Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Georgia Tech Football: 5 Most Important Positions For The Yellow Jackets

Vegas has Georgia Tech pegged for 7-8 wins. Strong performances by these five positions could push the Yellow Jackets to double-digit wins and a conference title.

But poor performances could spell doom and put the bowl streak that started in 1997 in jeopardy. Here are the five most important positions for Georgia Tech in 2012.

5. Inside Linebacker
An already mediocre Yellow Jacket defense lost its most productive player, Julian Burnett, during last year's bowl game. What the Macon native lacked in size he more than made up for  in effort, production, and leadership.

Al Groh's new ILBers have the prototypical size but lack the experience and proven ability to find the ball where Burnett was so deft.

Looking to fill Burnett's spot is Quayshawn Nealy, Jabari Hunt-Days, or Daniel Drummond. These players are key to slowing down opponents rushing attack which in the past has kept the Jackets high powered offense off the field. 

4. B-Back
Although the position rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, no single back broke the thousand yard mark for the first time in Paul Johnson's tenure. The starter David Sims was able to move the ball, but lacked the explosiveness of a Jonathan Dwyer or even Anthony Allen.

The dive is the bread and butter play in Johnson's spread option. When it is working it puts the defense on its heels to truly defend sideline to sideline.

Sims was injured in the off season and has given ground to Zach Laskey in Fall practice. Expect to see both early in the season while the position sorts itself out.

If GT can get more explosion plays out of this position it could open up a new corps of...

3. Wide Receiver
The Jackets do not have a player at the receiver position who caught a pass last season. While Tech does not throw the ball often, they want to make defenses pay when they do.

When Johnson's offense was at its best, a future NFL wide receiver was grabbing passes in Demaryius Thomas to make the defense guard more than just 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Leading the charge to be the next NFL Draft pick is sophomore Jeff Greene who has similar size to Stephen Hill. Also, Jeremy Moore is finally healthy and looking to shine as is 6'6" Darren Waller.

2. Quarterback
Despite a lack of passing, the QB is still the most important position in Johnson's offense. Tevin Washington has held off hard charging Redshirt Freshman Vad Lee in Fall practice and the Yellow Jackets are hoping his experience can create more big plays this season.

However, expect Lee to see action in passing situations and special packages to take advantage of his arm. If Lee can cut down on the turnovers he will push Washington for more playing time as the season progresses.

1. Nose Tackle
The options gets a lot of the pub, but the key to Georgia Tech's ultimate success this season lies right over the ball on defense. Switching to a 3-4 base after an 11 win 2009 season, Georgia Tech has struggled to stop teams without a consistent pass rush or run stopper in the middle. Virginia Tech DC Bud Foster said the best defense against the Jackets is a good offense.

Opponents have used Tech's own medicine against them grinding out drives on the ground to play keep away of their own.

Groh has the size at nose tackle in 340lb TJ Barnes, but the senior has yet to put together a string of games where he is a dominant force necessary to make the 3-4 thrive.

If Barnes and his backups can demand double teams it will free up the pass rush from the outside and allow inside backers to plug the run.

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