Tech in 2015: Is a 10-win season too much to expect?

Paul Johnson enjoys another rainy spring game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Paul Johnson enjoys another rainy spring game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Paul Johnson enjoys another rainy spring game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Paul Johnson enjoys another rainy spring game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Justin Thomas should be one of the 10 best players in college football, and he’s not just a really good player: He’s a really good player at a position of massive importance for any team in general but Georgia Tech in specific. He’s the guy who runs Paul Johnson’s offense, and Thomas showed in Year 1 as a starting quarterback that he runs it better than anyone since Joshua Nesbitt.

In Year 1 under Thomas, Tech’s offense led the nation in rushing and third-down conversions. Ergo, Year 2 should be even better — should it not?

Here’s where I cast a bit of cold water — not to be confused with the water falling from the sky on Tech’s spring game Friday night — on the enthusiasm of Jacket backers. Even with Thomas, I’d be surprised if Tech’s offense is nearly as good in 2015.

Nearly everyone else who touched the ball on offense in 2014 is gone, including the splendid receivers DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller and the irresistible B-backs Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days. The man projected as the new B-back — C.J. Leggett — tore his ACL this week and will be lost for the season.

In desperation, the Jackets turned to Marcus Allen, a redshirt junior now on his third collegiate position, to play B-back Friday, and he did well enough, gaining 77 yards. But that was on a rainy night in April. After quarterback, B-back is the most important position in Johnson’s offense, and the pounding of Laskey/Days was what ultimately undid Georgia in Athens and Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

At the end of last season, Tech was one of the half-dozen best teams in college football. I’m not sure it can be quite that good again. I’m not sure a defense that lived off takeaways can bear up if those takeaways don’t come, and turnover margin tends not to be a constant between seasons. I’m not sure a schedule that includes Florida State and Notre Dame will lend itself to 10 wins.

I picked Tech No. 18 in my early-bird January rankings, and some among you believed that was way too low. But if you’ll check Phil Steele’s prediction on ESPN Insider of the preseason Associated Press Top 25, you’ll note that the Jackets, whom he foresees being No. 17, will play four teams — Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson — slotted ahead of them. That’s a much tougher regular-season schedule than in 2014.

I also note that, in the long and distinguished history of Tech football, it has managed consecutive 10-win seasons only once — in 1951 and ’52 under the sainted Bobby Dodd.

From myajc: Expectations are high for Tech. Too high?

Reader Comments 0

187 comments
bobbyross1990
bobbyross1990

It will depend a lot on skill positions. Can Michael Summers be the go to guy downfield? Can we find some guys to plug into the a-back and b-back spots? Not worried about defense. Could be 7 wins or 10 wins. Just depends.

LongBeachJacket
LongBeachJacket

Tech will be more than capable of winning EVERY game.  What's more they would be more than capable of beating ANY other team in the nation next year. Capability does not always equal the result.  Given the strong core of leadership on this team.  Thomas, White, Gotsis and several others...they won't come out "flat" for any games... the leaders will make sure of that.  It all comes down to execution.  Unless they suffer a massive run of unfortunate injuries and some awful luck ...  8-4 is the absolute baseline.  Could they get to 12-0....sure...but they might need a lucky bounce or two... for those mathematically minded...here are some % probabilities of Tech's regular season record...by my estimation


7-5    5% chance

8-4    15% chance

9-3    30% chance

10-2  25% chance

11-1  15% chance

12-0  10% chance


1 in 4 chance they go 11-1 or 12-0

1 in 2 chance they are 10-2 or better

center of mass probability is somewhere between 9-3 and 10-2...leaning slightly toward 10-2


GO JACKETS!!!!!

GTBee
GTBee

Johnson had a bunch of 7 win seasons so 8 or 9 would be a lot. This year's record will determine if last year's was a fluke or becoming the norm. I am like you and optimistic but we will know more in 5 months. THWG! PS: I think the last time we beat UGA in ATL was 1999!

GT-UT
GT-UT

Its all on the O-line and the Defense.  The skill position players should get better with experience.  But if the O-line rolls better than last year, then they can take an average runner and make them look great.  We are going to need it for this year's schedule.

Go Jackets!!

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

Just caught a clip from the Orlando Sentinel saying UCF and Tech football scheduled a home and home. Stoked!

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

An exceptional QB has and is now the reason for a shot at 10 win seasons at Tech. Shawn Jones…Joe Hamilton…Josh Nesbit…Justin Thomas.  Now we have APR for athletes vs 10 years ago… but we also have CPJ system that has brought us 2 11 win seasons in 5 years. I think Tech has a chance to step up during JT's time because he will model what is possible in this offense with a dynamic QB talent…a shot at the playoffs in this system every year. Young Mr Campbell will get his shot in 2017.

AntoineFord
AntoineFord

The best part about last year is that it will shut up the idiots who've always claimed Tech is too academically challenging to field a top team. O'Leary proved long ago that wasn't so and CPJ did it last year.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@AntoineFord Never said it was impossible. It's just a lot tougher job and takes a lot of hard work & the right coach. "Factories" have no reason not to be on top, just bad coaching.

GTBob
GTBob

@AntoineFord Nobody has ever claimed that Tech isn't capable of having a good team from time to time. Tech wouldn't have any fans left if anyone really believed that. We just aren't built for any kind of long term sustained success that is basically guaranteed at the factories. We just won our first major bowl game in 58 years. We just had our 4th 10+ win season in the last 61 years. If academics play no part at all then I would love to hear the supposed reasons that our results haven't been better over the last 50+ years.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @AntoineFord

No "factory" has sustained success all the time.

Tech needs easier majors and more tutors so we can field a better football team more consistently.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket By sustained success I don't necessarily mean every year, I mean over time they are going to have high level programs much more times than not. There are several programs that have more 10+ win seasons in the last 8 years than GT has in the last 50 years. Those programs sometimes have off years where they win 7 or 8 games. We are built to sometimes have 10+ win seasons but 7-8 wins is more the norm. For us to transform into the other category would take a complete overhaul of our institution. For some reason I don't see that happening just to win a few more football games.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket

He's had double digit win seasons 2 out of past 3 years at UCF (and 9 the other).  We unfortunately agreed to a home and home with them today.  UCF is NOT a team you want to play.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket They aren't a gimme by any means but im not all that concerned with a team that lost to UConn and NC St last year. Besides, I doubt O'Leary will even be there by the time the game is played. He will either retire or be fired for killing another player by then.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket He only had one while he was at GT and he wasn't exactly trending upwards when he left. He is the most overrated coach GT has ever had. Friedgen and Hamilton took GT to a new level for a couple of years. When they left O'Leary's supposed magic left with them.

HomerAdams
HomerAdams

@GTBob @AntoineFord :

Your numbers are very wrong.  "We just won our first major bowl game in 58 years."  Is that a joke?  1990 National Champions.  GT has had eight (8) 10 wins or more seasons and 11 - 9 wins seasons.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Too many moving parts have to be replaced in 2015 for ten wins. Hope I'm wrong.


But look out in 2016 for Thomas's senior campaign, as we'll make a strong run for one of the final four spots.

beeware
beeware

just get Jabari Hunt Days playing and we have a chance to beat all of them.  And BTW, Jabari played and was recruited as a B Back. Coach Ted would literally go through the Roof if Jabari went back to B Back but isn't the point to score more than the other team to win?  I love the QB, he refuses to lose.

@eidsonb
@eidsonb

Skov announcement soon...coming to Tech. 

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@BillEidson @creative

"Did not carry the ball much but would be a beast in our offense."

14 carries 25yd 4tds to be exact.  Man, I hope this guy turns out to be great for GT, but I find it difficult to automatically assume Skov will be a beast in PJ's O with his career rushing totals. His size (6'1" 235lbs) is perfect for BB.  Now, can he hold onto the ball? and how fast is he?  

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@Quackmeyer @D-Sheets @GT-UT @BillEidson @creative

Compared to Laskey & Days (both in the 4.55-4.6 range) he's kinda slow.  I guess 4.7 is the slowest I'd like a BB to be, especially if he has Skov's 6'1" 235lb size, but I prefer the to be 4.6 or faster.  

Would love to get another Dwyer, but that size/speed combo is probably once every 20-25 years. 

AcrusaderO
AcrusaderO

I just don't see any team beating Florida State in the ACC now that Jimbo Fisher has been there 8 years. They've won it 3 years in a row. Their team is loaded, just look at Phil Steele's right up on them, the defense is going to be very good. They'll win the ACC again, and be a top 5 team. Jimbo Fisher is the best coach in the ACC.

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

@AcrusaderO We'll just forfeit based on your superior knowledge…Im sure Jimbo has week 8 trip to ATL penciled in as an easy W too…

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@AcrusaderO

FSU barely scraped by every week last year.

That game against Oregon is one of the most embarrassing football games I've every watched.  FSUs athletes were completely outmatched.  They showed terrible sportsmanship on national television by obviously quitting and giving up.  That says a lot about Jimbo Fisher and the mentality of FSUs program.

FSU won't win the ACC for 4 or 5 more years now that Winston is gone.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@GeorgeStein @AcrusaderO

Didn't catch that when I first "red" the idiot's post.  I blasted his (lack of) intelligence b/c he thinks Phil Steele is never wrong. 

AcrusaderO
AcrusaderO

@Birmingham__Jacket @AcrusaderO It's no worse of a loss than UGA normally gives you guys on a given year. We lost 1 game in 2014. How may did you lose? You lost to us in the ACC title, 2 of the last 3 years. You won't beat us for a long time, Jameis or not, you think otherwise you're wrong and not paying attention. We will run the ball at will against you with Dalvin Cook and Jacques Patrick this year. This game won't be as close as you Tech fans think it will be. Phil Steele is the most accurate prognosticator out there. He picked FSU to win it in 2013. When's the last time you guys won a real national title? We've won 3 since you last sniffed a partial title. 

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@AcrusaderO  When will Jimbo stop turning his head the other way?  His neck must be killing him?

Redfin
Redfin

@AcrusaderO .........Yeah.....and they looked "real good" in the playoffs last year didn't they?..........what an embarrassment..

forexbomb
forexbomb

@AcrusaderO Your team is a complete EMBARRASSMENT!  Jimbo Fisher is a Chump!  A football factory that got completely DESTROYED...  

Jmonty
Jmonty

@AcrusaderO @Birmingham__Jacket If I were a FSU fan I'd be worried about wins vacated due to Winston's actions and the school looking the other way.  FSU lost all respect in my eyes.  From the rape allegations to the crab legs incident.  I felt all they cared about was winning and nothing about sportsmanship and dignity. I hope they get wins vacated and the NCAA bares down on them.  Winston said they were giving the crab legs to him.  That is no different than an athlete accepting cash for clothes.  There is a strict guideline that states the rules on that.  FSU broke a few...   As for Winston??  He's too stupid to keep his nose clean.  He'll be out of the NFL within 3-4 years.  

HomerAdams
HomerAdams

@AcrusaderO @Birmingham__Jacket:

FSU has won ONLY three (3) National Championships in football - 1993, 1999, and 2013.  That is still less than GA. Tech.  FSU has a good program.  Do they require the players to go to class?  

SidLane
SidLane

everybody lists all the hands positions we lost but I'm surprised how few people mention who (imo) is by far our biggest:  Shaq Mason!  that 3rd down % people like to talk about?  yeah, it's a lot easier to manage when you've got a guy you can run behind for 1-2 yds effectively 100% of the time.  heck, Thomas could walk up to the line & tell the dt:  "hey, it's coming right at you on two!" & still pick it up...


THAT is the position that scares me - not b/c we don't have good linemen in pipeline but automatic on 1-2 is not something to take for granted...

SansWorld
SansWorld

@SidLane 

agreed.

The line was great last year and really enabled JT's success.Lot of experience coming back, so I am not too worried.


Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Love my Jackets, but I will be happy @ 8-4. This schedule is a beast.

If Justin and the RB's tote their weight 9/10 wins is easily within reach.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@Iluvnutella

I'm okay with with 8-4 if one of the 8 is UGA.  Only 4 losses would; however, mean that GT would lose to no more than 4 of 2015's "big 6" (VT, Miami, Clemson, UGA, ND, FSU).

I think BB is going to be fine.  As well as AB.  There are a couple WRs (Jeune & incoming Philpott) who are the highest rated GT WRs since Calvin, so I'm okay there too, as long as they can block.  The key is keeping JT healthy.  If this happens I think 9-3 will be the bottom with 10 wins a great possibility, and with some lucky bounces 11 wins.  

crackbaby
crackbaby

Interesting that lots of folks have said "it's all about the D" next season.  Tech still needs to grind time of possession on the offensive side and score 25+ per game.

B-Back - Didn't Snoddy start out at B-Back?  Maybe he gets put back there with Marcus Allen.  Hard not to like a RB named Marcus Allen dontcha think?

Go Jackets!