GTNate - You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who has anything to do with Tech football that would be okay with another less-than-impressive year. The past three seasons have been mediocre when weighed against fan expectations, but there certainly has been an element of strangeness to them. Last year's oddball 7-7 record is a perfect microcosm of that; the Golden Tornado outscored its opponents in all four quarters, yet still came away with seven losses. Needless to say, Paul Johnson will have to find a way to erase the eclectic element and get a bump in the win column lest he find some angry folks at his metaphorical door.
millsGT49 - I think our offense will continue the pace it set last year, a Top-3 ACC offense. While I do believe the loss of Orwin Smith will hurt more than any other A-back in recent years, I think everyone else will pick up the slack. Unfortunately I can't help but expect more of the same on defense, it is always tough in year one for a new DC, and I just don't think we have added much to last year's team. There is potential, but I don't see our defense winning us many games this season. With some bad luck in close games, 7-5/8-4.
orientalnc - To build on what Nate said, I expect the door to be actual rather than metaphorical if things continue along this path. The defense allowed 40+ points in six games last year, and we lost two defensive coordinators. Something has to change on that side of the ball and I am not sure Ted Roof (as much as I loved him as a player) is the guy. I am a basketball guy and believe hoops games are won with match-ups. Maybe the same is true in football as well. In that case, we need to find a way to win the line of scrimmage more often and more consistently. That is killing us. I think we will be better on defense next year, but I thought that this past season, too. And we know what happened. Color me hopeful, but worried.
TBuzz - My expectations are high for 2013...9 wins is the standard I think. Home games against two FCS opponents, UNC and VPI seem winnable...plus Syracuse, Pitt, and the Dwags. We should expect a 6-1 record at home. Road games at Duke and UVA should be winnable...but at Miami, BYU, and later at Clemson might make/break the season. A winning road record may dictate the overall season record.
Our defense will be the key. Having a new starter at QB will likely mean more turnovers at first...a prospect that scares me some (although opening with Elon and Duke will help). An 80th ranked defense will lose us 5-6 games. A 30th ranked defense might keep us in every game. I think the move to the 4-3 will bring a renaissance for lots of guys (like Euclid Cummings and Anthony Williams) and allow us to go deeper into the bench.
Atlanta's Original - Here is the way I look at it. What were our problem areas after the 2011 season? Here is the list: we had no nose guard/tackle, a weak defensive line and a questionable secondary. Special teams were a disaster, the offensive line was a question mark, and we had essentially no B-back and no wide receivers. Teams with that many question marks don't have winning seasons.
So where are we after the 2012 season and going into the 2013 season? I see improved offensive and defensive lines, flexibility in the defensive scheme negating the need for a strong nose guard/tackle, a much improved defensive line and a sound secondary. Special teams will no longer be an adventure and we may have a legitimate return threat now. "B" back may still be by committee but the committee looks much improved. Wide receiver is still a question and now, to me, "A" back is a question. The big unknown is quarterback. We all know what we are dreaming of, but is it realistic to expect a new starting quarterback to be a steady hand guiding this offense?
I could see this team being a solid 8 or 9 win team but I would not be surprised if it was more like 7 wins with strong upset victories and dumbfounding losses.
LilBroey700 - I'm in the same boat as TBuzz here. I have fairly high expectations for this team in 2013, and think it's fair to say that fewer than 8 wins will be unacceptable (as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in an article, the most important thing that we see on a season-to-season basis is progress). The loss of Orwin Smith and Omoregie Uzzi will be tough on the offense, but I have a lot of faith in our young guys as far as their athletic abilities go.
The defense will certainly be the key, and I, for one, am pretty optimistic about them. I think we're going to see a much better defensive front than we're used to seeing in recent years (Gotsis, Attaochu, Green, and Cummings should be a solid grouping), and with guys like Watts, JHD, and Nealy behind them; there's not too much of an excuse for why they can't be successful. Maybe the weakest spot will be the secondary which loses Rod Sweeting but, God-willing, gains Fred Holton at SS. If that happens, you're looking at a group of veteran players (Thomas, Young, Holton, Johnson) who can be playmakers, while backed up by young guys who have demonstrated their potential (Chris Milton, Jamal Golden, D.J. White, Lynn Griffin).
I'm optimistic, and think that we have some pieces in place to make this season special. Whether or not that comes into fruition, though, is yet to be seen.
GTNate - The key to seeing the progress Joey talked about, I think, is seeing some manner of defensive improvement. Do you guys agree? What particular aspect about the D would you like to see improve be it in a position group, stat, or otherwise? I actually watched some tape of Roof's Auburn teams right before I had the opportunity to interview him and the hallmark of that group, above all else, was aggression. The mental state has to be just right, and I think if Roof can eliminate the soft tackling and occasional lack of aggression we've seen from GT's defense, that would make all the difference.
Atlanta's Original - Color me optimistic about the defense. We saw against FSU and against USC what this defense could do if they played with intensity. This year the personnel look stronger to me and that, coupled with a new aggressive attitude, could mean giving up fewer touchdowns. My fear is that the pressure may shift back to the offense this year and that is a big unknown with a new quarterback.
acedarney - I'm a little late to the party, so I'll be brief. I expect us to win 9 or more games in 2013. I don't think the offense got any worse, but the defense should improve (with or without Roof, we are bringing back a lot of good players this season). To do this, we'll need to win the games we're supposed to win and then win some of the games that are tossups. I tend to look at two things when predicting how a team will perform: (1) the quarterback and (2) experience everywhere else. The quarterback is a big play guy that will probably make his share of mistakes, but we have a lot of experience along the line, the backs, and the defense. This team will look pretty good, but we'll have to win the close games to meet my expectations.
We seem to be pretty set on wanting an eight to nine win season, readers, but differ wildly in opinion about what to expect from the new defense. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!