2009 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Preview
2008 Record: (9-4, 5-3)
2008 Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. LSU(L 3-38)
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Wommack
Returning Leaders for Georgia Tech:
Other Key Returnees: LB Anthony Barnes, K/P Scott Blair, CB Mario Butler, RB Lucas Cox, LB Sedric Griffin, G Cord Howard, LB Kyle Jackson, RB Roddy Jones, WR Tyler Melton, S Dominique Reese, CB Rashaad Reid, C Dan Voss
Key Losses: OT David Brown, OT Andrew Gardner, DE Michael Johnson, DT Darryl Richard, DT Vance Walker, CB Jabi Word-Daniels
It did not take long to figure out what would happen if Coach Paul Johnson ran his option offense at a school with better athletes than Navy. Georgia Tech shocked the ACC by winning nine games on the season. That is very, very impressive for a team learning a completely new offense and, in theory, it should only get better.
Georgia Tech's Strengths:
The Yellow Jackets ended the season ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense. Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones form a superb duo in the backfield and it is nearly impossible to stop both of them. Even junior Lucas Cox is a threat to break a long run. But just about anybody who touches the ball is a threat to run for a long time in Georgia Tech’s offense. The team averaged over 5.5 yards per carry and what makes that even more impressive is the fact that everybody knows that they are going to run. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt had some trouble running the option at times, but he is not a bad rusher. But if he makes poor decisions, Jaybo Shaw will see plenty of playing time.
Georgia Tech's Weaknesses:
The Yellow Jackets return eight players to their defense, but the losses are big ones. Defensive end Michael Johnson was sometimes accused of being unproductive in college, but he managed to tally 17.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.0 sacks on the season. He will certainly be missed, but the bigger issue is that defensive tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker are also gone. The strength of the Ramblin’ Wreck’s defense was the front line and now that advantage is almost completely gone. Derrick Morgan tallied seven sacks last year, but will he be as effective without the opposition worrying about Johnson on the other side? He probably will not unless somebody else can step up and at least be a threat to get into the backfield.
The Bottom Line for the Yellow Jackets:
And if the front four are not getting pressure on the quarterback, what happens to the secondary? Three of the four starters return, including safety Morgan Burnett. Burnett led the team in tackles and interceptions and has to be the leader of this defense. With Anthony Barnes, Sedric Griffin and Kyle Jackson returning to the linebacker corps, the back seven should be in good shape, but that will depend on how well the front four gets into the backfield. Georgia Tech does return more starters than any other team in the conference and that year of experience in the system will do wonders. That leaves the Yellow Jackets a team that should compete for an ACC title.
By Joel Welser
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