Georgia Tech completed yet another ACC upset yesterday evening, upending the NC State Wolfpack by a final score of 86-76 in Raleigh. The victory moves the Jackets to 3-2 in ACC play, good for sixth in the conference, with every team above them currently ranked in the top-25. For our purposes, this game will henceforth be known as The Joshening — Josh Heath and Josh Okogie combined for 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in what ended up as Tech’s fourth win of the season versus a top-50 RPI team, with the previous three coming against VCU, UNC, and Clemson. That is already a very solid postseason resume, but there’s still plenty of work left to be done by Josh Pastner’s squad as ACC play rolls on. With the current 11-6 record, the Jackets would need to win at least nine of the remaining fifteen games (including the one guaranteed ACC Tournament game) to hit the 20-win mark that generally guarantees a postseason berth. It’s a tall order, but we’ve seen nothing since ACC play began to indicate that this team can’t hang with everyone else in the conference.
Tech hasn’t had a winning record in ACC play since the 2009-10 season when it advanced to the NCAA Tournament. It first went over .500 with a victory over North Carolina on January 16, 2010, four days after the massive earthquake hit Haiti — a streak of 2,556 days of sub-.500 basketball.
Meanwhile in the realm of football, Paul Johnson will be trying to fill an equally tall order by doing one of the most irritating things in all of college sports: replacing an immensely talented three-year starter at quarterback. There’s an abundance of options already available for Johnson to choose from on the current roster, but whether or not we have the next long-term starter currently enrolled remains to be seen. If I were a betting man (and my preseason basketball picks indicate that I absolutely shouldn’t be), I’d say that Matthew Jordan gets the nod at the start of the 2017 season just because Paul Johnson values decision making and smart play so much. We saw what he can do when he turned his first career start into a win over a top-15 Virginia Tech team this season, but the offense would likely be missing the big-play capability that we saw under Justin Thomas with Jordan under center. It’s entirely possible that a younger guy could usurp him at some point, but we will almost certainly get a healthy dose of Matthew Jordan next year — if not as a starter, then likely in goal line situations.
Of course, graduating a handful of seniors at key areas means that there are other positions of need which require filling besides just quarterback. In that article, ESPN makes the case for Tech needing pass-rushers, defensive backs, and a kicker for next year — two voids which need to be corrected this season and one which will need to be addressed shortly thereafter. The hole at kicker figures to be filled by prized recruit Joseph Bulovas if he makes it to Tech, and there is going to be a steady flow of talent on the defensive line this season despite losing sack leader Patrick Gamble. The defensive backfield looks very nice for the 2017 season, with the Austin twins, A.J. Gray, Corey Griffin, and Step Durham all returning, but it thins out starting in 2018. Hopefully highly-regarded recruits like Gentry Bonds and Jaytlin Askew will be ready to step in by that time.