He faced challenges throughout the season, primarily the loss of his first and second string quarterbacks (Jeff Sims and Zack Byron) in the second half of the season and injuries on the offensive line.
It’s a crucial move for Key, who had a friendship with Long and was instrumental in bringing him to Tech from Tulane last off-season. It will also come at a financial cost to the technology, as Long will owe his 2023 salary of $850,000. He also trains long tight ends.
This was also Alexander’s first season. He had coached with Long previously at Arizona State and Notre Dame and was hired after Kerry Dixon left Tech for a position with the Baltimore Ravens. He was working under a one-year contract.
Karala was one of the initial hires by former head coach Jeff Collins upon his appointment in December 2018. Known for, among other attributes, his enthusiasm, motivational messages, and commitment to putting himself through the same training sessions as the players, Karala has become a popular and beloved figure within the team and fan base.
In a tweet informing followers that he will not be kept, Carala wrote, “I would like to say thank you to all the players I have been blessed to coach for the past 4 years. I will sleep well at night knowing I couldn’t give more of my heart or work harder to help. Love you guys comrades.”
In Thacker’s fourth season as coordinator, after an outfield stint where his retention was widely questioned, the Jackets defense showed significant progress. The defense is tied for ninth in the FBS in takeaways with 24. The Jackets allowed 5.7 yards per game in eight games after sacking Collins after giving up 6.6 yards per game in 2021 and did so despite facing three offenses that ranked in the top 15 In FBS in Total Crime.
Scoring defense has dropped from 33.5 points per game in 2021 to 26.8 points in the last eight games. Football Outsiders ranks the defense 39th in Fremeau’s Efficiency Index (FEI) rating after it was 112th last season, which is an amazing jump.
The defense’s high point this season was limiting North Carolina, which ranked 11th in the FBS in total offense, to its lowest in scoring and yards (the latter since lost) in the Jackets’ 21-17 win in Chapel Hill, NC
Four defensive players — linebacker Indy Ealy (2nd team), Charlie Thomas (3rd team), safety Lamels Brooks (3rd team) and defensive end Keon White (3rd team) — all made the All-ACC team, while cornerback Zamari Walton earned Honorable Mentions . point.
Two of the coaches who were promoted during the season to complete the 10-man corps are unknown: linebackers coach Donald Hill Ely and assistant coach for special teams JB Hall.
At the very least, Key now has three spots to fill — offensive coordinator, offensive line coaches, wide receiver — and maybe as many as five. When Key was promoted to interim, he assigned graduate assistant Nathan Brock to coach the offensive line. Reworking the Tech program to fit Key’s vision is well under way.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”