Staying the Course
Welcome back to The Upper North Perspective, and can I just say how great it is to be here with you this week?
Not only that, can we also address what a difference a week makes? After a hapless performance against UNC, the team responded better than any of us could have imagined. Multiple starters, including the senior leaders on offense, out and the team responded with its most dominant performance of the season.
Did I mention that I was there? My wife and I decided late in the week that we were going to make the trek to Blacksburg, and it was the best decision imaginable. To make this even sweeter, this broke my unfortunate away game losing streak. Now, I do not have to overthink my decision on whether to travel to a game anymore.
Let me take one minute to give a special shout-out to all the folks at VT. It was truly one of the best away game experiences I have ever had, and it would have still been up there even if the result had gone the other way. The fans were welcoming, and the town experience was tremendous. Georgia Tech could take a few notes from the people who manage Virginia Tech’s gameday and both the pregame and in-game stadium experience. And the much hyped Sandman team entrance? It did not disappoint. Kudos to you, VT, for treating a couple of GT fans well and helping to create such a positive memory.
I should probably also take this time to acknowledge the performance by Ted Roof and his defense on Saturday. This group responded to ALL of the criticisms and delivered across the board throughout the entire game….well until the last two drives in what is typically deemed as garbage time. Great job CTR and this D. Kudos to the Austin twins and all of the opportunistic plays of each player. This was a performance to build upon. Let’s see the continued growth this week against UVA.
Since that is over, I can honestly say VT is one of those games I circle each year as a top game on the schedule, and it is always sweet to get a win over the Hokies. And winning in the fashion that Tech did? It does not get much better than that.
With a win like this, it starts to put things into perspective. It helps to clear up any muddled thoughts and helps one to see things for what they truly are. On our drive back home, it ignited a discussion with my wife that eventually turned into me contemplating the meaning, the future, and where it leaves GT. A win like this gets people, like my wife, fully back on board. A win in that fashion with those odds stacked against GT helps people to see the quality of the people, CPJ specifically, who lead the charge. With all these thoughts circulating through my head, I came to a pretty defiant conclusion:
Georgia Tech would be completely foolish to not stay the course with Coach Paul Johnson.
What was most interesting to me is coming home to see that there was actually talk on Tuesday on local radio stations and in the papers about Paul Johnson and his job security. It stemmed mostly from a question asked to Paul Johnson about the job speculation, and Paul responded pretty much as he always does. He doesn’t hear it. He doesn’t feel it. He doesn’t see it from the people around him. These beliefs and speculation that come with it is media driven by what is written in the papers and heard on the radio.
I honestly did not think anything about the comments until I saw the constant presence on Twitter of media outlets covering what CPJ said and the radio broadcasters casting their typical snarky comments about CPJ and his performance at Tech.
Maybe the part that throws me off the most is the timing of all of this. I know Paul has never been a media darling here in Atlanta even though his conversation with Jeff Schultz and Zach Klein on the “We Never Played the Game” podcast went a long way towards changing that.
This talk is coming off a week where CPJ and his Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech delivered their signature performance (so far) of 2016. This man just went into the Coastal leading Virginia Tech Hokies’ feared stadium with a backup at C, QB, and BB and provided one of best coaching performances we have seen at Tech.
This was not against just anyone. This was against Bud Foster and the defense that has always seemed to provide Paul Johnson the most resistance. This defense has always seemed to be the innovators in terms of new ideas and strategies to attempt to shut down the GT offense. This game is always the chess match of all chess matches between two brilliant football minds.
And Paul Johnson check-mated Bud Foster on this day. With the two key cogs, Justin Thomas and Freddie Burden, since 2014 on the sideline, Matthew Jordan and true freshman Kenny Cooper stepped in for their first starts to help Paul engineer this dominating performance.
Why after this week would people question the security of his position? Does that make sense?
Everyone feared what would become of this team without Justin Thomas leading the way, but it is clear that the team is still going to be in capable hands. Nobody will be able to do what Justin can do. The man is simply too good; however, with Paul Johnson in charge, this offense is still going to be efficient. Matthew Jordan quarterbacked an admirable game and changed the identity of this group if only for one day. The offense grinded and put VT to sleep before striking for multiple big plays throughout the day. The QB follow became an instantly valuable play in the playbook again, and it transformed the offense for one day.
And for that reason, it is obvious that this group is set up for what is next. Everyone was able to see that this team is in good shape for the future. Young guys stepped up all over the place for the Jackets in this performance. Whether it be the true freshmen and sophomores on the offensive line or a sophomore like Anree Saint-Amour delivering a two sack performance, the youth stood out in full force.
So why is it that now seemed like a good time to question job security?
As I have said before, I am a firm believer in Paul Johnson being the right man for this program. I don’t have to cover all those reasons again (though the athletic graduation rate again increased to a high for GT this week, and Paul was rightfully compensated for that), but there is one important point that stems out of this past Saturday’s big win.
With Paul Johnson leading the way, I always feel that there is a chance for victory. Even in the direst of times, a win is always possible. Virginia Tech seemed like a for sure loss, yet in this moment, I was on the road to Blacksburg telling my wife, “GT is honestly due for its awakening performance of the year.” And that it was.
Paul Johnson is the perfect leader for GT and its fan base. Paul gives this team an edge. Paul never allows GT to be counted out. Paul guarantees that Tech can never be slept on. He demands high character and academic prowess. He demands that everyone around the program do things the right way. He does this and still delivers a team that competes year in and year out. You can never count out these Jackets because right when you do, that is when they sneak up to get you.
A strong leader like Paul Johnson who sees the big picture and stays the course no matter how good or bad things may seem is what is right for GT. This staying the course is not suggesting that he not make some adjustments within the staff after the season. The program still needs to be evaluated all the way through after the season to guarantee the lows GT has seen do not return.
But those problems are not at the top of the football program. Paul Johnson knows exactly what he needs to get this program to take the next step in a higher consistency. He has shown a willingness to adjust if changes need to be made. Let’s give Paul a chance to work with new AD Todd Stansbury and see the results from that.
Besides, after a win like that over Virginia Tech, it is way too early to count the man we call CPJ out. This program is in the exact hands I would like to see it in for the foreseeable future.
Because on this week and this day, CPJ has the upper hand, and that’s exactly the way I like it.