2018 gtpdd Season Preview
Another year of Tech football is almost upon us, and that means it’s time for us to yet again throw some semi-informed and semi-serious predictions at the wall to see what sticks. We don’t pretend to be experts, but as football is full of surprises, we figure our guesses are as good as most! Plus, there are six of us. Maybe our sheer numbers will help?
Before we jump into our predictions, let’s talk about what you can expect from us this season. Last year, we were just getting our feet wet and didn’t really keep to a set schedule. This year, we’d like to fix that.
During the season, we’ll to try post on the following schedule:
- Monday: Game recap (includes gtpdd Contest recap)
- Wednesday: Silly and/or serious long-form post; new gtpdd Contest
- Friday: Game preview
Also be on the lookout for some less silly pieces over at BleedTechBlue.com from Evan and Nathan, who have been enlisted to provide some weekly game preview type posts. Nathan’s first piece came out Tuesday August 28th, and Evan’s comes out Friday August 31st. Check ’em out!
With that stuff out of the way, let’s get to the season preview!
1a) Put on your Tech-colored glasses. What’s the best case scenario this year?
Daniel A: Finally not die in the C-USA championship game, Jaylon Ferguson eats a quarterback on live television, and Tech wins dramatically in Baton Rouge
Evan: The best case scenario I can imagine for this season involves Tech taking down LSU on a field goal as time expires that dinks off of not only both uprights, but also somehow the crossbar, and goes through to seal the victory 29-28. Actually, the best case scenario that I think is reasonable would be to beat everyone on the schedule we’re supposed to; that is, everyone besides LSU, FAU, and MSU. That would put us at 9-3 and in the conference title game again (which seems to be an even year tradition around here), and allow us to get to 10 or even 11 wins in the Bowl Game.
Matt: Best case: Win the CUSA, go bowling and extend the streak to 5 straight bowl victories, and beat LSU at Death Valley.
Nathan: For the best case, I refuse to believe that Tech can’t beat LSU. I also don’t believe the FAU hype this year. I think they will be solid (and may still win the East), but losing both one of the best offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators in college football shouldn’t be overlooked. My best case is 11-1 with a loss to Mississippi State.
Josh: Best case scenario is beating 1 of LSU or MSU, sweeping the C-USA West division and playing in the C-USA championship. That would put us at 11-1 leading up to the championship game, at which point Lane Kiffin will use his meme magic to beat us by 1 point in a thriller of a game, leaving us at 11-2 come bowl time.
Daniel S: Best case, I see us beating LSU early in the season and sweeping the western division with losses coming to MSU and FAU. We’d finish the regular season at 10-2 and win a western division title. However, we’ll lose the C-USA championship game when FAU brings on a surprise last second walk-on: Owlsley the Owl, hoo will catch the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
1b) Okay, now be debbie downer. What’s the worst that could happen?
Daniel A: Finishing 5-7 but with enough wins to somehow justify everyone involved keeping their jobs. “Wagon Wheel” is played at every home game. Phil Robertson sings the national anthem for some reason.
Evan: The worst case scenario that I think is reasonable? Add losses to North Texas, Southern Miss, and Western Kentucky. That puts us at 6-6 and pretty much in the same boat as last season.
Matt: Win less than 6 games and stay home, ending the streak and killing all expectations for this season.
Nathan: The worst case scenario is that Tech goes 1-11 with the only win against LSU. Tech misses out on a bowl game for the first time in five years, but the season still kind of feels like a win. Most likely worst case is 6-6 with loses to LSU, UNT, FAU, MSU, USM (who will probably be on their 7th QB by then), and WKU.
Josh: Worst case, I see us going 7-5 with losses to LSU, MSU, UNT/UAB, FAU, and USM. That’s honestly the floor I see for the season. Of course, we could always go 0-12, but I really, really, don’t see us losing to UTEP or Rice this year.
Daniel S: I can’t see us going worse than 7-5 in the regular season with losses coming to LSU, UNT, FAU, MSU, and USM. One could argue that I always predict that Tech will beat USM, so this year my powers of reverse psychology will be the deciding factor in this game.
2) What is the most likely chance for Tech to not go and also die?
Daniel A: My bet is on the Rivalry in Dixie being where Tech struggles. It will be the ninth straight Saturday with a game, it will follow what will hopefully be an easy win over Rice, and it is a week before a matchup with WKU. Also it’s a road game and conference road games are never a guarantee.
Evan: Of Tech’s final 5 games of the season (at FAU, at Miss State, vs. Rice, at USM, and vs. WKU), there is one game that I am 100% confident that Tech will win before the season starts: Rice at home on November 10th. That means that Tech will almost certainly make it more difficult than they should. I don’t actually think we’ll lose, but then again I still can’t believe we lost to UAB last year.
Matt: USA. No, not the patriarchal society we call America. Rather, the University of South Alabama. Remember 2014? NSU vs. LaTech? How’d that go? Trap games are typical in a season, but not usually the first game of the season. But this is Tech we’re talking about here. The champions of sadness. The stage is set, we just need Skipstopher Columbus to sail the ocean bloo bloo and watch the S.S. Bulldogs explode and sink like the Exxon Valdez.
Nathan: You know when you’re dragged to the casino by some friends and you’re feeling kind of bored, so you go to the roulette table? You sit down at the table and someone cute sits next to you, so you wanna impress them and look like a bigshot. You put $100 on 17 black to try to show you’re so rich that $100 isn’t that big of a deal to you and what do you know, it hits! But that just gives you the confidence to say “Let it ride” and look even more like a bigshot. Last year I picked Tech to lose to UAB. I’m letting it ride and picking UAB again.
Josh: Oh, we’re definitely gonna die in Boca Raton. I am convinced of that.
Daniel S: I really cannot imagine Tech losing to UAB in Ruston after what happened last year; I know we have that game circled on our calendars. With that being said, I believe playing MSU in Starkville will bring us a whole new level of dying that we have never seen before. We all remember 3rd & 93, now get ready for 3rd & 94!
3) Where will Tech rank at the end of the year in offense, defense, and overall?
*Using the S&P+ metrics, Tech finished 2017 ranked 71st overall; 57th offensively; and 73rd defensively
Daniel A: I expect an improvement over last season with the number of starters returning and especially having a starting quarterback return for the first time since 2012. I’m going to be optimistic and bet on an offense in the top 30 and a defense in the top 50.
Evan: I’m going to say that the offense will stay about the same this year. In J’Mar’s second full year at QB, I expect the passing game to improve drastically. Despite this, Tech lost the players responsible for 71% of their rushing yards a year ago. It will take time to fill that void. The offense will finish 49th. Defensively, I expect an uptick as well. Stars like Amik and Jaylon Ferguson get stuff done. I’ll say 60th. That should be enough to finish somewhere in the 50s overall.
Matt: Offense should be capable enough to break into the top half of teams in the NCAA offensive rankings. But the running game is a bit questionable this year. So, I’ll say LaTech offense ranks in at 58th in the nation by year’s end. The defense will have anchors on the line and wind in their sails in the secondary. (What is with my ship/boat/nautical theme in this year’s season preview?) I expect a progressive year and a ranking of 55th. Relax, BBB. Progressive is a good thing here. Overall, we’ll likely rank 55th or better. Rankings like this would be quality enough to see a run for the title, me thinks.
Nathan: On offense, I’m also worried about the running game, but I think J’Mar’s improved consistency (I’ve gotten tired of typing that word) will more than make up for it. And having a solid pass game is going to open up some holes to run through. I’ll go with a rank of 47. The defense played better than the 73rd rank they received last year, and with only a few key departures I fully expect the team (and hopefully rank) to improve. I’ll be optimistic here and say they end with a rank of 49.
Josh: I’m assuming both offense and defense will take a step forward this year, due to experience on both sides of the ball. Nothing too crazy though, so let’s say 43rd for offense and 50th for defense.
Daniel S: I’m thinking the offense will remain around the same place at 57th. Quarterback play will be more consistent, but the loss of Boston Scott and Jared Craft will be hard to overcome at running back. Defensively, we are improving quickly, especially with studs like Amik and Jaylon leading the way. Defense will end up at 55th.
4) Who is your candidate for breakout player of the year?
Daniel A: I’m looking forward to seeing what Willie Baker can do this season when he plays more snaps. He was one of the first recruits to check out the DAC after it was built and if he has a breakout season maybe we can finally prove once and for all that the hill was not better.
Evan: I’m going to go with Israel Tucker at running back. He spent two years behind Craft and Scott, and should have a pretty good hold of the offense. With Dancy playing the “lightning” role and McKnight the “thunder,” I think Tucker could emerge as the feature back in the offense. Last year I picked Amik, so I am clearly a genius.
Matt: Like a J’Martian. Last year J’Mar Smith was a so-so signal-caller. This pre-season he has been consistently called out for his stellar play and progression as a quarterback, especially when rolling out of the pocket and throwing the ball. If he has an excellent year, and I believe he will, then it’ll be smooth sailing (gdi) to a fistful of bowl victories.
Nathan: Smoke Harris. Not only does he have a really cool name, he was one of Tech’s prized recruits going into this season. If any freshman makes an impact this year, it’ll be Smoke.
Josh: I’m going with an already established player in Kam McKnight. He’s been at WR for the past few years and has done well in certain packages on the goal line. With his move to RB, I think he turns into a consistent contributor.
Daniel S: Every part of me wants Dancy to be a star. I can imagine a feel good football movie where a player falls victim to a terrible illness, but overcomes it to rush for 1,100 yards in a season. If anyone can make that happen, it is Dancy.
5) Make an oddly specific prediction about something that will happen this season.
Daniel A: If the offense fails to score on their first series against Southern, someone somewhere will demand Weston Elliott be put in the game.
Evan: Jaylon Ferguson will have a pick six at some point. Not specific enough for you? Fine! Jaylon Ferguson will have a pick six in the 2nd quarter of the Rice game on November 10th. He’ll get national attention for scoring the elusive Big Boy TD! He may even get some attention for the Piesman Trophy this season.
Matt: Amik will have two INTs in the LSU game and will score on one of them. I have no expectation regarding the LSU game, and LaTech will most likely be crushed by the superior talent. But Amik is a P5 talent and will compete with LSU’s WRs in the air. In the bizarre instance LaTech may win, just blast Come Sail Away by Styx as Amik returns an INT to win the game. That’s worth it.
Nathan: LSU will lose to Tech by missing a last minute field goal.
Josh: J’Mar will fumble the ball, recover his own fumble, and score a 60 yard rushing TD. The DQ ice cream cone will be ecstatic. Book it.
Daniel S: Rice will cause two–count them–two safeties against us, but Tech will rally with 6 unanswered touchdowns to win 42-4
6) What is your final prediction for the season?
Daniel A: Tech is going to be in for another solid season. They’ll be good enough to be in the running for the conference championship but they won’t be getting buzz for a NY6 bowl game. They’ll be competitive against LSU and MSST and they’ll have a Baffling Conference Loss™ but ultimately they’ll end up in a decent bowl game against a mediocre Power 5 team. This seems to be Tech’s destiny every season but that’s okay!
Evan: I think Tech will be more impressive than last year, and won’t lose as many games (especially by one point). My prediction is that Tech will lose to LSU, FAU, Mississippi State, and drop a close one at North Texas to go 8-4 in the regular season. That means we’ll need help to get into the title game, as UNT would need to have three conference losses for Tech to surpass them in the West. That could very well happen (UNT gets FAU and ODU from the East), but I’m going to say that it doesn’t, and Tech will end up in the Independence Bowl against a lowly P5 team: let’s say Syracuse.
Matt: Louisiana Tech will go 8-4, whether or not they make the CUSA title game hinges on how well UNT plays though. I’ll tab LaTech to get the upper hand, go to the CUSA title game, lose spectacularly sadly, and go to another bowl game and keep the streak of bowl wins alive as I watch in my nautical themed pashmina afghan.
Nathan: Following my J’Mar loses to Mississippi teams revelation, I think Tech will beat LSU but lose to Mississippi State, but will beat Southern Miss even with a poor performance from J’Mar. I expect another loss against either North Texas or WKU. Tech goes 9-3 on the year and will be in position for another run at the C-USA Championship. The Independence Bowl isn’t filled by it’s tie-ins, but refuses to take Tech. The Bulldogs end up in a bowl in Florida, either Gasparilla or Boca Raton.
Josh: My honest thought is that we end the regular season 9-3, lose to FAU in the C-USA championship, and win a bowl game, finally giving Tech the 10 win season we have been longing for. With that, a coaching position opens up at a P5 school and they come calling for Skip.
Daniel S: I don’t think Tech will have that elusive 10 win season that we have been chasing after all this time, but I think we will come close. I believe we will finish the regular season at 8-4 with losses coming to LSU (1 point) FAU, MSU, and WKU, and a C-USA championship appearance. Tech will keep tradition and appear once again in the DFW area to compete in a bowl game.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to come back Wednesday for the first installment of the gtpdd Contest! I’ll have it up on the Contest Page at 11:00 AM Central time.