Gailey emerged as one of the favorites for the Dolphins’ job, there were
rumblings from the Tech community that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if
he left. That way, Radakovich could bring his own man (Jimbo Fisher?) in
to run the program, and Gailey could leave on good terms after posting
winning seasons in each of his five years.
Well, it didn’t happen, and Tech is loaded and ready to defend its
Coastal Division title with 17 returning starters including junior QB
Taylor Bennett, who looked tremendous in the Gator Bowl loss, throwing
for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Trouble is, he won’t have Calvin
Johnson, who’s off to be the NFL’s superstar, around to catch anything
thrown within his area code. Offensive coordinator Patrick Nix left,
too, bolting for Miami at the height of the rumors that Gailey was on
his way out.
But Gailey is back. And even though he has four years left on his
contract, Gailey needs to take a step forward, if only to keep his new
boss happy. He said all the right things at his press conference, after
he withdrew from consideration from the NFL gigs – “I’m excited about
the future here at Georgia Tech” – but that future had better include a
few more wins.
should include a little more offense. Last year’s team allowed just
300.6 yards per game, but QB Reggie Ball was awful completing a mere
44.4% of his throws. If Johnson hadn’t been around, he might not have
connected on 30%. Bennett looked good in the bowl game, and if he can
continue to thrive without Johnson, Tech should be more dangerous all
around. It had better be, or else the next time Gailey goes looking for
work, it might not be with another job on which he can fall back. On the
flip side, if the team plays up to its potential, Gailey could be hailed
as a superstar and very suddenly, an indispensable head man.
What to look for on
Ball couldn’t pass, period, so Tech should be more potent through the
air with Bennett. Don’t expect the Yellow Jackets to become some sort of
high-wire act with a great running game to rely on. Senior Tashard
Choice will be one of the nation’s best backs, and he’ll work behind a
line that returns all but one starter. James Johnson might not be Calvin
Johnson, but he caught 39 passes and averaged 15.6 yards per reception
and should flourish in the number one role.
What to look
for on defense:
As good as last year’s defense was, this one will be even better. With
nine starters returning, this is a veteran group that should keep almost
everyone under 20 points. Few coaches in the country are as talented as
Gailey at establishing a defensive tempo. GT forces plenty of turnovers
and can get to the quarterback, and should be a terror in opposing
backfields all season long.
This team will be much better if … it establishes a consistent
passing attack. The Yellow Jackets are going to stop just about everyone
and will get good all-around special teams play, but if they want to be
ACC champions, they’ll have to throw the ball more effectively. Bennett
has the potential to provide a big-time boost to the attack, provided
other targets emerge besides James Johnson.
It's not bad. Four of
the final five games are at home, and the one road date is at Duke.
Boston College and Virginia Tech have to come to Atlanta, so if the
Yellow Jackets can survive road dates at Virginia, Maryland and Miami,
they should be in for a huge ACC year. Notre Dame is going to need time
to jell, so going to South Bend for the season-opener might not be that
bad. Georgia has to make the trip to Tech this year.
Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Tashard Choice. With Calvin Johnson and Reggie
Ball out of the picture, Choice is prepared to become the headline act
of the Yellow Jacket offense. Flashing power and quickness to the hole,
the one-time Oklahoma Sooner led the ACC in rushing surpassing 100 yards
on the ground in nine of his last ten games.
Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Philip Wheeler. The disruptive
and extremely athletic Wheeler is a perfect fit for Jon Tenuta, who asks
his linebackers to blitz often and create havoc all over the field.
Even after shifting inside before the start of last season, he still led
Tech in sacks and tackles for loss to go along with 89 stops.
Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Taylor Bennett.
While it’s been fashionable to fire on Reggie Ball and his erratic
career, he did win games and he did occasionally come up with the big
play when it was absolutely needed. Most Tech fans would rather have a
consistent, accurate passing attack, and that’s where Bennett comes in.
At 6-3 and 215 pounds, he’s a tall, pure passer who should get the
overall completion percentage well over 50%.
The season will be a
... Tech wins the ACC title. It had everything set up for a conference
championship last season before struggling so much in the loss to Wake
Forest. Now the defense is better, the offense should be improved, even
without Calvin Johnson, and the schedule works out relatively well with
Virginia Tech, Boston College and Clemson coming to Atlanta.
Nov. 1 vs. Virginia
Tech. The Yellow Jackets stunned the Hokies 38-27 in Blacksburg to
basically seal the Coastal Division title before the race really began.
Virginia Tech will be a top ten-caliber team that’ll need this win to
get/stay in the national championship race, while Georgia Tech might
need the victory after going to Miami a few weeks earlier.
2006 Fun Stats: