Looking back, ahead at Tech’s defense

Georgia Tech’s defense had its problems in 2010’s 6-7 season.

When reviewing its play, coach Paul Johnson said two things stood out: It didn’t create turnovers. It didn’t get to the quarterback. (Of course, it also didn’t stop the run).

The defense allowed 25.2 points and 371.6 yards per game. Those are both increases compared to the previous season, results which resulted in Johnson firing coordinator Dave Wommack and hiring Al Groh.

The team had eight interceptions in 365 attempts. It recovered 13 fumbles to rank tied for 86th in the FBS in turnover margin (-.46). Keep in mind that six of those turnovers happened in the game against Middle Tennessee State.

As Johnson said, that’s not good.

They couldn’t create turnovers because they couldn’t get to the quarterback. The Jackets had 17 sacks, or 1.31 per game, tied for 101st.

The team will lose its second-leading tackler and sacker, inside linebacker Brad Jefferson. It will also lose starting outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe, as well as three starters in the secondary.

The unit had no one named to the All-ACC squad, and only one of the seniors, Mario Butler, was invited to the NFL combine.

The good news is that several younger players showed a lot of potential: linebackers Julian Burnett and Jeremiah Attaochu, cornerbacks Rod Sweeting and Louis Young, defensive end Izaan Cross, to name a few. There are also several promising freshmen who redshirted: Ryan Ayers, Shawn Green, Denzel McCoy and Quayshawn Nealy.

– Doug Roberson, AJC

46 comments Add your comment

Hot sandwiches

January 12th, 2011
4:55 am

Bring in the youth. We need ‘em in 2011.


January 12th, 2011
7:23 am

was that our old defensive coach and tech grad on the sidelines as auburn’s defensive coach?


January 12th, 2011
7:50 am

We had no passion or intensity. We didn’t look agile, hostile, or mobile. Very disappointed in the play of Mario Butler.


January 12th, 2011
7:52 am

Hey Georgia recruits who excell on defense …wakee ….wakee …….yes you out there with the 4 and 5 stars reading this ….. If you want to play next year at the next level you have a better chance at Tech than you do with an SEC team. It’s a no brainer ……..Tech needs hungry defensive players …. Call Coach Johnson today. I can’t make it any clearer than that.


January 12th, 2011
8:53 am

Expect step forward next year with experience and incoming talent. Less turnovers and improved special teams will also help the defensive stats.


January 12th, 2011
8:57 am

Groh said it takes two years to install the 3-4. So far it looks like he is correct. Same same at UGA with their change to the 3-4.

We should know something by the end of the 2011 season.

But remember, good players make good coaches.


January 12th, 2011
9:06 am

That’s what you call looking back and ahead? Are you just mailing these in?

Paul in RDU

January 12th, 2011
9:14 am

Although most of the stats on yardage and points allowed are similar, GT’s time on D increased significantly over 2009. The low number of turnovers reflects the lack of playmakers as good as Morgan and Burnett.

collegeballfan has it right – it helps to have good players on D. Ted Roof looks like a much better coach at Auburn than at Duke or Tech.

Bluke DoDevil

January 12th, 2011
9:15 am

Don’t mention Roof in the same sentence as Groh. Roof’s defensive experience has taken place when working under other defense oriented coaches, e.g. O’Leary at Tech and Chizik at AU. When all by himself, check out the Bluke DoDevil record under Roof. Stick with the grown-ups. Groh will lead the defense to great heights and CPJ will lead the bees to championships.


January 12th, 2011
9:19 am

How much longer do we have to see headline about tech quotes after Mercer game? that was three weeks ago! Can we somehow keep tech page current?


January 12th, 2011
9:22 am

the defense was much better this year than last year and let me tell you why before you throw rocks at me. this yrs defense actually stopped opposing offenses. something last yrs d did not do. this yrs d gave the offense more possessions than last yrs d. this yrs d actually made a couple of goal line stands. this yrs d did not have the ball hogging offense last yrs d did to eat up the clock and limit the other teams offensive possessions. this yrs d was put in horrible field position situations by the offense as a result of fumbles that last yrs d did not have to deal with. this yrs d did not have long periods of rest that last yrs d got from the ball control offense. this yrs d improved from last yrs as a result of al grohs coaching. hopefully, next yrs offensive can hold up their end of the bargain and get this team back in the hunt for an acc title


January 12th, 2011
9:23 am

next yrs offense


January 12th, 2011
9:55 am

As Bobby Dodd always said, it is the players on the field who play the game. We need to find some dominant defensive linemen. If you have one or two of those guys, any defensive coach will look like a genius.

Cmon man

January 12th, 2011
10:00 am

Gt51 what defense were you watching? How was the defense better when it allowed more points and yds per game and was at the bottom of the ncaa in sacks? Last season techs offense was extra powerful so it covered up some of the flaws on def this season gtech was exposed and to be honest showed no signs of improvement from wk1 to wk12! Just look at the uga game uga ran 32 less plays than tech, tech controlled the playclock by 17mins and uga ave 8yds per play and when it comes to total yds tech only had 90 more yds of total offense! If you consider that good than I would hate to what u call bad

Cmon man

January 12th, 2011
10:02 am


January 12th, 2011
10:07 am

Don’t get any crazy ideas that Ted Roof is a good coach. He was awful at Duke and we do not need to recycle that project. Auburns defense was only decent because they have cash and Nick Fairley was a gift from God. You cannot coach size and speed. That is what we need.


January 12th, 2011
10:10 am

It takes 2 years to install a defense….. What a CROCK of CRAP! We had better wake up and smell the coffee…. Fran says that UGA is in trouble. I would say that both schools outlook is very dismal. The state of football is Pathetic in Georgia….


January 12th, 2011
10:16 am

Doug: Do you think that Denzel will play? Is he finally over the “health” issues?

paul has a small jonson

January 12th, 2011
10:26 am

I posted that GT would lose at least 6 games this season.I posted that back in july and everybody poopooed it.Good luck filling that highschool stadium now.4 tickets + 4 free hotdogs + 4 free cokes = the joke by Coke. hahaha


January 12th, 2011
10:33 am

Paul brings up a couple of great points. Tech D was on the field much more than last season. Much of that is due to inadequacies on the offensive side. Also, turnovers were not created.

I expect Tech’s D to be much improved in ‘11. I believe that Coastal will be wide open next season. Tech has as good of a chance as anyone else. Va Tech post-Tyrod Taylor will take a dip.

yella fella

January 12th, 2011
10:34 am

what defense ?????????

mark has a small richt

January 12th, 2011
10:34 am

The Idaho State game was a thriller.


January 12th, 2011
10:37 am

GT51 I agree with you 100%. Our offense this year sucked and put the defense on the field for much longer times. If I had to choose between last year’s defense or this year’s I would choose this year’s hands down. Match this year’s defense with last year’s offense and you have a championship caliber team. The defense will be better next year but I really worry about the offense. CPJ needs to put his own house in order (offense) before pointing fingers.


January 12th, 2011
10:38 am

Paul, what did you post about UGA’s record? You’re on a sinking ship, and the bottom is a lot closer than you think! Amen, NY-we need some studs with heart. Keep your fingers crossed on Tuitt and Vaughters.


January 12th, 2011
10:41 am

“paul has a small jonson”, how many times do we have to ask you to stay out of the showers?! Just for the record…what was your prediction on the mutts?

Doug Roberson

January 12th, 2011
10:46 am

As of last week he hadn’t been cleared


January 12th, 2011
10:54 am

The defense will have to get a whole lot better if we are to win the ACC again. The offense just has to hold on to ball but we need to get tougher on both sides of the ball. Please hire a special teams coach!!!


January 12th, 2011
10:56 am

how about Lanier, Cummings and Crenshaw??????????????


January 12th, 2011
11:17 am

never said the defense was good. i said this yrs defense was better than last yrs. it still has a long ways to go, but i think it made improvement over last year. the d line isnt very good, but i believe the biggest weakness is the outside lbs. in a 3-4 your olbs have to be men. gts olbs are way undersized for a 3-4 defense. hopefully harbaughs departure at stanford will put gt back in the running for vaughters.


January 12th, 2011
11:20 am

Our defense at times looked ok this year. That in itself is a big improvement over 2009 where it was basically all on Derrick Morgan. I think they will continue to get better, especially with the young guys learning the system from the start. We do definitely need to get more pressure on the QB though.


January 12th, 2011
11:42 am

When you have Paul Johnson and Al Groh together, expect great things.

It will take some time but they are building a program that will excel for a long time to come.

Georgia on the other hand has not yet hit bottom. The Georgia folks know it is coming but don`t understand it yet. When I get all the best Georgia players this year and have to grey shirt them out for a few years and Boise State hangs 50 on them it will be a bit clearer.

Hayseed Dixie

January 12th, 2011
11:56 am

People who criticize our current regime make me wonder if they’ve built anything worth a damn in their lives.

Things take time, though we’ve had far more positive returns than hiccups. A whole bunch of the latter, realistically could’ve been expected. We have a conference championship to show for all the b.s.

And yes, while I’m loath to let anyone come in to the state of Georgia and dictate, Boise State *will* treat Richt-led UGA like a prison girlfriend.


January 12th, 2011
12:24 pm

@ Hayseed Dixie – I agree it takes time, but you would like to see progression. Losing to 6 – YES 6 unranked teams isn’t progression.

Don’t brag about us winning the ACC last year. The ACC is simply terrible; just look at the bowl games. Prime example is Tech’s loss this year and last year. ACC champs and then get hammered by Iowa. Then, lose to a school that has even a harder time getting top athletes.

Please; no excuse. It is his 3rd season, he has his players, and these are the results. Do you really see it getting better next year? NO WAY


January 12th, 2011
12:28 pm

I prefer not to heap on a kid, but really, just what did Egbuniwe do this season? PJ and Groh ought put him on a milk carton or a billboard he was so nonexistent.
I like the foundation with Cross and Attaochu. Really want to see what Nealy brings and hope Brandon Watts can step up next year too. T.J. Barnes also needs to dominate the middle. He doesn’t have to have 8 tackles a game; he needs to occupy and control that gap. At his size, he should.

Delbert D.

January 12th, 2011
1:09 pm

Groh’s QB spy scheme for Va. Tech showed that the defense could cover receivers. That seemed to be a significant step forward.

Fire Paul Johnson

January 12th, 2011
1:52 pm

It’s fascinating how the Johnson slurpers spin the “facts” when it is convenient for them. When one argues that the offense is poor, the Kool-Aid drinkers are first in line to point out that we were #1 in rushing yardage and point out the games we had no problems scoring points in, such as UGA. When you criticize the defense however, they turn it around and say the defense actually improved(despite a mound of statistics that would suggest otherwise), but that they were “let down” by the poor offense!

Some folks just love Coach Johnson unconditionally, just as they did Coach Gailey, and will defend him no matter what happens.

More at http://firepauljohnson.blogspot.com


January 12th, 2011
2:03 pm

o jesus h. more from this moron.


January 12th, 2011
2:10 pm

FPJ, We don’t love him, but we certainly respect him. Go back to your UGA blog and try to come up with a reason to keep Richt.


January 12th, 2011
2:12 pm

@FirePaul – get your facts in order man. We had a bumpy ride this season fer sure, but you ugaggers will soon know the meaning of ‘inept’ now that AJ has split for more $$ than your university (sic) was willing to pay him. NOBODY defended t Gomer except the Stingtalk bunch and they’d defend Dave Braine. so try again doofus.

Big B CH 99

January 12th, 2011
2:48 pm

Our biggest problems this yr, was a Negative Turnover (TO) margin, too many penalties, & some of the worst Special Teams (ST) in the country.

How often does a team lose the TO battle and win the game? Less than 50% of the time, I’ll say no more than 1/3 (33%) of the time in conference games when your matched up against teams with similar talent levels.

Penalties hurt us a lot, we didn’t necessarily have a lot of high yardage penalties like personal fouls, many of our penalties were little 5 yd false starts but they really hurt us this yr. That is amplified by 10 w/ an offense that is based on 3 yds & cloud of dust, gaining positive yds every play and given 4 plays we’ll get a first down. Even a little 5 yd penalty can destroy a drive when we don’t have any passing game. This didn’t matter as much the yr before b/c we had a great WR in BayBay that could make a big play when we needed it on 3rd & long (> 5 yds). We all know we didn’t have that this yr.

In a fairly even game, if the TO battle is pretty even then ST can make the difference, and we normally lost that battle this yr.

Overall, we were our toughest opponent all yr, we beat ourselves so many times this yr.


January 12th, 2011
3:10 pm

It’s clear that the reason 1 guy was invited to the NFL combine is that there was little talent on defense in reference to seniors. I agree that we need new blood in there and i’m fine with younger guys who are hungry getting PT. We have nice talent in the secondary and in the offensive backfield. However, we need receivers who can catch,run routes and block! Bay bay was missed badly this season and so was a dominant pass rusher such as morgan who could get to the QB. If we want to win the ACC title again, we must get a passing threat and a pass rush in terms of defense. These are the two areas we are really hurting in. The special teams,poor leadership, fumbles and redzone failures must improve as well. I hope some of the guys we redshirted last year are ready to step up because we need them to rise up in 2011 if we expect to contend.

Fire Paul Johnson

January 12th, 2011
3:25 pm


Gomer was incessantly defended by those on both the HIVe and Stingtalk. This necessitated the creation of a 3rd Tech message board, BBuzzoff, as those who had shown negativity to Gailey on the other two boards were ostracized or banned.

My problem with fellow Tech fans is not so much that they like Johnson. It is their deification of him as if he can do no wrong. Every deficiency in the program is somehow not his fault, every so-so recruit is a “diamond in the rough,” and every problem incurred is something that CPJ will quickly fix because we just “know” he will, despite the fact that he’s the one who allowed them to happen in the first place. Yes, and I’m also sure he’s finally “gotten” the importance of the UGA game and will take it more seriously next year as well.

Some balance must be struck, and thus the necessity of a blog such as mine.


January 12th, 2011
4:28 pm

You win the game at the line of scrimmage. Our line play (talent) is less than stellar.


January 12th, 2011
4:29 pm

One of the better indicators if a defense improves year over year is YARDS PER PLAY allowed. For comparison purposes, UGA also had a new DC and switched to the 3-4….

YPP/Yards-GM/Pts-GM 2009 YPP/Yard-GM/Pts-GM 2010
GT 6.1/360.3/24.8 5.7/371.6/25.2
UGA 5.1/339.4/25.9 5.2/328.5/22.1

Further perspective – average total offense per team faced gives an indication of the quality of offenses faced by each team each year.

2009 2010
GT 73 60
UGA 58 55

GT played better offenses, overall, in 2010 vs. 2009 but still not as tough as UGA, overall. UGA played slightly better offenses, overall, in 2010 vs. 2009.

Time of possession gives the defense time to rest and, in theory, should perform better.

2009 2010
GT 33:49 31:53
UGA 29:27 30:27

UGA’s defense demonstrated some improvement IMO, based on these numbers, but so did GT’s. (GT’s turnover margin was -.46 vs UGA +.77 in 2010 GT’s turnover margin in 09, +.57 vs. UGA’s of -1.23!!

George Stein

January 12th, 2011
4:35 pm

Seriously, Fire Paul Johnson? You’re playing the balance card?

Look, this past season was a struggle and unquestionably disappointing. But I also think we need to take a comprehensive view of his performance. And in the larger picture, I have no issue with his prior performance except for the 2009 UGA game and perhaps the 2008 Peach Bowl.


January 13th, 2011
11:34 pm

Ted Roof is the D.C. @ AU. He should be considered for the next GT H.C. Hell, He was the best lb. for lb. ML we’ve had since Al Richardson. It’s all about HEART!