The performance of Georgia Tech’s offensive line in the 27-13 loss to Clemson wasn’t its best.
Coach Paul Johnson and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt said as much after the game. They would know. Nesbitt was held to 2 rushing yards, his worst total since Johnson took over as coach and installed the spread-based option. Johnson said they were “whacked around.”
The issues were a combination of inexperience, a lack of communication and a lack of focus.
Johnson referenced a play in the game in which 10 guys went one way but one lineman went another because he said he didn’t hear a check that was called. He said part of it was inexperience: the rotation features two seniors, a redshirt junior, two redshirt sophomores and two redshirt freshmen. That mistake was made in the red zone, and may have cost the Jackets a shot at a touchdown.
Co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak said the crowd noise wasn’t a factor, and doubted it would be against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg next Thursday. Not because it won’t be loud. It will. But if the team will maintain its concentration, read its keys and sticks to the fundamentals it should be fine. Center Sean Bedford said if everybody’s reading the same thing, the linemen don’t even need to hear the calls. That didn’t happen as often in Death Valley.
“You don’t want to make mistakes in critical situations and unfortunately we did,” Sewak said. “We can’t have everybody on one page and one guy stuck on page 2. Those things happen, to both inexperienced and experienced [players]. That ticks you off even more. It’s not like its rocket science. That’s our base play. Everybody goes one way and someone goes another way.”
The good news for Tech is there are still a minimum of four games remaining, which is something Bedford said he will remind his teammates of this week.
If the Yellow Jackets can defeat the Hokies, Miami and Duke, and the Hokies lose one more game, the Jackets will get a chance to defend their conference title.
“It’s easy to lose sight of that because the season hasn’t lived up to our expectations to this point,” Bedford said. “Coming off the success we had last season there’s a little bit of a hangover to this point. But when people don’t see the same kind of success right away, there’s a certain willingness to get caught up in the minutiae of the moment and lose sight of the larger goal. But the guys who have been there…have to do a really good job of making sure that everybody keeps their eyes on the prize and really focuses on what’s at stake here. I certainly look at what’s going on around the league and I know we’re very much alive.
“I think a lot of people… That’s part of my job this week to make sure that everybody knows that. We’ve still got four games to play. You’d better believe we’re going to be playing as hard as we can.”