Far From a Reck

By Amsinger - June 08, 2006

The word consistency is beginning to bother Chan Gailey. So many consecutive seven-win-seasons are starting to become his legacy in Atlanta. Gailey has been the Georgia Tech head football coach four seasons and each and every one has a win total of seven.

Not bad...not great either.

When you've coached in the NFL ranks as long as Chan, experience finally bleeds through. You figure it out, the answer eventually comes. Fans of the Yellow Jackets can finally exhale because the evolution of the GT program will take a major step forward this season when the Jackets finish ranked #11 in the nation!

The reason? Chan Gailey handed the play-calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. For some reason, this talented Georgia Tech offense annually had issues putting points on the board. With multi-skilled, but inconsistent QB Reggie Ball ready for one last hurrah, Gailey looked himself in the mirror and delegated responsibilities.

Smart move.

Ball, who barely stands 5'11, can win a game by himself. He can also lose a game with a pair of unthinkable passes, something he's done often during his career. As a three-year starter that tore up the ACC as a freshman, Ball never really improved under Gailey's offense. Moving Nix into the role as play-caller, changes things significantly. Nix was Ball's quarterbacks coach from day one. Who better to judge what he can and cannot do under different circumstances? Handing away power tests the pride of any coach...now imagine coaching in the NFL for 16 seasons.

Major propps to Chan Gailey.

Giving Nix play-calling responsibilities isn't the only reason Georgia Tech is one of my break-through teams for 2006.

WR Calvin Johnson is another. Anyone that's seen this 6'4, 235 lbs. specimen run up and down a football field knows what kind of weapon the Jackets have at their disposal. In my opinion, he's the best wideout in college football. So good, he may challenge for the overall #1 pick in the NFL Draft with Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. He's a game-changer. I didn't have him on my preseason Heisman list and I may regret it in the near future.

Four returning starters on the offensive line will make Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson that much better. New tailback Tashard Choice will have to step up and make things happen on the ground to balance things out and if he does - with Nix calling the shots, this offense could explode.

Again, Georgia Tech doesn't deserve to be ranked #11 in the PREseason...but look at the Ramblin Reck's schedule and you'll see why I think GT could finish with a 10-2 record.

Notre Dame - Loss
Samford - Win
Troy - Win
Virginia - Win
at Va Tech - Win
Maryland - Win
at Clemson - Win
Miami (FL) - Win
at N.C. State - Win
at UNC - Win
Duke - Win
at Georgia - Loss

There are three games in there many of you will disagree with me on, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Miami. The Hokies and Tigers will be breaking in new quarterbacks and while they'll be playing at home, the Yellow Jackets improved offense will put up too many points for either team to overcome. Georgia Tech may need 45 points to beat Clemson. As for Miami, this is a toss-up. The Canes defense will be stellar this season. One of the best d-line and secondary units in the nation will be a tough test. But like my Georgia Tech over Auburn pick one year ago, the Ball/Johnson duo will come through in the end.

Playing Notre Dame to open the season will show the nation how good this team is. Here's the funny part, experts will slam the Fighting Irish following this close contest. Fans will think "bad Notre Dame" instead of "good Georgia Tech" - so get ready. Chan Gailey won't walk away thinking such thoughts, instead he'll realize how talented his team is and will get ready to enjoy a lengthy winning streak.

Before fans in Athens erupt over my #20 projection for their Dawgs - hold on. Beating Georgia on Senior Day, in Athens, is the most difficult thing any team can do. It'll be close and home-field advantage is the deciding factor. Therefore I have Georgia beating Georgia Tech. So why will the Dawgs finish at #20? Georgia will lose at South Carolina, at Ole Miss (huge upset), at Florida and at Auburn.

Yup, you heard it here first...Georgia, 8-4.

And yes, I know Utah beat Georgia Tech 38-10 in the Emerald Bowl in 2005 and the Utes barely missed my Top 35 poll for '06. Again, losses to UCLA, TCU and BYU are all "givens" to me. Despite UCLA losing so much talent, they'll be at home to open the season and the emotion of a great '05 will be in the air. I know BYU lost in overtime to the Utes last year - but Cougars QB John Beck will out-duel Brian Ratliff OR Brian Johnson - whoever starts behind center for the Utes. Throw in one upset shocker, which could happen to Boise State or New Mexico (who beat the Utes last year) and the Utes will finish with 4 losses and outside the Top 35.

So expect a much improved Ramblin Reck compared to the team that lost in the Emerald Bowl. The Yellow Jackets will finally win more than 7 games and Chan Gailey will finally receive the notoriety he deserves. After four years of doing so much with so little, this guy will enjoy his day in the sun.

He'll get it in 2006.

Posted by Amsinger at 03:10 PM on June 08, 2006

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