Team preview: Georgia Tech

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(All information as of June 20, 2008)


Somewhere along the line, football just went flat on The Flats.

Chan Gailey's seven-win seasons, usually accompanied with at least five losses, just couldn't get the old buzz going around the Yellow Jacket program. So you want buzz? Try hiring a coach with some national championships on his resume but also with a spread offense -- please, don't refer to it as the triple-option -- that most big-time programs have shied away from.

When Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich tabbed Paul Johnson to take over the Ramblin' Wreck in December, he was rolling the dice that Johnson's proven track record with that scheme could work in the Atlantic Coast Conference and return Tech, the 1990 national champions, to national prominence.

If nothing else, it will certainly have folks talking, defensive coordinators scrambling to prepare their charges before playing the Jackets, and opposing defenders with sore shins the following week from all the cut-blocks they'll have to fend off.

"Our system isn't much different from what everybody else is running," said Johnson, who has racked up a 107-39 record in 11 seasons at Navy and Georgia Southern, where he won two I-AA championships. "Pretty much everybody is running what we're running, but they're doing it out of the shotgun. We're just doing it under center."

Truth be told, Tech actually ran the ball 40 percent of the time last season, a high percentage in today's college game, but the Jackets did it out of I-formations and direct-snap shotgun sets that Gailey employed as he became more and more conservative. It was the classic trap of the head coach as offensive coordinator and play-caller, and even though Gailey had turned over those duties the last two seasons, his conservative template had been set and became part of his undoing.