Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.
Welcome back for another week of The Upper North Perspective, and man oh man, what a perspective it was from the Upper North last Thursday.
That loss to Clemson was majorly gut-wrenching. The first half was one of the worst halves of football I have ever seen on the Flats. I was sitting there during the first half thinking to myself, “Why is this team reverting back to 2015?”
Every positive sign that could possibly occur during the first half was instantly replaced by a much worse reaction. Case in point? The interception turned safety. I don’t think I need to say any more about that.
Let’s focus on what happened after that. This team battled. This team fought. This team played a better, albeit not great, second half against a top 5 team. This team showed that they were not the team of 2015 that continued to take it time and time again. This team wanted to play and wanted to fight back.
So where did that leave me? Oddly enough, I woke up Friday feeling fairly okay. I was not okay with the loss. I am still not okay with how we lost. I am okay with the fact that we fought. I am okay with how the players responded to the loss.
I got even better on Saturday when that team down in Athens rolled over and refused to fight back. But what can they do really? They are so devoid of talent. They never even really had a chance. At least that’s what Kirby is telling me….
I probably rewrote this column in my head fifteen different times in the days since, and nothing seemed to be the right fit. Watching Monday Night Raw, it finally hit me. It is time for this football team to redesign, rebuild, and reclaim. No, that does not mean widespread change. No, that does not mean we need new leadership in charge. No, we do not need Seth Rollins, HHH, or Stephanie McMahon to come here and rejuvenate this football team.
This team already has what it needs to do those three things. This team has already proven that it can compete living by these three things. They know what they need to do. They just need to do……...IT. (Maybe I went one wrestling reference too far here)
Today, I will tell you what redesigning, rebuilding, and reclaiming means for this football team and exactly how it will get done.
Redesigning is something we saw happen right in front of our eyes on Thursday night, and hopefully, we get to see that redesign stay. IT all has to do with the defense. Roof’s defense did not play well at all throughout the first quarter and the majority of the first half. Clemson abused the defense over and over again. Deshaun Watson toyed with the group and did what he wanted.
However, this defense woke up. Roof made some adjustments to redesign, if you will, how the defense was approaching the Clemson offense and that D stepped up for the rest of the game.
I know some of you want to say that Clemson dialed back, but I can promise you that they did not. Dabo had his offense trying to click on all cylinders and would have gladly run the score up on Tech if possible.
Roof’s defense was not having it though. This group stiffened and played inspired the rest of the game. If they could have got just a little bit more help from the offense, a comeback would have been within reach.
So what do we do with this redesign? Roof obviously has his finger on the pulse of this group. In back to back weeks, Roof’s defense has played better after poor early possessions. The redesign is now on Ted to push those buttons a little bit earlier. It is time to get this group to play on fire from the opening whistle. The redesign needs to be in reducing the bend of this defense in the early portions of the game and getting them to come out and hit someone in the mouth.
This team does not need to be reconstructed from a talent or coaching standpoint. I am a firm believer in the talent on this team. I believe in this coaching staff. I believe in Coach Paul Johnson to get the ship righted. Georgia Tech’s recruiting has gotten better and better, and if we did not have issues with that 2013 class or the random OL departures, I do not think we would be questioning talent at all. And the coaching? I have already written multiple columns on that. Knowing that I believe in the group is enough for this one.
So this rebuild? What does IT consist of?
The rebuild is about the mindset of this team. It is about confidence and fight. It is about leadership and the drive and need and want to be better than last year.
The early part of the first half made me question this the most. The team, the offensive line in particular, seemed to fully revert back to 2015, and when things did not go right in the beginning, there was a bit of a snowball effect. The mindset of 2015 returned quickly, and the team looked absolutely shocked and lost.
I am not sure what kind of speech this group got at halftime. Whatever was said seemed to drive home the most important point in my opinion. The mindset that needed to be rebuilt, and supposedly had been rebuilt, was put into question. Was the team going to fight back and show that this could be the #Surprise16 that they have all been discussing? Would they display the attitude from the offseason rebuild?
They fought. They clawed. They may have still struggled at times, but this group did not quit. That was something to behold. That was something that encouraged me into the final minutes of the game. It will be something that Tech fans will have a chance to fully evaluate on Saturday against Miami.
Did the rebuild take place, or is the program simply stuck in the horror of 2015? This football team has a chance to prove all the doubters wrong, and it starts with the rebuilt mindset. The rebuild will be on full display on Saturday.
So exactly where does reclaim fit in all of this? IT’s actually the most straight forward.
It is time to reclaim our identity in college football of being a dominant rushing attack. It is time to reclaim the smash-mouth, punch them in the mouth football that we have been known for on offense since 2008. It is time to make fans of opposing teams cry the week that they play Georgia Tech because of their fear of our offensive line and those “dirty” chop blocks, not true, that are coming their way. Georgia Tech needs to do what Tech has done best over the past eight years, and that is putting a helmet on virtually everyone to give the skill position players a chance to make plays.
It will not take much to get this back. It was not that long ago, actually just one week ago, that Paul Johnson was saying this offense had a chance to be as good as the 2014 group. Yes, this team had a horrific performance on a national stage, but Paul did feel that way for a reason. Don’t let the most dominant defensive front this side of Alabama convince you otherwise just yet. This offense has been tested by three power five opponents in four games and has performed at a decent level outside of the first half last Thursday night.
I would also say the players at running back, both A and B, are some of the best players that have been at the positions since Johnson’s arrival. Dedrick Mills has the most top end potential of any B-Back since Anthony Allen, and I may even be selling him just a bit short. Marcus Marshall has the homerun potential. Qua Searcy was quiet last week, but he has been the best player on offense at times this season. Clinton Lynch is just simply productive. There are a slew of others not being named as well.
The pieces are in place for big things to happen if everyone just does their job. Honestly, the offensive line just needs to put a hat on someone, right or wrong assignment, and that will help this offense to improve. I believe in the offensive line group. The talent is there. They just need to believe in themselves when the lights come on.
It is time to reclaim that belief that this offense can dominate week in and week out. It is time to reclaim that attitude and, somewhat fittingly based on the opponent this week, swagger.
It is time for this team to atone for the stumbles that they have encountered. The process begins now. Redesign, Rebuild, and Reclaim this week against Miami.
The season starts now.