ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee's Year, Especially if Spring Goes Well

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee’s Year, Especially if This Spring Goes Well

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Spring Practice Start Date: March 25

Spring Game Date: April 19

Has the triple-option worked for Georgia Tech? Or better question: has Paul Johnson worked for Georgia Tech? After a year in which the Yellow Jackets finished just 6-6 during the regular season, this may just be the last shot for Johnson. With a miniscule recruiting class walking in the door, it won’t be easy. But responding to concern from fans, I’d assume this team must win at least eight games for him to truly feel safe come the offseason. Is that doable, though? This spring sets us on the right track to knowing a bit more.

Following a season where the ‘Wreck scored nearly 34 points per game, it’s hard to believe they had any issues at all on the offensive side of the ball. However, they also failed to score more than 21 five separate times, and (again) without a viable passing game in 2012, the team was an open target for opponents willing to stack the box against the run. Some of that may be due more to graduating QB Tevin Washington than the offense itself, but it’s likely we’ll see a transition period for this season as well. While Vad Lee and Synjyn Days both saw snaps at the quarterback position, it’s questionable which player (if either) can handle the full-time job. Like last year, there’s potential Johnson trots out two separate starters (both Lee and Days), though from a stability standpoint, one wold assume they’d have to choose eventually. The Yellow Jackets averaged just 129 passing yards per game last season (119th in the FBS); a true waste of talent when you’re fielding strong passers like Lee, or quality receivers like Jeff Greene. The team returns plenty of players who were involved in last year’s offense (they had 17 unique rushers and 14 unique receivers), so the pieces should be in place to hit the ground running this spring and find a more efficient way to use everyone’s talents.

Defensively, 2012 was an abject disaster for Georgia Tech, allowing over 28 points per game and giving up 40 or more six separate times. To fix the problem, they’ve brought in Ted Roof, who spent the last two seasons as Penn State‘s D-coordinator (and held this same job with Tech from 1999 through 2001). With eight starters back, Roof’s duties appear easier, but given the state of things for most of last season, it’s tough to really look at that as a positive. Sure, one could say they “improved” over the second half of last season, but look at the disastrous first half we’re comparing that to. And even that “improved” part of the season featured a 2-2 record overall, and two opponents that put up 42 or more points. The other two? An FSU team that severely underestimated them in the ACC Championship Game and a USC team playing without its starting quarterback in the Sun Bowl. Trust me, there’s plenty of work still to be done, though Roof hasn’t hinted how we’ll go about that just yet. Based on his time at PSU, expect this group to rely on strong linebacker play and an emphasis on rushing the passer. With several inexperienced young arms in the ACC next season, a veteran defense (like this one) will be handed a golden opportunity to really apply pressure and force mistakes.

Now, Georgia Tech did make the ACC title game last year, so don’t get me wrong, but the 2012 version of this team was still supremely underwhelming (and had plenty of help winning that division). To view last year as a success would be foolish, but I think Paul Johnson understands that. His strategy to use Lee as much as he did last year could pay huge dividends in terms of ramping up the offensive attack this spring, and Roof’s familiarity with the program only gives him an easier road on the opposite side of the ball as well. In a wide-open Coastal division, Tech will be positioned well, and this spring is likely to set that tone early.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State

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4 thoughts on “ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

  1. Good write up, this is definitely a critical year for Johnson. Most Tech fans believe the triple option can succeed at the highest levels of competition, but you need the good recruits, the ability to play defense, and a viable passing attack.

    One major bonus for GT next year that may go unnoticed by many was the signing of Harrison Butker, a Kicker from Westminster high school in Atlanta. Having a quality kicker next season should help the team tremendously in many ways.

    On the QB battle. It will most likely be a competition between Vad Lee and RS Freshman Justin Thomas. I don;t think Synjyn Days will be much of a factor at QB, look for him to possibly switch positions. Ultimately Lee will win the job and that has many Tech fans (myself included) about the possibilities this season. Lee has the size, skill, and athleticism to succeed in the triple option, and has the throwing ability to add that much sought after passing game to GT’s offense.

    The defense, has no where to go but up. Ted Roof is a good hire with a strong resume and deep ties to Georgia Tech. The Defense may not be spectacular, but shifting away from Al Groh’s insanely complex 3-4 schemes should help.

    After a quick glance, I’d say 8 wins is absolutely attainable for this season for the Yellow Jackets. Could be more, could be less.

    • Seems like everyone’s pretty high on Lee. I like him, though admittedly, don’t think he got enough reps last year for me to be 100-percent sold just yet. Still, I know he’s got a better arm than Washington, and that’s a good thing in this offense. Defense will certainly be better this season, and as I mentioned, I do think they’ll benefit from the ACC losing several experienced QBs this offseason.

      On Lee, do you think you have enough to say about him that it could fill a 400/500-word (or more) feature? Was looking to get some more in-depth detail on some of the new central faces in the conference and thought he’d be a great place to start.

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