2013 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets College Football Preview
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Head Coach: Paul Johnson
2012 Record: 7-7 overall, 5-3 ACC Coastal
2012 Bowl Result: Beat USC 21-7 in the Sun Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 8 defense
Odds to win 2014 BCS Championship Game; 350/1
Odds to win 2013 ACC Championship Game: 21/2
Odds to Win 2013 ACC Coastal Division: +320
Regular Season Wins: over 8 -125 / under 8 -115
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Last season, Georgia Tech had a forgettable .500 season under coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets did technically win the ACC Coastal Division but only because North Carolina and Miami weren’t eligible. Georgia Tech was up and down all season starting off the season 3-5, including heartbreaking overtime losses to Virginia Tech and Miami and head scratching blowout losses at home to Middle Tennessee and BYU. The only wins in that stretch were routs over lesser caliber Presbyterian, Virginia, and Boston College.
The Yellow Jackets would then win 3 straight games against Maryland, North Carolina and Duke, all by 18 points or more. Tech was crushed by in-state rival Georgia 42-10 in the regular season finale. The Yellow Jackets were a heavy underdog against Florida St in the ACC Championship game, but Georgia Tech hung around in a tight 21-15 loss. Tech had to get a special exemption from the NCAA to play in a bowl game as they had a losing record. The Yellow Jackets would defeat a disinterested USC team 21-7 in the Sun Bowl to finish 7-7.
Now, lets take a look at the 2013 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on offense, defense, special teams, and also look at their schedule.
Paul Johnson could be on the hot seat with another mediocre season. His triple option offense certainly has it’s detractors. Outside of the service academies no one uses the triple option. Johnson was the coach at Navy before taking over the Yellow Jackets. John Bond will run the offense after 3 years as the OC at Northern Illinois.
Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee split time with Tevin Washington last season. Washington is gone, and Lee will the become the main man. Lee completed 27 of 56 passes for 596 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 picks. Lee also rushed for 544 yards on 96 carries with 9 touchdowns. Lee is very quick but he also has a strong arm and is a great leader in the huddle. Redshirt Freshman Justin Thomas could also see some snaps, and could play some downs at running back or receiver as well.
Senior running back David Sims will get the majority of the carries. The former QB had 135 carries, 612 yards and 4 touchdoowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. Junior Zach Laskey had 133 carries, 697 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 catches, 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Robert Godhigh had 429 rushing yards on 54 carries with 4 touchdowns, along with 15 catches, 227 yards and 4 touchdowns. Junior B.J. Bostic had 34 carries for 212 yards and 7 catches for 139 yards, Deon Hill, Synjyn Davis, Tony Zenon, Dennis Andrews, and Travis Custis will also get some carries. There are plenty to go around, as the Yellow Jackets might run it more than 60 times a game.
While the passing game is almost an afterthought in the spread option, Georgia Tech still needs quality wide receivers so they don’t have to lean on the running game exclusively. Gone is Orwin Smith who had 18 catches for 288 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed for 682 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jeff Greene was supposed to be the best returning receiver, but he transferred to Ohio St in the off-season. He had 18 catches, 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, Darren Weller now becomes the go-to receiver outside of the running backs. He made 8 catches for 162 yards last year. Junior Corey Dennis will start at the other wideout. Redshirt freshman Travin Henry will also get some catches.
The Yellow Jackets lose three-time All-ACC left tackle Omoregie Uzzi at left guard but return the other four starters on the line. Will Jackson started several games at both guard and tackle despite battling a shoulder injury all season. Jackson will start at left guard. Center Jay Finch returns as a starter for the third straight year. Both Jackson and Finch were honorable mention All-ACC last season. Guard Shaq Mason moves to the right side after starting the last 12 games of the season at left guard last year. Senior Ray Beno returns at right tackle. Junior Morgan Bailey will start at left tackle. He started in 7 games last season due to injuries.
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Last year, the defense struggled and coordinator Al Groh was fired midway through the season. He was replaced by Ted Roof who returns for this year. Roof will switch to a 4-3 defense from a 3-4, and has 8 returning starters to help with the adjustment.
Senior Jeremiah Attaochu moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the new 4-3. He will be in the NFL next season, and could become the all-time Georgia Tech leader in sacks this season. Last year he had 69 tackles, 12 for loss, and 10 sacks. Seniors Emmanuel Dieke and Chris Crenshaw will rotate at the other end. Euclid Cummings and Adam Gotsis will start at the tackles. Patrick Gamble and Jimmie Kitchen will also see time in the rotation.
Senior outside linebacker Brandon Watts had 68 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 2 sacks. Junior Quayshawn Nealy has started 20 games at inside linebacker over the last two seasons but moves to outside this season. He had 79 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions. Senior Daniel Drummond and Jabari Hunt-Days will rotate at middle linebacker.
The secondary gave up 23 touchdown passes last year, but 4 starters return. The unit looks to be much better. Senior Isaiah Johnson started all 14 games at safety and led the Yellow Jackets with 87 tackles. Chris Milton started in the Sun bowl and looks to be the starter at the other safety after making 20 tackles last year. Cornerback Jemea Thomas had 86 tackles, 4 picks, and 6 pass break-ups playing both corner and safety. Louis Young should be tested at the other cornerback because of the dominant Thomas. Young had 32 tackles and an interception. There isn’t a lot of experience in the reserves, if injuries happen.
Kicker Justin Moore was kicked off the team in early May. Senior David Scully does return though. He made 37 of 39 extra points, but only 4 of 8 field goals. Two of those misses were blocked. The inconsistent Scully is much better at kickoffs, but the Yellow Jackets did land the #3 kicker recruit in the class of 2013, Harrison Butker. If the kid is ready, he could challenge for the kicking job. Sophomore Andrew Chau is also on the roster.
Senior Sean Poole returns for his fourth year at the punter. He doesn’t have the strongest leg averaging just under 40 yards per punt on his career. He is also the holder on field goals and PAT’s. He missed part of last year with an upper body injury.
Junior Jamal Golden is one of the best kick and punt returners in the country. He was the only player to rank in the top 10 nationally in both categories, and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last season.
Georgia Tech opens at home against Elon. The Yellow Jackets then begin a stretch of 4 straight conference games that includes road games at Duke and Miami, along with home games against North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Then comes a tough trip to Provo to face BYU. Home games against ACC newcomers Syracuse and Pitt are sandwiched around a trip to Virginia. The Yellow Jackets travel to Clemson before home games against Alabama A&M and rival Georgia to close out the season.
Lee is a good quarterback but who is he going to throw the ball to? The wide receiver position is the biggest question even though it is a run first offense. In the last several seasons, Georgia Tech has produced NFL star receivers Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, and Stephen Hill. So the offense needs a star receiver to function at it’s highest level. On defense, a lot of talent returns, but it might take a few games to adjust to the new 4-3. The schedule isn’t too demanding with two games against FCS schools. Georgia Tech should contend for the Coastal division title with Virginia Tech in a rebuilding year. However, Georgia Tech has gone 21-19 in the last 3 seasons and another season around .500 could mean the end of the Johnson era. This team could win 8 games if the chips fall right, but any more would be difficult.
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