Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Georgia Tech Football: Has Paul Johnson Lost His Touch In Close Games Or Is It Reversal of Fortune?

Yellow Jackets fans are still butthurt from last Saturday's overtime loss to Miami effectively knocking them out of the Coastal Division race in September.

All sorts of theories have cropped up regarding why Georgia Tech lost and fans are wondering what has happened to a coach that started his career in Atlanta 20-7.

One popular theory is that Paul Johnson can't win close games anymore.

The real question is: Are those close wins in 2008 and 2009 coming back around to the other side?

No one can be fortunate or lucky forever. One of Phil Steele's favorite stats in looking at most improved or biggest declining teams is how they did in close games (7 points or less margin) the prior year. If a team lost a lot of close games they are more likely to win them the next year and vice versa.

That theory didn't hold for Georgia Tech in 2008-2009, but it may be coming back around now.

In 2008, the Yellow Jackets were 5-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. The biggest fortune of that season was a 31-28 win over FSU when a Seminole running back fumbled on the 2 yard line with less than a minute to go.

Fast forward to 2009. Tech was 4-1 in games decided by 7 pts or less (Virginia Tech scored very late to make it a five point game).

Over those two seasons, Paul Johnson's team was 9-3 in close games. The Yellow Jackets certainly did not suffer under Steele's theory.  One could also argue players like Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, and Derrick Morgan had a lot to do with those wins.

In 2010, the Jackets were 2-3 in close games. And last season they were 2-2 making a 4-5 record over the last two seasons. Throw in an 0-2 record to start 2012 and you have a 4-7 record in close games since 2009.

First two seasons was 9-3, last two plus seasons 4-7.

Is it the lack of plays in the clutch or is it simply fate bouncing the other way?

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