Georgia Tech Preview 2016: It’s a critical season for Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets.
The Ramblin’ Wreck was more like a train wreck in 2015.
The Yellow Jackets were one of last season’s biggest disappointments, freefalling from a preseason spot in the Top 25 to a miserable 3-9 mark, the school’s worst in 21 years. While Tech was painfully close in six of those losses, and even shocked Florida State, it was still a shell of the squad that won the Coastal Division the year before.
The focus this offseason has centered on erasing the nightmares of 2015, returning to health and rebooting a triple-option offense that failed to get out of neutral, despite being piloted by all-star QB Justin Thomas. Thomas suffered through a junior slump, no doubt, but youth and inconsistency also plagued him along the way. His backfield running mates figure to be much better this fall, though issues up front will require more time before they’re resolved.
The offense will have to recapture its 2014 form, because an ordinary defense is unlikely to pick up much of the slack in 2016.
The Yellow Jackets will feature middling defensive talent, a recurring theme on the Flats. While coordinator Ted Roof will make certain his kids are well coached and giving maximum effort, where are the players that’ll have NFL scouts buzzing around Atlanta this October? Such a defender isn’t on the roster today, and if he develops as the season unfolds, he doesn’t figure to have much company.
Roof has two riddles he’ll need to solve in August, inciting an impotent pass rush that delivered an ACC-low 14 sacks in 2015 and replacing all four secondary starters, including Kansas City Chief draft pick D.J. White. Neither concern has a simple solution, raising the likelihood that Tech will be even easier to navigate for opponents in 2016.
This is a critical year for Georgia Tech, one of the steadiest ACC outfits of the past two decades. It’s a pretty important season for head coach Paul Johnson, too. True, the program has benefited from Johnson’s presence, but his teams have been inconsistent, dropping at least six games in four of the last six years. .
And if his Yellow Jackets stagger to another sub-.500 season, AD Mike Bobinski could be in the market for a new football coach eight months after he sacked underperforming basketball coach Brian Gregory.