On the same day that junior wide receiver Dymarius Thomas announced that he will forgo his senior year at Tech to enter the NFL draft, Head Coach Paul Johnson decided that defensive coordinator Dave Wommack will not return to his post next season.
“It is tough. I think Dave [Wommack] is a great man, and I think he is a very knowledgeable football guy. But it just was not working. You can stay status quo or you can try to get better. My goal is to get better.” Johnson said.
Wommack led the defensive for the Jackets since Johnson took over as head coach on the flats two years ago. The defense has struggled from last season as it has given up 152 yards per game this season, compared to 120 yards the pervious year. The Jackets did lose three of their starting defensive linemen at the end of last season. The Jackets also struggled to get offensive backfield this season averaging under five tackles for a loss per game this season, No. 92 in FBS.
Ultimately, much of the issues involving the defense can be seen in the last two regular season games against UGA and Clemson in the ACC Championship game. The Jackets gave up over 300 yards in each game on the ground, and never forced either team to punt.
“I had pretty much made up my mind [prior to the Orange Bowl], it was not a one game type of deal,” Johnson said.
The success of Tech offense also put added pressure on the defense as the jackets averaged nearly 7minutes more in time of possession than their opponents this season.
Johnson did acknowledge that injuries hampered the defense this season.
“I do not think there is any question that [the injuries to defensive players] hurt. We were thin up front to begin with. Then you lose… [junior defensive end] Robert Hall. [Sophomore linebacker] Kyle Jackson hurt us not being there depth-wise. But that is part of football,” Johnson said.
Wommack is not the first coach to leave the Jackets at the conclusion of this season. Special Teams Coordinator and A-backs Coach Jeff Monken accepted the head-coaching job at Georgia Southern last month, but stayed on in his capacity with the Jackets through the Orange Bowl.
With recruiting season now in full swing with the end of the season, finding replacements for the coaches will take major priority for Johnson. There has been some speculation that former University of Virginia Head Coach Al Groh was a front-runner for the job, but Johnson did not answer any questions directly about any particular replacement.
“We will sit down and try to make the best decision on who I feel gives us the best defense that we can have. I can assure you that nobody has been hired,” Johnson said.
When asked directly if had had talked to Groh about the position, Johnson said, “I have talked to a lot people about the position.”
“I want to make sure we get the best coach. I would expect it to be sooner rather than later. News travels like wild fire in this profession and I have already a gazillion [sic] inquiries about the position,” Johnson said.