Head coach and offensive coordinator Paul Johnson has a vision about what he wants his offense to look like. He might have the position players to pull it off entering this 2015 campaign. His offense is a fluid motion designed to march right through the opposing defense, and anybody who saw the Yellow Jackets out-gun Mississippi State program in last year’s bowl game knows exactly what I’m talking about. The triple-option is a traditional formation, with coaches using it primarily to power up on one side of the field or another. When you run the triple-option well and add deception into your playbook, as Johnson has, you create a nightmare scenario for opposing defensive coordinators.

The Yellow Jackets are returning a large portion of their starters on defense. Although their stats were dismal last season (25.7 points and 411.3 yards per game), the fact that this unit has a year under their belts and the entire offseason to gel makes me expect some significant improvements.

Last Season
ACC (Coastal)
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2015 Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/3 Alcorn State -40 1
9/12 Tulane -34 1
9/19 @ Notre Dame +5.5 0.35
9/26 @ Duke -10 0.77
10/3 North Carolina -14 0.85
10/10 @ Clemson +3 0.43
10/17 Pittsburgh -14 0.85
10/24 Florida State PK 0.50
10/31 @ Virginia -10 0.77
11/12 Virginia Tech -7.5 0.73
11/21 @ Miami (FL) -5 0.64
11/28 Georgia +1 0.49
Estimated Wins: 8.38

The Yellow Jackets open the season with a scrimmage against Alcorn State at home. They stay in Georgia to face Tulane, a program they narrowly defeated 38-21 on the road as -7.5 point favorites last year. Then comes a real test, Notre Dame on the road. We’ll see what Georgia Tech’s made of after this game, as the result could very well dictate their potential College Football Playoff bid.

The Yellow Jackets will hit the road again for their first conference game of the year against Duke. With a lot of returning starters, we can expect a motivated Yellow Jacket squad after a 25-31 loss at home against the Blue Devils last season. UNC is on deck and even though one might consider this to be a let-down spot, the Yellow Jackets kept it close against the Tar Heels on the road last season. A trip to Clemson is next for the Yellow Jackets, and I would say this is their first and possibly only loss of the season. Two more home games on deck for Georgia Tech include Pitt and Florida State, and the location of these two games could play a heavy role in the Yellow Jacket’s future. The schedule gets a little looser to finish with UVA on the road and VT at home.  Between week 9 and week 10, the Yellow Jackets get 9 days off. Between the VT game and Miami on the road, Georgia Tech gets 12 days off to recoup. They wrap the season up with the time honored in-state rival game against Georgia on the road.

Somebody must really like the Yellow Jackets, because their schedule is about as soft as Charmin. The only kicker is I see Clemson being the only team that can stop this program in the ACC, so I have to give the Yellow Jacket’s success a peak of 11 wins. The key to Georgia Tech making the playoffs is to win their division outright. Anything else might not put enough spotlight on the program to sneak in. Maybe a power-five conference game in their non-conference schedule would of helped their cause, but they can’t do anything about it now.

Roster Breakdown

QB Justin Thomas is a perfect fit for this system.  He has the brain and the legs to run this operation, and he’ll be doing it with the entire coaching staff behind him. What’s behind him in the backfield is a different story, as Synjyn Days, Zach Laskey and Charles Perkins are all gone (a combined 377 carries and 2,218 yards last year). Broderick Snoddy should be a factor after healing from a broken leg last season and Patrick Skov, a transfer from Stanford, are ready to fill those positions.

What you also need to know about are the abilities of DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller to just pick passes out of the sky, something that will be needed in order for this type of offense to keep the opposition on their toes.

What we can’t overlook is the O-Line and their situation. It’s a good one as they return four starters and a handful of others with experience. This is easily the deepest offensive line in the ACC, and the Yellow Jackets can rely heavily on their abilities and chemistry.

The defense was the essential downfall of the Yellow Jackets last season. Senior All-ACC DT Adam Gotsis filling up the middle should help the cause. KeShun Freeman is nasty off the edge and should provide pressure on the quarterback this season. The loss of All-ACC linebacker Quayshawn Nealy would be painful for most teams, but Tech has senior Tyler Marcordes waiting to take his place. The secondary is bringing back familiar faces in Jamal Golden, Chris Milton and D.J. White, all seniors.

Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

This number is a joke for the season win total. I might add as I look at Bovada currently you need to lay -200 to take this over and, to be frank, the line move is correct. The non-conference schedule is weak for the Yellow Jackets, the conference schedule favors them as well and I really don’t see how this total doesn’t fly over the set number. My advice is to wait until the books have to balance out the action and push the number to 8 wins, something I would have no problem playing, even in the -130 range.

The players are there for Johnson, as this could be the best collective roster he’s ever had. Can they hold up on defense is a serious question, and can they find ways to navigate Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia on their schedule and walk away with at least two wins is another.  I feel these questions will be answered by the senior leadership on this roster.

2015 Projections
ACC (Coastal)
ACC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 7.5

I asked a few more experts on Georgia Tech football about the Yellow Jackets’ upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.



OVER 7.5 Wins – The Jackets are in the weaker ACC Coastal Division and many forget they won it last year with a 10-2 regular season record. They then gave FSU a run in the ACC Championship game before bowing to the Noles 37-35. The Jackets two ACC losses came by 6 & 5 points and they outscored their conference opponents by 109 on the season. Making the ACC Championship was not a fluke. They aren’t getting much respect here with this number set a 7.5. Flashy QB Thomas is back along with one of the better offensive lines in the nation. We love teams that can run the ball on anyone and Tech can do just that. They have finished 2nd, 7th, 4th, 2nd, and 1st nationally in YPG rushing over the last five years in rushing. Their defense can be suspect at times but they return eight starters so they should be OK on that side of the ball. They didn’t get any favors in the cross-over scheduling as they face both Florida State & Clemson from the Atlantic Division. Even with that this number is too low and we’ll take the OVER.

Art Aronson

Art Aronson

Georgia Tech (OVER): Once you have a QB, everything else falls into place. That’s the thinking at Georgia Tech, anyway, where coach Paul Johnson is expecting a breakout season from third-year player Justin Thomas. Thomas had 19 TD passes last season, and while he completed only 51 percent of his passes, there were only six picks in the mix. The Yellow Jackets still have to sort through some options at running back, but hopes are high to at least replicate last season’s 11-3 record – and perhaps even improve on it.

Benjamin Tankersley

Benjamin Tankersley

OVER 7.5 Wins – The 7.5 over/under number is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous. Granted, we lost nearly all of our skill positions on offense and an All-American offensive lineman, it’s also important to remember that Paul Johnson designed his offense for this. The reason that no one player is “featured” is so that he can go from season to season without having to worry about losing that featured player. I do think this year’s version of the offense will look different from last season, but that’s mainly because more teams will key in on redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thomas. He’s clearly the best and most dangerous player on the offense. And while defenses worry about him, he has the option to give it to literally anyone else. The main key to the offense having a successful season is making sure the new guys learn their assignments quickly. They will get a good chance to get all of that down against Alcorn State and Tulane before playing their first major opponent Notre Dame.

On defense, there’s nowhere to go but up, especially with the pass rush. Earlier in the offseason, I wrote an article for From the Rumble Seat (http://www.fromtherumbleseat.com/georgia-tech-football/2015/6/3/8708461/opinion-week-this-years-defensive-line-will-be-better-than-2007s) about why I think this year’s defensive line will become the best one Paul Johnson has had at Georgia Tech. My main reasoning for it is the continued growth of freshman All-American KeShun Freeman and Antonio Simmons and the additions of JUCO transfer Kenderius Whitehead and linebacker-turned-defensive tackle Jabari Hunt-Days (assuming he regains eligibility — news that could come as soon as next week). Add in a very experienced linebacking corps and secondary, and hopes are high for the Yellow Jackets this season. I’ll say that by the end of the season (bowl game included), they get at least 10 wins.

Joey Weaver

Joseph Weaver
OVER 7.5 Wins – look at that number and my reaction has always been that it seems low. Georgia Tech’s schedule is very tough this year (one of the toughest nationally), and yet I have a hard time seeing them winning less than 8 games. They bring back 8 starters on defense, 4 on the offensive line, and an ACC POY candidate at quarterback, and I think that bodes well. My prediction for the season is they’ll finish with 8-9 wins, and I feel pretty strongly about that.

Dale McDuffie

Dale McDuffie
I think GT will have a chip on their shoulder to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. Justin Thomas is a more mature Junior now and had a full season directing Coach Johnson’s offense. The place I see making the season even better will be the defense. A very senior lead defensive team and several highly touted recruits ready to step if needed. GT has more depth across the board than I can ever remember and I have been going to GT games since 1976.


Cade Lawson
OVER 7.5 Wins – When I heard that the over/under for Tech’s 2015 season was set at 7.5 wins, my first reaction was that it was a bit insulting to the program in terms of the success it experienced in 2014 and the slew of returning starters from last year’s 11-win team. As difficult as Georgia Tech’s upcoming schedule is, there just aren’t five losses anywhere in sight. To even get close to a 7-5 mark would probably entail losing all four of the toughest games on the schedule (against Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia) which would be beyond surprising. Keep in mind that this is a team which returns a possible Heisman-hopeful at quarterback, the majority of its offensive line, and all but three defensive starters from a season ago. That coupled with considerable depth at nearly every position should yield another successful season in 2015; another double-digit win total is within reach and more than 7 wins is nearly a lock.

James Fitzgerald

James Fitzgerald IV

OVER 7.5 Wins – This number is too low as I can’t see five or more losses. The season starts off with a couple of cupcake games against Alcorn State and Tulane before a tough stretch with 3 of 4 road games against tough opponents. I’m also estimating two losses out of the last three games against Va Tech, Miami, and Georgia. Florida State is the swing game in my mind, but I think this looks like a nine win season, making the over a fairly safe bet.

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