When the preseason ACC projections were released and Tech was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal, no one was too surprised. As multiple people have mentioned, Paul Johnson's Jackets have a history of being underrated in the preseason and overachieving come late August. The interesting thing to see is how the team uses these ranking, whether they choose to ignore them all together or use them as fuel to surpass the external expectations set for themselves. From reading the article, it would appear that each player has his own way of reacting to the rankings. D.J. White chooses to completely block out all outside expectations while Justin Thomas is somewhere in between listening and setting his own expectations. Whatever the general consensus is around the locker room on this issue, it seems to work just fine for CPJ; they continue to surpass projections and I wouldn't be surprised if they did it again this season.
If even Paul Johnson says that he is optimistic about the upcoming season, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn't be too. The simple truth is that there are a lot of wildcards in 2014 that could make this squad a special one; there's plenty to be optimistic about. Justin Thomas could become one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, the defense could step up and be a true force in the conference, and DeAndre Smelter could have a breakout season that sees him go in the first round of the NFL draft. Of course it's wishful thinking, but it really could happen if everything comes together this season, and why shouldn't it? This has been a warm and fuzzy paragraph to brighten up your Monday.
Everyone knows that Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL. He dominates opposing secondaries with his unique combination of speed, size, and strength, breaking record after record as he goes, but what makes him so good? Exactly why is Megatron a nightmare for opposing defenses? The article I linked to above does a really good job of explaining that question; I think that the key point they bring up is his drive and will to keep getting better even though he's already the best. He finds even the smallest things and perfects them, thus getting better and better each time. It's just terrifying that some don't think he's really reached his ceiling yet.
Speaking of Calvin Johnson, could 2014 be the year of Megatron? It seems to me that every season leading up to 2014 has been the year of Megatron to this point. He hasn't taken a step back during any one season in particular and continues to be the premier player in the NFL, so why shouldn't 2014 be his best season yet? He has Golden Tate and Eric Ebron this go-around to hopefully put an end to his triple-and-quadruple-teams that have hindered his production (albeit microscopically); better targets for Matt Stafford means less attention for Megatron himself. And we've all seen what happens when Calvin Johnson doesn't get enough attention: 300 yard games.
Is there truly a reason to feel optimistic about the 2014 football team? What gives you hope that this season will be a special one?
Have a nice day!