With the 2013 college football season rapidly approaching, fans are craving any and every taste of what is to come in what should be an invigorating year. As we inch closer to the action kicking off on Aug. 29, I'll release a schedule analysis for a new ACC school every other day. For now, let's take a look at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Aug. 31 - Elon
Sept. 14 - at Duke
Sept. 21 - North Carolina
Sept. 26 - Virginia Tech
Oct. 5 - at Miami
Oct. 12- at Brigham Young
Oct. 19 - Syracuse
Oct. 26 - at Virginia
Nov. 2 - Pittsburgh
Nov. 14 - at Clemson
Nov. 23 - Alabama A&M
Nov. 30 - Georgia
Schedule obtained from the official website of Georgia Tech athletics.
Georgia Tech took an unconventional route to the ACC title game last year, finishing third in the Coastal but being named division champions because of the postseason bans at North Carolina and Miami.
This year, the Yellow Jackets return the talent necessary to make it back to the conference championship game again in December, but a brutal slate stands their way.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, their bye week comes during Week 2 before a trip to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils. They then face North Carolina at home with the Tar Heels coming off a bye week of their own and just five days before Virginia Tech will be heading down to Atlanta for a Thursday night game.
Road games at Miami, BYU and Clemson will be true tests for head coach Paul Johnson's group, and the regular season wraps up in a meeting with the Aaron Murray-led Georgia Bulldogs.
If Tech can overcome its rigorous schedule and claim the division for the second straight year, it definitely will have been earned.
With the majority of the offense returning, Johnson's big-play, triple-option offense gets off to a quick start with loads of yards and few turnovers. After serving a part-time role at quarterback last season, Vad Lee's dual-threat ability and strong arm make him an upgrade from Tevin Washington, and he establishes a connection with wide receiver Darren Waller that will stretch the field and aggravate defenses all year.
As a result of safeties committing to pass coverage, Robert Godhigh builds off his 7.9 yards-per-carry average from 2012 and is a threat to defenses as a runner and a pass-catcher. David Sims and Zach Laskey also shine as running backs, and Johnson finds his best offense since taking the Tech job in December of 2007.
In their first full season without Al-Groh's 3-4 defense, the Jackets play consistent throughout 2013. Jeremiah Attaochu stars as a pass-rushing defensive end, racking up double-digit sacks and leading a more aggressive defense. Cornerbacks Jemea Thomas and Louis Young excel in the secondary, and defensive coordinator Ted Roof's unit shows significant improvement from last year.
The Yellow Jackets sting their way through the division, winning the Coastal and finishing the season 10-2.
Lee has a better arm than Washington, but the latter's leadership is desperately missed, and no one fills his shoes. Waller's inconsistency prevents any threat of a passing game, and Georgia Tech is a one-dimensional offense.
The increase in blitzing out of the 4-3 bothers teams like Elon and Syracuse, but North Carolina, Miami and Clemson exploit its vulnerability. Virginia Tech and BYU are also able to steal wins from the Yellow Jackets, and conversation going into the Georgia game is less about the rivalry and more about whether or not Johnson will keep his job.
After getting thrashed by the Bulldogs, Tech enters the bowl season hoping to finish with a winning record after a disappointing .500 regular season.
Georgia Tech was not the best team in the Coastal last year, but it still got to represent the division in the championship game. Ironically, the Jackets might be the best team in the division this year and still fall short of the conference title game because of a painfully tough schedule.
Not only are the Yellow Jackets competing against three other true contenders in their division, but they also have to face traditional crossover opponent Clemson, the most talented team in the ACC. Combine that with nonconference matchups with BYU and Georgia, and that doesn't bode well for the team's chances at double-digit wins.
If Tech can win at least two games out of a three-game stretch against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami, expect the team to enter November with a shot at the division. However, if the Jackets win no more than one of those or somehow stumble against Pitt or Virginia, then don't bet on them to be playing in Charlotte on Dec. 7.
Also check out:
Schedule analysis for Virginia Tech
Schedule analysis for North Carolina
Schedule analysis for Duke
Schedule analysis for Pitt
Schedule analysis for Virginia
Schedule analysis for Clemson
Schedule analysis for Florida State
Schedule analysis for Boston College
Schedule analysis for Wake Forest
Schedule analysis for NC State
Schedule analysis for Maryland
Schedule analysis for Syracuse
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