Georgia Tech Preview: Can The Yellow Jackets Run Their Way To a Title?

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IAugust 14, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 28:  Quarterback Josh Nesbitt #9 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets looks to run upfield during the game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field on August 28, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Yellow Jackets beat the Gamecocks 41-14.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Georgia Tech enters the 2009 season with high hopes after a surprising 9-4 first season under Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets return the bulk of their starters and hope to unleash even more of Johnson's spread, triple option attack. Despite its high praise, their are still doubters of Ga Tech's offense, citing that defenses will not be fooled this time around. To get some more insight on the Yellow Jackets, I asked the guys at From The Rumble Seat for their take on Tech's prospects in 2009?

What do you say to those who think ACC defenses will have had a year to look at tape and figure out a way to slow down GT's offense?

Ignorance is bliss. Paul Johnson has been some type of coach since 1979 and has been a head coach for 12 years. Is a 13th year of video tape going to change anything? Johnson himself was asked this question, and he literally laughed out loud.

The option can take a toll on the QB position. How comfortable are you if Josh Nesbitt goes down with a significant injury?

I can't find the link. but I found someone a while back who did a quick statistical analysis that showed that our offense actually DOES NOT increase the chances of a QB injury. But with all that aside, back to the original question. If Nesbitt goes down, I am comfortable. Jaybo Shaw is competent. He may not have all the traits that Nesbitt has but he brings the knowledge needed to run the offense. I have seen vast improvements in ALL of our quarterbacks already in just the time passed from spring practice to this first week of fall practice.

How much more passing will we see out of Tech this year? Will it be more attempts or just more successful when they do?

This is a purely speculative question. We implemented only the basic skeleton of our system last year and the word on the street reeks of passing. So take that all for what it's worth. But everyone should expect more of a passing attack.

The offensive line was shaky last year at times. What area can this unit improve the most in?

The OL can continue to work on comprehending and mastering the proper low-blocking technique needed for the success of our offense. And no readers, that is NOT a chop block.

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The defensive line lost three starters to the NFL. Who are the leading candidates to step up here?

Look for Derrick Morgan to turn from the "baby" of the line to the "leader" of the line.

As good as the offense was last year, the defense gave up a combined 80 points in their last two games. What kind of scheme or personnel changes have been made to improve the unit?

We all look forward to a much improved secondary. Morgan Burnett looks to be his typical ridiculous self, all outlooks this year point to improved DBs. Also this year, we will be adding more of a rover linebacker into the defensive scheme dubbed the "wolf" position. Here is a link to an article written by Dave Wommack from his days at Southern Mississippi that describes the wolf position.

Who are some freshman we can expect to make a significant impact?

It's difficult to talk about the true freshmen because you hear a lot of rumors from both sides of the fence. Stephen Hill is ridiculous and shows tons of potential. Orwin Smith has been showing off-his-feet skills lately in practice as well. As for red shirt freshmen, look out for Quentin Sims to step it up in the wide receiver area.

September looks brutal with Clemson, Miami, and North Carolina. Where will the Yellow Jackets have positioned themselves in the ACC race after this stretch?

September is nothing compared to October, but I'lll play your game. My biggest fear is Miami on the second consecutive Thursday night game AT Miami. The fact that we've won four years in a row, plus a Thursday game in back-to-back weeks points to "they [Miami's] gotta win sometime." After September, the Jackets will be in the top tier of the ACC, ready to roar through the hellish October month. The winner of the Coastal Division will also be the winner of the VPI/GT game in Atlanta on October 17.

Will Georgia Tech beat Georgia for a second straight year?


My thoughts on Georgia Tech...
I agree with From the Rumble Seat that this offense is only going to get better this year. Nearly every starter returns on offense from a unit that ran for 400 yards in two straight games in November. Paul Johnson's teams have shown a big jump in offensive output at both Georgia Southern and Navy in his second season. The second-year coach is a rising star in the ACC and nationally after finally taking the helm of a BCS team.

Defensively, GT has to improve on their points allowed and in pass defense to take that next step to a championship team. The defense suffers a bit from not getting as many reps against more traditional offense that they will see facing the option every day in practices and scrimmages. Even with the loss of three defensive lineman, I think the shakiest area of the team could be the special teams.

I think the Jackets are poised for a better season in 2009, but that may not translate to more wins. The schedule is tougher, especially on the non-conference side with trips to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Also, Tech has just six home games this year while most teams in the ACC have seven. Again, I agree with the blogger that the Miami game on the road for a second straight Thursday game will be very tough to win regardless if GT is better than the 'Canes. I think Ga Tech will battle it out all year with Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division and the winner of the game in Atlanta could very well win the ACC Championship. Their odds may have improved a little with the recent injury to VT RB Darren Evans.

My Prediction...
9-3, 5-3, Bowl Game

Best Case Scenario: 11-1
Worse Case Scenario: 7-5

Vegas Odds:
BCS Championship 50/1
ACC Championship 6/1 (tied for third)
Win Total - 8.5

Thanks again to From The Rumble Seat for their insight.

What are your thoughts on Georgia Tech this year? Can they win the ACC or will teams be able to slow down the spread, triple option the second time around?

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