Countdown to Kickoff: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Yellow Jackets strive for consistency in 2012
It was a tale of two halves for Georgia Tech in 2011. The first half of the year saw the Yellow Jackets start the season 6-0 and rise to a top 15 ranking. In the second half, the Yellow Jackets struggled defensively and lost five of their last seven games. On the plus side, Tech did earn its 15th straight bowl bid and was again one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the country. Coach Paul Johnson will be looking for a more consistent team in 2012. How can the Yellow Jackets meet his expectations?
Having senior quarterback Tevin Washington will help. Washington will be in his second year running Johnson's triple-option offense. While not the same runner as predecessor Josh Nesbitt, Washington is a savvy quarterback that takes care of the ball. He'll have an experienced offensive line that might be the best of the Paul Johnson era. That unit is led by All-America candidate Omoregie Uzzi, who returned for his senior season much to the delight of Jacket fans and coaches. RB Orwin Smith averaged a whopping 10.1 yards per rush last year on 61 carries, and Johnson's challenge will be to get him more touches this fall. If there is a question on the offensive side of the ball, it is at wide receiver. Second-round NFL pick Stephen Hill is gone, and it's not clear who will fill his shoes. Six-foot-4 Jeff Greene has impressed coaches and could be the receiver to watch.
Defensively for Georgia Tech, it's a mixed bag. The secondary is athletic and talented. Louis Young and Rod Sweeting give the Jackets a pair of solid cornerbacks, and Isaiah Johnson is a good-looking safety. At linebacker is play-making Jeremiah Attaochu. Defensive line is the question mark. Izaan Cross is the only returning starter for a unit that had problems putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. At 6-7 and over 330 pounds, senior T.J Barnes will be looked upon to be the run-stopping nose tackle that the Jackets have lacked in recent years. The kicking game has been a recurring issue during Johnson's tenure. David Walkosky was hired as special teams coach in hopes of improving that unit.
The Jackets have a daunting schedule that includes road games at Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia, but there's more than enough talent in Atlanta to continue the bowl streak. With a little luck and a break or two along the way, a special season can be had on The Flats. - Jeff Fann
2011 In Review
Georgia Tech bounced back in 2011 from only the second losing season of Paul Johnson's head coaching career, posting an 8-5 overall record and 5-3 in the ACC, but the Yellow Jackets were very close to so much more... After a spectacular 6-0 start which included a national ranking as high as 12th nationally, Tech won just two of seven games down the stretch...But two of those losses--at Virginia and in the Hyundai Sun Bowl to Utah--were by a total of six points, the distance for Tech from a 10-win campaign...Still, there were many bright spots for the Jackets including a 31-17 decision over eventual ACC Champion Clemson and a 2nd-place Coastal Division finish...Led by QB Tevin Washington, Tech's spread option attack finished 2nd nationally in rushing offense, 18th in total offense and 21st in scoring offense...Defensively, year two under coordinator Al Groh also showed subtle improvement, led by LBs Julian Burnett and Jeremiah Attaochu, Tech's defense improved in just about every category...Washington finished 4th in the ACC in rushing with 987 yards and produced a pass efficiency rating of 155.38 as the Jackets finished 14th nationally in passing efficiency... AB Orwin Smith led all rushers in the NCAA's FBS who had 600 or more rushing yards, averaging 10.1 yards per carry... G Omoregie Uzzi led an improved offensive line and earned 2nd-team All-America honors.
Tech loses nine starters including four on offense and five on defense...Offensively, the Jackets will miss WR's Stephen Hill, an NFL Draft early entry, and Tyler Melton, as well as RT Phil Smith and AB Roddy Jones. Hill, the latest in a long Tech line of tall, fast receivers who were NFL first-round draft picks, led the nation in yards per catch (29.3), while Jones rushed for 1,846 yards in his career as a four-year starter. On defense, Tech will be without its leading tackler in 2nd-team All-ACC LB Julian Burnett (120 tackles), who will miss his senior season due to medical reasons; two members of its front three in DE Jason Peters and NG Logan Walls; as well as OLB Steven Sylvester and S Rashaad Reid.
Numbers & Notes
1 - Over the past four years, Georgia Tech's spread option offense has led the nation in rushing yards per game. The Jackets during that period have finished no less than 4th in any given year in rushing offense. Tech has averaged 301.98 yards per game in a total of 53 games since Paul Johnson came to Atlanta. They are also the only team in the FBS to average more than 300 yards a game over the last four years.
9.56 - Heading into his senior season, AB Orwin Smith has averaged 9.56 yards on his 119 career carries, the highest per-carry average of any ACC runner WITH 1,000-or-more career rushing yards.
14 - Georgia Tech's appearance in the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl was the 15th consecutive bowl trip for the Yellow Jackets, tying for the nation's 4th longest current streak.
17 - Georgia Tech's 5-3 ACC record gave the program 17 consecutive years at or above .500 in Conference play. That's a league record.
33 - The number of wins to which Paul Johnson has led Georgia Tech in his first four years as head coach of the Jackets. That is the most for any coach in their first four years on The Flats; an impressive accomplishment when former Tech head coaches include three members of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, John Heisman, William Alexander and Bobby Dodd.
37 - Since the Atlantic Coast Conference went to divisional play for the 2005 season, Georgia Tech has posted a 37-20 (.649) record against ACC foes. Only Virginia Tech (49) has won more games against conference brethren during that time.
155.38 - The pass efficiency rating in 2011 for QB Tevin Washington, which would have ranked 2nd in the ACC and 13th nationally if he had enough attempts to qualify.
Georgia Tech 2012 Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 8 vs. Presbyterian
Sept. 15 vs. Virginia
Sept. 22 vs. Miami
Sept. 29 vs. Middle Tennessee State
Oct. 6 at Clemson
Oct. 20 vs. Boston College
Oct. 27 vs. BYU
Nov. 3 at Maryland
Nov. 10 at North Carolina
Nov. 17 vs. Duke
Nov. 24 at Georgia