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Column: There is light at the end of the tunnel

Georgia Tech is down, but not out. There are signs that the team is steadily improving, but will they improve enough to impact the rest of this season.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

14 days does not seem like a long time. But in the span of college football, 14 days is an eternity.

14 days ago, BYU looked like they were on their way to a magical season. Alabama looked like they were ready to steamroll all competition, Stanford's season looked to be over before it got started ... and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were the 14th best team in the country.

In this short two weeks, our "genius" coach has supposedly forgotten how the game of football is played. He's back to being called outdated and old-fashioned, while the offense is being referred to as obsolete. This season appears to be a wash...

Might I offer an alternative perspective?

For the first time in a long time, Georgia Tech is forced to play some very young talent. And for the first time in a long time, the talent level is spread to various positions. The Jackets don't just have one gifted receiver or a top-flight running back. This is a talented group. The 2014 team had talent, but probably not as much individual ability. But last year's team made up for individual ability with its confidence, understanding of the systems and experience.

We cannot fast-forward the development process, but we can analyze the process.

Last year's team boasted nine seniors who were all in the perimeter rotation. Depth was not an issue. And the Jackets also had a significant amount of competition, which usually helps expedite the developmental process.

Looking at Alcorn State and Tulane, Georgia Tech was clearly more talented and athletic in its first two wins. Does that mean Duke and Notre Dame are clearly more talented than the Jackets. On the contrary, it means the exact opposite. The talent is present but lacks the experience and confidence at the moment. Yet, the team still has been in position to win these past two games.

Coach Paul Johnson and his staff have to be politically correct and give the past two teams credit. But I can say it: The Jackets beat themselves in both games. Both Notre Dame and Duke are talented and well-coached, but their scheme had absolutely nothing to do with the Jackets' loss.

Missing two makeable field goals against Notre Dame hurt. But still, the Jackets were only down six at the half, with the chance to take the lead. Even after two costly turnovers, the Yellow Jackets never quit and made it a game. Against Duke if they just correct one of the three big special team issues, they win. Offensive woes aside, a group lacking in confidence still was in position to take the lead late.

Now, this is bad news because special teams has been an issue in all four games. Each game is a new issue with the botched snap on an extra point, poor punts, missed field goals, kick coverage. These issues fall on the coaches. The good news is that it's not the same issues every game, meaning the staff is addressing and fixing the problems. I'd be more concerned if it's the same issues every week.

Defense getting a bad rap

The Jackets defense is much better than its given credit. And Georgia Tech's defense has performed (even out-performed) a lot of its circumstances. In the Duke game, four of the Blue Devils scores came of offensive and special team miscues. Against Notre Dame, a fumble left the defense to start its drive inside their own 20 yard line and held the Fighting Irish to a field goal. They have gotten multiple turnovers in each game and giving the offense a short field to work. I think even the big plays given up has been because they've had to play so many more snaps.  Having an offense that runs the ball and control the clock, they probably aren't used the playing as many snaps a game.

Can't get better when you're hurt

The injury to Michael Summers does not hurt much with his individual development, because he's experienced enough and has performed well. But his injury hurts a team that lacks experience, depth and leadership. I think it's evident how talented many of these players are. Losing Qua Searcy really hurts because he looks like an amazing talent. And now injuries to TaQuon Marshall and Broderick Snoddy are unclear. This is where a fan can only have faith that the coaching staff can continue to develop players. Though we hope they can perform at a high level this weekend, there is no doubt how good these players will be in the next few years.


These are not to offer excuses, more than providing hope moving forward. The important aspects are that we know we have a competent staff. We know they have proven to be strong in developing young talent and putting them in positions to win. We know the rest of this season is going to be tough, starting with North Carolina at home this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. But we also know that Paul Johnson's expectations are higher than anyone.

We may not know when things will fall into to place... but we know that eventually things will fall into place and the Jackets will be rolling again.