Southern Football Report Preseason Poll: #10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets




Georgia Tech Logo - JacketAfter back-to-back seven win seasons in 2012 and 2013, Yellow Jackets Head Coach Paul Johnson’s seat was beginning to get a little warm before last season’s trip to the conference championship game where the Jackets gave Florida State all they wanted. Eleven wins including an Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State got Johnson a well-deserved contract extension. 2015 was a good year to Georgia Tech as they defeated division rivals Virginia Tech and Miami handily, blew out cross division rival Clemson and were able to beat in-state rival Georgia in Athens for the first time since 2008.

Georgia Tech Junior Quarterback Justin Thomas
Georgia Tech Junior Quarterback Justin Thomas

Offensively, the Yellow Jackets run the triple option offense and return the necessary players for it to thrive again in 2015: the offensive line and the quarterback. Georgia Tech returns four of the five offensive lineman from last season and the new guy, sophomore guard Shamine Devine, tips the scales at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds. The newcomer is the by far the biggest of the projected starting offensive line but the rest of the group is all seniors and one junior. The other half of the option is the trigger man and Georgia Tech has a good one in junior quarterback Justin Thomas who showed last season that you can be an option quarterback and have good passing numbers. Thomas finished the season with 18 touchdown passes and over 1,700 passing yards. He also ran for over 1,000 yards as he led the Jackets to their first double digit win season since 2009. Thomas will have a whole new cast of skill positions in the backfield with him and lined up wide as receivers. Last year’s backfield was all seniors but this year’s group will be mostly comprised of juniors like Dennis Allen and Isiah Willis at the A-back spot with junior Marcus Allen at the B-back position. The Jackets will also benefit from senior Stanford transfer Patrick Skov who is a load at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds. Out wide, speedster Micheal Summers will try and stretch the field and blow the lid off of the defense while Thomas and company will rely on sophomore Ricky Jeune to take on the role of possession receiver.

Georgia Tech Junior Linebacker PJ Davis
Georgia Tech Junior Linebacker PJ Davis

Good thing the Georgia Tech offense was good last year because the defense allowed over 400 yards a game with almost an entire group of inexperienced players. This year the Jackets return 8 starters from last year’s defense and improvement will most likely occur in year three under defensive coordinator and Georgia Tech alum Ted Roof. Georgia Tech returns every starter on the back end and all four of them will be seniors, led by safety Desmond White who had 73 tackles in 2014. Georgia Tech will also boast one of the best cornerback tandems in American with Chris Milton (2 interceptions in 2014) and DJ White (4 interceptions in 2014). I expect passing yards per game numbers against Georgia Tech to plummet in 2015. Junior linebacker PJ Davis, who led the team in tackles in 2014 with 119, will be the leader of a fairly inexperienced but talented linebacking group. The two slated starters are both seniors and both got a good bit of playing time last season despite not being starters. Up front the Jackets aren’t as big as most defensive line groups but they are as quick as any group in the country with returning defensive ends KeShaun Freeman, a sophomore, and junior Rod Rook-Chungong. Neither player tips the scales past 250 pounds but both give opposing offensive tackles fits with their quick moves to the backfield.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Head Coach Paul Johnson
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Head Coach Paul Johnson

Georgia Tech is hoping that the defense gets better in 2015 because there are some teams on the schedule that can provide some fireworks offensively. The season begins on the opening Thursday night of the season at home against FCS opponent Alcorn State who finished the 2014 season 10-3. Georgia Tech will stay home for week 2 against Tulane before back-to-back road games at Notre Dame and Duke. Georgia Tech is 8-3 in true road openers the last eleven years but 3-15 all-time in South Bend and had won 10 straight against the Dukies until last season’s 31-25 loss. The Yellow Jackets begin the month of October at home against North Carolina before making the short trip up the road to hated rival Clemson. Georgia Tech and Clemson have turned in some classic games over the years and this season’s match up has the makings of another good one with Justin Thomas versus Deshaun Watson. Georgia Tech returns home for two straight games at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Pittsburgh and Florida State who the Jackets haven’t played in Atlanta in the regular season since 2008. Georgia Tech closes out October on the road Halloween night at Virginia in a series where the visitor has only won four times in the last sixteen seasons. November begins with a bye week before a Thursday night showdown with division rival Virginia Tech in Atlanta that will surely be a fun game to watch. The last five games between the Hokies and Jackets have been decided by an average margin of only 6 points. The following week Georgia Tech goes on their final road trip of the season to South Beach to take on the Hurricanes of Miami who may be on the search for a new head coach by the time this game rolls around. The Jackets finish off the regular season with some Good, Clean Old-Fashioned Hate when the Georgia Bulldogs pay a visit to Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28th.

Georgia Tech surprised everyone last season with how efficient and explosive they could be on offense and if they can have the same kind of success on the defensive side of the ball, allowing the offense to not be in a track meet every week, the Yellow Jackets could be setting themselves up for a pretty magical season in 2015. Quarterback Justin Thomas will keep the option offense rolling along but will need to get the new guys in the backfield up to speed in a hurry because the schedule really picks up in mid-September.

Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field - Capacity: 55,000
Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field – Capacity: 55,000

2015 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Schedule

Sept 3rd            Alcorn State (Thurs)
Sept 12th          Tulane
Sept 19th          at (11) Notre Dame
Sept 26th         at Duke
Oct 3rd             North Carolina
Oct 10th           at (12) Clemson
Oct 17th            Pittsburgh
Oct 24th           (10) Florida State
Oct 31st            at Virginia
Nov 7th            BYE WEEK
Nov 12th          Virginia Tech (Thurs)
Nov 21st           at Miami
Nov 28th          (9) Georgia




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