Tech hasn’t for­got­ten 2017’s dis­ap­point­ment

The Standard Journal - - PIGSKIN PREVIEW 2018 - GE­OR­GIA TECH By Ge­orge Henry

Coach Paul John­son still laments the way last sea­son started and ended for Ge­or­gia Tech.

If the Yel­low Jack­ets can cor­rect how they play at the end of games and at the end of halves, John­son is con­vinced the team can have a spe­cial sea­son.

“We lost at least three games on the last pos­ses­sion,” John­son said. “We gave up scores on the last pos­ses­sion of the half al­most ev­ery game, and it’s a mo­men­tum killer.”

Ge­or­gia Tech re­ported for the first day of sum­mer camp with high hopes. The locker room is bright and spiffy fol­low­ing a $4.5 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion, and there will be new uni­forms in the first year of an ap­parel deal with Adi­das.

The big­gest chal­lenge comes af­ter the Jack­ets went 5-6 and missed out on a bowl game for the sec­ond time in three years. Last-sec­ond losses to Ten­nessee and at Mi­ami and Vir­ginia ru­ined what could’ve been a re­spectable sea­son.

“I think right from the first game a year ago, tak­ing noth­ing away from Ten­nessee, but we kind of gift-wrapped that game,” John­son said. “That’s a game that we felt like we should’ve won. Then the same thing hap­pens at Mi­ami, and the thing just kind of steam­rolls and it just kind of got away from us.”

Sev­eral plays con­trib­uted to the col­lapse. Off­side penal­ties, hold­ing calls, dropped passes, poor reads and missed tack­les all added up to keep Ge­or­gia Tech from a win­ning record in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence for the third straight year.

Se­nior quar­ter­back TaQuon Mar­shall knows the of­fense must keep build­ing on leads. The Jack­ets were up 14-3 last year at Duke be­fore col­laps­ing in a 43-20 loss.

“The small things turn into big things,” Mar­shall said. “If you elim­i­nate the small things early in the game or even late in the game, that can de­ter­mine whether it’s a win or a loss.”

Ge­or­gia Tech is hop­ing to get cen­ter Kenny Cooper back be­fore the Sept. 1 opener against Al­corn State. He suf­fered a leg in­jury in spring prac­tice and won’t be ready for the first work­out on Fri­day.

Ja­haziel Lee has taken over at cen­ter, but if Cooper re­turns, the Jack­ets will be stronger with Lee re­turn­ing to his nat­u­ral spot at left tackle and Will Bryan mov­ing from left tackle back to his start­ing spot at right guard.

The de­fense is healthy but still ad­just­ing to a new co­or­di­na­tor in Nate Woody and the 3-4 align­ment he in­stalled in spring prac­tice.

Ge­or­gia Tech hopes the new look will gen­er­ate more quar­ter­back pres­sures and tack­les for lost yardage. Ge­or­gia Tech has ranked no higher than 107th in sacks over the last three years, but 2017 was even worse.

There were six se­niors and five ju­niors among the reg­u­lar starters as the Jack­ets ranked 124th in turnovers and 118th in tack­les for mi­nus yards. This year’s de­fense isn’t lack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the front seven, but the sec­ondary has just three up­per­class­men — free safety Chris­tian Camp­bell, cornerback La­mont Sim­mons and re­serve safety Ma­lik Rivera — among the ranks.

“As far as the scheme goes, I think we’ve got the per­son­nel to make it suc­cess­ful,” se­nior line­backer Brant Mitchell said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to it a lot. Ev­ery­body’s buy­ing into it.”

Ge­or­gia Tech re­turns seven se­nior starters on de­fense and five on of­fense. John­son, about to be­gin his 11th sea­son in charge of the Jack­ets and his 22nd over­all, will re­mind his older play­ers that they have one last chance to get it right.

“As a se­nior, this is your team,” John­son said. “You can’t do any talk­ing. All the talk­ing don’t do any good be­cause they’re watch­ing. Don’t ask them to do some­thing you’re not do­ing. If you’re com­mit­ted to go out the right way and you’re do­ing it off the field and in the class­room and in prac­tice and all the places you need to be do­ing it, they’ll fol­low. If you’re not, they won’t.”

/ AP-Chuck Bur­ton

Ge­or­gia Tech head coach Paul John­son is hop­ing for a bet­ter per­for­mance this year af­ter last sea­son “just kind of got away from us.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.