Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech: Official 2014 Overview and Predictions

Key Players Returning:

QB Justin Thomas, RB Synjyn Days, RB Zach Laskey, WR/PR DeAndre Smelter, WR Michael Summers, WR Darren Walker, OG Trey Braun, OG Shaquille Mason, T Bryan Chamberlain, DT Adam Gotsis, LB Tyler Marcordes, LB Quayshawn Nealy, CB DJ White, NB Demond Smith, KR Lynn Griffin, and PK Harrison Butker.

Key Players Departing:

QB Vad Lee, RB Robert Godhigh, RB David Sims, OC Jay Finch, OT Will Jackson, DE/LB Jeremiah Attaochu, DE Emmanuel Drake, DT Euclid Cummings, LB Jabari Hunt-Days, LB Brandon Watts, CB Louis Young, S/KR Jamea Thomas, and PT Sean Poole.

2014 Recruits:

DB Step Durham (Jacksonville, FL)  |  RB C.J. Leggett (Suwanee, GA)  |  OL Andrew Marshall (Cumming, GA)  |  WR Miles Autry (Norcross, VA)  |  DE Keshun Freeman (Hogansville, GA)  |  DB Lance Austin (Griffin, GA)  |  DB Lawrence Austin (Griffin, GA)  |  DB Qua Searcy (Barnesville, GA)  |  QB Matthew Jordan (Jackson, AL)  |  WR Jalen Johnson (Oneonta, AL)  |  TE Trey Klock (Hummelstown, PA)  |  OL Gary Brown (Tampa, FL)  |  OL Jake Stickler (Bradenton, FL)  |  DE Tyler Merriweather  (Demopolis, AL)  |  DE Michael Preddy (Charleston, SC)  |  DE Antonio Simmons (Jacksonville, FL)  |  DE Kenderius Whitehead (Milledgeville, GA)  |  LB Tre Jackson (Valdosta, GA)  |  LB Terrell Lewis (Ocoee, FL)  |  WR Clinton Lynch (Norcross, GA)  |  OL Jake Whitley (North Augusta, GA)  |  DB Shaun Kagawa (Hilo, HI)

Miscellaneous Team Info:

2013 Record:  7-6  |  Home:  5-2  |  Away:  2-3  |  Neutral:  0-1  |  ACC:  5-3  |  Non-ACC:  2-3  |  Head Coach:  Paul Johnson  |  @Georgia Tech:  49-32  |  Career:  93-61  |  Bowls:  3-7  |  Vs. Top 10:  2-6  |  Vs. Top 25:  7-20

Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing:  Justin Thomas (9-17, 131 yards, 52.9%, 14.6 avg., 1 TD, 2 Int.)  |  Rushing:  Zach Laskey (84 car., 485 yards, 5.8 avg., 7 TD)  |  Receiving:  DeAndre Smelter (21 rec., 345 yards, 16.4 avg., 4 TD)  |  TDs Scored:  Zack Laskey (8)  |  Sacks:  Adam Gotsis (5.5)  |  Tackles:  Quayshawn Nealy (66)  |  Interceptions:  Tyler Marcordes/Chris Milton/Quayshawn Nealy (2)  |  Pass Deflections:  D.J. White (6)  |  Tackles For Loss:  Adam Gotsis (14.5)  |  Forced Fumbles:  D.J. White (2)  |  Kick Returns:  Lynn Griffin (8 ret., 212 yards, 26.5 avg., 0 TD)  |  Punt Returners:  DeAndre Smelter (11 ret., 124 yards, 11.3 avg., 0 TD)  |  Kicking:  Harrison Butker (10-14 fg/fga, 71%, 53-54 xp/xpa, 93 pts.)  |  Punting:  None

Projected Offensive Starters:

QB:  05  Justin ThomasNCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Clemson
BB:  37  Zach Laskey
AB:  22  Broderick Snoddy
AB:  10  Synjyn Days
WR:  84  Michael Summers
WR:  15  DeAndre Smelter
OC:  77  Thomas O’Reilly
LG:  78  Trey Braun
RG:  70  Shaquille Mason
LT:  53  Bryan Chamberlain
RT:  79  Chase Roberts
KR:  15  DeAndre Smelter
PK:  87  Harrison Butker

Projected Defensive Starters:

LE:  99  Tyler Stargel
RE:  90  Kenderius Whitehead
DT:  97  Shawn Green
DT:  96  Adam Gotsis
WB:  35  Tyler Marcordes
MB:  54  Quayshawn Nealy
NB:  12  Demond Smith
CB:  29  Step Durham
CB:  28  D.J. White
FS:  04  Jamal Golden
SS:  01  Isaiah Johnson
PR:  27  Lynn Griffin
PT:  85  Ryan Rodwell

Projected Team MVPs:

Offense:  QB Justin Thomas
Defense:  LB Quayshawn Nealy
Special Teams:  PK Harrison Butker

Schedule:

08/30  WOFFORD TERRIERS  |  Georgia Tech won (33-0) the only meeting between schools in 1901.

09/06  at Tulane Green Wave  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 35-13.  The Yellow Jackets won (19-13) the last meeting between schools in 1982.

09/13  GEORGIA SOUTHERN EAGLES  |  First meeting between schools.

09/20  at Virginia Tech Hokies  |  Georgia Tech trails the series 3-8.  The Yellow Jackets last series win (28-23) was in 2009.

10/04  MIAMI HURRICANES  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 10-9.  The Yellow Jackets are 4-7 since 2000.

10/11  DUKE BLUE DEVILS  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 50-30-1.  The Yellow Jackets are 18-2 since 1994.

10/18  at North Carolina Tar Heels  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 28-18-3.  The Yellow Jackets are 15-5 since 1994.

10/25  at Pittsburgh Panthers  |  Georgia Tech’s win last season was the first meeting between schools since 1976.

11/01  VIRGINIA CAVALIERS  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 18-17-1.  The Yellow Jackets are 9-11 since 1994.

11/08  at NC State Wolf Pack  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 18-10.  The Yellow Jackets are 11-4 since 1994.

11/15  CLEMSON TIGERS  |  Georgia Tech leads the series 50-27-2.  The Yellow Jackets are 11-10 since 1994.

11/29  at Georgia Bulldogs  |  Georgia Tech trials the series 39-64-5.  The Yellow Jackets are 4-16 since 1994.

Prediction:

ACC:  7-2* (1st in ACC Coastal Division; lose in ACC Title Game)
Non-ACC:  3-1

The Georgia Tech Football Program will be looking to make it’s 18th consecutive Bowl appearance in 2014.Tech’s offense lost key players this off-season, but the returning cast is more than capable of producing equal numbers, or improving upon those results.  The Yellow Jackets run the flexbone/option offense, and leading the charge this season is quarterback Justin Thomas.

Thomas has a solid arm for those rare pass attempts, but he also has good speed, good agility, and the ability to avoid tackles.  Tech loses both Robert Godhigh and David Sims, but Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey should have little trouble duplicating or surpassing the production from the ground game last season.NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia

DeAndre Smelter returns as the top receiver for the Yellow Jackets.  In addition to Smelter, the passing game will get a huge lift from play makers Michael Summers and Darren Walker.  Summers is ready for a breakout season, and with Walker’s deceptive speed and height advantage at 6-foot-5, the Ramblin’ Wreck has its most experienced receiving unit since 2004.

The offensive line gains from the addition freshman left tackle Chris Griffin, and sophomore center Freddie Burden .  Guard Trey Braun returns along with senior Shaquille Mason, giving the interior offensive line plenty of size to open gaps for the run game, while being agile enough to protect Thomas on passing downs.  Junior Bryan Chamberlain also returns, which gives the flexbone a solid push at the corners, which is great news for their rushing attack.

Georgia Tech’s defensive line was hit the hardest this off-season.  The only returning starter from last season is DT Adam Gotsis.  Sophomore DE Tyler Stargel (redshirt freshman) will be tossed into the fire.

Kendarius Whitehead, who transferred from Georgia Military College, would have been a nice addition to this group but he is going to have to redshirt.

Quayshawn Nealy is another player set to have a breakout season.  He finished last season with 66 tackles, but he has the tools and talent to improve upon those numbers this season.  Junior linebacker Tyler Marcordes earned his stripes last season.  He only started one game for the Yellow Jackets, but he finished the season with 16 tackles and 2 picks.

Obviously those numbers will increase this season, and if Marcordes can find his rhythm early on, he could become a staple within this defensive unit’s success.  The effects from the loss of Brandon Watts should be marginal.

Georgia Tech’s secondary returns with plenty of experience.  Corners Chris Milton and D.J. White return, while Demond Smith returns to provide a spark from nickel back.  This season they lose safety Jemea Thomas.

Fortunately, Isaiah Johnson returns with 29 starts under his belt, and Jamal Golden has 5 starts, so there is plenty of experience to go around in this secondary.  Johnson

Step Durham should see plenty of action as a true freshman.  He has blazing speed, good man and zone coverages, and he makes solid hits.  This unit ranks as my most underrated secondary in the ACC for 2014.

Georgia Tech has two very gifted returners, who are threats to break for daylight on any given return.  DeAndre Smelter, aside from being difficult to cover on passing downs, also uses his speed and agility to be a force in the return game.  He averaged 11.3 per return last season.

Lynn Griffin also has excellent speed.  Once the ball is secured he hits the jets, and his ability to make tacklers miss makes him one of the more dangerous kick returners in the ACC.  He averaged 26.5 on returns last season, and his longest was for 59 yards!

Georgia Tech has a favorable schedule this season.  They start off the season at home against FCS opponent Wofford, and close the season on the road in Athens, Georgia.  They also play host to Tulane, Georgia Southern, Miami (FL), Duke, Virginia (homecoming), and Clemson.  They avoid Florida State during the regular season, and face the tougher ACC opponents at home.  They travel to Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and NC State.  They could be 6-0 before traveling to North Carolina on October 18th.

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Tags: 2014 Prediction 2014 Schedule ACC ACC Football Adam Gotsis Broderick Snoddy Bryan Chamberlain Chase Roberts Chris Milton D.J. White Darren Walker DeAndre Smelter Demond Smith Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Football Georgia Tech Recruiting Harrison Butker Isaiah Johnson Jamal Golden Justin Thomas Kenderius Whitehead Lynn Griffin Michael Summers Overview Quayshawn Nealy Recruiting Ryan Rodwell Series Records Shaquille Mason Shawn Green Synjyn Days Team Info Thomas O'Reilly Trey Braun Tyler Marcordes Tyler Stargel Zach Laskey

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