A few last thoughts on Tech’s 2016 season

Various Yellow Jackets, led by defensive lineman Patrick Gamble (91), celebrate their good fortune at the Taxslayer Bowl. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Various Yellow Jackets, led by defensive lineman Patrick Gamble (91), celebrate their good fortune at the Taxslayer Bowl. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Before we make the unseemly belly flop into recruiting season/signing day, a couple lingering thoughts about 2016 in the aftermath of Georgia Tech’s Taxslayer Bowl victory over Kentucky:

The two sides of daring. Life with Paul Johnson is never dull, contrary to what the critics of his offense may claim. This season we have seen him crawl out on the narrowest of fourth-down limbs.

Once, he took a big fall – Dedrick Mills being stuffed on fourth down late against Pitt, enabling the Panthers a short field for a game-winning field goal.

And he grabbed the fruit – Johnson calling on Mills again to gain a fraction of a yard on fourth down with Tech on its own 15 late in the first half against Kentucky. Converting Saturday, Tech did more than run out time in the half, it completed a crushing 94-yard touchdown drive.

Who goes for it on their own 15? Johnson does. And he’ll continue to. Buckle up and live with it.

How to categorize 2016? A nice season, really. Any one that ends with four consecutive victories – including the all-important one over Georgia – can’t be completely dismissed, even by the many trolls who roam the land.

Tech needed this 9-4 season in the wake of 2015’s 3-9 debacle. A fat 10 wins would have taken it to another level (see, again, the loss at Pitt),

Generally, it was a season of no great surprise – losing to three ranked teams (at the time it played), Miami, North Carolina and Clemson. And one victory over a ranked opponent, Virginia Tech. And otherwise taking care of business.

Johnson, though, found a clever way to put it all in perspective while zinging the conference he loves to zing.

“Three-and-oh in the SEC East,” he said, counting his 2016 victories against Vanderbilt, Georgia and Kentucky.

“And got Tennessee next (in 2017’s opener in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

“Hopefully we can take this and build on it.”
The defense makes some noise. Ted Roof’s group hasn’t always been pretty to watch, but it can make itself useful at times.

We refer you to Tech’s first score Saturday, a strip fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker P.J. Davis, putting the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard before viewers had time to wipe the sleep from their eyes.

Kentucky had chosen to make a statement by opting to take the opening kickoff rather than defer to the second half. It was saying it: We can victimize this Tech D. Instead, it was the D that accounted for the day’s first points.

Preserve that play in amber, and put it on display the first team meeting of 2017.

Justin Thomas’ legacy. The Tech quarterback did not have a huge game Saturday, but he departs with a victory. For more on his parting, see my post-game column.

This much we know: He loses the name game to those early 20th Century quarterbacks like Froggie Morrison, Red Barron and Shorty Guill.

He can’t match the historical heft of Eddie McAshan (first African-American quarterback at a major southeastern university).

He doesn’t have the near-Heisman experience of a Joe Hamilton or a Billy Lothridge, or the championship chops of a Shawn Jones.

But in the pantheon of 21st century Tech quarterbacks – the likes of George Godsey, Reggie Ball, Tevin Washington, Josh Nesbett – Thomas looks pretty darn good.

Kentucky likes football, too? Who knew that the Wildcats could get worked up about a game in which players actually stay on campus for four years?

Their blue dominated the color scheme of EverBank Field Saturday, reflective of their happiness over finally making it to a bowl game of any kind. It has been a six-year drought.

Perhaps it is a good sign that it will take more than an 11 a.m. bowl game to excite the Tech fan base.

Reader Comments 0

17 comments
ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

In our current climate of a win-at-all-cost mindset due to the $ involved(see UNC), which I am glad will never be the case at TECH, Johnson is the perfect coach. Period.

Valley6877
Valley6877

Good job Tech. Beat the Sec East

ErksRRTrackDog8
ErksRRTrackDog8

 Great season for pigskin at The Flats. PJ does in fact get more out of less (physical talents - not to be confused with intellectual abilities) than any other coach i can think of. The only issue that keeps GT from being a top 10/15 team every year is the inability to recruit on the D side of the ball. Everyone is always claiming so much talent in the Atlanta area -  but the elephant in the living room that no one will say for fear of political incorrectness is the fact that most of those that usually fit the profile (great D linemen/linebackers in particular)  are NOT going to be able to be successful at Tech academically. But having said that - there are players in the country that can in fact excel at Tech and also be All American caliber in modern day FBS football. It is just that the position of D Linemen/Linebacker is hardest of all positions to find for the handful of truly demanding academic colleges playing FBS. That is just a fact. Those few institutions who will not lower their standards or adapt "new" (mainly BS) "majors" are at a huge competitive (in football) disadvantage.  You cannot be an "average" student and do well at Tech. You must possess the desire and will to excel in the classroom. You also must be somewhat proficient at math. Hell that lets out most of the country regardless of football talents. It is a huge conundrum. But the fact of the matter is that Tech now is competing on a national level with the best of the best. If the athletic department will get serious about figuring a way to attract the select few who can bring the highest athletic  caliber of play (coupled with the desire/ability to excel in the classroom)  on the D side of the ball on a consistent basis...Then Tech will in fact return to the glory days in football on a regular basis. Most of the readers here will remember the 1990 National Champion team- but the fact of the matter is that for the early through the middle part of the last century GT was a powerhouse consistently. The fact that they are still hugely competitive (albeit somewhat inconsistent) without sacrificing academic creditability is amazing. 

ErnestB
ErnestB

@ErksRRTrackDog8


Good point about the difficulty in recruiting  DLineman.  As a position group, they have the lowest GPA of all position groups.


Are there capable DLineman that can endure the academic rigors of GT?  Of course however it would mean we would need to expand the scope of our recruiting efforts.  It would also help if we could increase the size of our recruiting budget and staff so that we could identify potential recruits earlier in HS and begin to establish relationships.

GTroller
GTroller

@ErksRRTrackDog8

Disagree about the inability to recruit D-Linemen.  Gailey and O'Leary never had a problem doing it.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@GTroller


A true TECH fan would know that we lost about 10 players off of the depth chart, mostly defensively, due to academics right after O'Leary left. Academic standards went up immediately, Does you know good to admit players that aren't around when they are juniors.

tipstotips
tipstotips

@ToeMeetsLeather @GTroller Pretty good article on this in the AJC last year. Tech has "special" admits as does UGA and others schools. Tech has a player with a SAT of 570. Most Tech players major in Business Admin, not engineering. Not saying it's easy..... just saying.

ErksRRTrackDog8
ErksRRTrackDog8

@NativeAtlantan57 @ErksRRTrackDog8 Was a spell check thing and you are correct. Wrong word used by me. Score one for you. But since you chose to tweak my nose about my mistake - I will say this about that...I sure as hell would NEVER admit to being a native (and still living there) from the once beautiful, friendly, safe and charming city of Atlanta now run by the modern democrat/socialist party with its rampant crime, municipal  corruption from all sides, pathetically inept government controlled schools, and social malaise.... The GT campus is one of the few beautiful places left in the once great Southern City...

Hunk
Hunk

Thanks to all the Tech players, coach Johnson and his staff for a very good 2016 football season. I think Justin Thomas has developed into an excellent passer for the limited number of attempts he has in CPJ's offense. I hope the next QB who ever he is can throw it as well as Justin.  Now lets see if the success on the field can translate into success on the recruiting trail. Lets see how many of Georgia's top players will want to play with a winning program right in their home state in the greatest city in the south.

mgunter
mgunter

I'm a Dawg fan , but Coach Johnson got more out of less talent than any coach in th country.

Hookedonshortpasses
Hookedonshortpasses

When JT5 got the start over the bigger guy few years ago, I thought johnson made a mistake.....boy was I wrong!


Hopefully some other Tech guy can make "reads" next year the way JT5 did and johnson wants/needs.

creative
creative

Well Ohio state has 11 yards rushing against Clemson. Urban Meyer needs to ditch that high school offense