A Month of Change
Welcome back (finally) to The Upper North Perspective. It has been an entire month since I last visited with you, and it truly has been a month of change for me in my life. I won’t bore you with all the details, but there have been some major adjustments in the Martin household. Fortunately, all these changes were positive.
It has also been a month of change for the state of Georgia Tech football. A lot has gone on since November 26, and unfortunately, not all of the change has been positive. Let’s take a look at it all.
First, the improbable comeback against uGA and a “leap of faith” from Qua Searcy gave Georgia Tech its second consecutive win in Athens and its second win in the last three years. Huge, right?
Secondly, a new AD officially started with Tech and seemingly brings a renewed energy and vigor to make positive change for all involved. We can all hope that means football is at the forefront, right?
Thirdly, we had some departures from the squad after the season with Marcus Marshall being the most notable of the departures. Were these departures shocking? No, not really. But they have to carry some weight and have an impact on the program in a negative way.
Fourth in this series of events is the fact that Georgia Tech is back in a bowl game after a one year hiatus with the chance to go 3-0 over the SEC with a win over Kentucky in the Gator Bowl.
Next, Coach Cook decided to take a position at Georgia Southern as the offensive coordinator there and will bring true option style football back to Statesboro….yet again. What kind of impact will this have?
Lastly, the Jackets have added a few commits, and they bring with them some positive traits as the team moves forward.
So with all this change over the past month, what news should this program and those around it really focus on? What is the major news with all this new information out there?
The answer is a lot simpler than some of you like to admit.
Some of the negative fans out there really want to pour all of their focus and attention into the attrition that has occurred, but let’s be honest. The only MAJOR attrition from this year is Marcus Marshall, and even Marshall had been relegated to backup duties behind stud freshman Dedrick Mills for the majority of the season. Yes, Marshall came on strong towards the end of the season, but he was never a world beater at the B-Back position. This is not to say we won’t miss Marshall; we definitely will. This is more to say that the most significant attrition from the team was not even a full time starter. It hurts, but life goes on. (I actually hope Marshall does very well at his next stop at JMU. I think highly of the kid and want him to really make a name for himself.)
The rest of the attrition came from Dorian Walker, Christian Philpott, and Emmanuel Bridges. Dorian Walker showed some promise this year, but the loss of Walker is definitely softened by the dynamic defensive back recruiting class that is coming in. Not to mention, we return all of our starters from the secondary, so it would have been at least one more year before Walker saw significant playing time. Philpott had all the measurables, but he could not stop getting hurt on the Flats. I really cannot blame him for leaving as it seemed his luck was never going to change while he was here. And Bridges was here such a short time that I do not know how to even address his absence.
So we had four players leave after the season. After looking at these players, it is very clear that the sky is not falling. Marshall was the only significant contributor, but I feel great about the BBack depth here. In reality, there will always be attrition. It is the nature of the game and the direction college athletics is going. When you look at it like that, Tech’s attrition really was not that bad this year.
Maybe it is just me, but I do not consider Coach Cook leaving as this big negative. One, I think it furthers the brand of GT football and the man in charge, Paul Johnson. As Paul continues to make his mark on college football, I think it goes a long way towards continuing to build the brand. Coach Cook did build strong relationships with players and provided some great X’s and O’s, but I believe the rumored candidates have the ability to do those exact same things. If it happens to be Coach Candeto, he may even understand the offense better than Coach Cook simply due to the time in the system. Where Coach Cook will be missed most of all is on the recruiting trail, but I do not think it is enough to warrant any handwringing.
So what state do I think Georgia Tech should be in and continue to be in going into the Kentucky game? It’s a state of elation and excitement. This team went from 3-3 to finishing the year with a 5-1 stretch run. That stretch run gives this team the ability to win 9 games in 2016….no small feat here at GT.
A new AD who is willing to work with CPJ and the football program is a breath of fresh air. I get more frustrated every time I hear about MBob and his mismanagement of the entire state of GT Athletics, but specifically football. Todd Stansbury brings a fresh perspective as a former GT athlete and knows what this program needs to hit the heights every single Tech fan wants to see. This is a time for excitement.
The recruiting around this program continues to build upon its positive trend, and it even looks as if Tech may be preparing for another strong January stretch run. This program has closed well in recent years, and I am excited to see if it continues.
For those who want to be negative, go back and watch the fourth quarter of the game that was played on November 26th in Athens. That is all you need to know about this program and where your enthusiasm should be. Yes, we all rally around Qua’s miraculous “Leap of Faith,” but don’t forget about the job this entire team did to close out that game strong. CPJ put his mark on a series that got a bit of a fresh start this year with Smart at the helm for uGA. Kirby now has all the pressure on him to rebound and find a way to beat his rivals…..and most importantly, Georgia Tech. He will not survive at Georgia without finding a way to consistently beat Tech.
This program rebounded from a poor 2015 and put it completely in the rearview. Yes, Tech favorites like Justin Thomas, Harrison Butker, Freddie Burden, and Pat Gamble all will be playing their last game in the uniform this Saturday, but the future here is bright. The final stretch of this season did enough to prove that.
This group gets one more chance on Saturday to go out and put a permanent dominant stamp on the season. 3-0 against the SEC in 2016 is in sight. A 9 win season is a realistic possibility. A strong and dominant performance on Saturday against Kentucky could propel this team to possibly being ranked to close the year and maybe even strong consideration going into next season.
After a month and season of change, it’s a great time to be a Tech fan. I, for one, am ecstatic for the future.