Eye View: Georgia Tech is the ďhotĒ pick of some media folks
this season, much like Clemson was last year. While they certainly have some top
notch talent, this is a team with too many holes to contend for the top spot in
the Coastal Division.
Areas of Strength (offense): Based on the combination of past production
and potential, I think a very good argument can be made that WR Calvin Johnson
is the best offensive player in the ACC. Heís tall with great size and good
speed. Once he learns how to get off the line a little better against press
coverage, heíll be NFL ready. His running mate, 6í3Ē Damarius Bilbo,
should have a nice year when teams double Johnson. Tailback P.J. Daniels is a
tough inside runner whose presence (or absence) completely changes the offense
(witness last yearís game against VT in Atlanta). The backup tailback
situation is also very strong with returnees Chris Woods, Rashaun Grant, and,
most notably, transfer Tashard Choice from Oklahoma. Choice adds a different
dimension to the rushing attack as heís got more breakaway speed than Daniels.
Although he doesnít get a lot of publicity, Travis Bell may be the best kicker
in the conference.
Areas of Concern (offense): With
only two returning starters, the offensive line is in flux and the two deep is
loaded with sophomores and freshmen (much like VTís line will look in í06).
This is particularly troubling because two year returning quarterback starter
Reggie Ball can be very good at times, but he struggles with his decision making
when pressured. GT is going to have to rely heavily on the run game to put Ball
in a position to maximize his ability.
Areas of Strength (defense): Jon Tenuta is one of the best defensive
coordinators around and his relentless, attacking style keeps offenses on their
heels. GT will return eight players who have started on defense at one time or
another, so this is an experienced group. The all ACC candidates are Eric
Henderson (DE), Gerris Wilkerson (ILB) and Chris Reis (converted from weakside
linebacker to strong safety). Henderson plays the run and the pass equally well,
and heís the best defender for the Jackets in my opinion. Wilkerson is a
tough, instinctive player who converted from defensive end, and Reis made more
plays for the Jackets last year than anyone. Also watch sophomore linebacker
Phillip Wheeler Ė heís got the potential to be a game changing player. The
secondary will have four players who have started previously, although
admittedly one was at another position (Reis) and one is coming off a redshirt
year (CB Dennis Davis).
Areas of Concern (defense): GT thought it was so loaded on the defensive line
that it moved three players to the offensive side of the ball, and then the
Rambling Wreck lost two projected starters. Sophomore defensive tackle Darryl
Richard tore his ACL during the spring, and then Travis Parker, a starter at
defensive end who was a candidate to move to tackle to replace Richard, was
dismissed from the team at the beginning of the summer for academic reasons. By
the end of the spring the two deep at defensive tackle was populated by a 270 JR
(returning starter Joe Anoai) and three redshirt freshmen that tip the scales at
265, 255 and 255. GT is expected to move 310 lb. Mansfield Wrotto, one of the
offensive line converts, back to DT to add some muscle inside. Then the Jackets
lost physically gifted but inconsistent corner Reuben Houston, who was arrested
on a litany of drug charges. The secondary has experienced players, but Tenuta
may have to play some zone because Reis and free safety Dawan Landry arenít
the swiftest set of safeties in the conference.
Key Game: Pick a road game, any road game (other than Duke). Iíll go
with GT at UVa on November 12th when third place in the Coastal could be on
the line, but GT also has to travel to Auburn, VT, and Miami.
Fearless Predictions: Despite a lot of preseason hype, I think the
Jackets will struggle to be bowl eligible and 6-5 looks to be the best case
scenario. Besides the four tough road games noted above, they play at home
against Georgia, N.C. State, Clemson, Wake and North Carolina. Reggie Ball will
have a plus TD-INT ratio this year, but heíll make just enough mistakes to
have Jacket fans longing for redshirt freshman Taylor Bennett. Defensive end
Eric Henderson will revert back to the form of his sophomore season, and thatís
bad news for ACC opponents.