Paul Johnson and the Jackets will start their road to Tampa the same way they started last year—through Boston College. Last season Tech was ranked 15 coming into the game against the No. 21 Eagles. Tech disappointed many in a game that was billed as one of the biggest games in the ACC last year.
Mobile Josh Nesbitt replaces Taylor Bennett at quarterback and Jonathan Dwyer starts at B-back. Last season Dwyer carried the ball nine times late in the game after Tashard Choice went down with an injury. Dwyer totaled 16 yards and a touchdown on his nine carries. Senior Andrew Gardner is the only returning starter on offense.
Defensively, Darrell Robertson had a solid game last year including a forced fumble that kept the Eagles from scoring twice in the first quarter. This year, Michael Johnson figures to replace Robertson’s role on the line as the pass rusher, but the defense overall will have a different look. Fifth year senior Travis Chambers will take over Kyle Jackson’s spot at the inside linebacker slot. Jahi Word Daniels figures to be the player to keep an eye on as he missed last year’s game with an injury. Safety Morgan Burnett also hopes to keep the passing game in check and follow up on his two interceptions against JSU.
Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan took advantage of a never ending blitz to carve up the Tech defense for 435 yards last year. The Eagles also took advantage of a strong passing attack by rushing for two of their touchdowns.
Offensively, Matt Ryan, Andre Callender, L. V. Whitworth, Kevin Challenger and John Loyte are gone. Defensively, Jamie Silva, Jolonn Dunbar and DeJuan Tribble have also graduated. However, B.J. Raji, who sat out last season because of academic ineligibility, returns to the lineup at the defensive tackle position.
The defense may have lost some big time playmakers from their linebackers and secondary, but they were still able to hold Kent State to 126 yards on 36 attempts last week (3.5 yards per carry).
Offensively, Chris Crane has taken over the reins at quarterback. Crane waited four years behind Matt Ryan and has now gotten his chance as a fifth year senior. Crane is taller and more mobile than Ryan, so Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski can tailor his offense differently around Crane. Jagodzinski has added some option plays to the playbook to take advantage of Crane’s speed and athleticism.