It’s an obvious fact that changes are part of the inherent nature of college football. New coaches, new starting QBs, new coordinators, new schemes, and new schedules provide constant adversity for programs looking to climb their way up the ranks of success. When it comes to our beloved Georgia Tech I think this has been painfully evident over the past two years. As much as I hate the saying, we really have been undergoing one of the “biggest transformations of all time”. Even while the staff and vision have remained consistent, we’ve seen near-constant inconsistency with the on-field product. In 2019 we debuted a brand-new offense with a rotating cast of QBs. In 2020 we dealt with COVID and had a new group of freshmen leading the way in important positions. That all changes in 2021 though. In 2021, we’re in year one of consistency.
Much has been made about our recent offensive transition and I believe 2021 is the first year we’ll really be able to see it take full shape. This will notably be the first year under Collins that we’ll have a returning starting QB and RB. You’d actually have to go back to 2011-2012 to find the last GT team with the same top QB and RB two years in a row. Looking at recent successes in college football, a consistent QB/RB tandem is a huge catalyst for success - the duo of Lawrence and Etienne at Clemson is a great example. Having two guys as talented as Sims and Gibbs locking down the most important offensive positions is such a boon to the program. Having the same QB and RB year to year is so helpful for creating an offensive game-plan and identity.
With that foundation in place for 2021+ we are entering a period of offensive consistency that we simply have not had in forever. The WRs are a little more shaken up but returning Carter, Sanders, and Ezzard is huge. The offensive line definitely has questions but is also returning a ton of experience. All together we have a strong core of returning production that is poised to lead us and that’s exciting.
While the defense hasn’t experienced quite the same volatility over the last few years as the offense, I do think it’s worth saying that we’ve got a strong cohort of returning defensive players. Guys like Juanyeh Thomas, Quez Jackson, and Tre Swilling are bringing a ton of experience and have cemented themselves as team leaders. Experience is a huge asset on the defensive side of the ball and we’ve now got a strong core group with a ton of it.
I’ve said before that I expected a lot out of the defense in 2020 and 2021 is no different. They’ve had multiple years now together as a unit and it’s high-time we see that cohesiveness translate to on-field success.
Recruiting is also entering a good steady state. We’re bringing in multiple 4-stars and competing with big-name schools for top talent. As the on-field product improves our ability to recruit will only get better. Success breeds success and nowhere is that more evident than in recruiting. The top schools survive because they consistently bring in talent to replace the players that leave and I believe we are right on the cusp of that inflection point.
Why does this all matter? Because, as my old tennis coach loved to say, consistency is key. Successful programs are built on a bedrock of consistency and this is the first year in a while we can claim that bedrock. We’re working with known quantities now; we no longer have to wonder who the new QB or RB is, or what defensive scheme we’ll be running, or whether or not we’ll secure any four stars. 2021 is different because we’re finally forming a stable identity.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the first year we can really judge what Collins has done with the program and have expectations for what we think the results should be. This is the first year where the staff has full control over nearly every variable and they need to take advantage of it. The past two years have been frustrating but I’m willing to forgive them if we can start to build on our consistency in 2021. All the pieces are in the right place and the opportunities are there; there’s no reason we can’t find success this season. Let’s get after it.