Groh, Bohannon on Utah matchup

Greetings-

One day till the Sun Bowl. The sun is beginning to rise over the remarkably flat city of El Paso. And onward we go. I’ve got a recap of the coordinators’ press conference, attended by Al Groh and Brian Bohannon for Georgia Tech. (To be clear: Brian Bohannon is not Tech’s offensive coordinator. He was sitting in for Paul Johnson as a representative of the offensive coaching staff.)

At the press conference, the Sun Bowl representative froze when presenting him and forgot his name, and Groh helped her out and showed her the name placard sitting in front of him. Then, when she came back to present Bohannon, Groh pointed at him and stage whispered his name into her ear. He was like Carrot Top up there. I’ve heard he has a sense of humor; it was good to see a little levity. I would have given a year off my life if he’d smashed a watermelon.

1. Groh gave some compliments to the practice set-up at nearby Burges High School and said players have done well at compartmentalizing the work at practice with the off-time bowl activities.

“Some bowls you go to, the players call them the Bus Bowl because you spend half the day riding to and from practice,” he said. “Here, the convenience is terrific”

2. Groh called Utah’s offense very physical and noted that some of the Utes players are 24 and 25 years old having served Mormon missions between high school and college, namely All-Pac-12 offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom (25) and center Tevita Stevens (24). Not a small difference between that and, Jeremiah Attaochu, who turns 19 in January.

“You get a lot of push with their offensive line,” he said.

Groh also complimented offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who is leaving Utah to take the head job at Hawaii.

“You can see there’s a real plan for how they want to play,” he said.

This will be the first time the two veteran coaches will have matched wits in a game, a subtext to note. In his remarks earlier, Chow likewise had similarly kind words for Groh.

“They’re just going to do their stuff against you, that real pro mentality,” Chow said. “They do a great job of that. They lost their right corner (Louis Young) and I would suppose the next guy is going to be just as good.”

3. Groh’s scouting report of Utah running back John White: “He’s a very slithery guy, quick with his cuts, hard to get a direct hit on him. Normally, yards after contact with running backs is associated with big backs, those backs who lower their shoulders, knock the defenders over, drag them for three, four more yards. This player is notable in that there’s a lot of yards after contact because the contact is very glancing because he is skittery. He changes direction well. There’s a lot of fall-forward or roll-off-tackle yardage with him, which will be a significant thing for us to be able to minimize.”

4. Groh said the defense has “made some progress” and basically said that he can only fairly judge players who have played a lot of games in both seasons, citing Julian Burnett as an example, and that it’s harder to evaluate players who’ve only played significant snaps for one year, even though the system has been in place for two years.

“But I still think it will take a few years to catch up until all the players that you put on the field have got two or three years’ worth of experience in it, so we’re not moving into that range now,” he said.

I’m not crazy about the answer. You could read it that he’s buying himself time. I will say, though, that Virginia’s defense made a sizable statistical jump in his third year, something I’ll write about another time. I think there’s validity to the answer.

5. Groh declined to answer a question about who the most improved players were on the defense, saying he didn’t want to leave someone out but said that the early bowl practices were useful as players practiced with purpose in skill development.

Groh followed that up by noting how a hypnotist entertained both teams and troops during a Wednesday visit to Fort Bliss. “If we can employ some of his skills, we probably could accelerate our progress at many positions,” he said.

6. Lastly, Groh said Michael Peterson will play the slot, or “star,” cornerback position in Louis Young’s place. He mentioned his philosophy of wanting younger players to learn and try to master one position rather than play multiple spots, but that because of a shortage of depth, Young had to play both cornerback and the star spot in the nickel defense.

He said that the position requires a lot of versatility and that Jemea Thomas would make a  good slot corner but he didn’t want to overload him and has just had him play cornerback.

I’m glad for Peterson, who will be playing his final game. He hasn’t received much playing time this season, so hopefully for his sake he can go out well.

Bohannon

1. Bohannon said that Utah’s players are tough and hard-nosed and play their scheme. He recalled leaving the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl, when Navy played Utah in Bohannon’s final game before coming to Tech with Johnson, and being struck with how tough Utah’s players were. Interesting that both Bohannon and Groh said much the same thing, offering their respect to Utah for understanding and sticking to its schemes. Particularly Tech’s offensive staff, which doesn’t deviate much at all, I wonder if they hold in a little higher esteem the defensive coordinators that do likewise in defending the spread option rather than throw something new every year.

2. Bohannon reiterated that the team wants to get the win Saturday, end the bowl streak and finish on a positive note. He said he talked to the quarterbacks the other day about how important that last impression of the season is, as it carries through winter workouts, spring practice and the summer.

“I think it’s the goal for our guys right now to finish strong and make that last impression the best one of the season,” he said.

3. Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei is the defensive player who has impressed him most on video. “You can pick out any game and you pull it out, he’s in the backfield. He’s a heckuva player. He’s a difference maker.”

4. This was from Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, on the extended prep time for Tech’s offense:

“It goes both ways. It gives them time to prepare against us and also come up with some new schemes that you can’t do in a regular week of week-to-week season, but, of course, being such a different style and different scheme, it’s huge for us. We’ve used every minute that we can to try to get ready for this.”

He added that the extra time was just as necessary to get the scout team ready to run the spread option in practice.

Links

Utah coverage in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, which includes a good read on how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham turned the season around after the Utes opened Pac-12 play with four losses in a row.

Bowl coverage from the El Paso Times, including a feature on quarterback Tevin Washington. I learned a couple things in it, including that his first love was basketball.

43 comments Add your comment

macrotech

December 30th, 2011
10:53 am

Greg

December 30th, 2011
10:55 am

Greg

December 30th, 2011
10:57 am

*Go…I’m a little worried about the utes nose tackle because good nt always give us a ton of problems on the offensive end

ahsoisee

December 30th, 2011
11:14 am

From about 66 years of experience in watching college football, you can generally expect to see the same results from your offense, defense, and special teams in bowl games as you saw in the regular season.

The reason for this comment is that it is foolish to think a team will be improved in a bowl game from the play of the team during the regular season.

The Old Man

Burdell. George P.

December 30th, 2011
11:51 am

Good info – thx Ken!
Happy New Years to all!

If Tech can stay out of third and long we have a good chance of winning. But, like the article points out, Utah players are tough as nails. Just ask Alabama. If we win, it will take the full 60 minutes.

BigTimeTechFan

December 30th, 2011
12:10 pm

I’m ready to watch Tech play, win or lose they are awesome

GIVE ME A BREAK

December 30th, 2011
12:18 pm

Did I see a picture of Washington praticing in the shotgun formation? Could be a fun game. ” GO JACKETS “

Coach Johnson

December 30th, 2011
12:30 pm

If we lose, boy am I going to yell at my players. We are elite, haven’t you been listening to me?

crackbaby

December 30th, 2011
12:32 pm

Happy for Michael Peterson – gets to start his last game @ Tech. Hope he makes some plays – kid’s got nothing to lose.

BTW – The FSU v. Notre Dame game was awful. Both those teams are woeful (on offense).

Go Jackets!

crackbaby

December 30th, 2011
12:35 pm

@ Old Man – What Tech fans hope for is the team to display the focus and effort shown in the Clemson game as opposed to the Miami, UGA or Va Tech games.

Surely you have paid enough attention in 66 years to understand that… jk

Born2Buzz

December 30th, 2011
12:47 pm

crackbaby, did you stay up to watch the Baylor/Wash game? The exact opposite of the FSU/ND game, all offense and no D. But it was pretty fun to watch. I hope CPJ watched as well. We need to be able to pass the ball to be competitive. Hope to see some shotgun and some variation on the O.

Will be watching and hoping for the best. Go Jackets!!!

Steve

December 30th, 2011
1:18 pm

BigTimeTechFan

December 30th, 2011
12:10 pm
I’m ready to watch Tech play, win or lose they are awesome

HA HA. “They are awesome?” They are really awesome against UGA and in bowl games huh?

Biggin'

December 30th, 2011
1:21 pm

I think its finally been proven at Ga Tech that it is not about the Xs and Os, but about the Sams and Joes……

5150 UOAD

December 30th, 2011
1:36 pm

Yes we will see some SHOTGUN in the bowl game.

@5150

December 30th, 2011
1:50 pm

Shotgun or not , still the same FBC talent executing the offense.

DesignerJacket

December 30th, 2011
1:52 pm

I’m beginning to doubt we’ll see shotgun. I know the Option can be run out of it, but it seems so much more likely that we’d go with a pistol or inverted wishbone before we’d go all the way to shotgun. Maybe more space for the handoff read makes sense when your lining your center up across from Star Lotulelei, but I would think it also risks losing yardage and bogging down our offense by taking plays where we get back to the LOS or even gain a yard or two and turning those into losses of three or more yards. Running the option out of the shotgun seems a lot like giving up on the dive play altogether in a way and selling out to the perimeter run game. Or maybe it’s just for passing. I dunno. Should be very interesting to watch if shotgun or pistol makes an appearance in the game. I’m kinda skeptical.

DesignerJacket

December 30th, 2011
1:58 pm

@ @5150 the offense is not where we lack talent. Our backs do quite well. We have some great QB recruits coming in. The O-line is improving annually as the bigger guys come off redshirts and gain playing time. The WR’s could maybe display better hands, but it’s not like we’re lacking talent at that position. On the other side of the ball, though, your comment might work if you wanna talk about our nose tackle and linebackers. Of course on the recruiting trail a nine win season and a bowl win could help to make us look a lot better than ending on a losing note. So here’s hoping we win and get the kind of performance that opens your eyes to our “FBC” (I assume you meant FCS) talent and what it can do.

gt4ever

December 30th, 2011
2:02 pm

How about just beating somebody, or win a bowl game….

GTBEE

December 30th, 2011
2:24 pm

Let’s hope the “Goon Squad” can wear down that big defensive line by the third quarter.

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 30th, 2011
2:26 pm

Last hurrah for 2011. Go Jackets!

ghost

December 30th, 2011
2:29 pm

Designer Jacket, I”ll wait and see on Qb prospects, Pj’s staff hasn’t shown the propensity to develop talent, Uzzi and Smith are the only players on the offense that would see playing time at another major program, the offense always looks great until they play a decent defense.

fan of shorter passes

December 30th, 2011
2:32 pm

Tried to watch some of many bowls…most are not intriguing enough to hold me.

I’m ready for Tech to win one for a change.

off subject….watched the Tech/Fordham game last night…is Rice (still) in the doghouse? He missed three shots—then benched?!?

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 30th, 2011
2:34 pm

I haven’t studied up on the Utes so I don’t know what to expect. But it seems to me that Tevins future may depend on this game. If he can’t reestablish himself as a serious QB with passing ability then he’ll have trouble winning the job in 2012. Even if he will be a senior.

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 30th, 2011
2:59 pm

Not to beat it more but I’d prefer at this point to see a new face emerge at qb next year to hopefully lead this team. Tevin is a nice kid, nothing against him, just didn’t see enough in big spots.

gt4ever

December 30th, 2011
3:10 pm

Tevin is ONE man out of twenty two on the field throughout the game…. He is not the reason we Suck…. The kid is a over achiever for sure…. He would ordinarily be playing against the ark states, Middle tenn St, and the Georgia Southerns of college football… We have a coach who thinks he can win with this type of talent… It’s the Coach who is the problem. Period.

GTKurt80

December 30th, 2011
3:18 pm

We’re worried about their big defensive line, particularly NT. But how are they on the outside, we run the option more. Orwin and Roddy are fast and our receivers can block very well, this may be our advantage area.

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 30th, 2011
3:45 pm

@ GT4ever, yes there are 22 on a team but the qb spot normally inspires the rest. We are doing ok with recruiting just need some leadership to step up.

gt4ever

December 30th, 2011
3:50 pm

I hope your right Gr8, but I just don’t see it… I am going to try and be more positive, I just can’t stand this offense… :)

Jorge O'leary

December 30th, 2011
4:43 pm

Utah smashes Tech by 14 or more. They’ve had a rugged schedule, and aren’t a finesse team like tech. Tech is showing that their team is made up of kids that are nominal division 1 a recruits. In fact teams like UCF and Middle Tennessee State are fighting for Techs recruits…

Go Jacket

December 30th, 2011
4:47 pm

The watermelon smashing is Gallagher, not Carrot Top… just sayin’

GT Man

December 30th, 2011
5:25 pm

Would have loved to seen Grohs defensive scheme against Baylor or Washington last night—bet he’d finally got fired after those offenses.

GT Man

December 30th, 2011
5:27 pm

gt4ever, I highly agree with you, our coach is perfect for the Navy and Ga southern, he will beat the MTSU’s and Wake Forests but forget the Miami’s, VPI’s or Georgia.

GT40years

December 30th, 2011
6:15 pm

After seeing Tech sports for over 40 years, it’s an Engineering school that has difficult standards and degrees to meet. Honestly, there are some awesome kids playing on every Tech team, but Tech is limited in finding the “blue gums” that other Division 1 schools utilize regularly. Johnson does a great job with a unique offense scheme that fits a unique school. The guy is a solid coach and does an awesome job with the talent that the school requirements allow him to work with. Wake up folks and keep it in perspective.

Wow, just wow

December 30th, 2011
7:51 pm

GT40 years… thats where you had to go? Can you get through the day without a N bomb or complimenting Sarah Palin’s intellectual capability? jeeze. its 2012, and by the way Tech was one of the early adopters of integrated football in the south was it not?

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 30th, 2011
9:48 pm

Wow, I thought he meant blue chip as I never heard that derogatory term before. If it was, then shame on 40 years. But Wow I’m sure your mother told you 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I don’t see that Sarah Palin fits into the discussion, whether you like her or not.

Got it!

December 30th, 2011
11:10 pm

40 years you are a racist! I can’t believe you typed that! Nothing else to say but keep your opinions to yourself. Go Yellow Jackets!

BTW…I have “blue gums” you racist idiot!

bob in nc

December 31st, 2011
10:19 am

Tech has a lot to be proud of, including the rigorous academics. We should be more encouraging of our players and coaches. A lot of negativity is unhelpful. I think that is what 40 yrs is trying to say. If Tech fans want a truly great program they need to show up for the games and fill the stadium. Not to take away from those who are going, but how many empty seats are there anyway at our home games? Don’t always blame the coach or players.

St Simon

December 31st, 2011
6:06 pm

Congrats Utes, gtu was just trying to protect their bowl streak, Now let’s go fry some fish.

Crazy Robert

December 31st, 2011
8:52 pm

It is time to purge the whole TECH athletic department!

GATech66

December 31st, 2011
9:03 pm

did any of you expect a different result?

Sick of It

December 31st, 2011
11:40 pm

the truth, I am tired of losing and I am tired of that old man Al Groh..Fire Groh or Fire yourself CPJ, sick of losing

GEEZ

December 31st, 2011
11:42 pm

GEEZ

December 31st, 2011
11:42 pm

I AM SICK OF LOSING AND SICK OF AL GROH..PLEASE FIRE THAT OLD MAN NOW, i am sick of losing…good riddance