Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
2011 Record: 8-5, 5-3 ACC
2011 Bowl Result: Sun Bowl, 27-30 Loss to Utah
Head coach: Paul Johnson
Opening Day Line:
Ga Tech Vs Va Tech
Va Tech -7.5
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It’s hard to gauge how well an offense is going to do when you take away its top player. Georgia Tech lost WR Stephen Hill to the NFL and not one of their returning wide outs has even a single reception to their name. Their QB, Tevin Washington, didn’t throw a touchdown over the final seven games of last season, either.
What will they do?
Just what they’ve always done: run, run, run. Georgia Tech finished #1 in the ACC in rushing yards per game (316) and despite having very little passing offense to speak of, still finished #1 in the ACC in both scoring (34.3 ppg) and total offensive yards (458.8 ypg). So getting the touchdowns isn’t a problem, or at least it wasn’t, but with even less variation in their playbook might not more problems creep up?
One plus will be the return of five of the top six lineman, which should give Washington and David Sims/Orwin Smith more room to operate. The offense is based on both precise moves and quick ball movement, so the chemistry that the Yellow Jackets have already developed will prove instrumental this season.
Al Groh is a pretty solid defensive coordinator who for the last few seasons has basically done about as well as he could with the personnel that he had. He’s going to use his linemen more aggressively this season, mainly because he should. DE Izaan Cross has the potential to wreak havoc on opposing offenses and Groh’s recruits are starting to develop rapidly. Jeremiah Attaochu is coming into his junior year and should make a big difference at outside linebacker.
The defense really just needs to stimulate more pressure in the pockets, and it is really all going to lie on the shoudlers of TJ Barnes, Euclid Cummings, and Cross.
“It’s not a complicated game,” DL coach Andy McCollum remarked, “You’ve got to beat your blocks and you’ve got to get off your blocks and you’ve got to make plays, and that’s what they’ve got to continue doing.”
They should have the players to make the plays. It’s just a matter of seeing them do it now, after being only the #5 total defense in the ACC in 2011. They gave up 26.1 ppg, which was 8th in the ACC. Their only strength was passing defense, as they gave up only 197.9 ypg in the air, #2 in the ACC.
The punting and kicking games were both inconsistent last year and the special teams really need to improve to make Georgia Tech an ACC championship threat. David Walkosky is taking the position of special teams coach this season and he’s up to the task. Punter Sean Poole and kicker Justin Moore need to be reliable, and if they are, the Yellow Jackets can hang with the premier teams not only in the ACC, but also the better non conference teams on the schedule too.
They kick off the season on September 3rd at Virginia Tech. They’ll hav challenges on Sept 22nd vs Miami and October 6th at Clemson. Closing the season out against Georgia will prove tough too. A record similar to last year seems likely given the relative strength of their scheduile and the improvement of the ACC in general.
The Yellow Jackets have a shot at a ten win season. Is it a stretch? Yes, but not by much. Most major analysts are picking GT to win at least 8 or 9 games, and an ACC title should be within reach for this squad if they get the things that last year’s team was sorely lacking, namely some pass production and better special teams play. They didn’t like losing to Va Tech and Georgia last year and they’ve lost seven straight bowl games, as well. It will likely come down to how good Washington and Sims can be, and if they are at least as good as expected, we should see Georgia Tech finish either first or second in the ACC.
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