Poor special teams play causes losses. It’s a tale all too familiar for Georgia Tech fans. While defense and untimely luck is certainly a part of the problem, one can’t ignore the special teams problems this team has faced.
Georgia Tech has never been great in special teams. Since Paul Johnson started in 2008, Tech has only been in the top 25 and the top 50 of special teams efficiency four times. In four of the last ten years, Tech has been outside the top 100. Even with special teams being that bad, our efficiency has always been dragged down by poor kicking performances as we had our two best special teams years with our best kicker ever (Finished 12th, 14th, 48th, and 94th with Harrison Butker). Tech’s return coverage has been horrendous the last three years.
Special Teams Efficiency Rankings
- 2018: 126
- 2017: 122
- 2016: 14
- 2015: 48
- 2014: 94
- 2013: 12
- 2012: 93
- 2011: 115
- 2010: 56
- 2009: 38
- 2008: 103
Since 2016, Georgia Tech has been outside of the top 100 in kickoff return defense and it’s cost them games. This year, it cost them the USF game and last year it cost them the Virginia Game. Special Teams as a whole even cost them the Tennessee game last year. It’s no coincidence that Georgia Tech has been this bad since 2016.
After the 2015 season, Ray Rychleski left Georgia Tech by a mutual decision. The Special Teams coordinator had been there for 4 years. Unfortunately, that decision has backfired as Georgia Tech has had 3 of their worst seasons in recent years in terms of return coverage. Not only do return touchdowns factor in but field position has been a huge problem the last few years.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire solution to fix Tech’s special teams issues but there are a few thinks Paul Johnson could do. A lot of the problems with Tech’s special teams stem from lack of proper execution. On both kickoff return TDs yesterday, USF had multiple open lanes to choose from. Tech’s coverage team missed their assignments and many went to the wrong lanes. Not only did they miss their assignments, but they took awful angles and thoroughly misjudged Horne’s speed. What this tells me is Special Teams is almost never worked on or studied by anyone. Most people recognize how important special teams is to the overall success of a team but I don’t know if Paul Johnson believes that.If Tech wants to win more than 5 games this year, Paul Johnson must dedicate more time to special teams.