Friday, June 18, 2004

CollegeFootballNews Georgia Tech Preview

Well worth the read:

Preview of the offense
Preview of the defense
The "Inside" Scoop.

After reading these previews, I have to say they are some of the best I have seen. I have read Athlon and Sporting News previews and they don't quite nail it like CFN.

Some commments:

You pretty much know what you're going to get with Georgia Tech with a 7-to-9 win season, a bowl berth, a few big wins, a weird loss or two, and a middle of the road finish in the ACC.

Don't expect things to change much this year even after the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech. Not enough improvement has been made in any one area to expect any sort of a run at an ACC title, and there hasn't been enough of a loss anywhere to expect a drop-off. The defense will be sound and the offense will have its moments, but this is still a young team trying to get some momentum.

The Schedule: It's not a pretty slate with no room to go on any sort of run. The road games couldn't be more brutal considering Miami comes to Atlanta. The year-end rivalry game at Georgia and the DI-AA layup against Samford won't help bowl hopes. The only chance for the post-season is with a win at North Carolina and at least two other road wins.

The season will be a success if ... the Yellow Jackets wins seven games. There can't be any let downs against a brutal ACC slate. It will take seven wins (assuming one of the victories is over Samford) to get to the post-season. With this schedule that would be a major accomplishment even for a team as good as this one.

Strength of the offense: Running backs
Weakness of the offense: Receivers

The Skinny on the O-Line: The loss of center Hugh Reilly and tackle Nat Dorsey severely weakens a solid line. The pass protection was a bit of a problem, but the 27 sacks allowed is a bit misleading considering true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball often tried to make plays happen and got caught. This should still be a strong run blocking unit with two good guards and tackle Kyle Wallace to work behind. Depth is a serious issue.

On Reggie Ball: But, he’s got to increase his ability to see the field and find secondary and tertiary receivers. Instead of relying heavily on one receiver as he did last season (Jonathan Smith, who has since moved on to the NFL), he’s got to open up and utilize all of his weapons. Furthermore, as per usual with a young quarterback, he also needs to make much better decisions. Now, don’t misunderstand – Reggie Ball is a tremendous quarterback and has a great future at Tech. However, what the Jackets need in 2004 is for him take his game to a whole new level. Whether he has the maturity and mental toughness to be able to do just that remains a question.

On the defense: Basically ... If linebackers can be found to replace Keyaron Fox and Daryl Smith, the defense should be every bit as good as it was in 2003 when it only allowed 322 yards and 20.5 points per game. The secondary will be among the ACC's best led by All-America star safety James Butler. Getting to the quarterback won't be a problem with Travis Parker moving over from tackle to take some heat off Eric Henderson.

On the linebackers: The Skinny: The loss of 284 tackles between Keyaron Fox and Daryl Smith will hurt. Gerris Wilkerson has to become a superstar as the anchor of a very green, but very athletic group. The lineup will change several times and several ways before the first game as the coaching staff searches for the right fit.

On the secondary: The Skinny: The pieces are in place to be one of the ACC's best secondaries. James Butler is an All-American star with veterans Reuben Houston and Dawan Landry good enough to grow into All-ACC caliber performers. Kenny Scott will be an All-ACC corner by the time his career is over

On the kicking game: The Skinny: The kicking game always seems to turn out fine at Georgia Tech, and there are several options to work with. Kenny Scott will return kickoffs again after averaging 22.3 yards per return last year. A consistent punt returner needs to be found to replace Jonathan Smith and his 11.7 yard average.