All-Football Friday! The questions facing Georgia Tech

A surprise a year ago, Georgia Tech will surprise us this time only if it stinks. Which it probably won’t. But that doesn’t mean it has no issues. Every team does, and thank goodness. If teams had no issues there’d be no place for folks like me. Forty-three days ahead of its opener against Jacksonville State, here’s what we should be asking about the Jackets:

• Is Paul Johnson’s offense, as Paul Johnson contends, going to make an exponential jump in Year 2? Are there really that many different ways to hand or pitch someone the ball? Or will the going get tougher for the option-based spread the second time through the ACC?

• Will the passing game become more than a diversionary tactic? Does Tech need to bring the disparity between rushing and passing yards — 73 percent of the offense against 27 percent last season — into closer harmony? (Say, 65 to 35?) Will the Jackets, who could well be playing for a championship, throw the ball effectively when the day comes when they’re behind with five minutes to play?

• Will Jonathan Dwyer improve on 1,395 yards rushing, or will the Jackets’ increasing familiarity with the nuances of Johnson’s offense call for the A-backs — Dwyer is a B-back — to get the ball more? Is there a capable backup should Dwyer tweak an ankle?

• Are the A-backs about to get even faster? Will Roddy Jones, last seeing fleeing down the Sanford Stadium sideline, recover from his offseason hand injury in time to wreak immediate havoc? And is Marcus Wright, even smaller and faster than Jones, about to have his breakout moment?

• Is there a stranger case in college football than Demaryius Thomas? Is there a receiver in college football who caught a higher ratio — 52.7 percent — of his team’s completions? Are there 10 more talented receivers in the land?

• Will the defense, gutted by high-profile losses to its front four, hold up its end? Or will Derrick Morgan, who’s among the best defensive ends in the land, catch the same disease that befell Coleman Rudolph in the early ’90s — a season’s worth of double- and triple-teaming?

Bradley's forecast of 10-2 for Tech is:

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• If your defense can’t stop the other team, doesn’t that undercut the whole premise of Johnson’s offense? Can you run, run, run if you’re always playing from behind? Can you win games 41-38 with a team that passes as an afterthought? Will Josh Nesbitt, who’s talented enough to do almost anything, improve his completion percentage (an unbecoming 43.9 last season) so Thomas can work some downfield wonders?

• Will the special teams, which essentially dealt Tech out of the Chick-fil-A Bowl before it had begun, no longer be a liability? Don’t running the ball, defending and being sound in the kicking game historically go together? What if one aspect fails? Will it be 38-3 (the score of LSU’s blowout bowl victory) all over again?

• Will the new weight of expectations turn Johnson, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, into a season-long sourpuss? If Tech loses a big game early and fans and writers start sniping at his offense, will he snipe back? Is his honeymoon, which continued unabated even after the bowl loss, apt to end anytime soon?

Bradley says: Tech will go 10-2 in the regular season, losing at Florida State and at Vanderbilt, and will beat FSU in the ACC title game.

(If you’re interested, here are the questions regarding Georgia. And check back at 3 p.m. for those concerning the Falcons. It’s All-Football Friday!)

260 comments Add your comment

UGASlobberknocker

July 24th, 2009
5:27 am

10-2??? No way. After Jax state, Tech has a tough 6 game stretch (tough for the ACC anyway). I believe they will be no better than 5-2 after that stretch, maybe 4-3. Let’s say they go 5-2. To go 10-2, they would then have to make it through the 2nd half without losing any games. They always lose at least one that they shouldnt; that will happen this year again. Then they would have to beat Georgia for the second straight year, and that has happened only twice in the past 35 years.

the more realistic prediction: 6-2 ACC; 8-4 overall.(1-2 vs. the SEC).and a trip to the Tire Bowl in Charlotte. Oh Boy.

jjr

July 24th, 2009
5:30 am

Tech may loose two games, but one will not be to Vandy.

Benjamin

July 24th, 2009
6:04 am

I know Georgia is a little down this year in terms of personnel, but I’m not sure I give Tech the game just yet. If I were predicting Tech’s record, I would go with 9-3.

And I’m with jjr – Tech doesn’t lose to the Commodores.

John

July 24th, 2009
6:07 am

14-0 Baby!!!!

honest_abe

July 24th, 2009
6:08 am

thank you brad!

your kiss of death is 100% guaranteed! heh tech is going to be 2-10.. mark it down!!!

GT4Ever

July 24th, 2009
6:50 am

10-2 I’ll take. So Mark, your saying GT will beat VT. I’m in agreement with that. VT’s offense just doesn’t impress me, AGAIN!!! FSU will be a tough one since it’s at their place but don’t count us out on that one. VT and FSU will be tough back to back. Do you think GT will have a let down after the VT game to give FSU the advantage? Maybe, but hope not. I just don’t see us losing to Vanderbilt.

I do belive our offense will be rolling by the 2nd or 3rd game and yes the passing will get better. CPJ insists on that!!!! Our defense will get better each game and the “D” line will hold up. Not a lot of experience but the great talent will prevail.

With a little luck and some right bounces we will be ACC champs and be a BCS contender!!!

Saint Simons

July 24th, 2009
7:15 am

45 – 42 hahahahahahahahah- oops, wrong site – but I am still glad it hurst so bad!

JB

July 24th, 2009
7:22 am

As a Dawg fan, I do think Tech has greatly lifted their football fortunes, but to win 10 games takes a lot of great players, coaching and luck. I think Johnson will get more out of that team than most. What will keep Tech from this is a very average defense and running into teams with great defenses. Yes, they can move the ball, but until I see a world class defense, I think 8 wins or so will be realistic.

btgt69

July 24th, 2009
7:30 am

Just win one game, 1-11 is good as long as we beat the crap out of uga. THWG !

Max Sizemore

July 24th, 2009
7:36 am

Those who think Tech should throw more are missing the point. The plan with this offense is to get ahead and stay ahead. An analogy would be an all-lefthanded hitting lineup against a right-handed pitcher. The idea is to be ahead by the time a bullpen lefty is brought in.

Alex H.

July 24th, 2009
7:42 am

Mark…All Football Friday? You da man!!!!! Being a Tech fan, it would be nice to see them win that many games. Like UGA Sloberknocker said though (ugh!), they always lose at least one game they shouldn’t. I don’t see a loss at Vandy. I do see a slip up to a lesser caliber ACC team though. Hopefully, CPJ will end that nonsense though. I can foresee a loss to either Va. Tech or Florida State. And with all that score posting on UGA blogs and the bragging about the win at UGA last year, they are going to whip us good if we are not prepared. I see 9-3 or 10-2, but I hope they surprise and win more. Go Tech.

m

July 24th, 2009
7:46 am

The one thing that makes all this conjecture possible???

The fact that chan gomer gailey, the worst coach in the history of the world, and who should NEVER have been hired….was FIRED.

That is the only reason we can have a discussion about the bright future at Tech.

It is a strange that a so-called journalist like Mark Bradley would have sat back for 6 long years with both thumbs up his arse and not utter a peep about the destruction that chan gomer gailey was doing to TECH.

chan gomer gailey should NEVER have been allowed to destroy TECH football….and THANK GOD AND GREYHOUND that chan gomer gailey is gone forever. Halllleeeeeedamlooooyah.

There is a new sheriff in town….his name is Paul Johnson.

Yellow River by I. P. Freely...

July 24th, 2009
7:55 am

…I sure hope someone is keeping all of these silly postings about “gomer” by m, especially the “new sheffif” stuff! When GT returns to its 7-5 ways maybe he will see that even though “gomer” under-coached and his recruits “under – played”, 9-4 is the best that GT can ever hope for as a football “power”.

reebok

July 24th, 2009
7:56 am

10-2 or 9-3, but I don’t see us losing to Vandy. Also, special teams will continue to hurt us becuase we don’t have the depth of stud players that UGA and some other programs do…we can’t load up special teams w/ 3 & 4-star talent.

sharecropper

July 24th, 2009
7:58 am

Ah, Bradley. After asking all those questions you did a Chris Matthews and answered your own questions by predicting a 10-2 season. In a Blazing Saddles moment, am I wrong, or did you just waste a column?

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 24th, 2009
7:58 am

THIS JUST IN…Tickle piles during Tech football game times on campus include free Wi-Fi.

Not Disappointed

July 24th, 2009
8:07 am

I’m ready for COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Ramblin Wreck!

MattyB

July 24th, 2009
8:07 am

Losing at Vandy? Brad, you accidentally cut a few words from your 11am report and pasted it into this one, just FYI.

MT

July 24th, 2009
8:07 am

Tech will go 11-1 losing only to FSU. Ga fans are obnoxious fools. Their team is rebuilding key positions. This offense won’t be stopped this year. The passing game will be so much better. We will average 35 a game.

MT

July 24th, 2009
8:08 am

Oh and the score against the redneck mutts.

41-17

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 24th, 2009
8:12 am

When the BCS Championship Game is moved to thursdays, Tech will be ready.

rainman

July 24th, 2009
8:14 am

Anything less than 9-3 would be a major let down. Primary goal is to make it to the ACC championship game. I’m not sure why Bradly thinks we will lose to Vandy. We must beat VT in Atlanta.

duke

July 24th, 2009
8:21 am

Mark, would the reason you chose Vandy to beat Tech have something to do with their coach, Bobby Johnson, having coached at Furman during CPJ’s tenure at Georgia Southern? The Paladins and Eagles are big rivals and Furman always played GSU tough during those years.

GT Rich

July 24th, 2009
8:23 am

Agreed with MT. 11-1, loss to FSU. VT doesn’t have the offense to keep up. Neither does Vandy (which has some holes to fill). UNC will have some time before playing GT to find some new playmakers, so that game will be the upset potential. UGA will have found a QB by then, but their defensive line will be the weak point again this year (take note how many D-linemen they’ve signed already for 2010, it is obvious the coaching staff sees this weakness for themselves but should’ve been bringing in the manpower last recruiting season).

Atwork...

July 24th, 2009
8:29 am

I don’t think they need to worry about pasing from way behind. We proved at UGA last year that we can be just as explosive and score points running the ball as other teams are throwing it. My biggest concerns are the Front Lines and Kicking game. If we are atleast average at both lines i think we have an opportunity to be good. Depending on how some of these guys play for the first time will be the key. The kicking game needs some special help. We couldn’t do anything last year with it. That can make or break you as we found out with LSU.

I don’t think we will lose to Vandy and I think the UNC game is our biggest trap game. Biggest Game is tied with VT and UGA.

GO TECH!

gte268p

July 24th, 2009
8:32 am

Well, special teams sure didn’t help uga last year. A botched kickoff that went out of bounds and fumbling a kickoff return. I’d say Tech sure beat their special teams in that game! And they’ll beat them again this year!

UGASlobberknocker

July 24th, 2009
8:35 am

MT..11-1?????? 41-17???? Now that is funny. And delusional.

as St Simons says five times daily: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

welcome back m

July 24th, 2009
8:35 am

wondering when we would see you again

TommyP

July 24th, 2009
8:38 am

Sharecropper: I’d rather Mark DID answer the questions. I think my grandmother could fill a column by asking questions. I want to see what Mr. Bradley thinks.

Mark: Great day of blogs ahead. Thank you. Just slow down with the predictions when a team looks pretty good. (i.e. predicting playoffs for the Braves during a win streak)

RAMBLE ON!!!

July 24th, 2009
8:43 am

We will beat FSU, but you maybe right about Vandy.

UGAg will squeak by Vandy and then they will be gloating about how that makes them better than GT even though they lose 56-18 in Nov.

11-1.

Realistic GT Fan

July 24th, 2009
8:45 am

It’s hard to beleive we will lose fewer than 4 games for one simple reason: SPECIAL TEAMS. Ours are easily one of the worst in the conference.

There’s basically a bunch of ACC teams, none of which are that much better than the others… Georgia Tech included.

Road trips to Miami, FSU and Charlottesville (don’t laugh, they own us there) and games vs. Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Clemson and Georgia???

Come on. We have a kicker that struggles to make extra points and I’m yet to see anyone on our sidelines that can catch 10 or 11 punts without dropping one.

8-4 would be a success, provided we beat Georgia.

Mark Bradley

July 24th, 2009
8:52 am

Thanks for all the tips, folks. (Don’t answer the questions. Answer the questions. Don’t make predictions.) I’ll take them under advisement.

FalconUGAFan

July 24th, 2009
8:52 am

Its amazing that a Pro-Tech article turns into a DAWG hatefest. We really are under your skin, aren’t we?

rainman

July 24th, 2009
8:57 am

Sooner or later Tech will be in a situation where the passing game will have to be a factor. If we want to move to the next level & play in a BCS bowl, a well executed air game will have to be part of the package. Tech will, and should, remain primarily a running team — the key is making it count when they do pass.

RamblinRed

July 24th, 2009
9:03 am

To answer the questions
1. yes – the offense will be considerably better. At GSU the offensive production rose 7.5 ppg from season 1 to season 2. At Navy it rose 11 ppg.
2. I think passing will be 30-70. It will be better. Nesbitt’s passing % will never be overly high because Johnson’s passing offense is a long ball type of offense. As he said, if I need 3 yrds i’ll run it not pass it.
3. Dwyer will get fewer yds due to fewer carries, but will stay healthier due to fewer hits and be fresher late in games.
4.A-backs will be much better in yr 2, which is why the offense will score more.
5. Defense will be good not great. Back 7 is strong. Front 4 will have to grow up during the season.
6. Special teams are still my greatest worry and will probably cost GT a game at some point.
7. Yes, Johnson will be a season long sourpuss, this season and every other season. I think the Honeymoon with the fans lasts for at least another season. And if he beats UGA again, it will last a long while.
9-3, 10-2 sounds about right as an expectation. I don’t see GT going 1-2 against the SEC though. 2-1 or 3-0 is more likely imo.

Mike

July 24th, 2009
9:03 am

It will be a very interesting season on the Flats. I am surprised at how many Dawgs are posting on this blog. We must really be getting under your skin, aren’t we?

GT is the real deal

July 24th, 2009
9:07 am

Vandy? Come on Bradley, for Christ sakes. Vandy, really??

GT92

July 24th, 2009
9:08 am

bradley- i usually dont agree with you but the FSU game and the Vandy game are also the ones i had as losses. i think FSU in doke campbell would be tough no matter what and i see the vandy game as snake in the grass. they play sound, smart football and their coach is outstanding. you never know but that game scares me as much as any.

as far as all the questions, i think tech’s offense will be played alot faster and with more fluidity and hopefully that will offset some of the gains opposing defenses make in terms of having seen it before.

i also agree with you that special teams doomed tech from the onset in the peach last year. people have alluded to lsu “figuring” out how to stop the option. that is total crap. they did dominate the line of scrimmage but tech actually was moving the ball effectively at the onset if you watched that game, they just had a series of turnovers and special teams gaffs that essentially blew them out of the gym. total snowball effect and the score was a bit misleading in my opinion. dont get me wrong, the better team THAT day won but we stayed in and fought til the end when a lot of teams would have mailed it in and i would love another crack at those guys.

UGASlobberknocker

July 24th, 2009
9:09 am

I wonder what school will hire Paul Johnson away from Tech once he puts together 2 or 3 winning seasons. Chizik should be fired by then; Im guessing Auburn. One thing is for sure and has been proven over and over again: Tech is unable to keep a good coach very long. (e.g.Curry,Ross,OLeary plus asst Friedgen). That’s because there are probably at least 50 better jobs in the BCS conferences. Why should he stay at Tech and doom himself to a perpetual 8-4, 7-5 record, in a conference where going undefeated still wont get you in the BCS title game? Throw in only 30 or 35k Tech fans at each game and no wonder they cant keep anybody. (I know they average more than that in attendance, but I subtracted out the opposition fans) That stadium is depressing to me and I’m a Ga grad.

FalconUGAFan

July 24th, 2009
9:10 am

I happen to like Ga Tech, although UGA is my number 1 team. I just don’t feel the need to bash Ga Tech or the fans.

Class of '98

July 24th, 2009
9:11 am

Actually Mark, Roddy Jones was last seen getting dropped for 2-yard losses in the Georgia Dome.

HT

July 24th, 2009
9:12 am

Tech’s first half of the season is crazy. After Oct.17 Tech has UVA, Vandy, Wake, Duke, and UGA. If Tech can make it to 6-1, look out.

UGASlobberknocker

July 24th, 2009
9:13 am

Mike, the answer to your question is:
YES.

JB

July 24th, 2009
9:13 am

Dawg fans are here because 5 or 6 of your so called fans live on EVERY Georgia blog and blog hateful stuff that consumes about 30 % of the blog…..That’s why you see us here.
I enjoy watching Tech football, My Business partner is a Tech Grad, I know lot’s of Normal Tech Alumni. I don’t hate anyone…Do I want to win, you bet….I spend most of my time worrying about my business and the light weight in the White House who doesn’t have a clue.

Arob

July 24th, 2009
9:14 am

Well done Mark. Losing to Vandy seems a stretch, but expect a loss or two coming from FSU, UNC, or even Miami. The special teams has to be better than what we saw last year. The key to the season will be the health of Nesbitt. If he misses multiple games, expect 8-4 or so, unless we have a capable backup that no one has seen yet.

rainman

July 24th, 2009
9:17 am

By the way, did the WR that left Bama commit to Tech?

Another Dawg

July 24th, 2009
9:25 am

Bradley, you are horrifically overrating the individual talent on the roster. It’s a system that produces successful numbers, but you’ve got to be kidding me. 10 receivers “in the land” better than Demaryius Thomas? There are two in the state (Brown, Green.) Derrick Morgan one of the best Defensive Ends “in the land?” He’s good, sure, but he also had Johnson lining up with him, who made everyone around him better.

“Will Josh Nesbitt, who’s talented enough to do almost anything…” No. He’s not. This gets thrown around for “dual-threat” QBs way too often. He’s already got the ultimate gimmick offense and he can’t complete 45%? Good running back, bad passer in a system that isn’t going to improve passers. If he had talent, why hasn’t he shown it? Also, he’s a 21 year old junior now who has yet to complete a full season.

CincyJacket

July 24th, 2009
9:25 am

Goodness Mark, do you wake up early or stay up late for these? 3:11 am?

Good analysis. Tech will lose one we shouldn’t (Vandy? UVA?), but the dawgs are rebuilding this year and we’ll beat them in BDS.

Who is gt???

July 24th, 2009
9:31 am

You mean Gt is a football team………that sounds kinda of a………IRRLEVANT!!

PB

July 24th, 2009
9:35 am

I feel a 10-2… barring injury to Nesbit.

Toughness and guile a la CPJ (the former being his greatest attribute) will take you far, but in the end, GT will need their players to stay healthy. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I am also really pumped about this season!

Thanks Mark.