#47 Georgia Tech Football 2016 Preview

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Overall Rank: #47
#9 ACC
There were not many teams who had a more disappointing 2015 campaign then Georgia Tech. A year after going to the Orange Bowl, the Yellow Jackets managed just three wins in 2016, ending their streak of 18 straight bowl appearances. After crushing Alcorn State and Tulane in the first two weeks of the season, Georgia Tech managed to win just one more game all season. That win was over then top ten ranked Florida State, but that was of little consequence for a program that is getting used to trips to the ACC title game.
2015 Record: 3-9, 1-7
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Paul Johnson (62-44 at Georgia Tech, 107-73 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Ted Roof
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marcus Marshall, RB, 654 yards
Passing: Justin Thomas, QB, 1,345 yards
Receiving: Ricky Jeune, WR, 520 yards
Tackles: P.J. Davis, LB, 77
Sacks: P.J. Davis, LB, 2.0; KeShun Freeman, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: Brant Mitchell, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Clinton Lynch, CB Lawrence Austin, DL Patrick Gamble
Key Losses: RB Patrick Skov, DT, Adam Gotsis, DB Jamal Golden, LB Tyler Marcordes, DB Demond Smith, DB D.J. White
By Georgia Tech’s standards, ranking eighth in the nation in rushing offense is a disappointment. The triple-option offense struggled because of a lot of youth on that side of the ball. As a result, Coach Paul Johnson’s offense rushed for fewer yards than ever before during his tenure at Georgia Tech. It should get better this year with senior quarterback Justin Thomas having more experience around him. Thomas threw for 1,345 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and added 488 yards on the ground. Back in 2014, Thomas was much more effective and the hope is he can get back to that form. And that is feasible with more experience around him. The offensive line had two freshmen tackles who are now sophomores and they both need to build on their year of experience. Running backs Clinton Lynch and Marcus Marshall had very promising freshman campaigns. Lynch rushed for 457 yards and five scores on just 48 carries. Marshall was the team’s leading rusher with 654 yards. Ricky Jeune will again be the team’s top receiving target after catching 24 passes for 520 yards and four touchdowns.
It was the defense that kept Georgia Tech in most games last year, but the unit was not particularly good. And now they have some key pieces to replace, most notably in the secondary where there is a ton of inexperience. Cornerback Lawrence Austin, who started nine games as a sophomore, is by far the most experienced option. Linebacker P.J. Davis is already a leader for the Yellow Jackets after totaling a team high 77 tackles in 2015. The front four has plenty of depth and potential, although replacing defensive tackle Adam Gotsis will not be easy. Patrick Gamble will lead the unit that also includes returning starters Rod Rook-Chungong and KeShun Freeman.
The Bottom Line:
This will be an interesting season for Georgia Tech. In 2014, just about everything went right and in 2015 just about everything went wrong. The defense was not creating turnovers and the offense was not as prolific as they have been in years past. The reality for this season certainly lies somewhere in-between the success of 2014 and the failure of 2015. The ACC is never easy, but Georgia Tech does avoid Florida State and Louisville out of the Atlantic Division and that will help this program start a new bowl streak.
Projected Bowl: Military Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 256.2 (8th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 121.8 (123, 13)
Total Offense: 378.0 (80, 10)
Scoring Offense: 29.3 (63, 7)
Rushing Defense: 165.1 (57, 10)
Pass Defense: 202.9 (35, 7)
Total Defense: 368.0 (42, 8)
Scoring Defense: 25.8 (51, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.58 (105, 12)
Sacks: 1.17 (120, 14)
Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (25, 3)