yards, given up consistently throughout last season.
Fast forward to present. With a new defensive installed by former ACC head coach Al Groh, the elimination of big plays is an area of focus for the Jackets this year.
Bringing his infamous 3-4 along, Groh also brings an intensity compared (by many players) to former DC John Tenuta. The new scheme, combined with putting players in better natural positions, coupled with a new focused intensity brings a near assurance Tech's defense will be better.
Even marginal improvement could propel the Yellow Jackets into the next echelon of top 25 teams.
4: The Staff
One thing is clear with Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson is not going to sit back and wait to be great. Rather he's going to go out and take it by the figurative reigns and drive it into his will of submission.
After winning the ACC, Georgia Tech faltered on the national scene in the Orange Bowl versus Iowa. What to many would be a great success of a season, despite the loss, was not good enough for Johnson.
Shortly after the completion of the season, defensive coordinator Wommack was fired and replace by two time ACC coach of the year Al Groh. That gives Georgia Tech the last three ACC Coach of the Year recipients on thier staff (Johnson 2009, '08, Groh 2007).
Georgia Tech also added former Navy assistant Joe Speed to coach Linebackers. A former United States Marine Corp commissioned officer and Naval Academy graduate, coach Speed's leadership qualifications for young men is difficult to match.
Finally Coach Andy McCollum was brought aboard to fill the void of recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach. The former head coach for MTSU with over 30 years of coaching experience is also a two time Coach of the Year recipient (TSWA).
While these names might not mean much to the average fan, it helps to show the level of quality and expectation being strived for at Georgia Tech. This quietly assembled staff might be one of the best compleation of coaching talent in the nation.
5: The Numbers
Why was coach Paul Johnson brought in to Georgia Tech?
The answer might not be as obvious as one might think. He was not brought in simply to win. His predecessor won consistently; coach Gailey went 44-32, a .579 winning percentage, with 6 consecutive bowl game appearances.
You see, Johnson was brought to Georgia Tech to "Win Championships". Yes, plural, championship with and "s" on the end.
His coaching record speaks for itself. As a head man he has a lifetime record of 126-46 , has two (legitimate NCAA) national titles, and has led his teams to 7 consecutive bowl games.
In year number three of his previous head coaching stops he won a National Championship with Georgia Southern, and went 10-2 with a Navy squad two seasons removed from a 2-10 record.
Now, with all of this stated, chances are small the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will win the BCS national title in 2010, but probably not as small as many think.