When Geoff Collins arrived at Georgia Tech in 2019, he brought in a plethora of guys, including defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker, that he hoped would change the program. Thacker had been a linebacker coach in 2017 and later promoted to defensive coordinator under Collins at Temple, where the duo didn’t have much success together in the 2018 season. They placed 66th in total defense that season. However, Collins brought Thacker with him to Georgia Tech with him in 2019 and now Yellow Jacket fans and I are realizing that Thacker just has not been what Georgia Tech needs defensively.
In his three years with the Yellow Jackets, Thacker’s defense hasn’t ranked above 89th in total defense, including last season where the Yellow Jackets ranked 117 out of 130 teams in the category. While I have seen the growth on the offensive side of the ball a little, it seems as if the defense just can not get any better. Quarterbacks see the Yellow Jackets on their team’s schedule and are just salivating at the opportunity to decimate them.
The Yellow Jacket defense only had 13 turnovers last season, which is a number that is completely unacceptable. Couple that with the fact that they only forced three interceptions all season, tied for second-worst in the FBS with four other teams last season, and you get one of the worst defenses in college football. The defensive line for the Yellow Jackets has been something that is hard to watch as well, compiling only 20 team sacks last season, which put them ranked at 98th in the country.
Perhaps my biggest gripe about this defense that I have seen over the past three seasons has been the secondary, where the Yellow Jackets have ranked 13th of of 14 ACC teams in passing touchdowns allowed each of the past two seasons. I could understand if there were at least a little bit of improvement on the defensive side in some area, but there simply isn’t. Since Thacker took over the defense, they have only snagged 16 interceptions. That is why Thacker should have been fired with former offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude in the offseason, but I have no doubt that Thacker will share the same fate during or after the 2022 season.
Although Andrew Thacker’s defensive specialty is with linebackers, the entire defense is your responsibility as the defensive coordinator. The linebacker group for Georgia Tech has been perhaps the best defensive group on the team, but they are still not very good when compared to other linebacker groups in the nation. Maybe Thacker can work better as the sole linebacker coach, and I would even be curious to see how he would do in that area. But one thing is for sure, the defense has to change and it begins with the top guy, which is Andrew Thacker.