As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Tuesday over the summer. SU will continue its ACC schedule when they play at Georgia Tech on Oct. 19.
FIGHTING MEDIOCRITY: Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is trying to halt a recent slide into mediocrity. After taking over for Chan Gailey six years ago, Johnson’s squads rose to the top of the ACC, accumulating a 20-7 record in his first two years. But in the last three seasons, the Yellow Jackets have gone just 21-19. Last year, Johnson fired defensive coordinator Al Groh halfway through the season, and Georgia Tech responded by winning the Coastal Division and upsetting USC in the Sun Bowl to even the team’s record at 7-7. But playing .500 ball isn’t exactly what Johnson had in mind when he took over and had his team playing in the Orange Bowl in his second year.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee has the talent and athleticism to run Johnson’s spread-option system. He’s got a better arm than former QBs Joshua Nesbitt and Tevin Washington, and he’ll be playing behind an experienced offensive line. Lee will also be spelled by redshirt freshman backup Justin Thomas. But the Yellow Jackets will likely spend the majority of their time running the ball. There aren’t any proven playmakers in the receiving core, but senior backs Robert Godhigh and David Sims combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and eight touchdowns last season.
PREDICTION: The Yellow Jackets will be one of the most experienced teams in the ACC, returning 16 starters, many of whom helped Georgia Tech to an average of 311 rushing yards per game last season (4th in the NCAA). The main question will be how quickly Lee can adjust to being the starting QB. If he can make that transition, Georgia Tech could find themselves back in the ACC Championship game. GEORGIA TECH 35, SYRACUSE 28.