Where Does Tech Go from Here?
Welcome back to the Upper North Perspective!
The Jackets suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Pitt Panthers for the second year in a row. Chris Blewitt kicked another game winner.
The most crushing part about this defeat is that Tech seemed destined for a win with 4 minutes left. Honestly, I was even optimistic after the tipped pass turned touchdown that tied the game.
Before continuing on, I agree with the call to go for it on fourth and short. There is no reason that Tech should not have gained a yard on that play. I have already covered the unfortunate events after that.
So today, I am looking at where Tech goes from here for the rest of the season. I will give my opinion on the staff, the team, and a schedule prediction going forward. This may not be the column that some of you want to read, but for me, this is where I am currently at with the season. Let’s dive straight in.
Let me start off by saying that I will not engage in any discussions surrounding the firing of coaches or how those changes could help or hurt the team yet.
Full disclaimer: this could change a week from now if Tech lays an egg against Georgia Southern.
I want to see how this staff performs the rest of the year before engaging in any discussions like that. Knowing myself, I will still prefer that even with my disclaimer above. I believe that this staff still has a major chance to finish strong and keep this year from crashing. I see enough talent and coaching ability to salvage the year.
The ability is here with this staff, but I think we can all agree that something needs to be adjusted. It may be simply changing the way the message is being delivered, but I think that needs to happen. We all know something is not sinking in as the team has dropped back to back winnable games.
Maybe if the staff is unable to convey the right message to get this team to click, then we will see bigger changes after the year; however, I think this staff finds a way to trigger the pulse of this team.
Roof needs to ignite his defensive group and give them a sense of urgency and understanding. We have seen progress from the offense over the last two weeks, but the big mistakes have to be eliminated. Unforced errors in blocking assignments, dumb penalties, untimely turnovers, and REVERSE PASSES have to be eliminated. Gone. Forever. I get that the play may be there, but it literally never works. I do miss our WR reverse runs though…
Having said all that, I believe in this coaching staff. I said it enough in the preseason, and I still feel that way today. This staff understands Tech, and I think that is key. With CPJ and Roof in Stansbury’s ear, I think we see a lot of the changes needed in the athletic department to help this football team.
In the meantime, let’s see this season out. There are six (seven? eight?) more games to be played. This coaching staff can do it. I want to see how they respond.
Obviously, this Tech team has underperformed from what fans have seen as the expectations of this program. This is also obvious as the last two weeks have both been winnable, and the team dropped both. We know we need improvement across every level of the team to get there. This team is not one that can win after committing countless errors. This team needs to play well each and every week to get the W. Instead of harping on contrite reactions, I will give just a few improvements I am looking for over the second half of the season.
On offense, blocking needs to continue to improve. Yes, there have been improvements over the last two weeks, but I want to see that continue. I want to see this offensive group get better at blocking at the second level. This will make a major difference down the stretch of the season.
On defense, my eyes will be watching for an increased urgency to start the game strong. In the Pitt game, it was obvious that this group was playing slow and unsure of themselves. Maybe they are overthinking? Maybe they are unprepared? Whatever the reason, this group needs to tap into how to play loose, tough, and have fun. Find a way to enjoy what you are doing, and do it well from the beginning.
My players of the first half are Dedrick Mills on offense and Antonio Simmons on defense. Mills is just a tough dude who is going to keep getting better every week here on the Flats. I feel a huge breakout game coming very soon, and I am ready for it. With Simmons, this guy came to play this year. He is delivering and getting better each and every week. This guy needs to be on the field as much as possible. I want to give a special shout-out to Pat Gamble as well. He is doing his part to help lead the D.
I had this group at 5-1 through the first six games originally. Obviously, I was a little off-based, but I want to take a new and fresh look at the rest of the season. Here it goes:
10/15/16- Georgia Southern @ Georgia Tech (41-10 GT) (41-17 GT original): Justin Thomas and the offense come back home to Atlanta in bad moods and take it out on Georgia Southern. Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall dominate the day for the O. The defense plays tough from the start of the game and breaks the opening TD streak. Georgia Southern gets a late TD in the fourth to make the score look slightly better.4-3 (1-3)
10/29/16- Duke @ Georgia Tech (31-20 GT) (38-21 GT original): After a bye week, the Yellow Jackets come back with a renewed vigor and an awakening of sorts. This game goes back and forth for a while, but this CPJ coached team finally finds a way to take out Duke. The offense plays well all day, and the defense stiffens up in the fourth to get the W. 5-3 (2-3)
11/5/16- Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (38-35 GT) (35-31 UNC original): After watching the Pittsburgh game, I get the feeling that this sets up to be a very similar game. I think the offenses go back and forth the majority of the day, but Antonio Simmons and company forces a key turnover down the stretch. Justin Thomas brings the O down the field to get the win at the end of the game. 6-3 (3-3)
11/12/16- Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (24-14 VT) (21-17 GT original): The second half of the season has been somewhat of a rebirth for GT, but that ends here. I still do not know who this Virginia Tech team is as of this writing, but I do not get a good feeling about this game. I feel it boils down to a CPJ/Bud chess match as usual, and the VT offense lead by Jerod Evans catches enough fire from the home crowd to deliver a win for VT. 6-4 (3-4)
11/19/16- Virginia @ Georgia Tech (38-10 GT) (38-10 GT original): Virginia just does not look good to me this year, and I think that continues. I am actually keeping my same exact prediction for this game. Justin Thomas has a career day on senior day for his last hurrah on the Flats. I am talking 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. The Jackets run away with this one early to finish 4-4 in the ACC. 7-4 (4-4)
11/26/16- Georgia Tech @ Georgia (31-21 GT) (31-21 GT original): Look at that. Same exact prediction again. I talked a lot about UGA’s talent in my original prediction column, but Kirby told me they do not have very much of that. In late November, I feel Eason will still be flashing potential but consistently delivering underwhelming play. Chubb and Michel will be tough to stop, but the GT defense steps up enough. AJ Gray finally has his breakout game in forcing a couple of interceptions from Eason. Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall dominate the day to help GT control the fourth and win the game. 8-4 (4-4)
In this scenario, fans are ecstatic by this quality end to the season and CPJ’s start over Kirby Smart. Most of the fans get back on board as Stansbury comes in and puts plans in place to give CPJ what he wants and needs.
I think this team is currently looking at a finish anywhere from 6-6 to 9-3. I think every game on this schedule is winnable, and the team wins enough to get to a bowl game still. In my predictions above, I would only change UNC to a loss if pressured. I feel like Georgia Southern, Duke, Virginia, and Georgia (yes, Georgia) are wins at this point based on what I have seen. It’s a slight attitude adjustment from here on out and a belief that they can win each and every week. If this is figured out, this team can finish very strong. If not, I think 6-6 is the most likely outcome.
Either way, the fans are here to support the team. Go out to Bobby Dodd for every home game and cheer them loud. Wear your gold even on away games, and show your support. Show this team that you are there for them. Be the energy that pushes this team to the next level.
This team can get there. Believe that.