Sunday, August 24, 2014

Predictions: Georgia Tech

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be improved this year, particularly on defense and in the offensive backfield. The loss of RB Robert Godhigh was bigger than the loss of QB Vad Lee. Speedy sophomore QB Justin Thomas is experienced at running the triple option, and will give ACC defenses more fits than Lee, Tevin, or even Nesbitt ever did. Led by senior Zach Laskey, this year’s unheralded crop of running backs will be more productive than those the past two years. Even special teams play should improve, with an experienced kicker and punter returning.

Tech could finish the regular season with as many as ten wins or as few as six. They won’t beat Miami or Georgia, and will most probably fall to Clemson – though the Tigers think Grant Field has a hex on them. Games at Blacksburg, Chapel Hill, and Heinz Field are all winnable, but the Jackets can’t go into these games with too much confidence. Likewise Tech can’t overlook the weaker teams: underdogs Tulane, Georgia Southern, Duke, Virginia, and NC State aren’t going to roll over. I’m going out on a weak limb and predicting Tech will only lose one game that should be won.   

Wofford (5-6) Southern Conference, Aug 30: WIN (1-0) A lock – no way Tech loses this game. Not that beating Wofford means anything.

At Tulane (7-6) Conference USA, Sept 6: WIN (2-0) Not as easy a win on the road, but the Green Wave won’t be able to stop the option.

Georgia Southern (7-4) Southern Conference, Sept 13: WIN (3-0). Another tough game - the Eagles will know how to defend the option better than anyone on Tech’s schedule. A close win for Tech.

At Virginia Tech (8-5) ACC, Sept 20: WIN (4-0). GT will have to play perfect football to beat VT on the road. The Hokies have been down the past few years, and the Jackets have the talent to win this game. They just might not know it. Could go either way.

Miami (9-4) ACC, Oct 4: LOSE (4-1). Tech could win this game, but Miami’s bigger, quicker athletes on both sides of the ball will be the difference. Last year Tech played poorly and still kept it close. But coming into the game ranked for the first time in several years (even though only #24), Tech’s big head gets in the way.

Duke (10-4) ACC, Oct 11: WIN (5-1). Last year Duke won the division, but didn’t beat Tech. This year Duke won’t be as good, and Tech wins again.

At North Carolina (7-6) ACC, Oct 18: WIN (6-1). Tech usually beats UNC as well. The Jackets will be ranked and have the big head, but they can still win this road game. A narrow victory.

At Pittsburgh (7-6) ACC, Oct 25: LOSE (6-2). The Jackets finally lose a winnable game.

Virginia (2-10) ACC, Nov 1: WIN (7-2). Though the Jackets struggled last year in Charlottesville, this year they easily take care of the Cavaliers in the friendly confines.

At NC State (2-10) ACC, Nov 8: WIN (8-2). Another Tech win, though the Wolfpack will put up a fight.

Clemson (11-2) ACC, Nov 15: LOSE (8-3). Tech comes into this game ranked higher than they have in years. Surely players will be strutting. Then the Tigers will easily drive down the field on their first possession and score an easy touchdown. Down seven, Tech players will be in shock. The Jackets will not have faced as talented a team since Miami, and it will show. Still, Tech could play their best game, keep it close, catch a break, and win the game. But I doubt it will happen. Tip: never strut.

At Georgia (8-5) SEC, Nov 23: LOSE (8-4). Before the game Tech fans will predict a blowout for the Jackets. Not gonna happen. As usual, the Dawgs win easily. The talent differential has not drawn closer.

Should the Jackets win their division, they would lose to FSU in the ACC Championship Game – big. But perhaps this year they’ll actually win their bowl game.

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