Georgia Tech lost five of its final six games in 2010, the win coming against Duke. That saddled Paul Johnson with only the second losing season of his distinguished career. (The first came in Year 1 at Navy.) Paul Johnson hates many things, but he hates losing most of all.
By the end of 2011, he’ll be a winner again.
Tech had a bad schedule last season. It has a good one upcoming. The Jackets should be 3-0 — their first three games are against Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Kansas — when they face North Carolina here Sept. 24, and Butch Davis’ program is no longer seen as a rising star.
October brings five games, three on the road. But two of the games are against Maryland and Miami, each of which has a new coach, and another is against Virginia, which just went 4-8. And Clemson, for all its recruiting success, must play at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Oct. 29, and Clemson wound up 6-7 in 2010, same as Tech.
Then November: Virginia Tech at BDS on a Thursday night (tough game, but better here than there); Duke at Duke (gimme road win) and Georgia here (tough game, but the Bulldogs are in the same shape as Clemson — big recruiting hype but tons to prove).
Doubtless you’ve noticed this: Georgia Tech doesn’t play Florida State, which will enter the season as the massive ACC favorite. The most difficult road game will be at North Carolina State on Oct. 1; the other four — at Middle, at Miami, at Virginia, at Duke — are negotiable.
Really early bottom line: It should be a get-well season for the Jackets. There might not be an ACC championship or even a Coastal Division title on that schedule, but there are eight victories therein. That’s provided PJ coaches ‘em up. I know he can, and I’m thinking he will.
By Mark Bradley