Ed. Note: Apologies for some of the rambling-ness here at the beginning. This started off as a different article, but I changed it mid-article.
If you will remember a year ago, I wrote about how Geoff Collins is the right guy to start getting Georgia Tech players into the NFL. Here we are, a year later, and to my surprise, Georgia Tech had a player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft in Tyler Davis.
Looking through the roster, there are a number of draft-eligible players on the team who could very well be drafted in the next year or two, guys like Tariq Carpenter, Juanyeh Thomas, Tre Swilling, or guys who transferred in, like Devin Cochran or Antonneous Clayton.
Now there’s some talent on this team, but does that automatically mean that Georgia Tech is going to finish with a winning record or even make a bowl game? The short answer is no.
To put it bluntly, Georgia Tech’s offense last year was abysmal. From the constant shuffling at quarterback at the beginning of the season to not scoring more than 28 points in a single game, there were very few things to be hopeful about. Fast forward a year, and there’s not really much more to be excited about. The quarterback situation is still ehh, at best. Without a full spring practice, there’s a decent chance that quarterback rotation could continue into the first couple games of the season. I’m also curious to see if Tech can establish some kind of consistent offensive identity, which it lacked last season.
It isn’t all doom and gloom on the offense, as Tech did make a couple big additions on the offensive line in Ryan Johnson and Devin Cochran. Add in the return of running backs Jordan Mason and Jamious Griffin, as well as the addition of Jahmyr Gibbs, and it’s clear that Tech will have a dynamic rushing attack.
Even with that dynamic rushing attack, I’m still not sure that Tech will be that successful. Tech has a difficult road to a bowl game this year. Of the teams on Tech’s schedule this year, there were two teams, not including Gardner-Webb, who were not eligible for a bowl game last year: Syracuse and Duke. It’s also important to remember that Tech hasn’t exactly been successful against Duke lately.
Unfortunately, offensive ineptitude at Georgia Tech is not a new concept, and you don’t have to go that far back to see that. While Chan Gailey was the head coach at Georgia Tech consistently averaged under 25 points a game. No game more fully shows the ineptitude of Chan Gailey’s Georgia Tech than the 2006 ACC Championship game, in which Georgia Tech lost to Wake Forest 9-6, while Tech had Calvin Johnson and Tashard Choice on the roster.
So, if you’re still reading at this point, I feel like you’re probably thinking, okay, so is there a “but” or a silver lining or something to give us hope for this season?
I think there is a silver lining, and that’s in the future. We’ve already seen a bit of the impact that Geoff Collins has had in recruiting. He finished last season with the 24th-ranked (Rivals)/27th-ranked (247Sports) class last season and currently sits at 25 on Rivals and 26 on 247Sports. Something that can help Tech to maintain that recruiting success is getting players into the NFL. And that is something that I think Tech can continue to do.
The key here is that Tech needs to still progress so it doesn’t return to the Chan Gailey days of wasting the NFL talent those teams had. And that falls on Dave Patenaude and the offensive staff. The defense made some strides last season, and I expect those to continue this year. The offense, as I mentioned earlier, was not great, but I think there are a few things Tech can do to make some strides:
Lean on the run game
Jordan Mason was an absolute monster last season, rushing for 899 yards and seven touchdowns last season. While they may not be the most glowing numbers, watching his film is a treat.
Mason isn’t going to beat a lot of people in a foot race, but he has excellent vision and is one of the hardest running backs in the conference to bring down. Combine him with the potential of Jamious Griffin and Jahmyr Gibbs, and there’s not much reason to throw the ball too much.
Pick a dang quarterback
I hate that it’s probably going to happen again, but Georgia Tech needs to avoid another early-season quarterback carousel and pick a starter before the season starts. At this point, I don’t know who is going to be starting at quarterback, but whoever it is, they need to let him play. My biggest concern here is that we didn’t get a full spring practice, so the incoming freshmen will be at a disadvantage. That still leaves James Graham and Jordan Yates as viable options.
Stick to a gameplan
One thing I think hurt Tech more than anything last year was the inability to stick to a gameplan game to game. Every single game that passed, it felt like they tried something new, and then instead of building on that, they tried something new in the next game. Tech needs to simplify their game plan and stick to it. Building an expansive gameplan is great, but if you are struggling as much as Tech did last season, you need to simplify things. I think that’s plain and simple.
Georgia Tech wasn’t great last season, and despite what talent might be on the team, Geoff Collins needs to make sure that the team doesn’t do its best impression of a Chan Gailey team. If there isn’t improvement on the offense, it’s going to be a long season. I think the pieces are there to have improvement, but there’s some work to do.