Geoff Collins is entering his first year on the Flats! Now, there’s been a lot of excitement around the program, and with good reason, but just how good can the Yellow Jackets be this season? Well put on your gold shades and kick back with a glass of gold kool-aid and give us your best shot!
Tech starts out 5-1 against a pretty soft first half schedule (ignoring Clemson of course) and then is competitive down the stretch, ultimately finishing up 8-4 with losses to Clemson, uga, UVA, and Miami. The Belk Bowl makes up for selecting the wrong ACC team in 2018 by selecting the Jackets to play in Charlotte, and Tech responds by soundly thumping Gus Malzahn and Auburn. Geoff Collins’ first season on the Flats is a rousing success and expectations for 2020 are high, especially with a top 20 recruiting class coming in.
Tech starts off the season with a massive upset win over Clemson. Wesley Wells hits a game-winning 60-yard kick for the win 3-0 with two seconds left in the fourth quarter. The next three games are easy wins, shutouts actually, before the meat of ACC conference play begins. Tech struggles early in the first half against a Mack Brown coached UNC but pulls away in the second half to win 28-24. Next, against Duke in the Wallace Wade Funeral Home, Tech routs the Blue Devils 49-0 in a game that will surely be plagued by rain. The Jackets face off against Tathan Martell, Jarren Williams and Miami next and slip by the Hurricanes in another rainy game, 14-3. Pitt doesn’t put up a fight at all with DE Rashad Weaver injured, leading the Jackets to have a Paul Johnson-esque game with over 450 yards rushing and Lucas Johnson going 2-3 passing for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Virginia is up next, and Bryce Perkins decides to have a game. Even though Perkins breaks the single-game record for pass yards (734), Tech comes out on top 70-63. Bud Foster won’t know what hit him when he comes to Bobby Dodd for the last time as a coach, as the Hokie defense will look clueless in a 49-7 win for the Jackets. NC State on a short week will be very tough, and the game will come down to a last-second hail mary to Malachi Carter from Lucas Johnson, which he will bring in for the win 27-21. The extra time to prepare for u(sic)ga will be a benefit, as Tech will get out to a 28-0 lead at the end of the first half. However, the dwags come back and make things interesting, closing the gap to 28-24 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Collins & co. hold it out, winning 35-27. All of this sets up a rematch with Clemson in Charlotte, which the Jackets win 24-7. Alabama doesn’t stand a chance in the CFP semifinal, so it’s georgia again. The dwags’ demons in New Orleans come back to haunt them, as Tech beats them 28-21 for their first National Championship since 1990.
You thought Jake’s was great? Oh, just get ready. So, this ultimate season actually starts here in the next few days. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is bitten by a radioactive spider and is gifted Spider-Man-esque superpowers and is forced to miss the first game of the season as he has to fight off his mortal enemy: Nick Saban (a.k.a. “The Red Elephant”). With Lawrence missing the game, the Clemson offense is completely lost, and Tech squeaks out a 7-6 victory on a late rushing touchdown by Tobias Oliver.
Moving on, Tech makes quick work of South Florida, The Citadel, and Temple. Against UNC, Mack Brown has his team rolling, but Geoff has his team high on life and the cruise to a victory 37-21 as Lucas Johnson and Tyler Davis connect on at least two TDs. Sitting at 5-0, the Yellow Jackets travel to Durham to take on Duke. Right before the game, David Cutcliffe is notified that Paul Johnson is no longer the coach at Tech and announces his retirement and the rest of Duke doesn’t know what to do, so they just go home and Tech is awarded the default victory.
Against Miami, Tathan Martell slips on the sidelines just for kicks on the way to a Miami loss. The Yellow Jackets make quick work of their remaining opponents, Geoff Collins and Co. play host to Kirby Smart and UGA. Now completely rolling and one of the most confident teams in the country, Geoff Collins’ new aggressive defense makes life a living nightmare for Jake Fromm, who throws four interceptions. Tech wins 42-10.
Now back from fighting crime, Trevor Lawrence makes his return and gives Tech their toughest fight of the season. After a grueling match, Tech lines up to run one last play from midfield. The Yellow Jackets are down four points, and there is only a few seconds left on the clock. Dave Patenaude knows that he needs to call something that Brent Venables will never expect. Lucas Johnson leads the team onto the field...and they line up in the flexbone. Johnson under center, Jordan Mason right behind him with Nathan Cottrell and Omahri Jarrett lined up at A-back. Out wide, Jalen Camp and Malachi Carter stand, smiling.
Johnson takes the snap as Cottrell comes in motion to the right, and Mason meets for the mesh at an unbelievable speed. Johnson reads the end, he’s crashing in, so he pulls the ball in and starts running. Brent Venables is going absolutely ballistic on the sidelines, but the Clemson defense doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. The outside linebacker comes up to make the tackle, and Johnson pitches the ball to Cottrell at the last possible second. Cottrell has the ball, he makes a couple guys miss. He’s at the 40! He’s at the 30! 20! 10! There’s one last guy to beat! COTTRELL STIFF ARMS THE HECK OUT OF HIM AND IT’S A TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!! TECH WINS THE ACC!!
During the ensuing postgame conference, the first question for Collins is this: Why did you call the triple option there at the end of the game? Collins chuckles and then reaches a hand up towards his neck to pull off the mask.
That’s right. It’s actually Paul Johnson. In the ultimate twist, Paul Johnson never stepped down. He just needed a new approach to really turn Tech around. After breaking the Internet, Johnson and the Yellow Jackets cruise through the playoffs and take home their first National Championship since 1990 and Paul Johnson has a statue built outside of Bobby Dodd.
Mercy... lot to take in here... umm.... whatever I was going to spout forth as the most obvious route for the Jackets this season probably won’t match the effort levels put forth by Jake and Ben. So I’ll take the lazy way out. Mind Rite. 16-0 after we somehow manage to make up the UCF game during our extra bye week because the season isn’t challenging enough for us.
After an opening season loss to national title favorite Clemson, the Jackets sweep the non-conference trio of USF, Citadel, and Temple. Tech bounces back in ACC play, losing just one game the rest of the way, either on the road to Miami or Virginia. Sadly, the regular season is capped off by a loss to uga.
The Tech defense steps up as one of the best in the nation while Lucas Johnson leads a solid, but not elite offense in a transition year moving away from the triple option.
As a best case scenario, I think we could go 5-0 post-Clemson and then grab two wins from our remaining ACC schedule. We can’t hang with Clemson or uGA, but we keep all other games close. The defense will be good (when have we ever said that before?), and the offense will have it’s moments with our playmakers. We certainly won’t blow anyone away, but we do enough to stay in games and eventually win them. We make a nice mediocre bowl, and Collins gets to start his postseason reign of terror earlier than we expected.
Look, I get it. No one’s a big fan of the basement-level predictions for Georgia Tech football this year. No one wants to be told they’re going to finish last, even the Kansas and Rutgers fans who are used to it. So it’s natural to want to look at the last transition year and say, hey, that guy was predicted to finish dead last in year one, and he won nine games, beat georgia, and then, bizarrely, declined a bowl bid. And this is college football, stranger things have happened.
So that ACC Coastal? Yeah, it really could be for anyone to take. Mack Brown hasn’t coached a football game in almost six years, and the only thing people remember about his broadcasting career is him leaving a game before it was over. Manny Diaz could be a great head coach, or he could be another guy who’s great at being a coordinator and not so much as the head guy in charge (see: Muschamp, Will, among others). Bud Foster is a shell of his former self, and Justin Fuente may or may not be the reason. Also, we’re all really shocked at how things haven’t worked out so well for him in Blacksburg so far, right? David Cutcliffe just lost an NFL first rounder at quarterback. Yes, really. First round. It’s a fact. Pat Narduzzi is.... still here, somehow, I guess because no one has asked him to leave? And Bronco Mendenhall has Virginia headed in a positive direction, which would be nice for them, if they could ever actually beat Virginia Tech. Can Georgia Tech go 4-2 against that gauntlet? Sure. Why not?
Forget about the Clemson game — seriously, just do it, don’t do this to yourself. NC State, though? You know the meme, and it’s totally possible. That’s 5-3 in the ACC, and I haven’t even started on the non-con slate which, again, consists of The Citadel (yes), Temple (sure), USF (I don’t like it), and georgia (I have rights, officer, and I refuse to speak anymore without a lawyer present). Why, is that 7-8 wins I hear? Yes it is. First round of All-Star Specials is on me, y’all.
What is your best-case scenario for Year One of Geoff Collins?