Tech defense ready for Cavaliers test

To Georgia Tech defensive end Izaan Cross, the horrors of the Yellow Jackets’ visit to Charlottesville, Va., a year ago have no bearing on what will unfold Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The way that the Tech defense was overpowered by the Cavaliers offensive line doesn’t register on Cross’ radar.

“We look at [Saturday] as another game, another opportunity for us to show what we have,” Cross said. “We’ve gotten better, we’ve watched film on them, seen what they do. This is a new season.”

The hope among Tech fans is that Cross has diagnosed his unit precisely. In its first two games, the Jackets defense has shown signs that it has turned a corner in its third season under defensive coordinator Al Groh’s direction. The test provided by Virginia should offer a much clearer answer on that matter.

“This’ll be, certainly, a big chapter towards that,” Groh said. “I don’t think it’ll be the final chapter, but it certainly has the possibilities of being a significant chapter in that direction.”

A year ago, Tech players and coaches posited that with a year of Groh’s coaching under their belt, they could play with more surety of his 3-4 scheme. The scoreboard often suggested otherwise, as the Jackets allowed an average of 26.1 points per game, 60th in FBS. In 2010, Groh’s first year, Tech opponents averaged 25.2 points per game. Last season, Tech’s final four opponents – Virginia Tech, Duke, Georgia and Utah – scored 30 or more.

Miscommunications, faulty pre-snap alignment and failure to execute assignments indicated Groh’s lessons hadn’t been completely absorbed. Players recruited by Groh were still developing and finding their way onto the field. Last October in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers crammed 272 rushing yards down Tech’s throat. It was the most allowed by Tech last season.

Virginia offensive linemen like offensive tackle Oday Aboushi got the better of Tech all afternoon on stretch plays and tosses. Leading by a field goal, Virginia held the ball for the game’s final 5:58 to upset Tech, then ranked 12th and undefeated at 6-0.

“That game was definitely a landmark for us,” Aboushi, a potential first-round draft pick, said this week.

Through two games this season, Tech does appear closer to matching Groh’s vision. The Jackets had the better of Virginia Tech for much of the opener before succumbing in two fourth-quarter drives. The Hokies’ 4.5 yards-per-play average on offense was lower than all but one of their games from 2011.

“It was a very confident group,” Hokies offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said Thursday of the Tech defense. “It was a group that played exceptionally well together and they were able to play at a high tempo. Sometimes, you think you’re playing so fast, you’re not taking care of the little things. They played fast and took care of the little things.”

The promotion of outside linebacker Brandon Watts into the starting lineup has sped up the defense. Starters like outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, cornerback Rod Sweeting, safety Isaiah Johnson and Cross are drawing on the knowledge of hundreds of game and practice snaps.

That said, Virginia Tech was replacing four offensive linemen, two wide receivers and a tailback. Perhaps the Jackets might have been expected to show well, and certainly so in its drubbing of Presbyterian College last Saturday. It brings the Jackets to game No. 3. Virginia has three of its offensive linemen back, including one of the best tackle pairs in the country, quarterback Michael Rocco and versatile running back Perry Jones.

The Cavaliers, however, delivered a stink bomb last Saturday in its escape over Penn State, turning the ball over four times and rushing 25 times for 32 yards.

“Last year, we came out physical and that’s what we’re going to have to do this year and impose our will,” Aboushi said. “It’s going to be a bigger challenge this year, being in their house. We’ll be up for it.”

One suspects that the players on the other side will be, as well.

“We remember them being pretty physical up front,” Tech defensive end Euclid Cummings said, “but this year we’re a year better, and I feel like we’ll be able to match that.”

In case you missed it…

Tech in white, Washington to wear No. 40

Notes: No extra prep for UVA defense

Notes: Gotsis fitting in at Tech

Notes: Washington works on evading pass rush

Paul Johnson news conference wrap-up

Johnson offers more insight on QB depth

Lee, Days remain ’situational’ on depth chart

Mark Bradley’s 3 points from Tech-Presbyterian

Tech gets 3 p.m. kickoff for Miami game

Will Tech be ready for Virginia’s power game?

Game story: Tech reforms Presbyterian

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

74 comments Add your comment

FL Jacket

September 14th, 2012
4:55 pm

HOO dey think they can beat them Jackets?

UGA fan

September 14th, 2012
5:13 pm

Tech has beaten a religion school and they’re all of a sudden back? Ha, that’s funny. They’ll lose to Virginia. Big time.

Supersize that order, mutt

September 14th, 2012
5:17 pm

@ UGA fan……put your money where your mouth is.

Lee R.

September 14th, 2012
5:19 pm

It’s one thing to talk trash UGA Fan, but it’s another thing when you talk trash and you’re just being irrational and ignorant about it completely.

UGA fan

September 14th, 2012
5:20 pm

We have, 10 out of the last 11 times.

Lee R.

September 14th, 2012
5:23 pm

You where talking about UVA, don’t bring up the georgia game until its around the corner, or better yet, take your idiotic comments to the UGA blog.

UGA fan

September 14th, 2012
5:24 pm

All I’m saying is it’s going to take more than a win over Presbyterian (or however you spell it) to convince me that GT has a good football team. When you come to Athens, it won’t be pretty.

Not Disappointed

September 14th, 2012
5:25 pm

Lets win Jackets!

UGA fan

September 14th, 2012
5:29 pm

I think we should remove Tech from our schedule forever because all they are is another cupcake victory for UGA. They have Reggie Ball part II at QB, and a tired defense. We should turn our backs on Tech and add another school. Tech isn’t good enough to smell our poop. RECRUIT BETTER Yech!

Todd Gurley

September 14th, 2012
5:33 pm

Tech has a defense?

Supersize that order, mutt

September 14th, 2012
5:34 pm

I think it’s a little presumptuous to say that the dwags are any good either, based on the three quarters of good football they have played thus far…..the second half against MIGHTY Buffalo, and the 4th quarter against a pretty weak Mizzou team. Come back when you beat somebody. Hell, come back when you actually play somebody. NEXT !!!

GT Lee

September 14th, 2012
5:36 pm

Troll hard, uga fan……..

Supersize that order, mutt

September 14th, 2012
5:37 pm

@ Lee……you need to scrounge up a ticket and come tomorrow.

Supersize that order, mutt

September 14th, 2012
5:38 pm

UGA fan has such a little mind. But I guess that goes along with his little……..(you can fill in the blank)

VA Cavs are no good, why does GT get sky high?

September 14th, 2012
6:04 pm

The VA Cadavers were hard pressed to handle hapless PN. State. PN State is awful. They will not be a worthy foe for maybe 3 or 5 years, if then.

No, the Cadavers game for GT is typical AJC/GT hoopla. GT ought to handle the Cadavers by a score of 32-20. Virginia is just not even a very decent small ball team. GT? In their small ball league, they can compete.

GT ………………enjoy the ACC. It is a good lil league and is easily the 4th or 5th best conference, behind the ALL POWERFUL SEC, then the Big 12, Pac 12 and Big 10, Mid American and ACC.

GT and Navy and Air Force, ( ND’s natural rivals) and Army, Wake, Maryland, Rice, Tulane, Vandy, Bowling Green, and Richmond and W. Ky and such are all about the same. GT of course was handled two years ago by Air Force.

GT has not been invited to two major bowls in a row, since the early to mid 1950s. This statement says it all. IF GT had a program, some MAJOR BOWL would have, after about 1955 or 56, invited GT to attend and then, the next year, another MAJOR bowl would have. NOT TWO invites in a row to a major bowl in almost 60 years. Wow

GT is a good lil small ball club that has their funky lil wishbone thing going on. THAT IS ALL GT has.

Destin Dawg

September 14th, 2012
6:40 pm

good luck go Jackets.. you’re from Ga. so I root for GT when not playing the Dawgs !!

CoolBreeze

September 14th, 2012
6:54 pm

UGA fan, you are two injuries away from being Ole Miss, just like everyone else. Just about everything you say sounds like a fourth grader mouthing off. You guys have a good team, and a good coach. Why not enjoy that, instead of coming on here and showing your little donkey. It just shows your concern for what GT might do….

BigTimeTECHFan

September 14th, 2012
7:00 pm

ALL POWERFUL SEC?

Must have missed:
Arkansas vs U La Monroe
Aurburn vs Clemson
Vandy vs Northwestern
Kentucky vs Lousiville

SEC is getting killed this year, they have dropped off the map.
SEC only has national champs because it’s so easy to go undefeated in conference. They knew OK St would have killed LSU last year so they let them play Alabama

ACC’s good teams can get beat because the whole conf is so good.

Jacket Time

September 14th, 2012
8:58 pm

Destin Dawg has class but the rest of you trolls are all trash. Keep hanging on to LSU’s and Alabama’s coat tails with your SEC hooplah. I don’t see you on their blogs… Wait no you have nothing to say there. Typical insecure playground bully. One punch in the nose and you’ll be gone come November.

Jacket Time

September 14th, 2012
9:01 pm

Oh and way to represent the SEC against Boise And Michigan State last year… Pathetic

SEC IS TOP HEAVY

September 14th, 2012
9:20 pm

You know the fat girl that hangs out with the pretty girls?

C’mon guys, you know what I’m talking about here.

That Fat Girl™ is the Pretty Girls’™ mascot. While her girlfriends date the QB, she just runs her mouth.

The pretty girls are Alabama and LSU. The Fat Girl is UGA.

GTGirl

September 14th, 2012
9:26 pm

Ken-Can you do a story and pic on the new Bobby Dodd statue? I’m told it looks great! Can’t wait to see it tomorrow.

Wal-Mart Retards

September 14th, 2012
9:59 pm

SEC – she not only fat, but fugly

Big Crimson 75

September 14th, 2012
10:14 pm

Y’all wanna know why I prefer the GT blogs over the other options??
Soak in the posts on this page!! Spot on ladies & gentlemen.
Although to be fair, let’s not forget the Gators contributions to SEC success.

I’m reminded of my pal GTbob, who recently asked me if its getting old carrying the bottom feeders/under-performers of the SEC — my response to Bob, we’ve been doing it for 60+ years…why stop now!

fuzzybee78

September 14th, 2012
10:27 pm

Big Crimson is walking the Dawgs on a short leash tonight–

GT70

September 14th, 2012
10:34 pm

The problem with responding to the trolls is you just get into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

Big Crimson 75

September 14th, 2012
10:41 pm

Here’s hoping P. Sims gets to play tomorrow & one of Groh’s troopers will drill him into next week.
With the stellar play from Rocco thus far, I like the chances!!

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

September 14th, 2012
10:54 pm

Darn filters, guess you can’t leave a single letter out of “Virginia” and get away with it.

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

September 14th, 2012
10:56 pm

Big C – what was P Sims history there at Bama? Was he highly recruited but had trouble cracking the lineup?

Big Crimson 75

September 14th, 2012
11:05 pm

Fuzz — that’s a bingo!!
It was truly “open” to start last year & McCarron played better. I thought Saban gave Sims too many chances early on.
Amazingly, he transfers after spring ball this year — his HS Coach mouths off that Sims never had a chance per McCarron was an Alabama “boy” & the NC2A didn’t make the guy sit out a year, which in itself is a crock.
When you transfer from one D1 school to another, you sit out a year!!

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

September 14th, 2012
11:21 pm

Big C – I’ll never figure out how the ncaa operates. Their rules seem pretty arbitrary – I guess rule no. 1 is whoever slips them buku bucks under the table gets to do what they want.

I still don’t understand why Miami hasn’t been slapped with anything yet. They’ll probably use their get out of jail free card. I know that Shapiro guy is very shady but is that reason enough for the ncaa to ignore all the evidence he handed over to them?

Ol'JacketFan

September 14th, 2012
11:48 pm

I just saw the photos of Coach Dodd’s statue on FTRS. It is wonderful! I know the photo that it is modeled on I just can’t remember where I’ve seen it ;-) Having that statue up is long overdue! Thx FL Jacket for posting it!

Jefferson Davis Hogg

September 15th, 2012
12:08 am

As a dawg fan, I am pulling for GT tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be great for both teams to have something to play for come November?. I still see Va Tech losing two and the bee’s running the table until they face UGA. @ Coolbreeze….Just a personal opinion here from someone who reads a lot of these blog’s but rarely responds, put a muzzle on GTBob, who constantly hangs out on UGA blog’s, and readily says to us that “if there was anything interesting to read over there on a GT blog I would be there”. He is a troll who constantly stirs up the kind of responces that those such as UGAfan and Dawgfan throw at you…..@ supersize at 5:34, good points. I don’t feel like Mizzu should be some sort of signiture victory for my Dawgs. If that’s the case we really have taken a step down. But time will tell for both our state squads…….Gitter dun!

eddie lee

September 15th, 2012
2:59 am

Here’s where Tech begins to be Tech!

blackandwhitestripes

September 15th, 2012
6:30 am

uga fan?????? who the heck has the mutts played so far? Lets talk about your schedule or lack of one.

If do right, no can defense

September 15th, 2012
6:57 am

The GTAA finally woke up and sent the free single-game student tickets link via e-mail to students this week. So there should be a lot more students in the South endzone today.

ToeMeetsLeather

September 15th, 2012
7:05 am

Time for the D to step up and show us what they have. Groh has loaded up on his style of linebackers that are flying all over the field. Tune in and watch these kids if you haven’t seen them play yet. Pretty talented group, with depth and a redshirt pipeline behind them.

CPJ won’t let off the gas today.

Ol'JacketFan

September 15th, 2012
8:04 am

@ Toe, I have always liked the idea of redshirting as many players as you can. Giving the chance to get used to college life, learn the schemes and physically mature can’t be anything but a positive. I know you have those great talents than can play at a high level as freshmen but I feel it a good way to develop your depth and talent level.

gt4ever

September 15th, 2012
9:08 am

Hope your right Toe…. Virginia is a very average team at best….. Go Jackets.

gt4ever

September 15th, 2012
9:24 am

Paul Johnson must be writing the filter software for this site… Can’t speak the truth about his offense…. lol

atlxman

September 15th, 2012
9:39 am

again, tech will most likely have their hands full again today. Va will most likely have the better and more talented players on both sides of the ball. only hope for tech is that va turns the ball over and they miss a ton of tackles. i think VA wins this game 28-21..tech simply doesnt have enough div 1a players on the roster to beat these other teams without playing a perfect game. also i agree with WNE…PJ lied to Lee about adding more pass plays so he would come there.

5150 UOAD

September 15th, 2012
9:43 am

I hope “The BLOKE by the COKE” plays and has a Good Game. Go #96
Here is to hoping when #40 runs the QB keeper today he looks like Eddie Lee.

5150 UOAD

September 15th, 2012
9:51 am

Vandy plays PC today. PC is getting Rich but beat up. Will be interesting to see what Vandy does to them and how many players get in the game like TECH did to PC.

DS CE'91

September 15th, 2012
9:58 am

Can’t wait to see what we have for the Cavs….

GO JACKETS!!!

Ol'JacketFan

September 15th, 2012
10:01 am

@ atlxman, you don’t know jack about what, it anything, CPJ “promised” Vad Lee. Troll hard my dog lover.

5150 UOAD

September 15th, 2012
10:09 am

If Obama gets reelected you might want to check this site. You can build a cheap home and live off the grid.

http://www.HomesteadingSurvivalism.com

I wonder if a Tech Architecture grad designed these homes.

JustinSyder

September 15th, 2012
10:41 am

LOL at atlxman. How on Earth would you know CPJ did and did not promise Vad. Did you tap his phone and overhear something? Vad is most likely gonna be starting for 3 years at QB. I’m sure he’s happy with where he’s at right now. Please, refrain from acting like a complete moron.

GT1990

September 15th, 2012
11:24 am

If TW can’t move the ball then it’s vad turn to take over this team. TW=Garbage(As Tech STARTING QB). He has has his turn to prove he is the guy and in my book and has not done enough to keep it. CPJ lets move on from TW and start getting Vad some experience for next season. It could be very good year for tech if this happens. Alot of guys coming back next year. If vad can get alot of reps this this year then look out for 2013 to show some promise about CPJ and his future other wise CPJ might be fired if GT gets their butt kicked in athens this year.

Jacket Time

September 15th, 2012
12:36 pm

GT90 TW is a solid QB who has the offense down. Vad’s time will come and it would be ridiculously dumb to drop CPJ with all the momentum he has building with future players. Patience son.

Jacket Time

September 15th, 2012
12:39 pm

Patience GT1990 Vad’s time will come and TW is a solid QB who leads and knows the offense. Btw the Chokies are doing a terrible job representing the ACC right now.