The 2013 season was an interesting one for the Yellow Jackets. Unfortunately, it ended with losing to Georgia in 2 OT’s after blowing a lead, as well as a loss to Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl in Nashville in December. The grievances about the team’s performance (or lack thereof) are numerous from fans as of late, and you can’t help but wonder what the Georgia Tech athletic program is thinking.
Over the past few seasons, the Georgia Tech football program has seemed to stagnate. Since 2009, the Yellow Jackets have posted records of 6-7, 8-5, 7-7 and 7-6 this year. They’re 1-6 in bowl games since 2008, with the only win coming in 2012 against USC in the Sun Bowl. The point that bothers all Tech fans: the Yellow Jackets haven’t beat that team up the road since their comeback win in 2008 where Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones combined for 33 carries, 358 yards and 4 touchdowns in a thriller in Athens.
Coach Paul Johnson, although having a decent tenure at Georgia Tech, has failed to post more than one 10-win season. The biggest obstacle as of late seems to be the inability to hold a lead, limiting turnovers and closing out games. This past season, Georgia Tech had 28 fumbles and lost 11. Vad Lee, specifically, had a hard time keeping the ball off the ground. The Jackets also started several games with substantial leads, but managed to let their opponents come back or worse, let them win. Fans on Twitter started calling for Paul Johnson’s head during the Music City Bowl, complaining about the play-calling and lack of coaching. To an extent, I can’t say I disagree.
I’ve been a fan of Paul Johnson since he came to Georgia Tech. I admired his ability to run the ball down his opponents’ throats, regardless of their knowledge of Georgia Tech’s game plan. However, his ability to outmatch other teams and fully compete has declined. He is being outcoached and it shows. The team is only playing two quarters of football, not four. The defense seems to look lost against quarterbacks that can put the ball in the air, and once a team figures out how to shut down the run game, the offense becomes totally stagnant.
So the question remains: should Paul Johnson be fired? Although I’m as frustrated as many of the fans that are calling for his head, I believe that he should be given a chance to recruit a quarterback that resembles the likes of Josh Nesbitt, as well as a few ball hawks at corner before giving him the boot. Vad Lee, although he didn’t like the offense, was a decent fit for Tech and showed that he could put the ball in the air if he was given the right conditions. Paul Johnson’s record overall as a coach proves that his system works, but it also takes the right players for it to be a well-oiled machine. I wouldn’t be so quick to pull the plug on Paul Johnson because it would take even longer to rebuild if the incoming coach didn’t run the same system as CPJ. His contract is good until 2016, so he has time to improve before Georgia Tech considers other options. I simply hope he capitalizes on that time and brings in players that will improve the program overall.