This year of Georgia Tech football has been dismal – there’s no way around it. The Yellow Jackets enter the final week of their season with a 3-8 record, 7 A-backs injured, and starting 4 freshmen along with what would be 3rd and 4th string B-backs on an offense who have forgotten how and who to block.
Obviously, this season hasn’t gone as planned after the stellar 2014 campaign. Those bragging rights over our in-state rival that we’ve cherished for a year are reaching the end of their shelf life.
Tech will have played 5 regular season games against opponents ranked in the Top 10 during the season. The strength of schedule this year combined with the injuries is a brutal combination.
Rather than wallow in self-pity over a truly atrocious injury situation, talk about Paul Johnson's job security, or make the typical literacy, Wal-Mart, and redneck jokes about our rivals who are coming to town this weekend, I want to talk about a fan’s outlook going into this game and hope for the future.
First I want to address you, dear reader and Tech fan:
Do you still feel a tinge of hope that Tech could win this game on Saturday? This is the worst season the football team has posted in 20 years, but I still think they can win on Saturday. I guarantee you everyone in that locker room does as well. That hope and belief is a new thing that I don’t remember under Johnson’s predecessors. Even in a 3-8 season, we all think and know that every game is winnable. The team isn't as bad as the record indicates - just ask Florida State. The team is still playing hard. They’ve had a chance to win almost every game this season.
I have hope for this game because the talent is there. In every game except for Clemson, you’ve seen the offense revert to 2014 form, at least for a couple drives. This is one of the most talented rosters Johnson has had, but all of the skill position players are in their first year. The skill guys starting on Saturday were 3rd string and below at the start of the season. Tech isn’t getting blown out of games –- the sky isn’t falling. It’s a credit to the coaching and talent on the field that the games have even been competitive. The future is so, so bright. It looks like the team is only a year away from reverting back to the 2014 Paul Johnson Death Machine Offense.
That being said, I truly don’t know what to expect from Tech on Saturday. The offense could put it all together and play like they have the potential to. The offense could also sputter and forget how to block. The youth and inexperience on the field for this team have made them entirely unpredictable. However, I think they have a very high ceiling for the seasons to come.
I’m not writing this game off yet, and you shouldn’t either. Our in-state rivals have plenty of issues of their own to deal with. It took a blown call on a muffed punt and overtime for them to survive Georgia Southern last week. Georgia is not a team to be afraid of this season. Their most impressive win is, what, Kentucky or Georgia Southern? ... Seriously.
I know – Tech has been on the wrong side of bad officiating, even in last year’s win, and has had a slew of unlucky breaks in this game for as long as I can remember. The cliché of throwing the records out the window in this game still applies just as much as ever. To quote CPJ, "It’s never as bad or good as it seems." Despite the lowly win total, I’m not throwing in the towel for this game yet.
Ending the season 4-8 would be rough, but at least a win over our arch rival would give us bragging rights and momentum heading into a long offseason. It also sounds way better than the alternative.
The team will show up on Saturday. You should, too. Wear gold.
What's the good word?