First, let's take a look at what Georgia Tech did in its 2013 football season:
|8/31/13||Vs. Elon||W, 70-0|
|9/14/13||@ Duke||W, 38-14|
|9/21/13||Vs. North Carolina||W, 28-20|
|9/26/13||Vs. Virginia Tech||L, 10-17|
|10/5/13||@ Miami||L, 30-45|
|10/12/13||@ BYU||L, 20-38|
|10/19/13||Vs. Syracuse||W, 56-0|
|10/26/13||@ Virginia||W, 35-25|
|11/2/13||Vs. Pittsburgh||W, 21-10|
|11/14/13||@ Clemson||L, 31-55|
|11/23/13||Vs. Alabama A&M||W, 66-7|
|11/30/13||Vs. Georgia||L, 34-41, 2OT|
|12/30/13||Vs. Ole Miss (Music City Bowl)||L, 17-25|
Overall: 7-6) (Home: 5-2) (Away: 2-3) (Neutral Field: 0-1)
The Yellow Jackets started off hot in 2013, winning three straight games including their first two ACC games against Duke and North Carolina. But then the Hokies went to Atlanta and defeated Georgia Tech, which started a three game losing streak. They averaged 35.1 points per game (26th in the nation) and allowed 22.8 points per game (29th in the nation). The more impressive stat is that the Yellow Jackets did this with the 36th toughest strength of schedule in college football. But that got the best of them as Georgia Tech went 7-6 (5-3 in the ACC) on the season, barely scraping by the .500 mark. As usual, they were run heavy, averaging nearly 300 yards per game and just 130 yards passing.
Who did the Yellow Jackets lose?
Offensively, quarterback Vad Lee is gone, who passed for 1,561 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last season. He only completed 45.6 percent of his passes and still didn't yield that much production in the option game, only rushing for 513 yards though he did score eight touchdowns.
They also lost B-back David Sims, who led the team in rushing with 884 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Also gone is A-back Robert Godhigh who rushed for 774 yards, seven touchdowns, and an astounding 9.4 yards per carry. Godhigh was also a huge factor in the passing game as he caught 23 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia Tech takes a decent hit on the offensive line, losing a combined 117 starts with the departures of center Jay Finch, left tackle Will Jackson, and right tackle Ray Beno.
Defensively, the Yellow Jackets lost some production from 2013. They lost defensive ends Jeremiah Attaochu, (41 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss) Jabari Hunt-Days, (38 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss) and Emmanuel Dieke ( 21.5 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss).
Linebacker Brandon Watts is gone (54 tackles). And in the secondary safety Jemea Thomas (80.5 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions) is gone, along with cornerback Louis Young (34.5 tackles, 2 interceptions).
Who returns for the Yellow Jackets?
Justin Thomas will be under center at quarterback. B-Back Zach Laskey (481 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5.7 yards per carry) will be the most experienced player in the Yellow Jacket backfield. They return basically all of their receiving corps with DeAndre Smelter leading the group with 21 catches, 345 yards, and four touchdowns.
As far as the offensive line goes, not much returns besides first-team All-ACC selection Shaquille Mason at right guard.
Defensively, the Yellow Jackets return defensive tackle Adam Gotsis who had 30.5 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks in 2013. Meanwhile, three key linebackers return with Quayshawn Nealy (55 tackles), Paul Davis, and Tyler Marcordes. Finally, the secondary returns the bulk of its players with strong safety Isaiah Johnson leading the way. He had 70 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2013.
Georgia Tech's Expectations:
The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish fifth in the ACC Coastal Division with only one first place vote. This isn't to say Georgia Tech is a bad team, it's just the jumbling in the middle of the Coastal that nobody can figure out before the season starts.
Georgia Tech comes into this game 3-0. The Yellow Jackets barely beat in-state foe Georgia Southern by a score of 42-38 in a very competitive game. But they really haven't played anybody with the likes of Wofford and Tulane also on the schedule. Currently, they're 13th overall in rushing with 306 yards per game, which is the norm for Georgia Tech. They're also averaging 39.3 points per game and allowing 26 points per game.
I thought I had the Hokies figured out after the Ohio State game because I was a believer. The East Carolina Pirates proved me wrong thinking that the Hokies had really improved in their competitiveness and overall execution. Plain and simple: it's early in the season and we still don't know a lot about either Tech team.
The Yellow Jackets are going to run the ball with the triple option and the Hokies are going to have to try to contain it to the best of their abilities and give the offense a chance to put points on the board and capitalize with every opportunity given.
I expect this to be like every other Georgia Tech match up. It will be fun and entertaining see what Bud Foster comes up with after a disastrous game against ECU. Honestly, I don't really know what to expect coming off the loss to the Pirates. It's up to the Hokies to prove they can bounce back coming off a tough loss.
Virginia Tech defeats Georgia Tech, 27-24