Paul Johnson seemed to be in a better mood Monday than he sometimes does on Mondays after wins. I would surmise he just wants to delete memory of the Virginia game as quickly as possible and get focused in on Miami. The notes that will run in Tuesday’s paper below. Thanks for reading.
1. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson doesn’t want his players to celebrate a win or despair over a loss longer than necessary, and Monday he modeled his instructions.
Agitated with the team’s play immediately following Tech’s 24-21 loss to Virginia Saturday, Johnson was in a fairly good mood after Monday’s practice.
“Water under the bridge, just like when you win the game,” he said. “You flush it.”
Johnson gave credit to Virginia – “We’ve got no excuses. We got beat,” he said – and said that coaches and players shared in the responsibility for the loss.
“It’s disappointing, because I think it’s a game we could have won, but we didn’t, so you move on,” he said.
2. Johnson was hopeful that outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu will be able to play Saturday at Miami. Attaochu, who has missed the past two games with a leg injury, went through conditioning drills with the team Monday.
Johnson also said that inside linebacker Daniel Drummond “should be back full go.” He dressed Saturday and was available if needed but did not play. Like Attaochu, Drummond sustained a leg injury in the N.C. State game Oct. 1.
(Johnson did say after the Maryland game that he thought Attaochu would be ready for the Virginia game. And Drummond was cleared to play against Virginia and dressed, but was held out. So, I’d think they’ll play, but am not 100 percent confident.)
3. Defensive coordinator Al Groh declined to discuss his unit’s performance in Saturday’s game – “the obituary’s over,” he said. The defense gave up a season-high 272 rushing yards. Defensive end Jason Peters was willing to offer his assessment, saying that the linemen didn’t win enough of their matchups.
“We’ve got to be more physical on blocks, we’ve got to be better at getting off blocks and making plays,” he said.
(Groh has his reasons to not discuss the game and it’s his right to do so, but it’s a bit disappointing, particularly because Tech’s policy is to not make assistant coaches available after games and also since Peters and others were willing to answer questions. His full answer in response to the first question, about the defense’s play Saturday: “Well, usually it’s an execution [problem], but frankly, fellas, the obituary’s over. You had a chance to write about it on Sunday and Monday. I’ve never forgot any game I lost, but it’s time to stop talking about that one and start talking about [Miami].”)
4. After reviewing game video, Johnson acknowledged that two costly penalties – illegal blocks called on wide receivers Stephen Hill and Tyler Melton in the third quarter – were legitimate. Hill’s penalty negated an 85-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tevin Washington on the first play of the second half. The second wiped out a 66-yard run by A-back Orwin Smith. Tech eventually scored a touchdown after the first penalty but punted after the second.
“The penalties they called were penalties,” he said.
Johnson said coaches gave out an average number of “efforts” – demerits for a player not giving full effort on each play.
“We had more missed assignments,” he said. “That was a big problem.”
(I didn’t get a great look on the replay of the penalties, but I’d have to agree. The Hill penalty was a penalty by the book – he ran into the player from the back and the player fell over – but it wasn’t like he shoved him. The efforts/missed assignments thing says, I suppose, that the team played hard, but maybe not smart.)
5. Cornerback Rod Sweeting was named the ACC’s defensive back of the week after making his third interception in the past four games. In the second quarter, Sweeting picked off Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco and returned in 32 yards for a touchdown, which tied the game at 14. He also had five tackles, including a half-tackle for loss.
(I asked Sweeting this evening why he decided to cut back across the field rather than continue down the sideline. His answer: “I didn’t see anybody over there. It was the quickest way to the end zone, so I took that route.”)
6. ESPN gave Tech’s Oct. 29 home game against Clemson an 8 p.m. kickoff on Monday. The game will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. A spokeswoman for ESPN said Monday that Tech is one of eight candidates to host its College GameDay show that day. The decision will likely be made after Saturday’s games. The last time that the GameDay show came to Tech was in 2006.
(If both teams win, and maybe even if just Clemson wins, I’d think GameDay will come here. I asked what the other candidates are. I’ll let you know if I find out. I’d have to think Oklahoma-Kansas State, Wisconsin-Ohio State, Michigan State-Nebraska and Stanford-USC would be four other possibilities. Maybe Illinois-Penn State. Penn is at Brown that Saturday, too. Could have big Ivy League title implications.)
7. Groh said that inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy was “fairly decent” in his two games starting in Drummond’s place, noting that Nealy usually plays on the weak side and played on the strong side in Drummond’s place. Nealy led Tech in tackles Saturday with 10.
The move was “a little bit of a transition, but I think he and I both see more in his future than what we’re seeing right now,” Groh said.
(I’ll be interested to see how much of a difference Drummond can make plugging gaps Saturday. I think Nealy has a speed advantage, but Drummond is obviously bigger.)
8. About 5,000 tickets remain for the Virginia Tech game. The other two remaining home games – Clemson and Georgia – have sold out. … Johnson, asked for a response to critical comments from Nick Cellini on the 790 the Zone “Mayhem in the A.M.” show on Monday: “Who is he?” … Tech’s fall break is Monday and Tuesday, giving players a short reprieve from classes.
(Remaining sales for the Virginia Tech game will be affected considerably by the next two. Thursday night games are a tougher sell, and there isn’t much boost from Hokies fans, as not as many will travel for a mid-week game.)
Thanks for reading. Not sure what I’ll have up Tuesday morning, but hopefully interesting.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog