It was a nice rebound season for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, it just took a while to turn out that way. Three seasons ago Tech won the Coastal Division with an Orange Bowl victory capping off an 11-win season. Injuries and attrition played a role in Tech’s disappointing 3-win 2015 season, but the roster loaded with youngsters, matured into a division contender last season when Tech won nine games. Many of those players return to try and end the cycle, but Tech needs a quarterback to engineer the triple-option offense.
2016 Record: 9-4 SU, 7-4-1 ATS, 6-5 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 6.5
National Championship Odds: +22500
Odds To Win ACC: +3500
The Jackets matched their season win total from 2015 in their first three games of the year, which was the start Paul Johnson was looking for from his inexperienced group. It didn’t matter that the victories came against mediocre Boston College and Vanderbilt and an overmatched Mercer club, a win is still a win.
And in typical Johnson fashion, the Jackets won by running the football. They weren’t as efficient in the option as they have been in years past, but Tech averaged 258 yards per game on the ground to rank ninth in the country. Seven different players ran for at least 154 yards with Dedrick Mills leading the pack with 771. The carries and the yards were spread around equally.
Losses to Pitt, Miami and Clemson evened Tech’s record until the team started to come together. They won six of their final seven games, knocked off Coastal champ Virginia Tech and beat Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl to finish 9-4. The Jackets went a perfect 5-0 outside the ACC and they owned the SEC East with three victories. There were ups and downs, but that was to be expected from a team that had a bunch of underclassmen.
All the young players got to play quite a bit in 2016 and that will only help for the new season. However, the one position that needs to be settled is the most important in the option attack. With three-year starter Justin Thomas gone, the Jackets are in need of a quarterback who can run the option. It’s not an enticing position given the pass-happy offenses in college football, but Johnson has several options to choose from.
Matthew Jordan is the likely successor after taking a few snaps last season. Jordan was the backup and saw action in short-yardage situations. He filled in for an injured Thomas and led the Jackets to an upset of Virginia Tech by running for 121 yards and two touchdowns. TaQuon Marshall is also in the mix. He’s more skilled at running the football and will likely get time behind center even if he doesn’t start. The rest of the offense is loaded with experienced players. Mills is back after leading the team in rushing and Qua Searcy made a strong push at the end of 2016.
There are as many as eight returning starters on defense, which bodes well for slowing down opponents. However, the line is a mystery with no real stalwarts in the trenches. The strides made in 2016 will continue if the quarterback situation works itself out and the D finds some playmakers. The Jackets have the talent to compete in a division that’s up for grabs, or they could be fighting for bowl eligibility.
Week 1: Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee, Monday, September 4 (Atlanta, GA)
Week 2: Georgia Tech vs. Jacksonville State, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Georgia Tech at Central Florida, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: OFF
Week 7: Georgia Tech at Miami (FL), Thursday, October 12
Week 8: Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Georgia Tech at Clemson, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Georgia Tech at Virginia, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: Georgia Tech at Duke, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Georgia Tech vs. Georgia, Saturday, November 25
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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