ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee's Year, Especially if Spring Goes Well

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee’s Year, Especially if This Spring Goes Well

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Spring Practice Start Date: March 25

Spring Game Date: April 19

Has the triple-option worked for Georgia Tech? Or better question: has Paul Johnson worked for Georgia Tech? After a year in which the Yellow Jackets finished just 6-6 during the regular season, this may just be the last shot for Johnson. With a miniscule recruiting class walking in the door, it won’t be easy. But responding to concern from fans, I’d assume this team must win at least eight games for him to truly feel safe come the offseason. Is that doable, though? This spring sets us on the right track to knowing a bit more.

Following a season where the ‘Wreck scored nearly 34 points per game, it’s hard to believe they had any issues at all on the offensive side of the ball. However, they also failed to score more than 21 five separate times, and (again) without a viable passing game in 2012, the team was an open target for opponents willing to stack the box against the run. Some of that may be due more to graduating QB Tevin Washington than the offense itself, but it’s likely we’ll see a transition period for this season as well. While Vad Lee and Synjyn Days both saw snaps at the quarterback position, it’s questionable which player (if either) can handle the full-time job. Like last year, there’s potential Johnson trots out two separate starters (both Lee and Days), though from a stability standpoint, one wold assume they’d have to choose eventually. The Yellow Jackets averaged just 129 passing yards per game last season (119th in the FBS); a true waste of talent when you’re fielding strong passers like Lee, or quality receivers like Jeff Greene. The team returns plenty of players who were involved in last year’s offense (they had 17 unique rushers and 14 unique receivers), so the pieces should be in place to hit the ground running this spring and find a more efficient way to use everyone’s talents.

Continue reading

About these ads

2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech's Up-and-Down Season Leaves Everyone in Search of a True Verdict; Positive or Negative?

Georgia Tech’s Up-and-Down Season Leaves Everyone in Search of a True Verdict; Positive or Negative?

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

W-L: 7-7 (5-3)

Postseason: 21-7 Hyundai Sun Bowl win over USC

Top Offensive Performer: Tevin Washington, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Jeremiah Attaochu, LB

It’s hard to get a handle on just what happened during Georgia Tech’s roller coaster season. After starting the year with a close loss to then-no. 16 Virginia Tech, hopes were high in Atlanta. But soon after, the wheels came off and three straight losses would land them at a very disappointing 2-4 record. Three in-conference wins in a row and two postseason bans would catapult them into the ACC Championship Game somehow, but not before they were embarrassed by rival Georgia. Though they lost the ACC title game to Florida State, they’d aptly put up a fight, before ending the odd season with a dominating win over USC (preseason no. 1 team in the country). Have you followed all that so far?

Georgia Tech’s offense performed mostly as advertised in 2012; running the ball using Paul Johnson’s triple-option, while throwing it sparingly. The group’s 33.6 points per game (33rd in the FBS) were similar to last season (34.3), but admittedly, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the 2012 season preview I wrote up for Georgia Tech, I emphasized that although their run-first offense certainly worked, there was a ceiling applied unless the team learned how to pass with efficiency. Not surprisingly after losing star receiver Stephen Hill to the NFL Draft last year, the passing numbers did go down (by 14 yards per game). It should also be noted that departing senior QB Tevin Washington — while a natural for the triple-option — is hardly a “passer” by any FBS standards. In his four years at Tech, he’s managed just 21 touchdown passes and 50.7-percent completions. His passing yardage diminished by 400 yards despite playing in one additional game this season, though it would be remiss to leave out his reduced playing time, too. Running the ball, however, was truly his forte. The senior ran for 20 scores this year, giving him 38 on his career. He was always more comfortable advancing the ball on the ground, which is what made him (and the Tech offense) overly consistent during his career, too.

Continue reading

Way-Too-Early 2013 ACC Football Power Rankings

An Early Look at 2013 Shows Clemson to Be at the Head of the Class in the ACC

An Early Look at 2013 Shows Clemson to Be at the Head of the Class in the ACC

When we last left our teams, there appeared to be hope on the horizon. Though the 2012 season was a difficult one, the bowls showed some real glimmers of great things to come, as the ACC racked up its first winning postseason record in seven years. Beyond some long-awaited hope for greater success, 2013 also brings some change to these rankings. Syracuse and Pittsburgh will now actually be participating in the conference, after two seasons appearing in the power rankings despite not doing so. And Louisville, our newest pals set to join in 2014, will also be joining the party — meaning 15 teams will be listed for the remainder of this calendar year (and slightly beyond into bowl season 2014). Cheer up! It’s less than 230 days ’till kickoff.

1. Clemson Tigers (Last Year: 2): Tajh Boyd‘s back, and the defense is improving steadily. So even without DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington, this team will still be fine in 2013. In year two under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, expect an even more aggressive front-seven as the coach works on improving linebacker play in particular. That secondary will still get burned, but be certain they’ve also learned some lessons from last year, too.

2. Louisville Cardinals (LY: NR): After the show Teddy Bridgewater put on during the Sugar Bowl this year, the Cardinals are an extremely hot commodity, and are likely to start strong in their final season of Big East football. It’ll be interesting to see how coach Charlie Strong and his team respond to having a target on their backs from week one, when they’ll likely be handed a top-10 ranking to start the year.

3. Florida State Seminoles (LY: 1): They’re losing a lot on the defensive side of the football, along with QB and senior leader, EJ Manuel. But like those old, Bobby Bowden-coached teams of teams of the 90s, this ‘Noles squad has already reloaded. The offense may take a few to warm up, but the defense will still be very much their strength heading into next season.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (LY: 5): After sitting out two straight years of postseason berths, the ‘Canes are really hoping they’re given a break from the NCAA in terms of leniency. With a ton of young talent eager to get a shot at a conference title, and arguably the best QB/RB tandem in the ACC in Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson, Miami could very well be out for blood come opening kickoff this fall.

Continue reading

Hyundai Sun Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. USC Trojans

Georgia Tech Must Throw the Ball Effectively If They Have Any Shot Against USC

Georgia Tech Must Throw the Ball Effectively If They Have Any Shot Against USC

Neither of these teams should be here. USC, the top team in the nation by many preseason measures, was not supposed to lose any games — let alone five. Georgia Tech, left for dead at 3-5, had no business getting to the ACC title game, let alone playing the Trojans in a New Year’s Eve bowl game. And yet, here we are, pitting two flawed teams against one another in a battle to see who ends 2012 more disappointed than the other.

Bowl Game: Hyundai Sun Bowl

Location: El Paso, Tex.

First Year: 1935

2012 Participants: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7) vs. USC Trojans (7-5)

Last Meeting: USC over Georgia Tech, 23-6 (1973)

***

Georgia Tech (previous bowl game: 30-27 loss vs. Utah in 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl)

We all saw the script for Georgia Tech’s success play out during the ACC Championship Game against Florida State: Pass the ball with some sort of effectiveness, and continue running their triple-option. The issue then, as it will be again against USC, is figuring out who should be delivering those passes. Tech had three different quarterbacks (Tevin Washington, Synjyn Days and Vad Lee) throw the ball against FSU, and while they had 118 yards through the air, they also completed just five of 16 attempts with two interceptions. Ideally, they should be able to establish a bit more consistency against a USC defense that ranked just 71st in the FBS against the pass, and bump that completion percentage up to somewhere around 50 percent. From a defensive standpoint, recent injuries to key Trojans have flipped the script a bit for the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Matt Barkley is out following his injury against UCLA back in November, and based on recent reports, it appears star receiver Marquise Lee is also out of commission. Suddenly, Georgia Tech’s focus is now stopping the running game, which could very well carry the load for USC. Neither Silas Redd nor Curtis McNeal have seen all that many carries this season (just 263 between them), so they’ll basically be coming at this game with fresh legs. The Wreck’s run defense was middle-of-the-road this year (47th nationally), but benefited from their offense’s own ball-control style. Teams ran the ball on them just 450 times all year, and still managed to rack up 4.27 yards per carry. If USC dictates the pace, it’s something to watch out for.

Continue reading

ACC Championship Game Preview & Prediction: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

EJ Manuel and Florida State Are Looking For Their First ACC Title Since 2005

The final ACC contest of the season pits Atlantic Division champion Florida State (10-2) (7-1) against Coastal Division champ Georgia Tech (6-6) (5-3). While FSU has sat atop the conference standings virtually all season, it’s been a long road back from the bottom for the Yellow Jackets, who arrive in Charlotte due to Miami and North Carolina‘s respective postseason ineligibility. These two teams have not faced each other since 2009, a 49-44 barnburner won by Tech. But trust that there’s no love lost here, and both are anxious to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl.

Offense

Florida State possesses more offensive weapons than any ACC team not named Clemson, and yet, their production has been sporadic all season. Yes, they put up 41.3 points per game, but keep in mind that number’s padded by two games against FCS opponents, too. Quarterback EJ Manuel also may have fallen off from his Heisman form earlier in the season, however, when he’s given the reigns to really run this offense (not always the case), he usually impresses. In a season full of positive growth and noted accuracy, last week’s four-turnover debacle must be quickly pushed out of his mind if FSU hopes to leave this game as ACC champs. The best way to beat Georgia Tech is putting them behind early, and with Manuel’s arm, the ‘Noles are more than capable of doing so.

On the Tech side, it’s all about involving the passing game. The biggest criticism with Paul Johnson’s offense has been predictability. Every defense knows they’re going to run the triple-option, so the game-plan hones in on it, and dismisses the pass. Neither Tevin Washington or Vad Lee have the best arms, either, which means they’ll have to pick their spots and throw when the defense gets too comfortable defending the run. As I’ve maintained before, efficiency when throwing the ball — even if it’s just 10-12 times per game — is what makes the triple-option most effective. The Wreck’s struggled with that concept all year, unfortunately, which doesn’t bode well for them here. Advantage: Florida State

Continue reading

ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 13 (Part 1)

Florida State and Florida Headline a Big Weekend of Rivalry Games for the ACC

Not much left to be decided on the last regular season weekend of ACC action. Florida State and Georgia Tech have their respective division titles clinched, and Miami and UNC are officially staying home for the postseason. But luckily, it’s Rivalry Week, so still plenty on the line for many schools. It’s also a prime weekend for the ACC to help out its reputation. Four teams go up against SEC foes this week. If the ACC can come out ahead in at least two of those (three are against teams in the top 13 of the BCS rankings), it would be a huge statement to close a forgettable regular season.

Game of the Week

Florida Gators (10-1) at Florida State Seminoles (10-1) (7-1): With both teams ranked in the top 10, there’s an extra spark in this rivalry not seen in a few years. The Gators, currently ranked fourth in the BCS standings, could very well be playing for a chance at a national championship shot. Florida State, on the other hand, is looking to take home the Florida Cup for the second straight year, and would love to put a damper on UF’s aspirations. Florida has struggled in recent weeks, but with starting quarterback Jeff Driskel back on Saturday, they’re hoping the offense receives a shot in the arm. They’ll need it if they hope to get by the ‘Noles stifling defense, which has allowed 20 points or more just three times all season. Prediction: Florida State 26, Florida 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Syracuse Orange (6-5) at Temple Owls (4-6): The Orange are riding high after two straight victories earned them bowl eligibility. Can they keep up momentum in their final Big East football game, though? It’s tough to tell. There’s a 90-percent chance that regardless of what happens, SU is headed to the Pinstripe Bowl, and Temple also has no means to get to the postseason themselves, with only 11 games on the schedule. Still, given the number of seniors taking the field for the Orange, we may see another rave-worthy performance — to give a boost to draft stocks if nothing else. In particular, offensive stars Alec Lemon and Ryan Nassib have been getting buzz to go on the first or second day of the NFL Draft next spring. They’d hate to slip up now, especially with just two games remaining. Prediction: Syracuse 38, Temple 20

Continue reading

ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

After Dropping Six Passes on Saturday, NC State’s Receivers are the ACC Goats of the Week for Week 9

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

Considering the day Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon had (467 yards, five touchdowns), you’d think his receivers were actually on-point all day. But State’s receivers dropped six passes in total on Saturday, all of which you can see complied at SB Natoin’s Backing the Pack. While it’s tough to truly quantify the importance of each (in some cases, drives resulted in touchdowns anyway), it’s worth calling out Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith in particular. Underwood’s two drops took an otherwise outstanding day (118 yards, two receiving TDs) and sullied it. For Smith, his drop ended up being a tipped-ball interception, plus he also fumbled in the game as well. If the Wolfpack want to win games like this one, it takes focus on everyone’s part. The drops must be diminished going forward.

Honorable Mention:

Caleb Rowe, QB/Maryland (23/42 passing, 240 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT)

Jim Grobe, Head Coach/Wake Forest: “I don’t know that we didn’t respect (Clemson’s speed). I think we didn’t realize how fast those guys were.” (gameplan failure)

Duke defense (48 points, 560 yards allowed — despite four FSU turnovers)

Tevin Washington, QB/Georgia Tech (1/5 passing, 9 yards, 1 INT, 10 rushing yards)

Comment, share this post, follow/like the blog and follow @JohnCassillo on Twitter