I get it. I really do. Football didn’t make a bowl, Basketball failed to even make the NIT, and baseball squandered top talent in an inexplicable fashion, again. Losing is exhausting and one can only stomach so much in one sitting before they’ve had enough. For Tech fans, the “Pit of Misery” has gone from a cheesy joke in a beer commercial to reality.
With the team missing two bowls in three years, it seems as if the program is heading in the wrong direction, and it has, on the field. At the same time, Athletic Director Todd Stansbury has been working with coaches to lay much-needed infrastructure that was neglected by the previous ADs. Stansbury has been creative in meeting the financial requirements of these improvements. By hosting Atlanta United at Bobby Dodd, recruiting private donors to fun multi-million dollar projects, starting grassroots fundraiser movements, and starting exclusive memorabilia sales, Stansbury has spurred rapid structural growth within the program.
Stansbury has also refreshed the brand. The ouster of Russell was probably going to happen with or without him, but the brand simplification unveiled recently was much-needed. The team is also distributing gold shirts to fans in an effort to better unify the look of the stadium on gameday. Tech is finally fixing the issues over which it has control after many, many years of sticking its head in the sand.
Unfortunately, all of this means little for the team this year. These types of improvements take years to show their effects, and this team will still be plagued by many of the question marks it faced last year.
Sure, Ted Roof is finally gone, but transition years on defense are always a question mark. Players recruited into one scheme don’t always fit in others, and some of Woody’s initial personnel decisions have left me scratching my head. It may seem like the defense can’t get worse, but Tech’s defense was 65th in S&P+ last year. I personally think Tech’s horrid efficiency stats should have placed it worse than 65th, but it’s a reminder that yes, things can always get worse, and there isn’t quite as much room for improvement as one would think.
On offense, nothing has really changed. Poor play from the Offensive Tackle position last year was the root of many of Tech’s problems. Lack of success on the perimeter, poor passing success rate, and a horrific sack rate were all heavily influenced by subpar play at the position. It’s no guarantee that Andrew Marshall will come back 100%, or that Jack DeFoor will adjust to the position, or that Jahaziel Lee will improve, or that Zach Quinney will be ready.
If nobody steps up at the position, the offense will be forced into relying on BB/QB runs again. That’s not a recipe for success. Additionally, Ricky Jeune’s departure leaves a huge hole, with no proven replacement. Many are high on Jalen Camp and Steve Dolphus, but again, it’s no guarantee either will step up.
There is actually nowhere to go but up. Tech was dead last in passing efficiency and standard down sack rate out of 130 FBS teams. If Tech wants to improve significantly here, however, several players will need to take steps forward.
At this point, many of you probably think I am definitively saying that Georgia Tech is going to suck this year, but that’s not the case. I really do think Tech will improve, but it probably won’t be enough to satiate the losing sickness. Just remember that the branding has been improved, the money is coming in, and the staff has been expanded. Remember to look at the bigger picture.
Countdown to Kickoff: 96 Days