When the a preseason poll of media members projected Georgia Tech to finish in fifth place in the ACC Coastal Division, Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson was emotionally crushed.
Johnson actually used the prediction as a punchline. That should have been expected by anybody who knows: 1) The coach; 2) History.
“They haven’t been right yet, so what makes them so smart this time?” Johnson said.
Disclaimer: I didn’t vote in the preseason poll, which projected the Coastal standings as: Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Virginia. But I did have the Jackets finishing 5-3 in the ACC and 8-5 overall in a game-by-game look at their schedule.
So I’m already off by one. I had the Jackets losing this season to Virginia Tech, Miami and Pittsburgh in the conference, and Georgia out of conference. The 27-24 win in Blacksburg two weeks ago changed everything. The Jackets (4-0, 1-0) go into tonight’s nationally televised game (ESPN2) against Miami (3-2, 1-1) with a chance to take charge in the Coastal Division. If Tech wins, it will have beaten the two teams most had considered the strength of the division. Nobody — I’m assuming not even Johnson — would’ve guessed that potentially only Pittsburgh and Virginia would stand in Tech’s way to reach the ACC championship game.
The Jackets’ offense has improved with quarterback Justin Thomas. Their biggest potential obstacle to a division title is their defense, which is allowing over 400 yards and 25.5 points per game and ranks last in the ACC and 92nd nationally against the run (194.2 yards per game).
Tech also has lost five straight meetings to Miami, with the last win coming in Johnson’s first year in 2008 (41-23). That’s probably why most oddsmakers have this game so close, some even with Miami a slight road favorite.
— AJC: Braves should’ve left Gonzalez decision to new GM — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech, UGA win, Falcons continue kindness — AJC: Are Braves waiting for Dayton Moore? — MyAJC: Hawks are still playing wrong game off the court — MyAJC: Falcons’ losses like this are on Mike Smith — AJC: Falcons: No defense, no line, no chance — AJC: Live: Falcons face Vikings minus Peterson — MyAJC: John Hart says Braves ‘lethargic,’ need changes — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Dogs win, Rocker loses — AJC: Braves’ Hart says he would be open to mentoring role — AJC: Would Braves be better off not going “Braves Way”? — MyAJC: Georgia is 0-1 but SEC East is still there for taking — MyAJC: Full column: Frank Wren did a lot right but big things hurt him — AJC: Quick blog: Frank Wren failed at major decisions — AJC: Terry McGuirk is on the clock (updated) — MyAJC: Georgia’s next 7 games are what really counts — AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s 66-0 win over Troy — MyAJC: Falcons now realize they need to step on gas — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, Goodell cowers — AJC: Braves see Nats celebrate, and Pirates may do same — MyAJC: Fredi Gonzalez: ‘It’s my team, I take full responsibility’ — AJC: Braves’ opponents often celebrates here — MyAJC: Falcons let everybody see their ugly side — AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati — MyAJC: Georgia Tech has problems, but it also has Justin Thomas — AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s narrow escape — AJC: Ferry takes leave but Hawks won’t change with this ownership — AJC: Hawks giving lessons on how not to contain a fire — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Goodell sees alibis, I see Dogs — AJC: Goodell was at Masters when Rice video arrived — AJC: Silver says Ferry’s words not ‘terminable’ offense — MyAJC: Only cure: All Hawks’ owners and Ferry must go — AJC: Levenson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar miss point about Atlanta — MyAJC: Levenson gone but timing raises questions