Friday, August 29, 2008

For Informational Purposes Only

Before we get to this week’s predictions, I have to offer a few observations on the dawn of the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech. First of all, Jacket fans have to keep things in perspective and remember that we squared off with a I-AA opponent that was athletically outmatched at every position. That being said, it is hard not be optimistic and excited about the Jacket’s opening night performance. Coach Johnson’s much talked about offense looked very good in its debut. Some plays were slower to develop than you would like to see, and the ball touched the ground too often, but on the whole the signs were encouraging. Josh Nesbitt looked fairly comfortable in making his reads and running the option. Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones looked pretty explosive in space. And, ultimately, yards came fairly easily, as they should against an overmatched opponent.

More than the performance of the team on the field, the most important thing to come out of tonight was the intensity of the team and the coaches, especially the head man. Johnson, unlike his predecessor, was animated on the sideline, was up in his players' faces, and, as expected, was simply unwilling to accept anything less than perfect execution. Coupling all that with the fact that Johnson was more than willing to send his offense out on the field on fourth down, there is an aggressiveness on the Flats we haven’t seen in nearly two decades. Again, you have to keep things in perspective and keep in mind the level of the opponent, but for those of us that felt that the Jackets too often played not to lose under Chan Gailey, it is obvious that we will have no such concerns under the new regime. Only time will tell whether this new found intensity will lead to the success we crave, but for the time being we can take heart in the fact that we won’t have to look at the sideline and wonder if the man wearing the headsets wants to win as badly as we do.

So, now that the Jackets are safely in the Week 1 clubhouse, it’s time to give you my ten stone cold locks for the first weekend of the season. And, in case you’ve forgotten the rules, let me remind you that if you are the type of person that likes to place the occasional wager (when, of course, visiting Las Vegas) it is always a good idea to go against my picks. Enough disclaimers, here’s the goods:

1) Va. Tech -10 @ E. Carolina

2) Wisconsin -26.5 v. Akron

3) Pitt -13 v. Bowling Green

4) Hawaii @ Florida OVER 67.5

5) Michigan -3 v. Utah

6) Memphis +7.5 @ Ole Miss

7) B.C. -9.5 @ Kent State

8) Texas -24 v. Florida Atlantic

9) USC -19.5 @ UVA

10) Auburn -26 v. UL Monroe

11) Michigan St. +4.5 @ Cal

12) Alabama +4.5 v. Clemson

13) Illinois +9 v. Missouri

14) Kentucky +3.5 @ Louisville

15) UCLA +7.5 v. Tennessee