Tech seniors’ last chance for greatness




When Georgia Tech stormed to the 2009 ACC Championship and played in the Orange Bowl, Omoregie Uzzi, then a redshirt freshman, thought it would be routine.

“Yeah, definitely,” the Tech guard, now a senior, said with a laugh. “But the more you play, the more you see how difficult it is to accomplish something like this.”

The “this” he referred to is the Yellow Jackets’ appearance in the ACC Championship game, Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C., against Florida State. As it turned out, it’ll be the first title-game appearance for Tech and Uzzi since his freshman season. The three seasons since have had their share of successes, but also doses of failure, hence Uzzi’s perspective.

Tech may be 6-6 and it may have gotten into the game with help from Miami’s self-imposed postseason ban, but if the Jackets pull the upset over the No. 13 Seminoles, the ACC champion rings will be no less shiny, the Jackets’ smiles no less broad. And these graduating Jackets will have accomplished something no Tech class has ever achieved —two ACC titles, though one was vacated.

“It’d be a great opportunity to accomplish one more thing while I’m here,” Uzzi said. “It’d be great to go out like that.”

A solid second half of the season and a serendipitous turn have given Tech and its seniors another chance to find satisfaction in a season that has not granted much. Should the Jackets follow conventional wisdom and lose to FSU, the team’s likely epitaph will be one fired defensive coordinator, two overtime losses and six games allowing 40-plus points (thus far).

The 4-2 record in the second half and the stunning 68-50 win over North Carolina, which set an school record for most points in an ACC game, will deserve mention, too, as will numerous missed opportunities, shaky defense and an inability to meet the biggest moments.

It would be a hollow conclusion for Tech’s seniors, members of coach Paul Johnson’s first two recruiting classes.

“They’ve had some good wins, and they’ve had some very tough losses,” Johnson said of his seniors. “It’s been kind of up and down, which is kind of the way it is most of the time in a lot of places.”

There’s no shortage of ways to slice their four playing seasons. In ACC play, they were 21-11, fourth best over that span behind Virginia Tech (25-7), Clemson (23-9) and FSU (22-10). They were 4-0 against North Carolina and 3-1 against Clemson, but 1-3 against Virginia Tech and 0-4 against Georgia and Miami. They have extended Tech’s bowl-game losing streak to seven games, but also run the Jackets’ bowl streak to 16 games, tied with Georgia for fourth longest in FBS.

The class also continued Tech’s string of seasons in which the team had a .500 record or better in conference to 18, the longest active streak in FBS and an ACC record. However, Tech has finished only one season in the Top 25, in 2009.

Of the 20 members signed to Johnson’s first signing class, a group cobbled together after his hiring weeks before signing day, 15 have earned degrees or will earn them this spring. The remaining five transferred before completing degree work at Tech. Interestingly, at least four of them have earned, or are on track to earn, degrees elsewhere. Of the 12 seniors on the roster, which includes walk-ons, transfer Chris Jackson and members of the 2009 signing class, all have earned their degrees or are on schedule to graduate by next summer.

However, only two members of either the 2008 or 2009 signing classes, Uzzi and former linebacker Julian Burnett, have earned All-ACC recognition.

Largely, they have won and lost the games they were supposed to, with one or two exceptions annually. They had no business losing to Kansas in 2010 or Middle Tennessee State this season. The 2009 season aside, when the current seniors were freshmen and largely played backup roles, the biggest trophy was last season’s takedown of 8-0 Clemson at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Over four years, “we’ve done some good things; we’ve done some not good things,” quarterback Tevin Washington said. “In the totality of the whole situation, I feel like the good outweighs the bad.”

A victory over the Seminoles would be, without question, Tech’s greatest achievement since the 2009 season. An Orange Bowl win would end the bowl losing streak and go far to tilt the scale that measures the season and the seniors’ career.

Fifty-two of their 54 games are in the books, but there’s still plenty of time to make history.

39 comments Add your comment

frustrated fan

December 1st, 2012
1:48 am

first! if georgia tech comes out excited to play and focused like in duke game then the game tonight will be very close. if come out flat, well be run out of stadium just like in uga game

frustrated fan

December 1st, 2012
1:50 am

cant believe has gotten injured at the end of the season the past two seasons. very disheartening

Uninspired

December 1st, 2012
5:09 am

The title of this article should be: Tech seniors’ last chance for mediocrity.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

December 1st, 2012
6:53 am

IMO, the whole idea of intercollegiate sports scholarships is to provide educational opportunities for athletes who might not otherwise be able to attend college. NCAA football is not supposed to be the “minor leagues” for the NFL. So while the team’s success on the field has been something less than we would have hoped, I am THRILLED by their success in the classroom. The vast majority of college athletes will “go pro” in something other than sports, so it’s good to see that our student-athletes are getting well-prepared for their future. I hope they can all go on to have successful and profitable careers as managers, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, or whatever career they pursue. THAT would be the mark of a successful graduating class.

danny

December 1st, 2012
6:59 am

It depends on your definition of GREATNESS?

Old Dog

December 1st, 2012
7:32 am

To Hell with Tek, today, tomorrow and every other day!

Dawg1

December 1st, 2012
7:43 am

Congrats to the Seniors on their academic achievements and their athletic achievements. Realize that everyone measures in wins and losses. Just sticking out four or five years in a program and managing to secure a degree makes you a winner. Hopefully, this will transfer to the real world, giving these young men an opportunity to leave a positive mark on the world.

Good luck tonight against FSU.

Tech Grad

December 1st, 2012
7:52 am

Well stated flowery branch and dawg1

wreckbone

December 1st, 2012
8:08 am

Man Ken you have done a great job on covering the jackets…until this week. I understand we got housed by Georgia and the sec championship is here. But what do we have from out home town paper? one frickin article on tech seniors. Maybe fsu has greatness. but nobody gives us a shot. You did an amazing job last week. But I guess the ajc witty paying fort full coverage a week early. We moved the ball on uga a lot. 400 yards of offense didn’t just happen. That is the beauty of the TO. You punch in that first drive or two and its on. There’s like 10 articles on how uga is ready and we got stupid articles on big ten rumors crap like that. You didn’t even cover the Illinois game until late afternoon the next day. Best good played by a team in this state for like 3 years for for tech and ask I see is a bunch of conference realignment. Pathetic. Go jackets!

We are in a conference championship with a bcs bowl on the line. FSU got spanked also. Anything can happen and ask we hear about all week is the negative injury report Anne the other stuff. I understand this paper caters to the SEC. Or season did not end last week!

ramblingbuzz

December 1st, 2012
8:21 am

Appreciate your coverage Ken. We know the Dawgs are the darlings of this state but the fact that there is absolutely no other coverage of the ACC championship besides yours is absolutely pathetic.. Tech fans know where our team stands in the minds of everybody and that is why no true Tech fan cold ever pull for UGA in anything.

TechLB

December 1st, 2012
8:21 am

@old dog – man, I feel sorry for you. It’s great that you make Georgia Tech such an important part of your daily life! You’re so jealous of Georgia Tech that on a the day you’re bulldogs are playing for an SEC title and possible chance to play for the BCS title, you join our little blog! lol

Try to grow up a little, enjoy your game today and let it go!

Good luck against the Tide.

TechLB

December 1st, 2012
8:22 am

Enter your comments here*your – typo sorry

dry dirt road

December 1st, 2012
8:26 am

Without Smith Tech will not be able to make it. Without the old BD years yj that had veins in its wings, instead with veinless-winged Buzz and the pink GT girl GTs on Grant Field plus the pink socks and arm bands, Tech won’t be able to make it except playing a powderpuff football bowl. Since Tech did not grab flu shots during pink medical month, displaying an interest mainly in wearing pink during the pink month, they get dishonorably discharged for the rest of the year since they also wore camoflaged unis and CPJ the camo jacket for Veterans Week.

ramblingbuzz

December 1st, 2012
8:34 am

“UGA FANS DREAMING BIG”. What a piece of mindless drivel on your sports page. I’m sure Bama and Nortre Dame fan are dreaming big too.

1969 Graduate

December 1st, 2012
9:04 am

As a UGA graduate, and fan, I’m writing to express my hopes that the Tech team will tonight well represent the state, and our institutions of higher learning in the game against FSU.

I expect you will get smeared, but that doesn’t mean I want you to.

Jmonty

December 1st, 2012
9:18 am

Old Dog is just some loser who has nothing better to do. We should feel sorry for him. You know it has to be rough using the library’s computer and having to walk back and forth from his trailer park to it. You know the guys that are dressed up in the chicken costumes on the side of the road making 7.50 an hour to dance around?? That’s him. Between the chicken dance and trailer park trash, he has a horrible life. So come on folks… Have some feelings.. @ old dog… If you need help.. There is always the YMCA.

Tomb

December 1st, 2012
9:28 am

Wish I could say the same 1969 Graduate, but I hope the Dawgs get humiliated. When you have UGA talent you should beat Tech and many others, but the one thing you lack is class. Not a fan of Bama but I hope it’s not even close.And, here’s hoping Rambo gets punched in the mouth.

When Tech does go to the Big Ten and they will, there will no longer be talk about weak conferences, and high school offenses. Finally Tech will have a chance to upgrade their recruiting, and frankly that is the major difference between the two schools.

YELLER BUG

December 1st, 2012
9:30 am

If Tech is going to pull an upset this year, then this is the game. Actually, the oft-criticized CPJ grind it out TO method with little passing may be the best solution tonight—we’ll see how disciplined FSU D is—–need to run counters and misdirection because of their speed. Use the NCSU game for how to run our D—their QB is big like VT’s Logan but he’s a little wild–we may get a couple of picks—-slow the game down with our methodical ground game—don’t screw up on Special Teams and we have a chance.

AHDawg

December 1st, 2012
9:56 am

Well said Flowery Branch – that IS what it’s all about. Today is a great day to be a Dawg and a Jacket. Who could have imagined at the beginning of the season both Georgia teams playing for their respective conference championships. I am a Dawg, but I will be watching GT take on FSU tonight as a GT fan. It’s too bad we have people like Old Fool, I mean Old Dog making a fool of himself. No need to appologize for him, he just can’t help himself. Anyway, Go Dawgs! Go Jackets!

WnE

December 1st, 2012
10:07 am

Speaking of rings, did CPJ allow the Seniors to put the score of the GT vs. UGA game on the rings like he did after the 2008 season?

Just curious.

Jacket Dad

December 1st, 2012
10:35 am

I’m a realist. My hope for tonight is that our guys show up, play inspired for all 4 quarters and leave it all on the field. If they do that, win or lose, I’ll be good. However, if they come out flat like they are prone to do, even in big games, it’s going to be ugly and no bowl is going to want us.

The only way we have a chance tonight is if every facet plays their best – offense, defense and special teams.

GO JACKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Max Sizemore

December 1st, 2012
10:53 am

Good writing, good perspective, Ken.

White&Gold

December 1st, 2012
10:58 am

Oh, WnE. Vanishes during three game winning streak. Comes back to troll after losing. If only you would just screw off for good.

Mr BUG

December 1st, 2012
11:07 am

Kudos to some of the Dog fans showing class on this blog. I have a feeling you all will pull off the upset tonight. Unfortunately I don’t think Tech will.

ACC Championship Opportunity

December 1st, 2012
11:20 am

If not for the two overtime losses to VT and Miami,
Georgia Tech would be 8-4 overall, 7-1 in the ACC.

Shock the Nation, get to the Orange Bowl,

Go Jackets !

WnE

December 1st, 2012
11:31 am

re:
White&Gold
December 1st, 2012
10:58 am

Oh, WnE. Vanishes during three game winning streak. Comes back to troll after losing. If only you would just screw off for good.
___________________

BC, Md, (with a LB playing QB), and UNC (a schitzo team that gave up 40 pts to Dook) and you’re “proud” of that 3-game win streak?

CPJ has averaged 6 losses PER SEASON for the last 3 yrs. with his hand-picked Recruits, only putzes like you think that he doesn’t deserve to be fired.

You avg. 6 losses per season at most schools for 3 straight yrs. you get fired, at GT they call you a genius and then BLAME the DC (that you hired BTW) and refuse to attach any of the failure to CPJ himself.

Our FB program is in the crapper because our fanbase is very limited in their knowledge of what a big-time CFB program should look like, and that is why CPJ can get away with his crap and make $2.6MM per yr. while doing so.

WnE

December 1st, 2012
11:34 am

CMR “only” makes $2.9 ~ $3.0 MM per year, does anyone think that CPJ is within $300-400K of CMR as a CFB coach?

Freddie Blassie

December 1st, 2012
11:43 am

Roll you damned Tide!

Tech CAN beat FSU and if the offense gets after it like they did against UNC they will have a chance. Free Shoes U. has a great bunch of athletes and our defense is going to need a couple of stops, but we might be able to outscore these guys.
These Tech kids, and I do mean kids, can do this, but they must play like their hair is on fire tonight to make it happen. Godhigh will need a good night upending defenders on the outside and the oline has to avoid penetration and get their cut blocks done to prevent pursuit. Defenders, get off your blocks and get in the fray: this is not a game to be invisible.
Sting ‘em Jackets!

Freddie Blassie

December 1st, 2012
11:45 am

WinniePoo,

Yes.

BigTimeTECHFan

December 1st, 2012
11:46 am

CMR “only” makes $2.9 ~ $3.0 MM per year, does anyone think that CPJ is within $300-400K of CMR as a CFB coach?

Coach Johnson is way better coach then CMR.
Only difference is CMR how found some way to pay the refs not to call holding so they could beat Tech. Sad, if he has to cheat he must not be that good of a coach.
Take away all the no calls for UGA and Tech blows them out.

Stephen CC

December 1st, 2012
11:46 am

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

December 1st, 2012
6:53 am

Well said and very true! But I also hope they play their best game tonight! GO JACKETS!!!

Stephen CC

December 1st, 2012
11:48 am

Dawg1

December 1st, 2012
7:43 am

Thanks for the classy comments. Same to you and your team tonight!

The Necromacer

December 1st, 2012
11:52 am

Oh snap, that pessimistic WeeNiE is back. I had hoped you died in a fire so I didn’t have skip over your despairing and hopeless posts.

William Casey

December 1st, 2012
11:57 am

Though it’s improbable, a GT victory over FSU and a victory in the Orange Bowl would be a great jumping off point for 2013. Let’s go Jackets! Forget past frustrations and look to the future!

Willy

December 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

Noah Coslov seems like a deuche

Jacketnation Deflation

December 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Florida State has a great defense. They also have a great offense. The Jackets are defenseless. On offense, Tech has not been able to score many points against a strong defense. Case and Point; BYU, and UGA. This team does not pull upsets and it ain’t happening today. I hate to sound like a non-supportive fan. I want to see the Jackets win and go to the Orange bowl as much as anyone else. But, it reality there is about as much chance today as last week. It would probably have to be a shoot out for the Jackets to have a chance. Florida State’s defense won’t let that happen.

GT TN

December 1st, 2012
2:31 pm

@Wne..funny you bring up CMR..for the last 2 years and after the USC game..every dawg fan out there wanted to fire him..now you are praising him..UGA has a great record..but any real college fan knows that the stars have lined up for UGA this year..they beat UF by scoring less than 20 points and were given 6 gift..UGA has a 6 game winning streak against the 2 of the bottom teams of sec, a div 1-aa school and a GT team you are bashing..so tell why that 6 game win streak is so impresive..

GT TN

December 1st, 2012
2:32 pm

@wne..if I would have told you befoe the season started that we would go 5-3 in conf and be playing in the ACCCG you would have taken it..just shut up and cheer for our team

1 4 GT

December 2nd, 2012
12:38 pm

1 January 1981………………………………and counting! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA