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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Rising Star: Georgia Tech WR Jeff Greene

With Star Wideout Stephen Hill Off to the NFL, Can Jeff Greene Be Georgia Tech’s Next Standout Receiver?

Georgia Tech has managed to produce a nice string of NFL wide receivers in recent years; a list that includes current and future excellent pros such as Calvin Johnson, Demarius Thomas and Stephen Hill. All have been a similar breed of athlete — tall, lean, and exceptionally quick for their size.

After the latest Tech receiver, Hill, was drafted by the New York Jets this April, the stage is now set for the program’s next great pass-catcher: Jeff Greene. Greene, a rising sophomore from Peachtree City Ga., fits a similar build to his predecessors — 6’4″, 200 pounds, and all with a 40-time clocked at 4.6 seconds. No, he may not be as fast as Hill (who was freakishly fast at 4.36 seconds), but he certainly fits the mold of Georgia Tech’s big and fast WRs.  Greene’s competition to be QB Tevin Washington‘s number-one target will be redshirt senior Chris Jackson. Even with a senior (Jackson) in the race, head coach Paul Johnson has still admitted that he has high hopes for Greene to take the starting job. “Jeff in particular is a guy that I’m going to get on because he’s got ability … He needs to separate himself,” said Johnson during spring practices. Continue reading

ACC Football Standout Senior 2012: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington Must Improve His Accuracy If the Offense Is Expected to Succeed in 2012

While we won’t be naive (and/or like Rick Reilly/Peter King/insert-your-own-cliched-columnist) and claim there’s some sort of pristine or pure honor in playing out your four years that other players just don’t get to experience, we’d still like to point out the senior players that are likely to stand out in 2012. These players have put in the time during their college careers, and now serve as the cornerstones of their respective teams’ potential success this season.

We’ll be going team-by-team to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his team, and why. Have a different thought on the matter? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

During their 6-0 start last year, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets managed to throw the ball with at least some proficiency, even as their run-game racked up the large majority of the yards. The wheels, of course, fell off as they matched up with teams more capable of putting a stop to their one-dimensional attack. For better or for worse, the onus to fix that problem fell, and still falls, on senior quarterback Tevin Washington. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, David Wilson, Andre Branch Among 31 ACC Players Selected

Luke Kuechly Headlines a Long List of ACC Football Players Drafted By NFL Teams This Weekend

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the books, after 253 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 33, if you include the two draftees from Syracuse (for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just the SEC and Big Ten in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full roster of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 ACC Prospects

On the Day Before the NFL Draft, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly Looks Like He’ll Be the ACC’s First Selection

Over the last few weeks, we took a look at the ACC players that would find themselves selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday, April 26. And now, that day is nearly here, and we can finally end the charade of these athletes not getting paid to do what they do (only half-joking)…

If you’d like to take a more thorough look at how each of these prospects stack up, feel free to glance over all 14 teams’ draft preview posts, which you’ll find links to in the series’ final post for Wake Forest. As for this post, however, we’ll be listing the top 10 prospects, with a quick note on their skill set, and where they could possibly end up. Feel free to disagree with these, of course, since no one actually talks about when projecting out the NFL Draft.

Top 10 ACC Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (Projected Round: 1)

As the top linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft class, Kuechly could go to a myriad of teams, depending on need, but consensus says he’s a surefire top-10 selection. With this in mind, his most likely destinations (barring trades) are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or Carolina Panthers.

2. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (Projected Round: 1)

The New York Giants have proven continuously that a consistent pass rush can lead teams single-handedly to the Super Bowl — a strategy that will benefit players like Coples this year, who know how to get after the quarterback. Nearly every team in the middle of the first round could use him, but odds are on the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals or San Diego Chargers. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill Has Impressed NFL Scouts Enough to Be Considered a Possible First-Round Selection

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.

Georgia Tech keeps most of its squad intact from 2011, but loses one of its key players, wide receiver Stephen Hill, who declared early for the draft. Of the six (seven if you count the career-ending injury to LB Julian Burnett) departing starters from last year’s team, Hill is the only player with a true shot to be selected by an NFL team.

Stephen Hill, WR, Junior

Hill’s proven to be a highly-effective cog in the Georgia Tech passing game, despite how little the team throws the ball. On just 28 catches, the junior racked up 820 yards — nearly 30 yards per catch (!) Now the question begs if he can keep up that sort of pace while being targeted consistently. With the Wreck’s triple-option, he was called upon far more as a blocker than a receiver, so though he’s honed that skill set better than most coming out of college, it’ll be interesting to see his drop-rate when thrown to 100 times in a season. Through workouts, he’s shown good hands, and definitely has the speed to excel at the pro level (he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash). Questions arise about strength though, and if he can truly be a featured receiver without putting on some extra muscle. In the meantime, his stock keeps rising, and he’s projected to go late in the first round or early in the second.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State

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ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Tevin Washington's Ability To Pass The Ball Will Have Big Implications for Georgia Tech in 2012

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

As good as Georgia Tech’s run-game was in 2011 — and it was great while averaging 316.5 yards per contest — its biggest issue became predictability. By-and-large, teams knew the triple-option was coming, and by the year’s midway point, it was obvious how to stop it (at least in part). The 6-0 start turned into a 2-5 finish, mostly because the book on the ‘Jackets was written, and there were very few tricks up their sleeves. On the other hand, maybe it shouldn’t have been. Tech started off its season using Tevin Washington extensively as a passer, before virtually shutting down the passing game in the second half of the year. Of course they’ll be fine proceeding with the same multi-tiered rush attack, but if they hope to get past the eight/nine-win mark currently blocking them from any further success, there must be competence (if not balance) in both facets. Replacing the departing receiving corps. is no easy feat, nor does it help matters, but it will be the key this spring. Incoming receiver Anthony Autry could play one of the largest roles of any freshman in the ACC, especially if the team hopes he can replace Stephen Hill Continue reading