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To say last season was disappointing for Georgia Tech would be an understatement. The Yellow Jackets went from a 10-3 record, winning the Coastal division and beating Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, to just three total wins. And somehow, one of those wins came against Florida State, the team they lost to in the ACC title game the season prior. But it's not to say they were terrible, as they competed in every game, but things just didn't work out when the game ended.
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To get things started, Justin Thomas is back at quarterback and is looking to bounce back after a campaign that saw his numbers drop across the board. He finished with terrible passing numbers, completing just 41.7% of his passes, and more importantly rushed for 500-less yards than in 2014. That needs to change.
Unfortunately, the offense continued its struggles in the spring game as the final score was just 13-3. The offensive line seems to be the root of the problems, especially in the triple-option. The line loses three starters and a couple more missed spring practices due to injury. If the line doesn't come around, the offense probably won't work.
Tech rushed for 90 less yards per game last year as a team and need to get that total back up somehow. The good news is that they'll have more experience on that front this year with Marcus Marshall (654 yards, 4 TDs) and Clinton Lynch (466 yards, 5 TDs) returning to go with C.J. Leggett, who was injured last season. The receivers remain mostly intact as well with Ricky Jeune (520 yards, 4 TDs) once again expected to lead the unit.
And while the offense took a step back last year, the defense was even worse. The first order of business is rebuilding the secondary, which needs to replace all of its starters. There are a few guys that at least have experience, so that's a building point with corners Lawrence Austin and Lance Austin as well as safeties A.J. Gray and Corey Griffin.
The front seven was the leaky part of the defense last year, but that could be the strong suit this time around after being one of the worst teams at getting into opponent's backfields. KeShun Freeman and Patrick Gamble need to step up along the line, while P.J. Davis takes the lead at linebacker. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.
Fortunately, their schedule is somewhat favorable with one of their road games being a neutral-site game in Dublin against Boston College. If they can get a win there, that would be huge, as Georgia Tech should win at least three non-conference games. From there, the Jackets will need to win their home games this time around, meaning taking down the likes of Miami, Duke and Virginia. Those are possible, but not if they continue last year's struggles.
Thomas has experience at quarterback, but if no one steps up around him, especially on the offensive line, this could be another difficult season without a bowl game for Georgia Tech.
2016 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Boston College (Dublin)
Sept. 10 vs. Mercer
Sept. 17 vs. Vanderbilt
Sept. 22 vs. Clemson
Oct. 1 vs. Miami (FL)
Oct. 8 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 15 vs. Georgia Southern
Oct. 29 vs. Duke
Nov. 5 at North Carolina
Nov. 12 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 19 vs. Virginia
Nov. 26 at Georgia
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