Georgia Tech: This is the first game of the season for the Yellow Jackets (um, duh?). The Jackets started 2011 6-0 (3-0) before losing at Virginia in the infamous "By the time you read this, we will have upset Georgia Tech" game, in which the UVA staff sent out letters to recruits beginning with that statement. Good thing Mike London didn't try that against the Hokies. The Jackets faltered down the stretch, losing five of their last seven (including the UVA loss) and finishing 8-5.
The Yellow Jackets lost the Hyundai Sun Bowl 30-27 to Utah in overtime, making coach Paul Johnson 0-4 in bowl games at Georgia Tech. In that game the Jackets were down 7-0 and 10-7 early, but surged back to take a 24-10 on a Quayshawn Nealy 74-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:15 left in the third quarter. But the Utes scored twice in the last 6:50 on two Jon Hays passing touchdowns, the second of which came on a 4th and 14 when defensive coordinator Al Groh got aggressive and blitzed. The resulting touchdown tied the game at 24 and sent it to overtime. Georgia Tech kicked a field goal to start out the first overtime, but on Utah's offensive possession, John White IV ended the game with an 8-yard touchdown run to provide the final margin.
Trends: Virginia Tech won last year's opener against Appalachian State 66-13, but before that, had lost three consecutive season-opening games (all neutral site games). The Hokies won their last home opener against Appalachian State, but lost their home opener in 2010 to James Madison. Virginia Tech is 7-1 all-time in ACC home openers. Tech lost their last home ACC opener a year ago against Clemson, breaking a streak of seven-straight wins in ACC home openers. The Hokies won their last season-opening ACC game at N.C. State in 2005, 20-16. Georgia Tech won their last road opener at Notre Dame 33-3 in 2007. The Yellow Jackets have won their last two ACC road openers against UNC in 2010 and N.C. State in 2011.
History Lesson: The Hokies lead the all-time series 6-3, are 3-1 against the Yellow Jackets in Blacksburg and 6-3 against Georgia Tech under Frank Beamer (All nine of the Hokies games against Georgia Tech have come under Beamer). The Hokies have won two games in a row against the Yellow Jackets, losing last in Atlanta in 2009. Beamer is 3-1 against Yellow Jackets' Head Coach Paul Johnson. Virginia Tech won last year's meeting in Atlanta 37-26 behind the strength of 5 Logan Thomas touchdowns.
What to Expect
Georgia Tech runs the triple-option offense, primarily out of the Flexbone formation, and is almost exclusively a running team. They continually finish among the leaders nationally in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Defensively, the Yellow Jackets play out of the 3-4. They finished No. 44 a year ago in total defense and No. 60 in scoring defense.
Georgia Tech will run the ball over 80 percent of the time according to their 2011 tendencies. Plenty of different players will carry the rock, as six players in 2011 toted the ball at least 50 times. They are also unafraid to go for it on fourth down, which is dangerous when you have so many options to defend in a fourth-and-short situation.
When the Yellow Jackets do pass, it's usually a deep throw. Georgia Tech would've led the nation in passing yards per attempt (11.08) by a large margin if they had met the qualifier for number of attempts. Their quarterbacks are historically not very accurate though (probably due in some part to their route selection). Last year they proved that by completing a measly 49 percent.
Al Groh isn't afraid to dial up the pressure, but against the Hokies, he has been unsuccessful. In 11 years against Al Groh defenses, the Hokies have only allowed just over one sack per game. In fact, one game makes up 40% of those sack totals, and ONE PLAYER (the immobile Sean Glennon) also represents 40% of those sacks.
Hokies Win If: The offensive line protects Logan Thomas, the running backs are respectable enough to keep Georgia Tech from keying off on Thomas and the Hokies limit the Yellow Jackets to under 300 yards on the ground.
Yellow Jackets Win If: They control the clock, wear down VT's D and keep them on the field for long drives, sack/bother Logan Thomas and shut down Tech's running game.
Dot-dot-dots: The winner of this game has represented the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game every year since the game's inception in 2005. The Hokies begin the season ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. Georgia Tech was among teams receiving votes in both polls.