Link (Paid site) https://theathletic.com/379972/2018/06/12/georgia-tech-football-season-preview-depth-chart-schedule/ A forgotten footnote of UCF’s self-proclaimed national championship season of 2017 is that the Knights’ mid-September date vs. Georgia Tech was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. UCF avoided the Yellow Jackets’ problematic option offense and produced a gilded 13-0 season. Tech, which lost two of its first five games — to Tennessee and Miami — by a total of two points, finished 5-6 and spent the holidays at home. “When you lose games like that, it’s frustrating,” said Brant Mitchell, Tech’s inside linebacker and team co-captain along with quarterback TaQuon Marshall. “It changes your entire season.” The Yellow Jackets lost their opener in double overtime to Tennessee when a two-point conversion attempt failed. In mid-October, they lost by one at Miami, a team that would play in the Orange Bowl, after a remarkable fourth-down catch by the Hurricanes in the final minute. In the 90 minutes that comprised Tech’s first six fourth quarters of 2017, the Rambling Wreck led for 88 minutes and 27 seconds — and went 4-2 in those games. “I tell our younger players that you have to try and make your best play every snap,” Mitchell said, “because it is one or two plays that make all the difference.” The Yellow Jackets were stung in 2017, but they are resilient. And renewed. In April, head coach Paul Johnson, who is entering his 11th season at the school, signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him on The Flats through 2022. That would make Johnson the longest-tenured coach (15 seasons) at Tech since Bobby Dodd (1945-1966), after whom the school’s stadium is named. Speaking of infrastructure, Georgia Tech began a $4.5 million renovation of its locker room (via the largesse of an anonymous donor) in January that will be completed by August. The revamped digs will include charging stations for mobile phones or laptops at each individual locker, because it is 2018, after all. The devices will be recharged this season. Will the Yellow Jackets? Biggest on-field question Pressure, as every last Georgia Tech engineering major can tell you, is directly proportional to temperature. For the Yellow Jackets, who in each of the past three seasons have finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles for loss and no better than next-to-last in sacks, pressure has been the missing variable. It is way past time to turn up the heat. Deleted from the equation was defensive coordinator Ted Roof, a former All-America linebacker who once made 25 tackles in one game (his son, T.D. Roof, a freshman linebacker who had two sacks in 2017, has transferred to Indiana). Added to the equation? Nate Woody, who in five seasons as defensive coordinator at Appalachian State transformed the Mountaineers’ defense from a moribund FCS unit to a top-30 FBS defense for the past four years. “When Coach Johnson introduced Coach Woody, he told us some stats on his defense at App State, and it was outrageous,” Mitchell said. “His defenses get a lot of penetration up front.” When Johnson hired Woody, he also acquiesced to the coordinator’s plan to switch from a 4-3 defensive alignment to a 3-4. That maneuver was massively popular among Tech defenders, who are being urged to think less and play faster. “(Coach Woody) told me, ‘I’d like you to rush for me,’ ” outside linebacker Victor Alexander told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “ ‘I’d like for you to come off the edge and don’t think about anything else. Just go. Go make plays.’ ” Alexander’s reaction to Woody’s request? “I just smiled at him,” the 5-foot-10, 235-pound linebacker said. “I didn’t say anything. I almost cried.” A residual effect of being a program that averages only about 10 passes per game is that Georgia Tech’s defense is not well-schooled in pass rushing or defending. “We have to create our own look with our scout team,” Mitchell said. “We go all spring going live against the triple-option.” It’s a fair criticism, then, that Georgia Tech’s defense devotes entirely too much time preparing against an offense that it never sees on Saturdays. Woody’s mandate has been to change the philosophy of the defense by changing the base formation (4-3 to 3-4) and the philosophy. “He’s kept it simple,” said Mitchell, a finance major from Knoxville, Tenn. “Guys are flying around, and it fits our personnel better.” Woody has kept it simple, but Mitchell is still acclimating. During one spring practice, he called the wrong formation and the defensive line stunted in the wrong direction off the snap. On the next play, Mitchell scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Returning to the sideline, he apologized to his new defensive coordinator for messing up the call on the previous play. “That’s OK,” Woody replied. “If you can keep making plays like that, we’ll be all right.” Offensively, quarterback TaQuon Marshall will need to make more plays through the air. A high school dual-threat quarterback who attended summer camps playing slot receiver or defensive back, Marshall started out at Tech as an A-back. Last year was his first season since high school as a quarterback and his first year taking snaps directly under center. “It was just a different position,” said Marshall, who nevertheless rushed for an ACC-record (for a quarterback) 249 yards and five touchdowns in his first collegiate start, the 42-41 double-overtime loss to Tennessee. Though Johnson would like to see Marshall’s completion rate rise closer to 50 percent, as opposed to 37.1 percent in 2017, he is not overly perplexed. “I’ve been running this offense since 1985,” Johnson said. “The biggest misnomer I hear is, ‘We want to be balanced.’ I don’t care about that. The premise of this offense is that it spreads people out and gives you a lot of one-on-one situations.” Johnson’s offense is predicated on exerting pressure. Now he hopes that his defense can follow suit.