Bohannon can picture it.
“I don’t think we’ve ever gone into a game we thought we couldn’t win. I don’t know why that should change now,” he said Tuesday.
This will be only the third-ever game against a FBS opponent for KSU —– it lost to Georgia State and Kent State — and its first against a Power 5 opponent. Saturday represents the rarest kind of opportunity for the Owls to share a field with an entrenched program in its own state and declare: Hey, look at us, we can play, too.
“I think we’re always searching for (recognition),” Bohannon said. “We want people to recognize what’s going on with Kennesaw State football. The stage will be the biggest one we’ve been on in a while. What a great opportunity for our program to be on this stage to show who we are and what we’re about.”
Bohannon was a part of Johnson’s staff at Georgia Southern, Navy and Tech, where he was the quarterback/B-back coach between 2008-12. He counts Johnson as his own personal Plato – “I would not be sitting here today without coach Johnson. I owe a ton to him,” he said. Although it’s not like he’s returning to Tech bogged down in syrupy sentiment. Like he said, connections are about people, not places, and all the coaches and players he worked with at Tech have long since scattered.
Tech fans of any standing at all will recognize the offense KSU is bringing to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday. There may be tweaks here or there, but Bohannon remains a big believer in what he learned under Johnson.
“We do some things different, but fundamentally as far as the nuts and bolts, it still goes back to (Johnson’s philosophy) at the end of the day,” he said. “We want to line up and play fast and play hard and be tough, and we want to be able to run the football. I don’t know that has changed a lot.”
To be determined Saturday is whether KSU can stand up physically to an opponent that should enjoy a wealth of recruiting advantages. Also, Bohannon needs to see a lot more from his Owls than he did in their 10-point win over NAIA Reinhart in their opener. “The amount of missed assignments was off the charts; we were all over the place,” the coach said.
It’s all the possibilities littering the short road to this game that will keep Jackets people on edge. Collins already has lost once to a supposedly undermanned, option-based FCS school (2019, The Citadel, which ran for 320 yards that day). And in just the past week, precedents for an upset were everywhere – six FCS schools beat an FBS opponent.
There’s a message Bohannon has drilled into his players to take them beyond the presumed limits of a 6-year-old program. “We’ve always told our kids, our best is good enough,” he said.
That rings true more than could have been imagined in 2014. For this game arrives with some heft. By all rights it shouldn’t. But Tech is vulnerable. Kennesaw State is hungry. Always a dangerous combination.