The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets enter the 2010 season as not only defending ACC Champions, but the most ignored returning champion as well. The media has determined that Paul Johnson has run out of the “elite” athletes that he inherited from the prior administration making this the season the triple option offense will finally run its course. While it is true that the Yellow Jackets are competing in the most competitive division in the BCS; the ACC Coastal, according to the prognosticators they will finish no better than 4th place behind Virginia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina in no particular order. In essence, we are being cast back to the likes of Duke and a rebuilding UVA squad this season.
The reality is that Georgia Tech is just now coming of age in its understanding of Paul Johnson’s unique offense, and this is going to be a breakout year not only offensively, but more importantly on the defensive side of the ball. The gauntlet has been thrown and as Paul Johnson likes to say; “are they still going to let us play the games this season?” Right now it looks like all of the pre-season hype with the North Carolina Tar Heels is about to go down the drain with “Agentgate” involving defensive tackle and potential All American Marvin Austin; and a drug issue with another of their elite defensive athletes. Add to that the recent academic issues, so based on my rudimentary math that opens up the door for the Yellow Jackets to move up another notch before the season actually commences. What we have learned from the past is that these off field issues tend to become season long distractions and create dissension which more times than not ruins the team. Strike one for the experts!
Next up the Miami Hurricanes who are so adored by the college football media that when they got blasted last year in their bowl game against Wisconsin they were given the mother of all excuses by explaining that it was too cold for them that night in Orlando. Talk about a free hall pass from the truant officer! Depending on the Fahrenheit or Celsius thermometer reading for November 13, 2010 in Atlanta, once again the Canes will have to play a big game against Georgia Tech at frigid Bobby Dodd Stadium on a chilly day, advantage to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in that one.
That brings us to the game that will decide the Coastal Division Champion this season at Lane Stadium on a Thursday night national ESPN broadcast in Blacksburg, Virginia on November 4, 2010. Since Paul Johnson will have a few extra days to prepare for the Hokies as we play Clemson more than a week earlier on October 23, 2010, the extra time will enable Al Groh to solve the complex Hokie offense, not to mention our offensive coordinator will have plenty of extra time to solve the Bud Foster lunch bucket defense. This is going to be a great game, and probably too close to call at this point in the season. What I will say is that Paul Johnson has run his offense to perfection in both meetings against Frank Beamer, and I’ll take Coach Paul in a close game against anyone in this league whether on the road or at home. I’m sure Frank Beamer will start his whining about our blocking at least 2 weeks prior to the game in order to have the yellow hankies flying often that evening.
The game that worries me the most next season is at Clemson on October 23, 2010. Even without CJ Spiller, and Jacoby Ford, the Tigers are always loaded with outstanding players. Now that quarterback Kyle Parker has pocketed $1.34 million from the MLB Colorado Rockies to continue playing football in Death Valley, that selfless act alone will really bring a team together for the upcoming season. Given the closeness of the games between these two in the past 10 years, coupled with the revenge factor after beating them twice last year including the ACC Championship game, I can see the Tigers catching us this year. However, I would rather lose to an opponent from the Atlantic Division as it doesn’t impact us as much as losing to a Coastal Division member. Frankly, I think that a rematch of the Yellow Jackets and the Tigers for the ACC Championship is certainly a possibility again this season. I’ll take my Yellow Jackets in that one up in Charlotte for a second ACC Title in three seasons under Paul Johnson.
The remaining games on the schedule that worry me the most are of course UGA, but also Middle Tennessee State. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders have an outstanding senior quarterback named Dwight Dasher who will be the best quarterback we see all season other than our own Joshua Nesbitt. He is only the 4th player in NCAA history to throw for more than 2500 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. He is an excellent athlete who does a great job running their version of the spread option. Factor in that this game is being played the week before the big Clemson game, and this sets up as another situation like we experienced last season against Wake Forest. This will be a game that Paul Johnson will have to guard against, and with the number of head coaches we have on our staff, they will constantly need to remind the players of the dangers of looking ahead quite often that week. But this game does scare me a little.
The Bulldogs have a big offensive line and good running backs who took it right to us last season. This is where Al Groh earns his money by having our defense ready to play and getting some stops. Paul Johnson will get his share of points. It just depends on our defensive line making some plays and getting those Dawgs off the field. It should be another great chapter of “Clean Old Fashioned Hate!” Remember, Paul Johnson is undefeated at Sanford Stadium.
I’m looking forward to another very successful season on the Flats, despite the opinions of those Naysayers who just refuse to acknowledge that Paul Johnson is building something very special at Georgia Tech. Although I must admit that a few days ago I thought you know what had just frozen over as I was watching ESPN when they were doing their ACC predictions. Craig James, a former member of the Pony Express backfield with Eric Dickerson, predicted that GEORGIA TECH would win the ACC this season. At least a former football player can see what is happening on the Flats under Paul Johnson. Go Jackets!