Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The question that inevitably pops up for head coach Paul Johnson each year at Georgia Tech is will the option attack succeed. After three straight Bowl games the answer has to be yes but a new face at quarterback will determine if their offensive success continues. The bottom line is the Yellow Jackets finished with a losing record after losing to Air Force in the Independence Bowl so the school and the fan base can’t be completely happy.
The Jackets lost quarterback Josh Nesbitt to graduation and will likely be replaced by Tevin Washington who started in 2010 when Nesbitt broke his arm. The offense was plain vanilla and wasn’t very productive with Washington taking the snaps so he will be under the microscope. The good news is that Georgia Tech has a bevy of quality runners in the backfield with Roddy Jones, Richard Watson, Orwin Smith and David Sims sure to see plenty of carries. Charles Perkins is penciled in at fullback and appears to be a capable inside runner and blocker as well. The Yellow Jackets have the offensive line to make the triple option work with right guard Omoregie Uzzi, RT Phil Smith and LG Will Johnson leading the way. If Washington struggles I don’t think Johnson will hesitate to use red shirt freshman Synjyn Days who is the more dangerous runner.
The defense is the biggest concern in 2011 with only five starters back. The Yellow Jackets run a 3-4 and are fortunate to return all three defensive lineman with DT Logan Walls and defensive end Jason Peters hoping a year of playing together helps improve their dismal run stopping numbers of 170 yards allowed a year ago. The line backing crew also has returning experience with Steven Sylvester and leading tackler Julian Burnett (89) back. The obvious problem is in the secondary where Georgia Tech is thin on experience with no returning starters and project a pair of sophomores and freshman to start. The one piece of good news is this unit wasn’t very strong a year ago defending opposing air attacks so the thinking is things can’t be much worse.
Georgia Tech lost kicker Scott to graduation leaving strong leg Justin Moore to handle the job but he needs to improve his accuracy. Sean Poole averaged 39 yards per punt in 2010 but did have a knee injury that prevented him from participating in spring drills. BJ Bostic and Embry Peeples are back to handle kick return duties but punt returner is an open position which was near the bottom third nationally in 2010.
Georgia Tech has reason for concern with a defense that was vulnerable in 2010 and doesn’t look much different as it stands now. If the quarterback situation performs satisfactorily than the success of this team could largely depend on the offense controlling the ball and putting up points. I think we’ll see this team struggle at times as well as excel at others but I see a fourth straight Bowl game for Johnson and a middle of the pack finish in the Coastal Division.