Back in the preseason, there wasn’t much talk about Georgia Tech when it came to the ACC race.
Sure, Georgia Tech was respected. Head coach Paul Johnson would have a decent team assembled, the big-name analysts said, respecting the novelty of the triple-option and the discipline that Johnson demands. But Georgia Tech wasn’t among the “it” teams of the preseason. Georgia Tech’s potential didn’t rise to the level of, say, Florida State or Virginia Tech, two teams expected to thrive in the ACC this season.
In other words, Georgia Tech was flying under the radar. And that’s a place where Johnson’s teams have thrived.
A month into the season, Georgia Tech finds itself once again living well while flying under the radar. Georgia Tech hasn’t exactly played a difficult schedule, but that 5-0 record is cleaner than that of Florida State, which lost to Oklahoma and Clemson, and Virginia Tech, which fell hard to Clemson on Saturday.
One more win makes Georgia Tech bowl-eligible. And while the Jackets likely are shooting much higher than just being bowl-eligible at this point, it’s a far better position than the team was in this time last year, when it collapsed under the weight of lofty expectations brought about by the now-vacated 2009 ACC title.
Thanks in part to that collapse, Johnson and the Yellow Jackets were able to work on new offensive wrinkles and player development away from major national media attention during the offseason. Johnson was able to bring some diversity to the offense, adding to Georgia Tech’s passing game, and the unit responded by becoming one of the nation’s most prolific offenses.
While Georgia Tech has yet to face a heavyweight program, the momentum that the Yellow Jackets have built so far is definitely important. Confidence is building inside the program. Yet the Yellow Jackets are still under the radar, sneaking up on teams and getting the job done without drawing the type of attention that didn’t work for the team a year ago.
Georgia Tech is not to the point yet where it has breathing room in the Coastal Division race. Duke hasn’t lost in conference play, although it is likely just a matter of time before that changes. And none of the teams in the division have more than one loss at this point.
The schedule will become more difficult soon enough. After hosting a so-so Maryland team Saturday, Georgia Tech will have to tackle its most difficult road stretch of the season, traveling to Virginia and Miami on back-to-back Saturdays. And that is followed up with a home showdown against an attention-grabbing Clemson squad that keeps winning big games and a big Thursday night home game against Virginia Tech.
If Georgia Tech can keep things together for a few more weeks, especially through that road stretch, then the Yellow Jackets are going to be in a really good situation entering those two big home games. And that will be the point where people will potentially start asking, “Hey, where did that undefeated Georgia Tech team come from?”
That’s where flying under the radar will pay off.
Contact Ron Seibel at 744-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org