Countdown to Kickoff: 23 days
2016 Season Scenarios - Worst Case
Let me apologize in advance.
Yesterday, we took a look at the best possible result for the 2016 Georgia Tech football season. Today, we’re taking a look at 2016 with the glass half empty. Last season in this spot, the worst case scenario was presented as a 5-7 season. As we well know, the Yellow Jackets found a way to out-do that projection en route to their worst season in over 20 years.
In looking at the worst that could happen this season, I’ve given myself one major ground rule. I will not predict injuries. Nobody wants to see any college player get hurt. I’m also not going to predict natural disasters or Acts of God. Instead, this scenario will look at what could happen if the offensive line is as bad (or worse? Is that possible?) than last year, no pass catcher steps up, no pass rush develops, the defense regresses without the senior leadership in the secondary, and all the bounces that went against Georgia Tech in 2015 go the same way in 2016. Take a deep breath and buckle up. This isn’t going to be fun.
Week 1: Georgia Tech (0-0) vs Boston College (0-0) in Dublin, Ireland (7:30 AM ET)
The Yellow Jackets have trouble shaking off the stink of 2015 and stumble coming out of the gate. The stress of trans-Atlantic travel takes its toll as Justin Thomas and company look sluggish and out of sync. Boston College’s defense picks up right where they left off despite breaking in a new coordinator. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles look better with QB Patrick Towles and Tech’s defense shows its youth. The game is close but low scoring, which plays right into Boston College’s hands. BC 20 - GT 17
Meanwhile... Georgia rushes out of the gate, beating UNC convincingly and starting a new round of ACC bashing. In doing so, everyone conveniently ignores Clemson’s drubbing of Auburn.
Week 2: Mercer (1-0) at Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1) (3:00 PM ET)
Returning home, the Jackets get to right the ship against an in-state FCS opponent. I truly see no scenario in which Georgia Tech loses this game, barring the entire team ordering the fish on the flight back stateside. Instead, the worst case is that the Bears hang around into the fourth quarter, preventing Paul Johnson from resting his starters and giving the backups much-needed game reps. GT 28 -Mercer 22
Meanwhile... Nicholls State isn’t even a speed bump for Nick Chubb. Dawgs cruise.
Week 3: Vanderbilt (2-0, 1-0) at Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-1) (12:30 PM ET)
This game unfolds very similarly to the season opener. The Commodore defense is stout and dominates the Yellow Jacket offensive line, which still hasn’t gelled as a unit. Tech’s defense play well, but youth shows through at inopportune times, giving up key big plays, including a late touchdown run to RB Ralph Webb. Any optimism remaining after the first two games begins to disappear because, well, it’s Vanderbilt. Vandy 17 - GT 16.
Meanwhile... Georgia beats Missouri without much trouble at all. Jacob Eason shows they hype was well earned and grabs hold of the starting QB job.
Week 4: Clemson (3-0, 0-0) at Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1) (Thursday night, 7:30 PM ET)
Clemson shakes off their Bobby Dodd demons, dominating Georgia Tech from start to finish. QB DeShaun Watson takes advantage of a young secondary and RB Wayne Gallman gashes the Tech front seven, breaking off two long touchdown runs. The Yellow Jacket offensive line makes Clemson’s new defensive ends look like Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd. Tech’s only touchdown comes late after both teams have pulled starters. Clemson 49 - GT 11
Meanwhile... That school out East upsets Ole Miss in Oxford and vaults up the polls into the top 5.
Week 5: Miami (2-1, 0-0) at Georgia Tech (1-3, 0-2)
With a week off to recuperate from a near loss at Appalachian State, Mark Richt regains control of his team and, once again, defeats Tech. QB Brad Kaaya continues to blossom, and is the latest quarterback to pick apart a secondary that is giving the offensive line a run for its money as the Yellow Jackets’ Achilles Heel. The offense doesn’t have much more success against a talented and experienced Hurricane defense. Miami 34 - GT 23 but it’s not really that close.
Meanwhile... Hype trains collide between the hedges in Athens, with Georgia narrowly defeating Tennessee and setting themselves up as the team to beat in the SEC East.
Week 6: Georgia Tech (1-4, 0-3) at Pittsburgh (3-2, 0-1)
After losing back-to-back games at Oklahoma State and North Carolina, the Panthers aim to take out their frustrations on Georgia Tech, but find themselves in a bit of a dog fight. Ejuan Price abuses Tech’s offensive line and is in Justin Thomas’s face all afternoon. Despite running for his life, Thomas shows some flashes of the playmaker we saw in 2014 and keeps the game close. With time running out and Tech driving, Price takes down Thomas yet again, forcing Tech to attempt a 56-yard field goal to win the game. Unfortunately, there will be no karmic retribution today as Harrison Butker clangs the kick off the upright, no good. Pitt 23 - GT 21
Meanwhile... Georgia beats South Carolina pretty easily. Miami upsets Florida State in a thrilling game. Could the U be back?
Week 7: Georgia Southern (5-0) at Georgia Tech (1-5, 0-4)
Desperately needing a win, the Yellow Jackets return to The Flats to play in-state foe Georgia Southern. Bobby Dodd is filled to the brim, thanks to legions of Eagles fans who made the drive up from Statesboro. The visiting fans are in for a good game, as the two teams look fairly evenly matched. Tech enters the final quarter with a slim lead, but watches it fade away as the duo of Kevin Ellison and Matt Breida feed off their fans’ energy. Southern 30 - GT 24
Meanwhile... Our rivals over in Athens have a bit of a slow start against Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, Chubb and Eason pull out a comfortable win, allowing the local media to focus squarely on Tech’s loss to Southern.
Week 8: BYE WEEK
Mercifully, the bye week arrives. Georgia Tech sits dead last in the Coastal at 1-6, without an ACC win. Heading into a bye week following a loss Georgia Southern, many expect Paul Johnson to be fired. However, since the Athletic Director position is still vacant, Johnson keeps his post despite mounting pressures from all directions. The team holds a players-only meeting to try and rally the troops for the second half.
Meanwhile... Miami remains undefeated, defeating Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium on Thursday night.
Week 9: Duke (4-3, 2-1) at Georgia Tech (1-6, 0-4)
Justin Thomas and the Yellow Jacket offense come out of the bye week firing on all cylinders. Early on, it looks like the players-only meeting worked. The team plays with an energy they’ve lacked all season, jumping out to an early three score lead. Unfortunately, Duke Coach David Cutcliffe calms his defense and they make a key halftime adjustment to lock down the Georgia Tech offense. QB Thomas Sirk, fully recovered from his preseason Achilles injury, looks like an All-American, picking apart the secondary and running over linebackers. Tech doesn’t score in the second half. The Yellow Jackets will have to wait another year to start a new bowl streak. Duke 27 - GT 20
Meanwhile... Georgia dominates Florida at the Cocktail Party, locking up the SEC East before November. The first playoff poll is released with the Bulldogs checking in at #4.
Week 10: Georgia Tech (1-7, 0-5) at North Carolina (5-3, 3-2)
The defending Coastal Champs welcome the Georgia Tech to Chapel Hill and, as is tradition, this one is a barn burner. The offense plays their best game all year, but the defense can’t put pressure on QB Mitch Trubisky or stop RB Elijah Hood. The game goes to the wire, but for the third straight season, Georgia Tech gets swept by the Coastal’s Carolina teams. GT 36 - UNC 42
Meanwhile... That school out east continues their magical season, destroying Kentucky. Nick Chubb finds himself squarely in the middle of the Heisman discussion.
Week 11: Georgia Tech (1-8, 0-6) at Virginia Tech (5-4, 2-3)
Justin Fuente’s first season in Blacksburg hasn’t gone as well as many hoped, but Georgia Tech proves to be just the medicine needed to cure the Hokies’ ills. The Yellow Jackets traditionally have problems with high tempo offenses and Fuente’s is no different. On defense, Bud Foster does Bud Foster things and Georgia Tech can’t repeat the offensive success of the previous week. VPISU 30 - GT 18
Meanwhile... Kirby Smart leads his team to an undefeated season in SEC play, beating rival Auburn to cap off conference play.
Week 12: Virginia (5-5, 2-4) at Georgia Tech (1-9, 0-7)
It’s Senior Day on The Flats but with 2014 a distant memory, only a smattering of fans turn out to bid adieu to Justin Thomas, Pat Gamble, P.J. Davis, and the rest of the senior class. Not wanting to go out without an ACC win, Tech actually plays pretty well, with Justin Thomas rushing for 2 touchdowns and throwing for another. In the end, it’s not enough to stop the Cavaliers and RB Taquan Mizzell, who gets over 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground and through the air. UVA 33 - GT 28
Meanwhile... It’s cupcake week in the SEC and UGA wastes no time demolishing Louisiana-Lafayette.
Week 13: Georgia Tech (1-10, 0-8) at Georgia (11-0, 8-0)
With Georgia entering the game ranked 3rd in the country and awaiting a matchup with #1 Alabama in the SEC Championship game, Tech fans may finally get to live everyone’s favorite hypothetical: if Tech only wins one FBS game, but it’s against UGA, is the season a success? We won’t find out this year. For the first time since 1997, Georgia Tech is shut out. UGA 53 - GT 0
Following a 3-9 season with a 1-11 season is unacceptable by anyone’s standards and the first thing the new Athletic Director does is let Paul Johnson go. Finding someone to take over a program coming off one of the worst two year stretches in program history with a cash-strapped athletic department proves quite difficult. Eventually, they find a big name coach who is willing to take on the challenge: Lane Kiffin.
Meanwhile...Miami upsets Clemson in the ACC Championship game, vaulting into the Playoffs as the #3 seed. The U is back. Georgia defeats Alabama to finish the season as the lone undefeated Power 5 team. With it’s only loss to Georgia, Alabama falls just one spot to #2. Michigan rounds out the Playoffs. Behind a huge SEC Championship performance, Nick Chubb wins the Heisman. Miami and Georgia both take care of business in the semifinals, setting up a Mark Richt reunion matchup in the National Championship game. The game is an all-timer, but Georgia Tech’s worst-case scenario can end no other way then with Georgia wi...
Nope. I can’t bring myself to finish that thought. Even in a worst-case scenario, there are lines I won’t cross.
Please remember - this is a worst-case scenario. This article does not represent my thoughts or predictions for the Georgia Tech football team in 2016. It merely presents one very unlikely scenario.