Georgia Tech's youth movement is not a sign of giving up, more than expediting the development of strong recruiting. Regardless of conventional wisdom, Tech and the coaching staff have not only put together a good class in 2015, they've had a very strong class the last three years. Judging by the talent and athleticism, the Yellow Jackets look to be really good for the next few years.
The individual abilities of many of these young guys are undeniable. Mikell Lands-Davis will enter only his third game in college and everyone who has watched Georgia Tech play have noticed a considerable difference in his abilities to other A-backs. Marcus Marshall looks like he is missing some confidence, but you can see the explosion that we haven't seen from that position.
At the offensive line spots there are some young talent in Trey Klock, Will Bryan and Gary Brown. But I don't think the gap is as significant an upgrade as at the skill position.
The offensive line play confuses me. I didn't understand, or at least didn't realize the harsh impact losing Shaq Mason would have on the 2015 team. Honestly I don't know anyone who thought losing the 4-year letterman would leave such a hole. The current members of the offensive line now look confused and unconfident, compared to how they played only a year ago.
The coaches and fans expected this group to be an anchor. Still, the lack of production cannot be attributed to ability. With redshirt sophomore Shamire Devine taking the place of Mason this season, the average height and weight increased to 6-foot, 4.5 inches and 314 lbs. Devine did not start last season, but garnered enough playing time that we didn't expect it to be an issue. So this group has a lot of game experience.
But it is baffling that a group who not only has a lot of game experience, but a great amount of "Big game" experience. This group took the fight to Miami, to Clemson, to uga, to Florida State and to Mississippi State. Each team with very good defenses and possibly better defensive groups than the four Tech has faced in the four-game losing streak.
What you lost with Mason is confidence and a tremendous amount of leadership. That type of leadership is soothing when things are going really bad, you have the player all look up to telling them, "Just stay the course. Everything will be fine."
In Monday's press conference, Coach Paul Johnson said there may be changes if the production does not increase in the next few weeks. I say this four-game stretch has been unfortunate, but necessary. Only through struggle will you find leadership. We know the ability exists in this group. But they lack the confident leader who does more than think he knows the solution, the one who knows it, who owns it. I think one of the current starters have this trait in him. Maybe its Trey Braun who knows when his teammates need an encouraging word and when they need a kick in the pants. Maybe its Bryan Chamberlain who states, "Everyone play off my call." Or maybe it's Freddie Burden who demands the guys to either side follow his effort.
I think what has been happening is all five have tried to step up and lead after Mason's direction moved on. So five guys trying to lead becomes second grade fire drill with no teacher. You know from practice what you should be doing, but lack a ton of direction.
Regardless of who becomes a starter or regular contributor, I think the leader has to (and will) come from one of the current starting five. They've already displayed the athletic ability and size, but the leadership can't be verbal. Picture back last Sunday when Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan lowered his shoulder to get a first down. Or when John Elway helicoptered his way to a Super Bowl victory. That type of effort is inspiring. And for the Yellow Jackets who currently sit 2-4 and 0-3 in the ACC, that type of effort is extremely necessary.