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No. 13 Georgia Tech

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Last Season: 9-4 (lost to Louisiana State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl).

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Returning Starters: 17 (9 offense, 8 defense).

Key Game: Virginia Tech, Oct. 17.

Why They're Worth Watching

Expectations at Georgia Tech are high, and for good reason. The Yellow Jackets have a realistic chance at a 10-win season. They return 57 letter winners, the most in the ACC, and a star in running back Jonathan Dwyer. What will be telling is the consistency of quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who needs to help Georgia Tech improve a passing attack that ranked 116th in the nation last season. This team will score points, but it needs to move the ball better through the air. The continued development of the wide receivers -- Demaryius Thomas is the leading returning receiver -- should lead to more success in the passing game. Georgia Tech also has one of the ACC's best defensive backfields.

Player to Watch

Jonathan Dwyer, Jr., RB

Dwyer rushed for 1,395 yards in the first season of Coach Paul Johnson's spread-option offense. Don't expect any letup as Dwyer attempts to become the first player to be named ACC player of the year in back-to-back seasons since Florida State's Charlie Ward in 1992 and '93.

Why They're Vulnerable

Georgia Tech held four ACC opponents to 20 points or less last season, but there is uncertainty on defense this season, and the line is a particular area of concern. Three linemen were drafted by NFL teams. Can replacements fill the void? The Yellow Jackets also ranked 10th in the ACC in kickoff returns and ninth in punt returns. Georgia Tech averaged just 99.2 passing yards per game last season. Get that number close to 150 yards per game and the Yellow Jackets will be tough to beat. Georgia Tech was also eighth in the league in penalty yards per game, a ranking that needs to improve.

-- Eric Prisbell


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