The Importance of Team Chemistry at Georgia Tech

Perhaps the best part of Jamal Golden's kickoff return for a touchdown against BYU was the massive celebration afterwards. - Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Often when evaluating teams on the field, we focus solely on their athletic performance -- how well they block or tackle, their accuracy in passing, their coverage abilities, etc. However, one of the single most important elements of a team isn't something immediately visible on the field -- a team's chemistry.

I was reading an article this morning talking about Vad Lee and Justin Thomas as they compete for the starting QB role this fall. (I should point out that while most assume it's without a doubt going to be Vad, the competition is a lot closer than you'd think, and Justin has a real shot at it.) It struck me how much they're supporting each other as they compete for playing time, and how they're being awfully friendly about it. They each watch the other in practice and offer each other pointers and tips, wanting the best for each other. Instead of being selfish and doing whatever it takes to get playing time, they both acknowledge that the team is so much bigger than themselves, and want what's best for the other 83 guys out there. How neat is that?

It's something I've often taken notice of here at Tech (and in Atlanta pro sports, particularly the Falcons and Braves). It seems like there are a lot of college teams out there filled with prima donna guys who play for themselves and are more concerned with their personal stat line than with the overall team's performance. Meanwhile, our guys aren't playing for themselves -- they're playing for each other. It's seemed to me at times that when really talented teams come to Bobby Dodd, sometimes bad things start happening -- passes are off target, people miss blocks, etc. I'm curious how much of it is due to our team physically matching up well and our crowd making a lot of noise, versus the possibility that a team with bad chemistry struggling to stick together in a hostile environment and having trouble digging themselves out of a hole. Think about the 2011 Clemson game -- the Tigers were (and still are) loaded with good players, and yet fell behind and stayed behind, and ended up losing by 2 touchdowns. Did their players have a bad night because ours are physically better, or just out of bad luck? Perhaps, but I also have to wonder about the team chemistry of a college team with a bunch of pro prospects on both sides of the ball.

A few years ago, I remember Peyton Manning was being questioned about the Colts' training camp -- they have no internet, no TV, and no real amenities that could provide a distraction. When he was asked why that was, he said something to the effect of, "With no distractions, all we have left to do at night is play cards, play board games, and generally enjoy each others' company and get to know each other. We build chemistry as a team. I don't know what it is about it, but when you're in the middle of a playoff chase in Week 16, and you've got the ball down a few points with 2 minutes on the clock, you perform a little better when you know and like the guys around you."

I've always appreciated how much our guys like each other and root for each other, and I think it's a huge asset for our program. Not even just for football, but for anything -- across all sports here, our teams are stacked with athletes who really like playing together. As I see it, it's just one more thing that we have to make sure we don't take for granted as Georgia Tech fans.

Have you noticed the same thing? Do you think it really has an effect on how our teams perform?

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