Georgia Tech’s offense is going to be great. Not pretty good, not really good — flat-out great. But the same program had fabulous offenses under Ralph Friedgen a decade ago and never won as big as it should because the defense reeked. Will these defenders prove similarly odiferous?
Derrick Morgan thinks not. Morgan is the lone holdover along a star-spangled line, and before he’s done he could prove to be better than Michael Johnson or Darryl Richard or Vance Walker, all of whom should get drafted next weekend.
“I’ve definitely got to get better,” Morgan said Saturday, speaking after Tech’s spring game, “and the supporting cast has to step up. But I’m 100 percent confident we can.”
The T-Day final score was 31-28, which wouldn’t indicate much resistance. But it was worth noting that the Gold, which included Morgan and the first-string defense, beat the White, which included Jonathan Dwyer and the first-string offense (minus quarterback Josh Nesbitt).
Said Jaybo Shaw, who quarterbacked the White squad: “The [remade defensive line] can fly around. The whole defense — they can fly around.”Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Said linebacker Sedric Griffin, who induced a Shaw fumble on the game’s first snap: “We did fairly well. The D-line was great. They were getting double-teamed, which meant [fellow linebacker] Brad Jefferson and I could make plays.”
Indeed, Griffin made so many he felt moved to say he was sorry. “I apologized to Jaybo,” he said. “But I was trying to set the tone for the season. It’s going to be hit, hit, hit. We want people to know we’re here for the long haul. Not just the first half of the season — all 12 games.”
Surely there’ll be a 13th game for these Jackets, maybe even a 14th. Tech went 9-4 in its first season under Johnson and is dreaming way bigger this time around. “We’re trying to win an ACC championship,” said the fierce safety Morgan Burnett, and the Jackets missed playing in the 2008 conference title game only by weight of a tiebreaker.
There is, however, a key difference: Last year Tech surprised us by being so good; this year we all expect it to be better than 9-4. Ask that team from Athens if increased expectations can’t become a burden.
As spring games go, T-Day was more entertaining than most. For the second consecutive season, the Jackets fumbled on the first play, but this year they finished with only eight fumbles, as opposed to last year’s nine. Improvement! That said, the kicking game was so awful Paul Johnson yelled at Scott Blair for dropping a punt snap and staring at the loose ball. (Johnson: “I mean, show some urgency.”)
But the offense is close to being a given, and Johnson runs so many fake kicks Tech barely needs a punter. It will, however, need a defense, and for all its good work in 2008 it must be noted that Tech yielded 80 points over its final two games. And now three stalwarts are gone.
And Derrick Morgan is undeterred. “I definitely think we can win a championship — the ACC, the national,” he said.
If it can stop somebody when it matters, this team should play in a BCS game. Maybe even the BCS game.