Thoughts about the defense heading into Tech’s spring

We looked at Georgia Tech’s offense heading into Monday’s spring training.

Today, we look at the defense.

The Yellow Jackets had some defensive issues last season. To the untrained eye (my eye), it seemed that they had to overcommit to have success against either the run or the pass. Subsequently, they would leave themselves open to the other.

Some of that can be chalked up to players competing in a new system. For some of them, it was their third in four years. Some of it can be chalked up to the defense being somewhat complicated, as most defenses are when they are new.

The team also would find its groove on defense, the offense would score, and then the defense would give up a game-winning drive. I have no idea the reason for that.

Nevertheless, the team had just 17 sacks, allowed almost 170 rushing yards a game and 200 yards passing a game. Opposing QBs hit 60.5 percent of their passes and backs averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

However, the team started to play better after the break.

This year’s team seems like it will feature more athletic linebackers than last year’s, and the secondary, while inexperienced because it’s breaking in four new starters, will also be very fast.

Here are some players I’m looking forward to hearing about from the coaches:

DEs Emmanuel Dieke and Anthony Williams. Dieke played in mostly pass-rush situations last season. Williams red-shirted. Both seem like they might be stand up defensive ends in third-and-long situations.

OLB Jeremiah Attaochu. He had three sacks last season, second-most on the team. His size and speed give him the potential to be a force on the edge.

ILB Julian Burnett. Burnett will be the defense’s new leader now that Brad Jefferson has left. Though he didn’t crack the starting lineup until midway through the season, he led the team in tackles.

ILB Quayshawn Nealy. He redshirted last season and may challenge for a starting spot at inside linebacker beside Burnett. If he does, I wonder if that will push Brandon Watts to the outside to challenge Steven Sylvester.

NT Shawn Green. Logan Walls and T.J. Barnes will be pushed by Green in the middle of the defense.

DBs. Louis Young, Ryan Ayers, Jemea Thomas and Rod Sweeting. This young quartet is fast. Both of last year’s starters are gone. Competition here will be interesting.

S Isaiah Johnson and Fred Holton. Again, both of last year’s starters are gone. Johnson impressed last year as the nickelback. Holton impressed on special teams.

Who are you most interested in reading about?

– Doug Roberson, AJC


95 comments Add your comment

IndyGT

March 25th, 2011
7:53 am

The Dude

March 25th, 2011
8:03 am

We can’t blame this year’s results on “learning the new system”. In short: the defense must be better.

Not a Hewitt Fan

March 25th, 2011
8:06 am

All i know is whoever starts better be good, since Turkey neck ran 4, yes 4, recuits for the D-line off.

Not a Hewitt Fan

March 25th, 2011
8:06 am

Christa

March 25th, 2011
8:08 am

DBs – you list four, so that’s definitely not a trio.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
8:28 am

Not a Hewitt Fan, keep bashing the man, but in only two three seasons he still has done more, and has a much better proven track record than Gomer Gailey had in 7 years. I’m amazed at how quickly some of you jump off the train. But, for that record, we really don’t want you on to begin with. I get the feeling a lot of people got spoiled and thought that because we won the ACC in our second year we are entitled to at least 8-9 wins every year. News flash people, teams have down years, it happens. If you aren’t going to trust in a guy who won the ACC in only his second year, then who are you going to rely on? So there were bumps and bruises last year. Part of that certainly wasn’t CPJ’s fault. He can’t make WRs catch the ball, he can’t make QBs throw accurate passes, he can’t make the QB make the right read, he can’t make the RBs not fumble the ball, the list goes on and on. He tells them what needs to be done, makes adjustments as needed, and keeps rolling. In games like the VT and UGA game, we should’ve been blown out of the water if not for an outstanding coaching job by CPJ. Anyways, now that I am off my soapbox, out of all these players the two I am most looking forward to seeing make big strides are Attaochu and Burnett. Linebackers dominate this scheme. Get pressure with the front seven, and you only need a mediocre secondary to be successful. (On a higher level, just look at the Steelers. Front seven is good enough that even when the secondary, which, other than Polamalu is god awful, fails, the front seven are good enough to cover up for that most of the time.) We can have similar success on this level with the 3-4 defense. If those two linebackers can take it to the next level in understanding and grasping the D (because at the end of the year before Nesbitt went out, we can all reasonably say that if Nesbitt stays in and we beat VT, who knows how the season ends), and things were trending upward, then for all we know the best is yet to come. All I’m saying is for once have a little faith in the idea that the coach will get the team through. If you’ve already quit on CPJ only three years in, then you need to become a fan of a different team. I for one will continue to say GOOO JACKETS!

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
8:30 am

The Dude, I agree for the most part, but even two years for the 3-4 can be a challenge. The system is complex, probably one of the most in college. But executed properly it is dominant. Now, yes, things need to be better, but to expect it to all of the sudden be perfect (which, not saying you are,) this year won’t happen. We will still see plays where we just have to go, “They clearly don’t understnad what they are doing.”

GT45

March 25th, 2011
8:31 am

I hope we can get in some third and longs! How about the other D lineman that came in with Green last year who was so highly touted? I think Menacal may get to see some time.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
8:32 am

Oh, and also want to see how well Isaiah Johnson is doing. Athletically, the kid is beyond skilled. He was caught out of position starting a couple of times last year, so I’d love to see how well he has developed his game this year.

GT45

March 25th, 2011
8:35 am

GTPhenom, you don’t have to defend the man. You are right on. People who know football, know what CPJ is about. We are recruiting the right people for the O and D systems. Last year won’t be a repeat! CPJ won’t stand for it.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
8:36 am

Oh and trust me, I know the large majority are still right there knowing what is going on, but those select few idiots who continue to post get under my skin just a bit, lol.

GT76

March 25th, 2011
8:46 am

Defense wins championships! Coach Johnson has to know this.. The offense will be fine.. Gotta have a great defense!

The Dream

March 25th, 2011
8:46 am

I wonder too where Daniel Drummond will be playing. I wanted to see him in action since he signed. Hoping for a chance at B Back, but we’ll se. Also hoping that we will finally see more speed at all positions and I think that all will play like their “hairs on fire” all season. Wouldn’t that be a welcome change. I can’t wait.

Charlie Sheen

March 25th, 2011
9:16 am

All I want to hear about is……WINNING!

AtWork

March 25th, 2011
9:22 am

Doug,

Can you do position battles updates? I am interested in QB, BB, and NT. Also, is Marcus Wright back to 100%? What happened there? Do you see any other freshman winning jobs or red shirt freshman? Can you get a feel for how CPJ sees this team doing throughout spring and even into the season?

Go Jackets

wrecked

March 25th, 2011
9:23 am

Tired of the people who defend the myth that PJ is signing players for his system. He isn’t signing 90% of the players he actually wants. He offers the more elite players , then signs what he can get.The talent isn’t being replaced, an upward trend ? 1-5 to end the year followed by a 8th ranked class in the ACC isn’t trending upward.Phenom please enlighten us as to which positions are being upgraded over last year or just for kicks the 2009 roster.

JasonGT

March 25th, 2011
9:24 am

I want to see Isaiah Johnson lay some people out at safety. @GT76, I agree; our offense will score an average of 1 touchdown per quarter, 28 pts per game. The defense just needs to do enough not to let the other team do that. I’d be alright letting the other team settle for field goals, that way I don’t have to cringe hoping our punt returner can catch a ball. That’s GT’s biggest problem: special teams. It was kind of touched on at the end of the season that improvements would be made in the offseason so I’m interested in seeing what has been done.

collegeballfan

March 25th, 2011
9:28 am

Green at DT is an important story. He has his size up over 290 and maybe headed for 300. I trust he will not lose all of his quickness with the additional weight.

The three “down” linemen must do more controlling this season.

And a reminder to all on what Al Groh said last year: It takes 2 years to install the 3-4 defense. So all of us need to be patient.

ManUp...

March 25th, 2011
9:33 am

O Almighty Doug-ministrator, POINT OF INFORMATION – - – With the Brock Indoor Practice Facility being built and new drainage systems being added to the presently torn up Rose Bowl Fields (the site of all normal football practices), where are the Jackets holding Spring Practices? I’m kind of hoping the answer is “in Bobby Dodd Stadium,” because I wonder if they practice there if it might not enhance homefield advantage a little. Sense of familiarity/ownership, etc. Maybe?

Ron

March 25th, 2011
9:46 am

Has anyone heard the final story on Jerrard Randall? Did he sign with LSU or not?

Doug Roberson

March 25th, 2011
9:49 am

bobby dodd stadium it is

76tornados

March 25th, 2011
9:50 am

I definetly think we have upgraded at QB, just need to wait and see how they progress. The D will be much better. Barnes and Green switching out will be decent depth at NT. WR’s are a problem, but I don’t think you will see top talent being recruited there. Thats not to say that you can’t move some speed there with blocking ability. Synjin Days is the real deal folks.

Doug Roberson

March 25th, 2011
9:50 am

I will do my best to do position battle updates. We aren’t allowed to watch practices in the spring, so it’ll depend upon the mood of the coaches.

I believe Wright is back to 100 percent. He suffered an injury last year and fell down the depth chart.

Doug Roberson

March 25th, 2011
9:50 am

Drummond is at linebacker.

Hayseed Dixie

March 25th, 2011
9:51 am

Smart, fast linebackers. Do we have them? What are we doing to develop/sign them?

That’s really the bottom line.

DoodleyNose whooper

March 25th, 2011
9:53 am

Paul Johnson is a great coach; not good but great. The fact that he took last year’s Tech team to Athens and had a chance to win (slim, I know) is astonishing. The only thing Johnson can do with the players he has now is to make them tougher. Watch the Georgia game again and watch all the extra curricular stuff the Georgia players had going on. Tech does a good job of getting guys downfield to block but these same folks need to protect their ballcarriers by “earholing” some of these second and third defenders who come in to get a piece of the runner. Experience has shown that demonstrative defensive backs who like to hot dog don’t like getting lit up by offensive linemen on their way to the pile. Give the little blindsiding db’s a taste and their heads will be on a damned swivel looking out for the next downfield hog.
Go to the whistle and oh yea, when you get hurt, don’t lay around on the field letting the other team see you floundering around until trainers and your mamas come out to check on you and then jog off the damned field. If you are injured and cannot stand and will need surgery stay where you are; otherwise, get your butt to the sideline.
You ACC refs suck, too.
more in your face mask spit flying is needed at Tech and if a player quits the program and his team mates; good riddance.

buzzwax

March 25th, 2011
9:57 am

Wrecked – let me type this s l o w l y – GT’s 2009 class had N I N E of the top 50 players in the state per this post season poll. T W O in the top 10! Plus four star Louis Young and underated three star Attaochu from out of state.

http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/2010/01/08/ajc-top-50-list-reveals-best-of-best-in-georgia/

IF YOU CAN READ, PLEASE TELL ME HOW WE MISSED ON 90% OF OUR TARGETS IN THIS CLASS?

In 2010 we get the TOP player in the state of NC and AL that somehow are only three stars. GT missed on some DL/DE targets this past year but they did NOT miss on ‘90%’ of who they wanted. How did you come up with he isn’t getting 90% of his players? Or are you just another speculating ‘expert’?

Having a CRAPPY season last year probably hurt this past class more than most realize but I am confident that CPJ and crew have enough talent to have a good season this year and a great season in 2012!

Maybe you still want Neuhiesal (sp?) or Chan back?

ManUp...

March 25th, 2011
9:57 am

An answer from on high! Thank you, sir.

And here’s to the opportunity for the team not only to build a new attitude but to do it in their home stadium (turn the “our house” rhetoric up to eleven!) **raises morning coffee** Cheers! May a billion yards be rushed and all our opponents forced to nurse their trauma-hemhorraged innards after being blocked, tackled and generally Ramblin Wreck’d to a moribund pulp!

Go Jackets! (now for more coffee…)

buzzwax

March 25th, 2011
10:00 am

wrecked – please name ONE program who would prosper playing their second string QB?

larry

March 25th, 2011
10:01 am

let me tell you techies one thing, go look at CPJ’s record at GSU, NAVY, and now tech. He has never had a defense, never cared about defense cause his ego is so freaking big he thinks his “perfect” option cannot be stopped so why worry about a defense??

buzzwax

March 25th, 2011
10:03 am

wrecked – miss you on the boards, at least your ignorance was fun to debate…..

Doug Roberson

March 25th, 2011
10:15 am

Dixie: I think you do have some smart, fast linebackers.

If Burnett was still learning the system last year, I’m curious to see what he can do once he does know the system. the same is true for Attaochu.
Sylvester was up-and-down last year (it seemed like he started slowly and then lost some confidence after the kansas game). Watts may be the most athletic guy on the team. Drummond may take a while to fit in.

One guy I forgot to include in my list of players is linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. I think he will start alongside Burnett, with Watts moving to the outside to challenge Sylvester.

BYRDDAWG

March 25th, 2011
10:15 am

Looking forward to the Sat after Thanksgiving!!!

Jackets 2011

March 25th, 2011
10:30 am

How about next year we not throw a fit when anyone drops a pass? Pros drop them too but get more thrown their way than one a week.
We are lucky any WRs come here with our system.
They deserve better than a fanbase ready to get on their backs.
Conclusion: we need to throw more and some of you need to get a grip as fans.

OKieWreck

March 25th, 2011
10:31 am

“Doug Roberson
Dixie: I think YOU do have some smart, fast linebackers”.

Seems like Doug’s not a tech fan.

juvenal

March 25th, 2011
10:37 am

agree #1 will be big…..

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
10:39 am

Jackets2011, I have nothing wrong with our WRs. Very talented group. And with 6′5″ Jeff Greene joining them this year, they have a tremendous amount of talent. However, talent doesn’t help you catch the freaking ball. Once or twice a game is not bad, but Nesbitt would have completed upwards of 55%-60% of his passes if the recievers and A-backs only dropped one or two a game. It is a little word I like to call HABITUAL. What, are we supposed to say, “Oh, it’s ok, you only lost us multiple games, that is ok . . .” Yeah, it is an exaggeration, but you get the point. I don’t care if they drop one every now and then, but it gets old. There are middle school players who could’ve caught some of the passes dropped last year. We don’t have to throw more, because it isn’t always required, not with our offense. And trust me, it seems more like you don’t really have a grip as a fan, not us.

just asking

March 25th, 2011
10:45 am

How many redshirt juniors are we losing this time due to not being able to get in Grad school? Anyone see Curry sniffing around again?

Who Cares

March 25th, 2011
10:48 am

buzzwax, what recruiting services are you reading? Tech didn’t sign the top player in the state of N.C or Al. If you are talking about Vad Lee, he was the 26th rated player in N.C. per rivals. Also, he did miss of 90% of players he wanted in state, as a matter of fact Johnson lost every recruit from state of Ga. that both Tech&UGA offered. I would say that is even better than 90%, more like 100%. I’m sure Johnson will spin it his way, and say tech couldn’t sign these kids because of academics being so high at Tech. If that was the case why did the idiot offer them. Keep drinking the coolaid of Johnson and his recruiting, or should i say his lack of recruiting.

wrecked

March 25th, 2011
10:58 am

buzzwaxed, get your stats from something other than the hometown paper. Techs 2009 class was ranked 49th nationally. No top 20 players from rivals Georgia top 90 from 2009 but there were 8 of the top 90.Thats the class that began contributing in 2010 and had a losing record. Lee wasn’t the number # 1ranked player in North Carolina try 26th, wasn’t even the number 1 QB.#1 ranked player from Bama and he didn’t have an offer from Auburn or Alabama, Keep drinking that Kool-aid. PJ offers 4 and 5 star players, but doesn’t close. Take a look at the AJC top 50 or the Rivals top 75 from Georgia this year. PJ offered plenty of those players but they signed elsewhere. Doesn’t take an expert to see who he offers and what he winds up with.

reebok

March 25th, 2011
11:10 am

Guys – The 2009 team had 5 big-play guys. in 2010,4 jumped early to the NFL and the 5th, our starting QB, broke his arm mid-season. How many teams could prosper after that?

we are not big enough on either line of scrimmage, IMHO. even so, if the offense is run properly, it will limit the opposition’s possessions and give us a chance in each game. If the offense is out of sync, as it seemed for most of last year, we are in for a long miserable season.

As an aside, one thing that I think hurt us a lot last year was Nesbitt missing spring practice. The offense seemed half a beat off all year…

14 mos ago, CPJ said ............

March 25th, 2011
11:48 am

Over a year ago, CPJ told us that Groh’s NFL ring would take us to the ACC title.

Did Groh lose that ring? GT is horrible on D.

Maybe Groh should tell recruits that when he was in The League, he knew Johnny Unitas AND Dick Butkus. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHA

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

I love all these idiot haters. Two things. One, please become a fan of some other team. The true GT fans, the team, those who support the Institute, and those who are in full support fo the team don’t want or need the support of idiots like yourselves. And two, I hope, if GT does well this season, every single one of you are back to eat your crow, although I already know every single one of these idiots instantly dissapear as soon as something disproves them. Man up every once and a while and don’t act like your completely ignorant. They say ignorance is bliss, but in ya’lls cases, ignorance is just an excuse for stupidity.

Jackets 2011

March 25th, 2011
12:05 pm

@GTPhenom
At some point last season, no receiver wanted the ball.
Now we can argue all you want but what caused that?
Peebles is a good runner but our fans, not someone else’s, psyched him out in a middle of the season home game.
My point is a throw them under the bus attitude got a ball-dropping result.
Maybe I’m more of a player defender than trasher.

Jackets 2011

March 25th, 2011
12:07 pm

I can agree with your last post completely though.

Jackets 2011

March 25th, 2011
12:11 pm

I’ve got a grip.
That’s why I am very reluctant to trash a player and I can tell you from being a season ticket holder in both football and basketball, we have plenty of fans who are quick to do the opposite.

wrecked

March 25th, 2011
12:13 pm

Presented with evidence contrary to his beliefs GTphenom and Buzzedwhacks resort to adolescent name calling.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
12:13 pm

I have nothing wrong with defending the players. And let me apologize. Dealing with most of these idiots this morning made me a little tense and edgy, so I’d didn’t mean to come off to you rudely, particularly seeings as you are clearly a fan and supporter of GT. I get what your saying, obviously, and I guess I can see where it would affect them. We have to support them, no doubt, but I guess frustration eventually gets to be a part of it. After so many mistakes even the best of fans lose patience. Just gotta hope they learn from last year adn come out better this year.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
12:16 pm

Name calling? More like telling the truth bud. If you are such a fan of the school, then you support it no matter what. No one said we were recruiting top ten classes. GT NEVER, I repeat NEVER has. We’ve had one in the top 25 in the past decade, so I’d say CPJ is doing quite fine. Unless your a huge popularity University, you’re not giong to hit on most big prospects. Sorry. Truth hurts. We have one bad year and you’re acting like the world is ending. We lost two first round draft picks, and an ACC POTY, and our top DB, adn then lost our starting QB halfway through. It was going to be a rough season. It’ll get better.

GTPhenom

March 25th, 2011
12:18 pm

And while I’m on by soapbox, please, I would love to see your evidence that CPJ missed on 90% of his recruits, cause if he did, then 90% of Colleges did as well. Very few teams consistently recruit at a top ten level.