Georgia Tech: High Expectations For 2009

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IJune 22, 2009

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 6:  Running back Jonathan Dwyer #21 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets runs with the ball during their game against the Boston College Eagles on September 6, 2008 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Eagles 19-16. (Photo by Elsa Garrison/Getty Images)

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Coach Paul Johnson have put the Ramblin' Wreck back on the map in the ACC.

After a 9-4 season a year ago, the Jackets are sure to challenge both Virginia Tech and North Carolina for the Coastal Division crown in 2009.

They return 17 starters (nine on offense) from a team that averaged 273 yards rushing a game, including two 400-yard outbursts, against some of the top-ranked run defenses in the country.

Quarterback Josh Nesbitt heads a list of some players that need to make an impact or even improve their game in 2009 to insure that the Jackets do not take a step back in the ACC.

Nesbitt is a 6'1" 214-pound quarterback that ran Johnson's triple-option in 2008. His season consisted of 693 rushing yards on 172 carries with seven touchdowns.

The area Nesbitt will need to improve is his passing game. He completed 54 passes out of 123 attempts (43.9%) for 808 yards. He also threw only two touchdowns with five interceptions.

Rumors around the program suggest that Johnson wants to hit some big plays in the passing game this year to make his offense even more difficult for opposing D-Coordinators to prepare.

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Anthony Allen, 6'0" 225-pound A-back, transferred from Louisville before last season and will join B-back Jonathan Dwyer and A-back Roddy Jones in the backfield in 2009.

In 2006, Allen's freshman year, he rushed for 406 yards on 96 carries with 13 touchdowns. In 2007, he rushed for 696 yards on 146 carries with seven touchdowns.

He is sure to have another stellar year in 2009 and by adding him to the backfield the Jackets become even more dangerous.

On defense, both Derrick Morgan and Robert Hall will need to step up at the defensive end positions.

Morgan, 6'4" 270-pounds, is the only returning starter on the defensive line. In 2008, he recorded a total of 31 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Hall, 6'3" 248-pounds, will be taking over at the other defensive end position for the departed Michael Johnson. In 2008, he recorded a total of six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in a back-up role.

Morgan and Hall will both have to cause havoc in opposing backfields if the defense plans on shutting down their opponents.

Kicker Scott Blair will have to improve his kicking game if he wants to hang on to his job.

Blair was not very accurate kicking field goals in 2008 only hitting on 12 out of 19 attempts. He also handled the punting duties and averaged 38.9 yards a punt.

If Tech plans on winning the ACC, Blair will have to hit at least 90% of his field goal attempts so that the offense does not come up empty when bogging down.

Opposing defenses will have their hands full in 2009 defending the triple option once again. Experts seem to think that having another year of experience will help in defending Johnson's offense.

Johnson has over 25 years of experience running his offense and defenses still haven't stopped it no matter what the level of competition he is facing.

As long as the offense runs the option the way Johnson wants it run, the Ramblin' Wreck will be a force in the ACC. There is no reason that Tech fans shouldn't look for the team to compete for an ACC crown in 2009.