As the start of the 2016 season draws nearer, Georgia Tech’s head football coach Paul Johnson took a few minutes to talk with The Newy Scruggs Show on NBC Sports Radio on Tuesday. Within the interview, Coach Johnson spoke about the unique opportunity to play a game in Ireland, the lack of staff turnover after an exceptionally poor 2015 season, pregame speeches, and more. He also reminds us, midway through the interview, about the crazy number of injuries that the team suffered that helped to contribute to the poor finish. It serves as another reminder that a) the 2015 season was highly unusual, and any discouragement it creates should be taken with a grain of salt, and that b) all of those freshmen who were forced into action before they were ready will return in 2016, and will bring plenty of experience with them.
The 2016 ACC Media Kickoff begins today in Greensboro, NC, kicking off the football season with two days of interviews and media spots with coaches and players from every team in the conference. Senior QB Justin Thomas and senior DL Patrick Gamble will represent the Yellow Jackets at the conference, participating in interviews Thursday afternoon that will be broadcast on ESPN3 and theACC.com. In anticipation, ESPN’s ACC blog predicted that 2015 Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson will be named the ACC’s Offensive Player of the Year, and included some top candidates to contest against him as well. David Hale profiled the conference’s “deep sleeper” for the award — none other than Georgia Tech sophomore Marcus Marshall. Interesting that national media members would consider Marshall more of a threat to win the award than the QB who figures to be handing off to him, but Hale is spot on that Marshall’s athleticism and experience very well could combine for a big 2016 season.
Making its rounds on Twitter yesterday was the following, which shows the conference records of Florida State and Clemson over the past four seasons, outside of their head-to-head matchup:
FSU and Clemson vs. the rest of the ACC the past four years. Kinda ridiculous pic.twitter.com/p4Jwfuus87— Joe Giglio (@jwgiglio) July 20, 2016
The two combine for an absurd 53-3 record. That’s no doubt very impressive, but it should also be noted that the consolation prize here has to go to Georgia Tech — responsible for 2 of those 3 losses. How’s it feel knowing that the Yellow Jackets own the field’s only two wins over Florida State and Clemson over the past three seasons?
We’ve brought this up before, but it’s worth a reminder. Former Yellow Jacket star Greg Gathers, who held the school’s record for career sacks from 2001 until it was broken by Jeremiah Attaochu in 2013, had his budding football career dragged to a screeching halt in 2002. The summer before his senior year on the Flats, a failing kidney turned into focal glomerulosclerosis, which then required dialysis in 2004, and subsequently a kidney transplant from his mother in 2005. Complications from the transplant have left him with kidney failure once more, and on Wednesday Ken Sugiura wrote about Gathers’ need for another kidney from a donor with a blood type of O-positive or O-negative, among other conditions that would need to be tested for. (Link may require registration.) He’s currently undergoing several hours of dialysis every day, in an effort to prolong his fight as he awaits a donor. Former Georgia Tech teammate Sean Gregory began a GoFundMe page a couple of weeks ago, attempting to help the family with the bills associated with his treatments. The effort aims to raise $20,000 for the family, and as I write this, they have raised $19,799 — just $201 short of what seems like something of a lofty goal. Another cool part of this is looking at the donor list:
(That’s Bill & Colleen O’Brien, Dez White, Will Heller, Brent Key, and George Godsey, if you can’t tell.)
...and those are just some of the donations from Gathers’ former coaches and teammates. The Georgia Tech community and fan base has truly rallied around one of its own in a time of need, and that’s extremely badass.