Outlook brighter for Georgia Tech in '13

It was only a few months ago that Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s job security appeared to be the most vulnerable it has ever been during his career in Atlanta.

With former athletic director Dan Radakovich heading to Clemson, a 1-3 start in league play, a fired defensive coordinator during the bye week and mediocre recruiting classes adding up, the criticism had reached a peak at the midpoint of the 2012 season. Fortunately for Johnson, he has a lucrative contract working in his favor, but even more importantly, he now has positive momentum to build on.

Johnson deserves a reprieve.

His program is in a much better place than it was heading into the Boston College game last year, and the outlook for the Jackets is much brighter. Georgia Tech is looking like it has all of the pieces in place to be a serious contender for the Coastal Division in 2013. The recent hire of Ted Roof as defensive coordinator was an upgrade. The program got an important bowl win against USC, the first bowl win for Johnson during his tenure at Georgia Tech.

It wasn’t just how the Jackets finished the season, though -- by shutting out the FSU offense in the second half of the ACC championship game and holding USC to a season-low seven points. It’s also what they have returning for 2013:

  • Possibly the best situation they’ve had at quarterback under Johnson, as Vad Lee and Justin Thomas both have a chance to be special

  • Eight of the top 10 offensive linemen

  • All four linebackers, including Jeremiah Attaochu, the face of the defense

  • Jamal Golden, who has a chance to be the ACC’s top return specialist

  • Eight starters returning on defense

There shouldn’t be any reason for Georgia Tech to underachieve with the 2013 group, and there should be no need for the NCAA to save the postseason with a waiver to play in a bowl game. The entire Coastal Division should better in 2013, and the Jackets should be a major reason why.