Posted: 9:21 am Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Why Hamilton struggled as a freshman 

By Ken Sugiura

The second in a series of posts generated from an interview with Georgia Tech legend and new member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Joe Hamilton. The first, on how Hamilton chose Tech, is here.

 

In Joe Hamilton’s first year as starting quarterback, his redshirt freshman year, Georgia Tech finished 5-6, missing out on a bowl berth by one win. Even worse, the Yellow Jackets sat at five wins with four games left and lost all four, to Florida State, Maryland, Navy and Georgia.

Hamilton says he still apologizes to seniors on that team for costing them a bowl trip.

“If they had just a little bit more mature quarterback, a guy that wouldn’t turn the ball over to the tune of seven touchdowns, 12 interceptions (actually 13), we could have started the bowl (streak) a little earlier,” Hamilton said.

It was hardly a bad season for Hamilton. His completion rate of 57.8 percent (108-for-188) was second highest in the ACC. He was runner-up to North Carolina cornerback Dre Bly (with whom Hamilton will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame) for ACC rookie of the year. His 115.87 passer efficiency rating was fourth in the ACC. But he had a significant hand in the losses, throwing late-game interceptions against Maryland, Navy and Georgia to seal those losses. (Interestingly, the interception he threw to clinch the Bulldogs’ 19-10 win in Athens was caught by Kirby Smart, now Alabama’s defensive coordinator.)

Coming in as a freshman, Hamilton said he picked up the offense quickly, but still had a lot to learn. He couldn’t outrun everyone on the field anymore, as he had done in high school. He had to learn to not force plays. He was grateful, he said, to Donnie Davis, who started in 1995 and allowed Hamilton to redshirt.

The year “gave me a chance to get my feet wet under me academically and go ahead and compete the next year,” he said.

On the field, Hamilton said he struggled with coverages, particularly cover-2 defenses. He had trouble surveying defenses prior to the snap and processing what he was seeing, and then understanding how it might change after the snap. They weren’t skills that came naturally and had to be developed.

“I tell you, I really, really struggled early on,” he said.

That wasn’t the only problem. Hamilton said that teammates had a hard time understanding him.

“I’m from South Carolina, you guys still hear a little Geechee or Gullah (dialect), whatever you call it,” he said. “I struggled with calling the plays. Clarity, enunciation.”

Hamilton said he took a speech class to help him learn to speak more clearly. It was all part of the process of developing into a hall of famer. Hamilton said that when he apologizes to the seniors from that team, they understand.

“I mean, how could you be ready?” he said. “But I just wasn’t ready to lead the way I should have.”

The next year, Hamilton led Tech to the Carquest Bowl. The Jackets have not missed a bowl since.

27 comments
ChuckAllison
ChuckAllison

I am glad for Joe Hamilton that he made the CFBHOF, but, seriously, how many recruits know who is in the hall and who is not?  How many do you think have ever visited the HOF?  Not very Many!

GGee
GGee

Having your name in the CFBHOF has got to help when recruiting kids to Tech. Hes the right age that he can connect with younger guys and be real with them about NFL aspirations and reality. Joe now has a job here making good money after the NFL didnt work out. 40 year plan works everytime... The 4 year plan doesnt always seal the deal. Its nice to know we have such an accomplished player who absolutely loves and appreciates what Tech has been able to do for him. Also lets it be well known.

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Bottom line:  a quality dude that served his institution well and continues to be good representative for the institute and for Homer's Total Person concept.

Dawgonnit
Dawgonnit

Congrats Joe Hamilton, one of the most enjoyable Qb's to watch anywhere.  It's amazing Tech has a long string of top notch QB's I think starting with Mike Kelly, John Dewberry, Rck Strom, Shawn Jones, Donnie Davis, Joe Hamilton (Heisman Candidate), George Godsey, , Reggie Ball, Josh Nesbett, etc...The Scheme can help take a Joe Hamilton to another level.  I hope Tech learns from Hamilton and get's back to the triple option, pro set, passing attack with balance at some point.  My guess somewhere in the future a promotion will be waiting for Joe Hamilton,.....reimpose the offense you ran as GT QB as Offensive Coordinator!

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

He didn't have Friedgen.

Friedgen understood what confused defensive players and coordinators.

Friedgen made a less talented Godsey look very good, too.

By the time Hamilton was a senior and the year Godsey took over, we were running dozens of different sets, and running what looked like a dozen different plays out of each of those sets.  The offense behind a talented Hamilton was the most fun to watch of any Tech offense I've ever seen.

I will always wonder what might have been.  If Friedgen had stuck around and taken over after O'Leary left.

Radar123
Radar123

Following the two prior posts, I have to wonder how Vad Lee, Reggie Ball and others would have done with Ralph or someone comparable. Tevin Washington would not have done as well because the TO actually was a perfect fit for his skills (18th ranked offense in 2011 that some somehow failed to notice). The Goose doesn't become the Goose with our usual mediocre O coordinator/head coach instead of Ralph.

His senior year without Ralph wasn't as good.

My point: I dislike they way fans incorrectly blamed QBs (Tevin when it was the sorry defense of his years) and Vad and Reggie when they were poorly coached or bad fits for what was coached.

Reggie gets to be remembered for the forgotten down (should have played for Colorado where that isn't a problem) instead of a number of gutty performances to pull off upsets.

Reggie's running started the 4 game win steak vs the Canes we are not going to do again.

Without upsets, we aren't much fun.

Tech has their multi-millionaires to throw money here and there on buildings but we are losing in the fan popularity contest.

You are happy with that?

I'm not.

We need a new contract for coaches so they can be fired without breaking the bank.

Find someone who loves Tech enough to take such a contract.

BTW I saw a thrilling a Little League game for free, a 12-11 win in extra innings where the visitor scored 3 in their half and my team needed 4 with 2 clutch 2 out hits to pull off their championship.

Hot dogs a lot cheaper too.

Much shorter drive.

All in all, a much better fan experience than Tech, Uga, Braves, Falcons and Hawks.

Oh did I mention? front row seat practically right on the field.

Able to converse with jokes and compliments to lobby the umps too.

Overpaid college and pro sports are in my rear view mirror.

And after the thrilling win, I'm cured of my bitterness.

What a deal.


GTBob
GTBob

He went from being a freshman without a QB coach or even an offensive coordinator to a sophomore with Ralph Friedgen molding him. One would expect significant improvement in that type of environment and Hamilton delivered.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@Dawgonnit

"reimpose the offense you ran as GT QB as Offensive Coordinator!"

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Not going to happen under Johnson.  Johnson probably wouldn't let John Gruden run his offense for him.

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

He never had a strong offensive team at Maryland and his greatest success was with previous coaches' players. 

GTBob
GTBob

@Radar123 Ill never understand the fascination with Miami that some GT fans have. They haven't been relevant since the early 2000's. They have finished ranked only one time in the last 8 years. They have 7 less wins than GT does in the last 8 years. They aren't some juggernaut that is a measurement for our program. Sure they have had our number recently, but there is little reason to hold them in higher regard than teams like UNC, and Duke.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Radar123 "You are happy with that?

I'm not."

______________________________________________________


You have made this point sufficiently and repeatedly.  At this point you are just stating the obvious.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Radar123 "We need a new contract for coaches so they can be fired without breaking the bank.

Find someone who loves Tech enough to take such a contract."

___________________________________________________________________


While this "sounds good," good luck finding a coach stupid enough to sign a contract without a buyout.  No one in their right mind is gonna sign a contract that says you can let me go at any time, for any reason, and not owe me any more money.  If we got a coach to actually sign a contract like that I would question whether they were actually smart enough to be a coach @ GT.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Radar123 We should find someone who loves Tech enough to take that kind of contract but we shouldn't love them enough in return to give them one?   Yeah, that makes sense.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

@GTBob  He also didn't throw anymore int's to freaking Kirby Smart which in itself is a drastic improvement. Couldnt get any worse than having lame tackling butter finger Smart catching your passes........oh wait....he could have thrown one to Will Muschamp. That would have been worse. lol

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @Radar123

"Ill never understand the fascination with Miami that some GT fans have. "

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1.  Because we can't seem to beat them in our current state of affairs.

2.  Because a lot of folks remember a time when they were unbeatable.

3.  Because their fans are even more obnoxious than Georgia fans.  Have you ever been to a Miami game in Florida?  Wear a Tech jersey to that game.  Even though the crowd is relatively sparse, you will get heckled and harassed way more than in Death Valley or Athens.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@GTBob Anyone with a functioning brain knows it's all about the narrative.   If we were beating the Canes and losing to the Heels, Carolina would be the fascination.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@AugustaJacket I think it's cute that he is Pollyannish enough to think this is how business gets done.

Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB
Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

you make some pretty good points there Bob, and if you keep telling yourself these things over and over and over you just might believe them. But born to buzz is more on the money and you are. Get off your high horse man you're making me sick.

GTBob
GTBob

@Born2Buzz I actually disagree. I don't think the U resonates all that much anymore. When do you ever hear about them? Since moving to the ACC they haven't even played in the ACC title game. They rarely finish ranked anymore, they haven't had a 10 win season since they moved to the ACC and they have lost 5 of their last 6 bowl games. Im not sure anyone out there is really pretending they are a powerhouse anymore. If we beat them im not sure it would be anything more than a score at the bottom of the screen on ESPN. If anything, losing to them so much recently is slightly embarrassing. They have become what Virginia used to be to us.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Born2Buzz Apparel sales rankings: Miami #37, Carolina #9.  Carolina is a significantly bigger name than Miami.   


And the point is that Carolina would resonate with sidewalk fans if we were losing to them.   Miami would quickly be forgotten if we were beating them.  Need proof?   We fired a coach that had beaten them three years in a row.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@GeorgeStein @GTBob Come on guys, the U is a brand that resonates with sidewalk fans.  It doesn't really matter that they haven't been Top 25 in recent years, they are still the U.  Beating them is always big and losing to them sux.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@GTBob @GeorgeStein If we're going to arbitrarily select what records we count, we should just say that CPJ is 17-9 when facing teams that have played in the ACCCG in the last decade.

GTBob
GTBob

@Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB Like George said. There weren't many GT fans talking about Miami when we were beating them. Now that we are losing to them they have become a symbol of greatness in college football somehow. I haven't heard anyone outside of angry GT fans talk so positive about Miami in over 10 years.