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Wofford to set tone for Tech’s season

Georgia Tech won 19 games in Paul Johnson’s first two years as head coach, but the Yellow Jackets have averaged just seven victories the past four seasons as the they host the Terriers at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (2013: 7-6) hope their opener at home against Wofford (2013: 5-6) begins a campaign that carries them toward the top of the ACC’s Coastal Division as sophomore Justin Thomas makes his first career start directing Johnson’s triple-option offense.

Georgia Tech has played in 17 consecutive bowl games - the nation’s second-longest streak to Virginia Tech’s 21 - but has won only one bowl game since 2004.

The Yellow Jackets debut six new starters on each side of the ball, including Thomas - who takes over after Vad Lee transferred to James Madison. The Terriers finished fourth in the Southern Conference last season, snapping a streak of three consecutive FCS playoff appearances by dropping their final four games. Like the Yellow Jackets, Wofford also relies heavily on its rushing attack, averaging just 85.4 passing yards per game a year ago.

The Terriers return 13 starters from last season, including running back Will Gay (6.9 yards per rush), but must replace their leading running back (Donovan Johnson) and receiver (Jeff Ashley). Preseason all-conference selection T.J. Chamberlin anchors the offensive line, while Tarek Odom earned first-team honors on the defensive line. Wofford started last season 5-2 before allowing 27 points or more in three of its final four contests.

The Yellow Jackets will look to run - no surprise considering Johnson’s offense has averaged 303.2 yards rushing per game since coming to Georgia Tech in 2008. Thomas averaged 7.1 yards per carry in limited time last season but has attempted just 17 passes in his career. Jamal Golden and Isaiah Johnson return in the secondary, but the Yellow Jackets have a big hole at defense end as all-time sacks leader Jeremiah Attaochu graduated.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Georgia Tech and Wofford have played once, a 33-0 victory by the Yellow Jackets in 1901 at Augusta, Ga.

2. Wofford has won four Southern Conference titles since 2000.

3. The Yellow Jackets are one of three ACC teams (Louisville, Virginia Tech) and one of 11 squads in FBS with no career starts by any of the quarterbacks on the roster.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 56, Wofford 13