ACC 2012 Season Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Much of Georgia Tech’s Success in 2012 Will Rely on Tevin Washington’s Progress as a Passer

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2011 W-L: 8-5 (5-3)

Head Coach: Paul Johnson (33-19; four seasons)

Returning Starters: 13 (7 Offense, 6 Defense)

Through six games, the 2011 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were an absolutely terrifying opponent. They won their first six, mostly in resounding fashion, and climbed all the way up to the number-13 ranking in the country. They throttled Kansas so badly that they even made a t-shirt just to commemorate the occasion. But by their fifth win to start the year, you knew something was up. On October 1, they only beat a then-mediocre NC State team by 10. The next week, they battled a terrible Maryland team to a 21-16 victory — a crime for a team that had come into that contest averaging about 48 points per game. And we’re all pretty familiar with what came next. Bye weeks started giving teams ample time to prepare for the triple-option, and Tech started losing. After starting so hot, they’d drop five of their final seven and that hot start and the t-shirts were just a distant memory.

On offense, everything for Paul Johnson’s team is simple: just run the triple-option. Every play. With little variation. Oh, they had a star receiver in Stephen Hill, but unfortunately, they rarely threw to him — which ended up becoming the team’s biggest issue. When looking back at Paul Johnson’s most successful Tech teams (specifically the ’09 ACC Championship squad), you see teams that are lethal running the ball, while competent passing when called upon. That element of surprise keeps defenses off-balance and it’s how the triple-option works most effectively. Unfortunately, that’s not how current starter Tevin Washington runs the triple-option.

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Conference Realignment: Which Side of the Argument Is Each Big 12 School On?

While It May Be Apparent How Texas Would Proceed, Where Does the Rest of the Big 12 Stand on Conference Realignment?

News yesterday was that the Big 12 was “content” with 10 members, maintaining its current alignment, with no championship game and a nice sum of money for everybody involved. But of course, there are all of those pesky rumors that this could all change once the playoff landscape is decided upon by June 30 of this year. On top of that, some schools are coming out in favor of a playoff, while others are against.

We’ll be taking a look at each of the Big 12’s 10 schools below, and evaluating where they sit right now: either for or against expanding the league by at least two members. About a week and a half ago, there were five pushing for it in some way, four on the fence and one flat-out no. But now? Let’s dive in…

Baylor: After pushing to keep the Big 12 together, it appears that it’s “mission accomplished.” But after one of the program’s most successful seasons in recent (or distant) memory, does expansion suit them or not? In a north/south divisional split, they’re unlikely to contend with OU or Texas, but a 10-team setup gives them zero chance to win the league but be its top seed. They go with the odds. Pick: Pro-Expansion

Iowa State: Another team whose best interest is to see a healthy Big 12, with teams contending for the national title. Have the Cyclones ruled out any chance they’d be able to win the league, though? AD Jamie Pollard says he’d rather see a true league champion contend than a 7-5 team steal a title and a shot at the crystal football. Given that ISU’s best bet is being that 7-5 team, I think we know where they’re at. Pick: Anti-Expansion Continue reading

Conference Realignment: A Clemson Fan’s Rant

Should Clemson Leave the ACC for the Big 12? One Tigers Fan is Unsure

Rumors of the imminent departure of Florida State and Clemson for the Big 12 have reached a fever pitch in the last few days, and this embarrassed Clemson fan will admit to Googling “Clemson Big 12″ every hour to check the latest message board rumors or statements by university officials taken out of context. While it seems unlikely that anything will happen until late June, when the playoff format has been decided, new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has taken office, and West Virginia and TCU get full voting rights, Tiger fans all over the country have been salivating over the chance to join the “big boys” and leave the ACC behind.

Clemson has had a love-hate relationship with the ACC since its foundation. Although the Tigers were a charter member, they’ve always felt out of place in a basketball league. By most standards, Clemson would fit better in the SEC than the ACC. But association with prestigious schools like Georgia Tech, Duke, and North Carolina is a boon to the university’s continuing quest to become a top-20 public school, the primary goal of president Jim Barker’s tenure. Continue reading

Conference Realignment: What If the SEC Split Up?

What if the SEC Decided to Split Into Two Separate Conferences?

Two posts today got me thinking about some hypothetical future — but not implausible — conference realignment scenarios. The first, an overly nostalgic and naive piece from ESPN, explains that the ACC (of all places) holds the keys to realigning things just so Kansas and Missouri can be together. Sure, I suppose. But that sort of pipe dream requires a lot of moving parts. Further, if we’re just being honest here, since when has KU-MU been the glue that kept the Big 8/Big 12 together on the gridiron? Beyond that magical 2007 Jayhawks season, the two have rarely had any bearing on the conference’s ultimate champion and the rivalry could simply continue as a non-league affair.

The second piece is where this hypothetical scenario stems from, however. SBNation’s Jason Kirk sarcastically floats the following quote:

“If part of the SEC secedes from the SEC, would that be the most SEC thing to ever happen?”

Of course he’s not being serious, but he’s also right. If any league were to pull something like this (besides the Big East basketball schools, of course), it would be the SEC and all of its valuable pride it seems to throw in our faces on a regular basis. No disrespect to the best football conference in America (no argument from me on that point), but extended periods of good feelings usually bring about mistakes, unrest and the eventual formation of factions focusing on rather unimportant details (read into that as a political statement all you want). Their arguments over a nine-game slate and protected rivalries are just the sort of foolish thing that starts the ball rolling on dissatisfaction amongst the league’s members. And all it may take is one of its larger players to make a drastic move.

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2011 ACC Season Recap: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

In 2011, Tevin Washington Proved He Can Be the Engine That Runs Georgia Tech's Offense

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

W-L: 8-5 (5-3)

Postseason: 30-27 Sun Bowl loss to Utah

Top Offensive Performer: Tevin Washington, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Julian Burnett, LB

During a season that started in stunning, impressive fashion, it’s amazing that everything would end in so much disappointment for the Yellow Jackets in 2011. Starting out 6-0, the triple-option was firing on all cylinders early on and Tevin Washington looked as if he was born to run this offense. Looking back, however, the wheels started coming off after a huge week-three win over Kansas, and an ill-fated t-shirt to commemorate the beating. Lost in the 178 points they totaled through those first three contests was how unimpressive the defense was, and how truly awful their opponents were (just three wins between them versus FBS competition). Add to that the fact that the Wreck’s offense, though the second-best running attack in the country, was also among the most one-dimensional, and the recipe for disaster was written well in advance. Seven games after their undefeated start, Tech limped to a 2-5 finish including their blown 14-point fourth-quarter lead in the Sun Bowl.

On the defensive end, appearances say that Georgia Tech (which allowed 26.1 points per game) were marginal at best, and were mostly bailed out by a prolific offense. Much of this is true, but it short-sells the Yellow Jackets’ strong pass defense, ranked second in the ACC in terms of average yardage per game (197.6). On the ground, Tech was a middle-of-the-road squad in terms of yards, yet allowed 19 scores on the ground. When added to the 23 passing touchdowns against them (again, among the worst in the conference), there’s a simple explanation for how everything devolved so quickly. The only games they held their opponents to less than 20 points? A close win over lowly Maryland and an expertly designed scheme against Clemson. Continue reading

Hyundai Sun Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech vs. Utah

The 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl Pits Utah Versus Georgia Tech

The 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl matches two teams moving in completely opposite directions. After starting out 6-0, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets stumbled to just two wins in their final six games. The Utah Utes, on the other hand, were in contention for a Pac-12 South title until the final week of the season, and won four of their final five games. Which trend will continue? We discuss.

Bowl Game: (Hyundai) Sun Bowl

Location: El Paso, Tex.

First Year: 1935

2011 Participants: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4) vs. Utah Utes (7-5)

Last Meeting: 2005, a 38-10 Emerald Bowl win by Utah


Georgia Tech (previous bowl game: 14-7 loss to Air Force in 2010 Independence Bowl)

As mentioned above, the Yellow Jackets came out of the gates on fire in 2011, with their dominant rushing attack leading them to a 6-0 start and a number-12 national ranking. Suddenly after that though, QB Tevin Washington‘s level of play decreased and the defense’s inefficiencies were regularly exploited against better competition. Still, on the positive side, Tech’s offense was still top-20 in the nation (35.5 points per game), and the running game finished third, with nearly 317 yards per contest. While it’s a tough attack to stop, there isn’t a passing game in sight, which could be inhibiting against a tenacious Utes defense.

Utah (previous bowl game: 26-3 loss to Boise State in 2010 MAACO Bowl)

While consistently shaky in Pac-12 games, the Utes stayed in the South division race until the final week due to USC‘s postseason ban. Unlike the Urban Meyer heydays (and even recent teams), the offense was mostly uninspiring — their 25.5 points per game (78th overall in the FBS) gets a big bump from a huge 54-point showing versus BYU and a very week schedule top-to-bottom. At the same time, that didn’t much matter. Giving up just 19.7 points per game this season, the Utes’ D was one of the program’s most impressive in years. Only half of the teams they faced even managed to top 20 points in a game, and four of their opponents were held to 10 points or less. Needless to say, this unit’s good, and makes Tech’s job a lot more difficult in terms of their game plan.


As you might have guessed from the assessments above, Georgia Tech’s one-dimensional offense will have its work cut out for it versus Utah. My usual opinion on one-dimensional attacks is that they’re stopped short once faced with a superior defense, and that’s exactly the matchup we’ve got here. The ‘Wreck’s played well against inferior opponents, racking up most of their wins against poor run defenses (Clemson) and flat-out poor teams (Maryland, Kansas), and sadly for them, the Utes qualify as neither. Chances are, unless Washington’s willing to throw the ball, Tech’s in for a rude awakening. Prediction: Utah 26, Georgia Tech 20

ACC Power Rankings, Week 9

Are the Wheels Coming off the Wagon at Georgia Tech?

In these conference rankings, I list the ACC teams, one through 14, as if Pitt and Syracuse were already in the league. Yes, adding the additional teams may seem pointless now, but wait until they officially join. Then it’ll seem like old news and we can get past that initial awkwardness. No, I won’t reconsider. On to this week’s rankings!

1. Clemson Tigers (8-0) (5-0) (LW: 1): Bouncing back from an effort versus Maryland that was equal parts impressive and concerning, Clemson never took their foot off the gas on Saturday, en route to a 21-point victory versus UNC that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. The Tar Heels looked horrendous on both sides of the ball and if not for some garbage time points, would’ve been laughed off the field.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1) (3-1) (LW: 2): Due to Georgia Tech‘s recent collapse, the Hokies now have the inside track to win the ACC’s Coastal Division. While there are no guarantees there, it’s a nice position to be in halfway through league play. Perils await though, specifically since Virginia Tech has a well-chronicled inability to get up for big games. If teams keep losing though, may not be anymore of those left on the schedule.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (4-3) (2-2) (LW: 5):Miami has been able to leapfrog from bottom-third to top-quarter of these rankings over the past few weeks due to a penchant for forcing turnovers and exposing the respective weaknesses of their league opponents. There’s not a game left this team can’t conceivably win. And while a division title’s probably out of the question (VPI would need to lose twice), there’s nothing wrong with going 9-3.

4. Florida State Seminoles (4-3) (2-2)) (LW: 6): They’re not out of the woods yet, nor are they out from under expectations that originally placed them among the nation’s top five teams. Still, given the disaster this Seminoles season has had the potential to turn into, you have to like the team’s 4-3 record with at least three wins left on the slate. As is usually the case, everything will come down to whether they can beat in-state rivals Miami and Florida.

5. Syracuse Orange (5-2) (1-0) (LW: 8): Recording its first win over a top-15 program since 2002, Syracuse did tons to help its resume in a 49-23 romp over West Virginia. Executing flawlessly on offense and putting the type of pressure on quarterback Geno Smith that only LSU has really been able to deliver, the Orange are suddenly a contender in the Big East.

6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-2) (4-1) (LW: 7): No, last week’s win versus Duke was not of the impressive variety, failing to ever truly put away the Blue Devils in a one-point victory. Still, Wake Forest sits at 5-2 through seven games — within one win of bowl eligibility and just a game out of first in the Atlantic Division. So what happens next? The Demon Deacons have struggled for offensive consistency these past few weeks, so it’s a great place to go back to the drawing board.

7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-2) (3-2) (LW: 3): Georgia Tech’s offense is a shadow of its former self, failing to score more than 21 points in three straight games now. That’s what happens when you’re extremely one-dimensional however. Once you’re figured out, you don’t stand a chance. Ask Navy how that run-exclusive attack is going right now (2-5 record right now). Maybe the Yellow Jackets rethink commemorative tees for blowout victories versus Kansas next time, too.

8. North Carolina Tar Heels (5-3) (1-3) (LW: 4): As always, the Tar Heels struggle against ACC competition, and now sit at a paltry 1-3 against conference foes. After several bystanders (guilty) bought in to the team, we’re now all left wondering what we believed in the first place. Besides an opening weekend FCS romp, the Heels have been less-than-impressive in victory, while increasingly futile in defeat. Future opponents Wake Forest and Virginia Tech aren’t likely to help right the sinking ship either.

9. NC State Wolfpack (4-3) (1-2) (LW: 13): I’ll eat my words leaving the Woflpack up for dead. No, the Virginia Cavaliers aren’t worldbeaters, but at the same time, defeating a fellow conference middling and notching your first notable win all season surely counts for something. Still in need of three wins for bowl eligibility (two of their current Ws are against FCS competition), it’s hard to see them in the postseason, but never say never.

10. Virginia Cavaliers (4-3) (1-2) (LW: 9): The story of this season is still untold for the Cavaliers. After supposedly pulling off a signature victory against Georgia Tech, the team lost to NC State and now has to watch the Yellow Jackets’ freefall continue as well. So which team are they? The apparent defensive powerhouse that shutdown Tech or the offensive joke that couldn’t even hit the 20s on the Wolfpack? To me, the Cavs have 6-6 written all over them.

11. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-4) (0-0) (LW: 11): The problems are going to continue for Pittsburgh, as their key win (versus USF) now means very little and they’re running out of winnable games. In all honesty though, can they win another game on this year’s schedule? Every Big East team has proven themselves formidable at one points or another, making the Panthers’ road to a postseason bowl very much in doubt.

12. Duke Blue Devils (3-4) (1-2) (LW: 12): Not a bad effort by Duke as they managed to keep Wake Forest off-balance all game Saturday and almost pulled off the upset. In the last two games alone, the Blue Devils have made FSU look phenomenal and Wake look pedestrian. Both can’t really be true, so which is the anomaly? We may have to wait for a November 12 matchup with Virginia for a final verdict.

12. Maryland Terrapins (2-5) (1-3) (LW: 10): So much for getting excited about the C.J. Brown era. After exciting fans into thinking he could lead Maryland to a new brand of high-octane football, the young quarterback pulled up a dud against the Seminoles on Saturday. While he gets a learning curve, we can’t necessarily afford one to his coach as well, though. Randy Edsall was supposed to improve upon the Terps’ 8-4 regular season, but now find themselves on the brink of irrelevance and a losing campaign. Prior to Maryland, Edsall coached Connecticut into relevant and a BCS game last year.

14. Boston College Eagles (1-6) (0-4) (LW: 14): Irrelevant and completely unwatchable for the first time in recent memory, the Eagles will be getting a new coach this offseason and a hopeful housecleaning to go with it. Fundamentally, the program’s current crop of players lacks the necessary skill set on offense to compete with the speed of Clemson, Virginia Tech, et al — a problem that can’t continue if BC hopes to remain a factor in the ACC.