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Patenaude, Popovich, and Burton Have Been Dismissed

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Its shaping up to be an interesting off-season for the Jackets!

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 season closed with a whimper but the off-season has started with a bang.

Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude, Special Teams Coordinator / Cornerbacks Coach Jeff Popovich, and Safeties Coach Nathan Burton were all dismissed this morning after a disappointing season. Each has been with the program since the 2019 season. Right now it’s believed that no more large changes to the program will occur. You can read the official announcement and some comments from Coach Collins here.

In his time as OC, Patenaude’s offenses averaged 21.4 points per game over 34 games. He certainly had the most work cut out for him as part of the transition away from the Johnson offense, but many fans were still highly disappointed with the lack of progress in his third year at the offensive helm.

Popovich’s special teams units have definitely seen some highs and lows. He oversaw Pressley Harvin III’s 2020 Ray Guy season but not much else went right. Since 2019 Tech kickers have gone 17/33 (51.5%) on field goal attempts and there have been a host of issues with XPs, returns, and return defense. The CBs were unfortunately not much better. The talented unit didn’t record a single interception in 2021 and there were several coverage breakdowns in almost every game.

Burton’s safety unit was among the most experienced position groups on the team but the production was much the same as the CBs - lacking. Teams threw against us at will and the group only recorded one interception.

As far as replacements for each of these positions go, it’s too soon to say. There are reports that a list of potential candidates for OC already exists so let’s hope that we find out more soon! I don’t have anyone in particular on my wishlist, but I do hope that the next guy has a very strong schematic identity that can be flexible based on personnel. The Patenaude era felt like a lot of doing something because it’s considered “pro style” more than doing something because we thought it would work - I’d like to see that change. I’ll let someone like Stephen speak to what they’d like to see out of a new Special Teams Coordinator, but its certainly an area we need strong coaching in. For the safeties and CBs, the only thing I’ll say is that I’d like to see a more cohesive staff. At times its felt like the defensive position groups work in silos and that has led to some bad communication and chemistry on the field. Maybe a single “Defensive Backs Coach” would be a good idea.

We wish each of the three departing coaches good luck as they move on to the next phase of their careers!