Georgia Tech was pretty solid last year. Winning their division came as a surprise to most. However, the story was derailed in a defensive match against upstart Wake Forest in the ACC title game. How will the Yellow Jackets do without Calvin Johnson?
THE DEFENSE: Like most ACC teams, the defense was pretty good. John Tenuta is one of the better defensive coordinators in the game of football and it showed with last season's 27th overall and scoring defensive rankings. They were 9th in pass efficiency defense. They lose Joe Anoai who was a big force up the middle and Kenny Scott in the secondary. But, Georgia Tech returns most of their best defensive players. I could go on and on about how many good stats they produced over last season.
THE OUTLOOK: Georgia Tech will be a halfway decent football team. With Choice running the ball, the offense will be alright and the defense will still be pretty good. But Johnson was their only source for explosive offensive plays. They tapped into that source a lot. He was one of the best players in college football and you're not going to get better that way. The schedule is pretty hard and while they're probably going to get 7 wins this year, I wouldn't put it past them to upset one of those "Ehhhhh.....Maybe...."s. So, solid, but not great, another bowl bid, another decent season for Chan Gailey in the books.
BOWL GAME?: Emerald Bowl
THE OFFENSE: They're not going to do anything. Hawaii? Naw............Back to reality, the WRs on this team can really produce. Davone Bess, Jason Rivers, and Ryan Grice-Mullen probably contribute to the best WR corps in America. Colt Brennan is going to shatter the record books this season. He's not that far off pace from some of Ty Detmer's records. Losing Nate Ilaoa is the biggest knock on this offense. He was really the most underrated player in the entire country. He ran for almost 1,000 yards!!!! Doing that in Hawaii's pass-happy offense is something worth noting. He looked the part of a big, bruising back but he was a shifty slasher and found places to show off his moves in open space. There are some replacements for him though, I think Marlo Cox has the job as of the moment. Anyway, we're talking about the best offense in the nation when we're talking about Hawaii's.
THE DEFENSE: Is the area of this team that could use some help. Jerry Glanville bolted for Portland State and now Greg McMackin is taking control of the defensive side of the ball. They were okay against the run but 105th ranked against the pass. The WAC is a passing conference and teams like New Mexico State could give them some trouble if the passing defense doesn't improve. Losing Ikaika Alma-Francis and Melila Purcell will hurt up front and Leonard Peters was their best secondary player. They do have some talent on defense, June Jones just needs someone like McMackin to help them reach their potential. One guy I really like is Michael Lafaele; he plays defensive tackle very, very well. He'll also have to step it up with their two best defensive ends gone. Could you guys imagine how good Hawaii would be if they could play better defense? I don't know if this is the year they do have a top 60 defense or not, but I'd expect the same amount of production from this crew as the last year's D.
THE OUTLOOK: The outlook for Hawaii is brighter than glaring into the sun without any sun glasses. Colt Brennan is going to absolutely smash any record that we've ever seen. An NFL QB ins a passing offense against weak competition. Sounds good to me! The thing is, June Jones will not let up on Charleston Southern and Northern Colorado. The reason? Well, I think that he can foresee the coming criticism of the schedule. So, he's going to do everything in his power to absolutely demolish his opposition. Don't be surprised if Hawaii scores 70-80 points against their two 1-AA foes. If the defense can get a little bit better, they'll run the table. Hawaii though doesn't do as well on the road. If they had Alabama at home, do you think they'd beat them? I do. Look for Hawaii to get upset against Nevada and beat Boise State. The schedule that they play will prevent them from going to the BCS at 11-1.
BOWL GAME?: Hawaii Bowl