Johnson on special-teams hire

Greetings-

Have some notes from interviews from Wednesday’s practice with coach Paul Johnson, defensive line coach Andy McCollum, punter Sean Poole and defensive end Izaan Cross.

1. Johnson spoke about his decision to break with his philosophy to not have a special-teams coach. He said he began to consider it “maybe midway or three quarters” through the season. (His memory might be a little fuzzy. His enthusiastic defense of his philosophy was after the Miami game, the eighth game of the season. Regardless…)

Johnson: “It wasn’t a situation where I was going to let somebody go to do that, but as the situation (with former co-offensive line coach Todd Spencer resigning) unfolded, we had a chance to do it, and we had a chance at a position to do it,” he said. “I talked to some people who had done it. They said, ‘Hey, I think you’ll like it. Try it.’ There’s very few people that do it. There’s only five or six in the country. It’s new for me, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully, it’ll be productive.”

I’m not convinced that the way it had been done was the wrong way, per se, as there’s more than one way to do most things. Plenty of schools with good special teams go about it the way Tech had been doing it. Regardless, give Johnson credit for being willing to try a new approach. Ultimately, it’ll come down to how good a special-teams coach David Walkosky is. Simply having a dedicated special-teams coach isn’t going to fix the problem.

I spoke with Walkosky for a good bit on Wednesday for a story for Sunday’s paper. I think you’ll be interested by what he had to say.

2. I’ll hopefully develop some of the information that McCollum shared with me later on for a story, but I’ll give some of it here. Obviously, the line has to replace end Jason Peters and tackle Logan Walls and find a way to become more productive. I’ve heard Johnson say more than once (probably because he’s been asked about the line more than once) that the line has to generate more of a pass rush on its own without blitz pressure. Not always easy to do with three linemen instead of four, but that’s the expectation.

So it’s a big spring for some younger players like ends Emmanuel Dieke and Euclid Cummings and tackles T.J. Barnes and Shawn Green. McCollum said that Dieke has “worked his butt off in the offseason and Euclid Cummings has really grown up. … Those two are athletic and have got a chance to really help this team.”

McCollum applauded Barnes’ offseason work and said that Green is working himself into shape. Of Barnes, McCollum said that “T.J. did a lot of good things for us a year ago, had some games he really stood out in, especially the Clemson game. But he’s got to do it every game now. It’s time to become more consistent. It’s time to be able to play longer and he’s got to take it by the throat.”

3. Cross said that he and the other linemen feel that burden to produce. He sounded a little embarrassed and motivated by the small number of sacks that the line produced. (Six)

“You’ve got to do better,” he said. “That’s the constant reminder of us. … Collectively, we feel like we’ve got to come together, and we do feel like we’re going to be a lot better.”

This might be the unit that makes or breaks the Jackets this season.

4. Poole on having a special-teams coach: “Love it. He’s got a great attitude, bringing a new attitude to all aspects of special teams.”

Poole said Walkosky is with the specialists the entire practice, including a roughly 20-minute stretch with strength and conditioning coach Neal Peduzzi. Monday, they were doing bear crawls up the hill at the practice field, which, if you haven’t seen it, is just about at a 45-degree angle. Poole said he likes that practices have more structure.

“He definitely knows his stuff, coaches us up on from the little things to the main big things,” he said. “It’s hard to get into specific detail with it, but the nitty-gritty stuff, he knows what he’s talking about.”

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

268 comments Add your comment

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
11:07 am

I’d be interested to hear from Groh how many sacks he expects from the line. I mean, six sounds low, but what did his line do at UVA? Did they produce 8 a year or 28 a year?

Also, until we show any propensity for consistently stopping the run, I’d expect the sacks to remain below average.

2nd

March 29th, 2012
11:15 am

i think that the blogg about 2 more uga arrests is more interesting. lmao

deuce coupe

March 29th, 2012
11:17 am

Groh
said he was going to do some ‘concentrated coaching’ .

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
11:28 am

Improved special teams play could pay off big time.

Ken Sugiura

March 29th, 2012
11:31 am

george stein – a good question, and one i’d planned on looking into. context!

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
11:34 am

Agreed, HighTech. They played a large role – but not necessarily exclusive role – in losses to Miami 2011, UGA, 2011, Air Force 2010, UGA 2010, VT 2010, and NC State 2010.

I can only think of the 2009 Clemson game where they really helped us win a game (Tarrant pooch punt return for a TD and the fake FG for a TD).

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
11:39 am

Thanks, Ken. Groh seems to typically provide some insightful answers. I’ll look forward to it.

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
11:50 am

While sacks are good, they are over rated. Pressure, getting in the QB’s face every time he drops back is far more effective. Ask the coaches. Think about it.

Jon Koncak

March 29th, 2012
11:50 am

Coach Fish Fry will always have a selective memory as of course he is never wrong. Now that he is actually putting some effort towards his atrocious special teams, what about focusing on getting a real defensive coordinator and installing a real offense?

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
11:53 am

CAG’s answers may be insightful, bht you have to weave thru the twists and turns they take to get at the nugget of wisdom hidden in his maze of verbiage. IMHO!

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
11:55 am

Can you cool it with the constant stream of negativity koncak??

FL Jacket

March 29th, 2012
11:57 am

Thanks Ken…

If T.J. Barnes could play anything close to the way he did against Clemson last year…look out! Having 6′6″ 340 control the 2-gaps in the middle frees up so many of our defensive weapons like Quay Nealy, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Fred Holton.

Speaking of…I’m really hoping Fred Holton takes over the SS position that Rashaad Reid had. He pretty much beat out Isaiah “flying shoulder” Johnson for the other FS spot last year. In fact, I hope our base secondary ends up being Sweeting and Lou Young at CB, Jemea Thomas at FS and Fred Holton at SS. I would suggest I Johnson for nickel back…but his cover skills aren’t that great either.

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
11:58 am

Troll hard, Jon.

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
11:58 am

Thanks for the good info Ken, We know the cupboard is kinda bare for football news. We’ll enjoy it while we have it and wait for the season to start come late August.

FL Jacket

March 29th, 2012
11:58 am

Jack Sikma > John Koncack

konchak= WnE

March 29th, 2012
12:00 pm

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
12:00 pm

Gotta go. Doctor appointment after lunch. Seeya later,

hey ken a bit off topic but...

March 29th, 2012
12:03 pm

how do we stand with Chris Obekpa. the center from up north we are still recruiting? we are listed as one of his top 4 favorites. spring bb signing period is a few week away,

http://georgiatech.scout.com/a.z?s=140&p=8&c=1&nid=5385951

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:04 pm

1 4 GT

March 29th, 2012
11:50 am
While sacks are good, they are over rated. Pressure, getting in the QB’s face every time he drops back is far more effective. Ask the coaches. Think about it.
——————————–
Sacks are overrated? Not to pick on you, but Craig James said the same thing. lol.

JM

March 29th, 2012
12:05 pm

hope the spring practice goes well. I’m looking forward to seeing more detail to the tidbits Ken offered us.

FL Jacket

March 29th, 2012
12:06 pm

If Koncak was truly WnE, this is what it would have looked like…

“Coach Fish Fry will always have a SELECTIVE memory as of course he is NEVER wrong. Now that he is actually putting SOME effort towards his atrocious SPECIAL teams, what about focusing on getting a REAL defensive coordinator and installing a real OFFENSE?

Yada yada BOOT LICKING TOADIE who worship at the alter of Coach Moobs McFish Fry. He clearly has no IDEA what it takes to win at the BCS LEVEL.”

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
12:08 pm

Not to steal HighTech’s thunder, but you’re forgetting ELITE RECRUITS, FLJ.

hey jon maybe we should

March 29th, 2012
12:09 pm

install the same D that alabama runs. ya think?

“What do Mark Richt and Paul Johnson have in common? At first glance, not much beyond their positions as college head football coaches in the same state with backgrounds on offense.

But Georgia’s dapper Richt, who loves a pro-style attack, and Georgia Tech’s rumpled Johnson, who carries a torch for the triple-option, found more common ground in the off-season on the other side of the ball.

They hired new defensive coordinators who have two things in common. Georgia’s Todd Grantham and Georgia Tech’s Al Groh both used to work for Nick Saban, and they both believe in the 3-4 defense.”

now about those fries Jon…..

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:13 pm

You beat me to it, George. lol.

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:18 pm

Good job, FL Jacket. A real OFFENSE instead of the triple SLOPtion. Coach Kung Fu Panda’s job is to Recruit ELITE ATHLETES and get them REaDy for the NFL. If only Coach Kung Fu McFishFry Panda Moobs knew the SECRET DESIRES of ELITE RECRUITS like Ol’ Wrexie, then the smug elitist Boot Licking Toadies could celebrate a MNC.

Ken Sugiura

March 29th, 2012
12:20 pm

1 4 GT – i see your point, but I’d say sacks are an indication of the amount of pressure being created in general.

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
12:25 pm

The random capitalization – and completely ignoring facts – is really the signature. Also, here’s a picture of a class ring I bought on eBay for eight bucks.

FL Jacket

March 29th, 2012
12:28 pm

Ken…

Jeremiah Attaochu was our sacks leader in 2011, IIRC. However, since scheming Defense is simply an exercise in limiting Space and Time, right? You’d like to reduce the opposition’s time to run the offense without sacrificing a disproportionate amount of space to do it.

Relying on Attaochu and Brandon Watts to provide your pass rush really means that we are simply back at John Tenuta 2.0…

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:30 pm

George Stein…I wonder if he calls that class ring “Precious”?

We hates them nasty toadies my precious. lol.

GTBob

March 29th, 2012
12:32 pm

I don’t think Jon Koncak is WnE. WnE at least puts some effort and a little creativity into his trolling. Koncak just repeats the basic talking points.

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
12:33 pm

I love the use of “precious.” It’s an excellent relative to “bless his heart.”

NorthAvenueRules

March 29th, 2012
12:35 pm

Let’s hope our teams produce some special teams results like this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7iImLtDFOc&feature=related

AGTFan53

March 29th, 2012
12:40 pm

I have a great idea. Why don’t we Tech fans rise above the trash and not gloat about other programs having players arrested. I know that our focusing on the sports instead of unfortunate situations won’t cause some of the fans of other programs to do the same, but it sure would make feel better about my fellow Tech fans.

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:43 pm

Good point, AGTFan53. That’s why I’m glad it hasn’t been mentioned in this blog until you brought it up.

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
12:47 pm

Agreed, AGTFan53. I tend to stay away from it because I don’t think it reflects on a program or a coach. Also, it’s a ticking time bomb for every program.

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:50 pm

Right, George. I use that from time to time when a dwag posts something really special.

I also like what GaTech Navy Nuke said about WnE…

“Wrecks is sad and twisted. Hate & jealousy have consumed him. Kind of reminds me of Gollum, except there is no evidence that Wrecks ever had anything worthwhile.”

Steve

March 29th, 2012
12:50 pm

The usual 7-5 season, coming up!

George Stein

March 29th, 2012
12:52 pm

That’s pretty good, HT.

Do we still get to play the games, Steve?

HighTech

March 29th, 2012
12:55 pm

I hope we still get to play the games. I still plan on going to them.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 29th, 2012
1:03 pm

Steve, since CPJ came to Tech, we have had BETTER THAN 7-5 seasons 3 out of the 4 years. So what’s this “usual 7-5 season” you are talking about?

Supersize that order, mutt

March 29th, 2012
1:07 pm

In fact, Steve, Tech has averaged 8.5 wins per year under Johnson. But don’t let facts get in your way; they never for any of the other dwags either.

East Cobb Hokie

March 29th, 2012
1:25 pm

Sounds like Coach’s option offense is adding other “options” on 4th down.

Hayseed Dixie

March 29th, 2012
1:35 pm

Ken,

With Burnett gone (which just absolutely sucks), who’s in line to be his replacement as the D-leader?

ahsoisee

March 29th, 2012
1:43 pm

I have said it many times and will say it again. The phrase “Suck it up” when a player is exhausted is the biggest excuse any defensive or offensive coach will ever utter. It is pure stupidity! There is no excuse for leaving a tired player in any game. A fresh 10th string player is more capable than any first string tired player can ever be.

Being in shape is one thing, but substitution will “ALWAYS” be more efficient than playing a tired 1st string player. Only idiiots would think better conditioning will help a tired player. All humans have different rates of heart beats and stamina. Some have more lasting power than others, but to expect a player to continue playing at his best when tired is stupid. The solution by a smart coach is nothing more than substitution for a tired player. Substitute freely and the team will do much, much, much, much, much, much, better. I would not have a coach on my team that did not substitute freely.

If you want Barnes or any other defensive lineman to perform more consistently, then substitute freely and let him play consistently according to his God-given stamina level. The more you try to make him exercise, the more tired he becomes and will not perform efficiently in games.

Rodney Kent

FL Jacket

March 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

ahoisee…

This is not very accurate. The year I trained for the Peachtree I legitimately ran the first 3.5 miles and alternated the rest. The year I didn’t train, I could only run the first 1.5 miles…and finished 20 minutes slower.

And besides. You can’t freely substitute when the offense is running no-huddle or immediately lining up and calling a play from a posterboard pitcture of a Camel (SERIOUSLY…what is on those things!)…

5150 UOAD

March 29th, 2012
2:09 pm

1.) I think Paul Johnson must have eaten Mary Jane Brownies and Underwear Hash Browns and decided we needed a Special teams Coach. LMAO

5150 UOAD

March 29th, 2012
2:16 pm

I think coach needs to make the D-Linemen Run/Jog to Classes and Run/Jog everywhere when they are on campus.

GTfan2012

March 29th, 2012
2:21 pm

You guys made me laugh with the WnE impressions. Well played. Now there is no reason for him to post here because you guys said exactly what he would’ve.

GTfan2012

March 29th, 2012
2:30 pm

ahsoisee,
You’ve obviously never trained for any type of long distance running. Physologically, your body becomes more efficient at taking in oxygen, absorbing that into your blood stream, and getting it to where it needs to go in the body. When I trained for my half marathon, I ran 13.1 miles at an under 11 minute/mile pace. I haven’t run in three months. Today, I probably couldn’t run that pace for more than a mile.

The problem with some of these guys isn’t the conditioning they receive during spring practice, but rather the LACK of conditioning they do on their own when they aren’t practicing (and because of NCAA rules the coaches aren’t allowed to REQUIRE workouts outside of specified practice times). After spring ball, they fall right back out of shape if they don’t keep up the cardio. Then in fall camp, they’ll spend the entire time before the start of the season just getting back into the shape they were in at the end of spring ball.

5150 UOAD

March 29th, 2012
2:32 pm

WnE…I am a Tech Grad! I am a football GOD! I know Everything TECH should Do. I have a Seat in the President’s Box. I tell him every game How I WOULD HAVE DONE IT TO SECURE A WIN. I can send you a link to a photo of my TECH RING. I just can’t seem to meet some of you guys before the games. i am just to busy coaching Paul Johnson and the boys up in the locker-room.