Georgia Tech’s kick return game struggled mightily against Duke after top returner J.J. Green went down with an injury, as defensive back Lance Austin failed to take any one of this three opportunities past the 20-yard line. A 12.7-yard average on kickoff returns is simply not enough to help the team succeed, and the coaching staff is expected to make that a point of emphasis starting this week against North Carolina. I have horrible visions about what Carolina’s combination of Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Switzer will do to the Tech defense this weekend, so getting good field position will be absolutely critical. Drives that start on the 10-yard line are only good for death marches, and those have been few and far between.
Speaking of Mitch Trubisky, the Jackets are apparently not afraid of facing the potential top NFL selection, even on the road. Perhaps that’s the type of confidence that the defense needs in order to get on track, but it comes across as awfully naive to treat a guy who has been among the best quarterbacks in the nation as “just another guy” a week after giving up north of 300 yards to Duke’s would-be backup. Here’s what linebacker Brant Mitchell had to say about the game:
That’s great until you realize that they haven’t exactly defended anyone else, particularly dual-threat quarterbacks, in years. Maybe there’s a great gameplan in place for Trubisky and the rest of the high-octane Tar Heel offense, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Past contests have been anything but inspirational.
Sometimes the enemy knows you best, and that absolutely seems to be the case after reading this article from SB Nation’s UNC site Tar Heel Blog. The author nails just about everything about Tech and Paul Johnson’s tenure to this point, including both the successes and the controversies. Calling Tech’s relationship with Johnson an “awkward embrace” is possibly the most accurate interpretation I’ve ever heard from a source outside of Atlanta; there’s no question that the coach and fanbase are in a strange state of perpetual frustration with one another while simultaneously coexisting quite nicely. His conclusion, that this weekend’s game is a change for Johnson to silence some of his more ardent critics, is also spot-on; it’s a shot at a top-25 team for just the second time this season. A win and a 6-3 record puts Tech well above expectations, but a loss would have the Jackets knocking on the door to mediocrity once again.