5 legit reasons Georgia Tech might disappoint in 2009

This was Jaybo Shaw with his collarbone intact. He'll be missed. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Jaybo Shaw with his collarbone intact. He'll be missed. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

1. Jaybo Shaw broke his collarbone in practice. Losing your backup quarterback is a big deal when you run the spread option. Josh Nesbitt is going to get hit 30 times a game, and Shaw — who started a game and won it in Nesbitt’s stead last season — is fully capable of doing it again. Or was capable. Now there’s no telling when he’ll be back.

2. The special teams aren’t exactly special. Georgia Tech missed eight of 20 field goals last season and two PATs. It lagged its opponents in punt return average, kickoff return average and net punting. The kicking game essentially lost the Chick-fil-A Bowl. A team that wants to play in a BCS game will have to make a big kick of some kind along the way.

3. There are trap games on the card. Tech plays at Miami on Thursday night a week after it plays host to Clemson on Thursday night, meaning the manufactured emotion inherent in any ESPN production will be on the other sideline. And Mississippi State and Vanderbilt might be the two worst teams in the SEC, but the Jackets must go on the road to meet both a week after major conference games (North Carolina before Mississippi State, Virginia before Vandy).

4. Nesbitt completed 43.9 percent of his passes in 2008. That’s not a good number for such a talented player, and it’s even worse because roughly half his throws had the element of surprise working for them. He has a great receiver in Demaryrius Thomas and an A-back capable of catching the deep ball in Roddy Jones. As we saw last season, Tech doesn’t need a slew of passess to keep moving — its only completion against Georgia came on the game’s first snap — but Nesbitt does need to be more precise.

5. Paul Johnson is so self-assured it could work against him. Nobody outsmarts everybody else forever. Johnson has a splendid system and is justifiably proud of it, but what if Tech loses a game it shouldn’t and the second-guessers emerge for the first time in his tenure here? Will he develop rabbit ears? Will he snap at the media? Or will he act presidential and simply keep coaching his men?

(For our companion list of 5 bogus reasons Tech will fall short in 2009, please click here. Finally, we present defensive end Derrick Morgan’s upbeat take on the Jackets.)

150 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

August 26th, 2009
10:10 am

45 – 42!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahaha

Frank

August 26th, 2009
10:16 am

45-42 was an aberation!Even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then!kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Johnny Test

August 26th, 2009
10:17 am

Interesting. 1, 2 and 4 make sense. There is risk of a let down after a big conference game when you are playing the weak sisters of another conference. #5??? CPJ is kinda smug but it hasn’t hurt him yet.
What you missed was an undersized OL and overall lake of depth. If teck has any injury issues it really hurt.

BuzzFactor

August 26th, 2009
10:19 am

1. missing Jaybo is scary, hopefully he will return a little early.
2. flat out truth, and the coaches know it. time will tell if it gets better
3. Miami is not a trap game, it will be a battle. Vandy could be a trap game, but Missy State is like playing Jax State.

ComputerNut

August 26th, 2009
10:20 am

1) I think you will find that the starting QBs at Navy and Georgia Southern were not injured all that much. This reason is a bit overblown. Besides, Tevin Washington is ahead of where Shaw was last year.

2) Jerrard Tarrant will improve the punt return game and Blair not punting should help the FG percentage. Since Johnson like to go for it on 4th down a lot, there won’t be that many attempts anyway.

3)Trap games are just a way of saying your team is not mentally prepared. The maturity that comes with being a year older and the Chick-fil-a experience should ward against that.

4)Better protection and more familiarity with the offense will make that number rise. (It has in practice) As you’ve said, he doesn’t have to complete to many. An extra 1 in 10 over last year would be enough.

5. It didn’t work against him when he won to national championships at GA Southern. I think you are reaching on this one.

Not that those have been dismissed, what else have you got?

BuzzFactor

August 26th, 2009
10:21 am

4. Nesbit WILL be better, not a concern.
5. ….okay, that was just stupid!

Mike Jay

August 26th, 2009
10:22 am

You forgot the emotional let down of having to play in a half full stadium….

PMC

August 26th, 2009
10:23 am

I’ve never known CPJ to be a jerk to the media self confident absolutely but not overtly arrogant… after all the media questions an offense that has been around and has worked forever and he does it well. It’s his second year. I think thier biggest concern honestly is health especially at QB. They are as good as anyone in the ACC.

Go Tech

August 26th, 2009
10:26 am

TheDawgPound

August 26th, 2009
10:29 am

JohnnyTest…Tech has more depth than at any point since when? The 1960’s? Depth is not an issue for that team. Apparently some Dawg fans read more about your program than you.

Injury issues can hurt any ball team! Imagine UF without the QB. Same goes for Texas and Oklahoma. The only teams where injury can’t be pointed to as an explanation for lack of success would be my Dawgs. Cox is certainly not leap years better than the backups…we have depth at RB and WR. Our OL is back and we’d have to lose 3 or more starters here for this to be an acceptable excuse. This year we win and lose based on Richt’s coaching ability as much as any superiority in talent. We have gotten by on talent the last several years (see Martinez and his ability for proof that we rely on talent over “coaching them up”).

Rashad Jones

August 26th, 2009
10:30 am

Seriously

August 26th, 2009
10:33 am

#5 is interesting. I don’t think the naysayers will bother him, but I do believe that he got into a pi$$ing match last year with Les Miles on who can gamble more special teams. We lost that gamble….by quite a bit. I think he lost his cool in that game and tried to outgamble the mad hatter, and thats not a great idea. T

TheDawgPound

August 26th, 2009
10:34 am

UGA and Miami might learn how to wrap up! FSU might not fumble! Gardner Webb might make a FG! Clemson might not throw a pick and score instead….Four games that just be some essentials could have defeated Tech last year. That would be a 5-7 regular season…why all the hype? Sophomre jinx more likely for Johnson.

Go Tech

August 26th, 2009
10:39 am

1. Tevin will be as good of a backup this year as Jaybo was last year.
2. When we kicked off out of bounds to start the Peach bowl, I knew we were in trouble. Gotta improve kicking.
3. WHY ARE WE SCHEDULING 2 SEC TEAMS AWAY FOR OUR OOC TEAMS? Look at UF: they ONLY schedule easy games OOC, and only at home! And UF knows how to win NC’s.
4. Passing and drops will improve.
5. CPJ has stopped 2 dreadful streaks and will stop one more this year (UVA). He has won games we would have lost in prior years. He has earned our trust.

Mac

August 26th, 2009
10:39 am

“Nobody outsmarts everybody else forever.” First of all, that ain’t true. See Paul Bryant, Tom Osborne, Vince Dooley, etc. Johnson has the capability of being that type of coach. I suspect he is that type of coach.

OL

August 26th, 2009
10:39 am

The smaller o-line is an asset not a liability. The option requires smaller, faster linemen. Part of last years problem was that we had too many 300 pounders. I loved Andrew Gadner, but he was simply not built for this offense, actually he would have been better suited at guard than tackle. Austin Barrick is the prototype for GT offensive tackles under the Pual Johnson era.

EW

August 26th, 2009
10:44 am

so MB you did a top 5 reasons uga should be worried about Cox and top 5 for why they shouldn’t worry. And for tech you do two top 5 lists on why they will flop?

ComputerNut

August 26th, 2009
10:47 am

Mr. Pound, The refs might not have called the H2H penalty in the VaTech game. They might have called the obvious holding on UVA on their last touchdown pass. This would have set us up to beat BC for the second time and Cincinati in the Orange Bowl. Looks like we were just as likely to be 13-1 as 5-7. Don’t play what if games. They’re a waste of time. Was is likely is that GT will be better in year two of a new system than year one. It is true of most anyone and has been true for Paul Johnson in the past.

Mark Bradley

August 26th, 2009
10:47 am

The first list, EW, presented five bogus reasons Tech will flop. Meaning: None of those were actual reasons, IMHO.

Hey Dogtards

August 26th, 2009
10:47 am

“Four games that just be some essentials could have defeated Tech last year. ”

Not really in English but I think I get what you mean. If you are going to play the what if game four times, surely you can play it once going the other way. What if there wasn’t the phantom helmet-to-helmet call at the end of the VT game? Tech wins that one, finishes the regular season 10-2. Probably beats a BC team it already beat much earlier in the season (before the new offensive system set in), and maybe beats Cincy in the OB instead of getting crushed by LSU. That would be a 12-2 season, just as easy (if not much easier) than your 5-7 call. Indeed, your 5-7 directly contradicts actual physical events that occurred on the field (UGA/Miami tackling, FSU holding on to the ball, Clemson not throwing a pick, Gardner Webb making a field goal). Mine is based on a judgment call (deciding to call a helmet-to-helmet penalty on an event that even most VT fans admit did not occur), a result that already happened (beating BC), and beating a team that – unlike LSU – was not foaming at the mouth to save a failure of a season.

[...] Tech fans. That’s the good news. The bad news comes with our companion list: 5 legit reasons Georgia Tech could disappoint in 2009. And then, later today, defensive end Derrick Morgan tells us why the Jackets are the real [...]

Burdell

August 26th, 2009
10:51 am

I think as long as we have Jaybo back before the FSU game we should be okay. What makes me a little nervous are the 11 straight weeks of football before the bye week. The bye week came at a great time last year. Although having the bye week before the UGA game can’t hurt.

Paddy

August 26th, 2009
10:53 am

Mac, I agree. You could have added “that fla coach” also. As much as I hate to admit it.

MT

August 26th, 2009
10:54 am

gee dawg pound you could say the same thing about uga versus kentucky, vandy auburn and usc. you should have lost ky.

snapshot

August 26th, 2009
10:54 am

Hmmmmm, lets see, the mutts were pre-season #1 last year. What were the five reasons that disappoint. #1 45-42, #2 the dog did not hunt, #3 what the heck happened?, #4 cheerleaders did not do their job, #5 lost to the Gators again. I am glad they are ranked ahead of Tech again this year. Makes me feel proud.
Go Jackets!!!!!!

JB

August 26th, 2009
10:57 am

1. could run of of pizza with pent up demand for Tech tickets
2. rambling wreck may not start.
3. Paul Johnson can’t find khaki’s that fit, continues to wear PJ’s on sidelines.
4. Muslim night a big flop due to Old Hickory House as sponsor.
5. Finds out Reggie Ball has one year of Eligibility left.

NOW THESE ARE FIVE THINGS THAT COULD REALLY MESS TECH UP.

matt r

August 26th, 2009
10:57 am

Interesting tone to #5 and this is similar to something I’ve thought about… I worry that CPJ will get a little more criticism when things start going wrong than other coaches. If we de-gress for one or two years people will be quick to blame the system and want to ditch it to play copycat like everyone else. Unless of course he leads us to multiple division titles and a couple of conference titles and beyond… then their will be a little more patience.

SimpleDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:57 am

Reasons for Disappointment in Tech’s OZ:

1. Defenses will make Nesbit keep the ball. Last year UGA forced the pitch; bad move. There’s less pursuit outside than inside, and Nesbit was dinged up. More teams will figure that out.

2. Poor special teams spell disaster. Va. Tech has parlayed great special team play into success with a bunch of thugs and morons.

3. Over-confidence and arrogance = Paul Johnson = Trap Games. PJ will snap if his scheme is questioned or criticized. Let Tech lose a few games and watch the fireworks….it’ll be more fun than watching Jim Donnan explode on callers, fans, and journalists.

4. If the offense isn’t prolific, then the defense will have to play too much to hide their weaknesses. Tech will lose high scoring games this year.

5. The inability to pass effectively will be an albatross around the Tech offense. Nesbit isn’t a college passer….high school success doesn’t always translate to college success – especially in Nesbit’s case.

What will Tech do with all of those leftover complimentary hot dogs and cokes?

David Granger

August 26th, 2009
10:57 am

Can’t really argue with anything you say, Mark. But I do think that Paul Johnson is a good coach, and that…year-in and year-out…he’ll have about as good a team at GT as anyone can.
The offense he uses is hard to defend against, especially when it’s run by smart kids who believe in it. You won’t get the four and five star recruits very often. The top-rated QB’s and WR’s want to go to a school that passes a lot, and the top-rated RB’s want to go to a school that runs the I-formation so they can carry the ball 35 times a game. But you get those gritty kids…who sometimes have a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t recruited by the big powerhouse schools…and they can be hard to beat. Bleed red and black Dawg fan here, but I think the UGA-GT game is going to be a good one in the coming years.

KINGDAWG

August 26th, 2009
11:00 am

Computer Nut..Do you honestly think playing quarterback at Ga. Southern and Navy compare to being a quarterback at tech. Go back to your computer and leave the sports knowledge to the adults.

Native Atlantan

August 26th, 2009
11:04 am

One of the main reasons for Tech possibly not meeting expectations is the league is pretty good. There are several games on the ACC schedule that will be tough and possible losses.

I don’t think Vanderbilt will be that much of a problem for Tech since the Commodores really put everything they’ve got into SEC games and are flat for non conference games. They will play a good conference game and then lose to Middle Tenn St the next week. I’m curious how the game in Starkville will go, but MSU will be in a transition year with a first year coach.

Another variable is GT will have a target on their shirt…this hasn’t been the case too often so we’ll see how they react to it.

I think this team will be in some good games and some entertaining ones to watch.

rightofcenter

August 26th, 2009
11:05 am

The headline includes the word “might”. In light of that, I would agree strongly with the first three, somewhat with the 4th, not so concerned with the 5th. We definitely are a stronger team with Shaw than without. Washington may be better, who knows, but he certainly doesn’t have Shaw’s experience. Our special teams weren’t special last year – they must improve (which the coaches understand, of course). Miss St and Vandy on the road are definitely trap games – both have smaller stadiums and empty seats – and we can sometimes come out uninspired in such settings (at least in the past – perhaps CPJ has changed that tendency). To be as good as predicted, Nesbitt will have to pass more efficiently – but I think he will. I have confidence CPJ can weather any setbacks we have – he has been coaching a long time and has inevitably been through a few disappointments.

ComputerNut

August 26th, 2009
11:05 am

It’s nice to see more football talk and less elementary school antics. Let’s keep it up.

Sour Grapes

August 26th, 2009
11:05 am

Maybe one day the Yellow Jackets will not have to advertise their season tickets in the AJC! 10 days before kickoff and you guys haven’t sold all your season tickets? Embarassing.

Atlanta Sports Native

August 26th, 2009
11:07 am

Paul Johnson = Jim Donnan at GT

KINGDAWG

August 26th, 2009
11:13 am

The truth shall set you free.

Burdell

August 26th, 2009
11:16 am

ASN–

Thanks for the laugh!!

Who Cares

August 26th, 2009
11:16 am

GT will never get over it’s inferior little brother complex towards UGA. One of Eight years is herrendous and you still rate the success of your season to defeating UGA…I feel sorry for the Nerds.

razerGT

August 26th, 2009
11:24 am

I think reasons 1-3 are legit concerns, but not #4 or #5. Nesbitt was a passing QB in high school, he’s now in a system that focuses much more on the run, and our WR core is a bit deeper than it was last year. I believe his completion stats will improve. As for #5, well, PJ has been around the block a few times. If Tech loses a trap game, the only people getting an earful will be the players.

Volman

August 26th, 2009
11:26 am

Mr. Bradley, you posted the other day on why the “dawgs” would be okay this year. Now you post the five reasons Tech will fail? Come on now.

Seriously. At aleast write a Hawks blog to make me happy or something. Sheesh.

jfreak13713

August 26th, 2009
11:27 am

For all you Bulldog fans here let me remind you that Tech has won a National Championship since your team has so let’s not to TOO crazy in here!

Tech should have a good season and by that I mean they should compete every week and finish in the top 15 with a nice bowl bid. Are they a BCS type team probably not unless they overcome some of the obvious issues they have. However, I think it’s possible they win the ACC and get a BCS bid. What I feel like is certain is they will finish ahead of Georgia in the standings this year. Not because they are better but maybe because Georgia will be a little down this year and plays in a much harder confernce.

Go Jackets!

BLAZER

August 26th, 2009
11:28 am

Enter your comments here

ugafan

August 26th, 2009
11:28 am

There is no MIGHT tech will dissapoint!!!!!!!!

BLAZER

August 26th, 2009
11:28 am

IT IS STILL 45-42 ALL YEAR LONG AND PJ IS NOT SLEEPY HEAD DONNAN.

oledawg

August 26th, 2009
11:32 am

If you’re a high school player that knows he’s going to play in college, but has dreams of playing in the NFL, why would you want to play in a high school offense, that does nothing to prepare you for the pros? The poundings that the QB and running backs take, have to shorten any pro career. Just ask Campbell from Texas. If I’m playing high school football, then I’d want a pro type offense. Rarely does any “wishbone” QB make it in the pros. This will hurt Tech in recruiting.I don’t want my son to play that offense.

cjjacket

August 26th, 2009
11:33 am

UGA fans, you can say whatever you want but the FACT remains 45-42. There is nothing you can do about it until we play again. I don’t care about 1 for 8, series records or projections. 45-42 the last time we played and that is all that matters.

BankerDawg

August 26th, 2009
11:36 am

I would think points 1 and 2 are legit as they are more based in personnel than “gut feelings”, emotions, etc.

The fact is, if Nesbit goes down, Tech will be in trouble, at least initially, with Tevin Washington. Further, regarding special teams, you guys better hope that splitting the kicking duties will do Scott Blair some good, because last year was pretty much a disaster.

Points 3 and 4 are possible, although I don’t think very probable. I don’t believe CPJ will even admit that trap games even exist, much less let his team let down (I am writing off GW as a complete aberration last year-just a strange, strange game). Nesbit will be much improved, perhaps not so much percentage wise, but certainly in his efficiency.

Point 5 is hilarious imho.

Paul Johnson has been doing this for 25 years and you think he will have rabbit ears to fans or media telling him his system may be the problem?

Good luck with that.

Looking forward to the season coming up!

GOOOOOOO DAWGS!

the truth...

August 26th, 2009
11:39 am

Your alway come up with a negative don’t you? You’re just a hack reporter…Paul Johnson is a real live football coach…bets here are that he is the winner….and where does that leave you?

Demosthenes

August 26th, 2009
11:45 am

GT will be better on offense than it was last year, you’d have to be a fool to think otherwise; likewise, the defenses that played that offense last year will be better at defending it this year (again, only a fool would think otherwise). GT has a solid offense, and decent defense. The offense will win games it isn’t supposed to, though the defense will likely lose one for them. Their special teams are atrocious, and will likely cost them a game (at least). No way they beat UGA again this year; for the first time in years, UGA cares about the game, and the talent gap is still too wide between the programs. It’ll be a good game, but the Dawgs are just too strong to lose twice in a row to an inferior team (not a shot at a quality GT program, just the truth). I still think GT goes 9-3 and lands in the Gator Bowl, but may surprise me with a better record and a conference championship. I think the Jackets have a much better chance at a BCS bowl than the Dawgs, who should finish with an identical record, probably playing in the Outback or Peach Bowl.

Jared

August 26th, 2009
11:47 am

#’s 2, 4 and 5 are all good questions that we, as Tech fans, have been asking ourselves since the end of last season.

we can only hope that the Tech staff has been diligent in the offseason to make these areas a priority. my guess is that they probably have, knowing CPJ’s perfectionist nature.

as for nesbitt’s passing, the team could only work on so much in the spring and fall. the OL was as much to blame for nesbitt’s erratic passing as nesbitt himself.

CPJ only gets snappy when media asks stupid questions. Even really good offensive teams lose games. It does not mean that their system does not work. If somenoe had asked Urban Meyer if, after his team lost to Ole Miss last year, he was worried that everybody would now know how to defend his spread, he would have scoffed at them, as well.

special teams and turnovers were my biggest concerns in the offseason. i think st’s will get better, especially the return game, with tarrant. kickers need to step up.

last year it seemed to me most of the fumbles were not during the mesh or on pitches, but when guys were just running with the ball carelessly. seemed not as much a “system” problem as a “player” problem. that needs to be repaired.