Charlotte, NC- Looking to improve upon a disappointing 5-6 record in 2017, Georgia Tech entered the 2018 ACC Kickoff with a message of how a new-look defense will re-energize the program and regain the success they had two seasons ago in 2016.
Shortly after the 2017 football season ended, Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof left for NC State, leaving Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson to search for a replacement. Johnson found his guy with former Appalachian State defensive coordinator Nate Woody who has installed a more aggressive 3-4 defensive front.
Coach Johnson spoke about the new defense saying, “I wanted to be more aggressive and simpler so that the guys could utilize their speed and quickness and could play fast. I think it’s important no matter what you do to be able to play fast, and hopefully, he [Nate Woody] will bring that.”
Along with coach Johnson, the Yellow Jackets brought senior linebacker and team captain Brant Mitchell to the 2018 ACC Kickoff. Mitchell echoed what coach Johnson said about the attacking and aggressive defense and hopes they will have the ability to be more “unpredictable” on the defensive side of the ball. The hope of this new defense will be to create more negative plays for their opposition and give the offense the football back more often throughout a game.
Offensively, the big question is how second-year starting quarterback Taquon Marshall will improve from year one to year two under the Paul Johnson instituted triple-option attack. Marshall had success on the field rushing for over 1,000 yards but will look to be more consistent in the passing game to take the offense to the next level.
Marshall was asked what changes he made in the offseason to improve his passing saying, “last year I struggled a lot hitting some of the guys that were wide open, just throwing the ball in general, so that’s one of the main things that I’ve worked on this spring.” The senior hopes that his improvement in this area will make him a more complete quarterback as he heads into his final season with the Ramblin’ Wreck.
Although not known for a passing game due to their unique offense, the Yellow Jackets expressed how hard the team has worked to improve on that side of the ball to create more unpredictability to go alongside their more aggressive defense.
Coach Johnson expressed his belief in his returning quarterback by saying, “I think he has the confidence of our football team. He’s very dynamic. He’s athletic. He can create a lot of big plays with his athleticism, and I’m hopeful and I really believe that after having a year in the system, he’s going to be more comfortable and just be better than he was even a year ago.”
Last season, Georgia Tech had three losses determined by six total points. Because of this, coach Johnson and the Yellow Jackets are confident that they can compete with anyone on their schedule. They hope to make it back to the ACC Championship Game as they haven’t won it since 2009. With returning starters on both sides of the ball and a more aggressive defense, the Yellow Jackets are a big sleeper pick in the ACC Coastal division.