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Georgia Tech has that new-car smell, which in this case is a rotting fish underneath the floorboards

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What the Jackets are doing is gonna take some time. Right now it’s painful.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech
TRY TO DO A GOOD FOOTBALL THING OR WHATEVER
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When Geoff Collins took the Georgia Tech job, he accepted the task of a more extensive overhaul than most new coaches face. And that’s because he was committed to moving Georgia Tech away from the triple-option offense that had been its trademark for so long.

Doing that is not just a matter of locating a quarterback who can throw the ball effectively—though that certainly helps—but also requires shifting recruiting priorities and in the mean time forcing a significant chunk of the roster outside of its comfort zone. The majority of Tech’s offensive players were recruited to play in the triple-option, and in the near term that’s gonna force you to mash some square pegs into round holes.

Georgia Tech has not weathered the transition well.

2018 vs. 2019

Jackets Offense 2018 2019
Jackets Offense 2018 2019
SP+ Rank 40 114
Yds/Play 6.1 4.8
Carries/Game 57 37
Yds/Carry 5.7 4
Pass Att./Game 10 23
Yds/Pass Att. 8.6 6.2
PPG 33.6 16.5

While the triple-option could mask to some extent the Jackets’ below-average recruiting under Paul Johnson, now that Collins is playing it straight, the program’s talent deficiency is tougher to work around. Johnson’s recruiting was a consistent problem, and has last few full classes all ranked 44th or worse in the 247 Composite. Good enough to keep the bowl seasons coming for Johnson and his scheme, but not good enough to make a drastic redesign tenable out of the gate. No surprise there.

It will take time for Collins to create a more optimal roster, which is why there may not be a whole lot of pressure on him to win over his first couple seasons.

The swiftness of the Jackets’ climb back to respectability, if it’s to happen under Collins, will depend quite a bit on the quarterback spot, and it’s not clear that the Jackets have their QB of the future on the current roster.

True freshman James Graham was a four-star prospect coming out of high school but has struggled so badly at times that he’s been pulled in favor of other options. On the year, Graham has completed 47.5% of his throws while averaging 6.3 yards per attempt. He has eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He needs to take a substantial step forward during the offseason.

NC State can relate to the Tech’s point production problems this season: the Jackets haven’t scored more than 28 points in a game and average about 18 points against ACC opponents. I wouldn’t expect a back-and-forth affair Thursday night, is what I’m sayin’.

On the bright side for the Jackets, the defense has improved nearly 50 spots in SP+ from a year ago and that’s at least allowed them to hang around in some games, even if the offense ended up failing the whole enterprise.

Failure is a good theme for Thursday—as in, which team’s offense does less failing than the other?