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Georgia Tech Football: Five Keys to Success

Jeffrey Fann@TalkinACCSportsAnalyst IAugust 29, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 28:  Members of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, including linebacker Brad Jefferson #51, offensive lineman Clyde Yandell #78 and defensive lineman Logan Walls #96, run out of the tunnel before 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)

Last year was everything any Georgia Tech Fan could have hoped for. Paul Johnson came in and in his first season contended for an ACC Title, won 9 games and beat the hated Georgia Bulldogs.
The bowl game blowout loss to LSU did put a slight damper on things, but I think you'll see Johnson use that game as motivation to keep the team hungry this year. What are the 5 keys to Georgia Tech having a successful season?
  • Keep Improving on offense

The popular mis-conception around college football is that teams will catch up and "learn" how to play Georgia Tech's triple option offense. Paul Johnson has been running this offense for years. It worked at Hawaii. It worked Ga Southern. It worked at Navy, and it's working at Georgia Tech. Last year was basically a junior version of what you will see this year. It was a brand new offense for just about every offensive player on the team. Johnson has indicated he is going to add run -n- shoot elements to the offense. Only take a look at Georgia Tech's final two regular season game wins over UGA and Miami where they gained over 800 yards rushing to see what the Jackets are capable of. Tech will always be primarily a rushing team, but Josh Nesbitt needs to improve on a 43% completion rate, and the offensive line needs to be more consistent. The addition of Louisville transfer Anthony Allen in addition Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones gives the Yellow Jackets one of the best backfields in the country.

  • Replacing the 3 Starters on the defensive line.

Gone are Vance Walker, Darryl Richard, and Michael Johnson from the defensive line. All three were NFL Draft Picks. Defensive End Derrick Morgan returns, and is rock solid. Morgan is one of the ACC's best defensive ends. The question is how will the rest of the defensive line perform? It's going to be a smaller line, but it should be quicker. DT Jason Peters is 6-4, 273. DT Ben Anderson is 6-2, 275. DE Robert Hall is 6-3, 259. That's a concern for me. Big physical offensive lines may be able to take advantage of Tech's lack of size. D-Line Coach Giff Smith plans to liberally rotate 7 players, plus freshman Izaan Cross in certain situations. The wild card may be RS-Freshman T.J Barnes a 6-7, 340 pound monster. If he can provide quality snaps in a game, it should help the D-Lines depth. It's a question mark, but if the defensive line comes together, Tech can win the ACC.

  • Finding consistent FG kicking

Scott Blair didn't have the greatest season last year. He was 10th in the ACC in FG accuracy, making only 12 of 19 FGs. The Yellow Jackets are going to be in some close games this year, and Blair needs to improve that statistic. Blair won't handle the punting duties as he did last year, and that has freed up more time in practice for FG kicking. Blair should be much better this season.

  • Beat Virginia Tech

You hate to define a season by one game, but in this case, this is the one game the Jackets can't afford to lose and still win the ACC. Yes they can still have a nice season without winning the Coastal Division, but that is the goal. Even with loss of Darren Evans Virginia Tech isn't going to lose more than 2 ACC games, at most. Georgia Tech has beat the Hokies only once since they've joined the ACC and this year's game will be pivotal to the ACC race.

  • Learn How to Handle High Expectations

If anyone has followed Georgia Tech over the last 20 years, they know the Jackets haven't handled high expectations well. Following the 1990 National Championship season, they opened 1991 in the top 15, and they lost 5 games that season. In 1999 coming off a 10-win season, they were ranked #11 in the pre-season AP poll, they then went 8-4. In 2001 they opened the season in the top 15 and lost 5 games. Then in 2007 coming off an ACC Division title, they were expected to be a major factor in the ACC race. They ended the season 7-6. This year they open in the top 20 in almost every pre-season poll out there, and the target is on their back. I believe Paul Johnson is too good a coach to allow the Jackets have a letdown season. I expect no worse than a 9 win season.

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