Honestly, this preview is the preview that I am the least interested in writing in this series. I could really care less. It's odd….back in the Joe Hamilton days I probably had too many expectations and too much respect for the Yellow Jackets. Now, the pendulum has swung the opposite direction and I probably don't have enough respect for this program as it deserves.
I feel as thought the Yellow Jackets should be predicted at #7 in the conference this year, but my respect for Jim Grobe won't allow it. (Anybody want to guess who is #7 in my preseason predictions?) Also, something about this team makes me think that they don't have the mental character to withstand a long season, so as the year progresses I expect the Jackets to weather as Grobe's young Demon Deacons improve with experience.
The Yellow Jackets have had 10 (or more) players expelled from the program for academic ineligibility since the end of last season (what in the world has been going on down there?) I think that GT's offensive line may be the best in the conference, so whoever is not named Tony Hollings who will be running the ball form the tailback spot should have some good opportunities. Similar to Duke, the Yellow Jackets need marked improvement from their quarterback (R-SR, AJ Suggs) as well as having Jonathan Smith or converted QB Demarius Bilbo to emerge as a "stud" wide-receiver.
Teams like the Yellow Jackets have to avoid injury and hope that all the little things go their way (see last year's NC State game) for success. Unfortunately, there aren't many "little-things" more larger than the kicking game, where record-setting placekicker Luke Manget has graduated.
BOWL?: None. Even if the Jackets find a way to muster the record, the late date with Georgia (who beat the Jackets 51-7 last year) won't help any "bubble" bids or energize any fan support to justify an at-large slot.
WHEN THE PACK ATTACKS: Regardless of what might be going on with the big picture in Atlanta, the small picture with the Yellow Jackets is that they derailed the Wolfpack last year during Homecoming and handed the Wolfpack our first lost of the season after a school record nine wins. There is no reason to mention the couldas/shouldas/wouldas. It is just too painful. In the end, the Pack had more than ample opportunity to extend our record to 10-0 and we failed. By the same token, State's losses to Virginia and Maryland meant that the Pack still would not have won the ACC Championship even had we defeated Georgia Tech, and therefore could not have gone to a better bowl than the Gator, regardless of the Tech outcome. No loss, however, is meaningless.
It's time for the Pack to step-up and start making some waves in this series. When Mike O'Cain took over the Wolfpack program in 1993, the series record with GT was right around .500. The game was one of those annual "toss-ups" and it even had some spice to it – remember the running up the score controversies of the late 1980s? But in the 10 years since the beginning of MOC's leadership, the Pack is only 3-7 vs the Yellow Jackets. This year, the Pack wins in Atlanta by ten points. Unfortunately, one of the Pack's last wins in the series was in 2003…..therefore our most recent 10-year record will remain 3-7.