1. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson held two fingers inches apart.
“We’re about this close to being 4-0 and everybody ranting and raving,” Johnson said Monday. He then spread his arms wide. “But we’re also about this close because we haven’t done the little things to make it happen.”
Following the Yellow Jackets’ practice, Johnson shared his disappointment in his team’s performance in its 42-36 overtime loss to Miami on Saturday and accepted responsibility for the loss. Tech plays Middle Tennessee State Saturday.
“It’s like I told the team [Monday],” he said. “You get beat like that, it’s my fault. I’m ultimately responsible.”
After playing fairly well in the first three games, Johnson said he thought the defense’s giving up 609 yards to Miami was “an aberration” and called the fourth-quarter play more of a concern than any specific defensive shortcomings such as the pass rush or secondary play.
“And I’m also concerned that we didn’t score any points in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Addressing the possibility of fatigue playing a role in the team’s fourth-quarter failures in losses to Utah in the Sun Bowl and this season to Virginia Tech and Miami, Johnson brought up third downs as a contributing factor.
Saturday, Miami converted 11 of 16 third downs. In the second half, the Hurricanes were 8-for-11 overall and 6-for-7 when they needed seven yards or more. Last season, Tech was 83rd in the country in defensive third-down efficiency at 42.4 percent.
“If you can’t stop ’em on third down, your [butt] is going to be on the field for a lot longer,” he said.
As might be expected, the loss did not sit well with Johnson. After the game, he returned home and “replayed the game in my head 40 times” before falling asleep at 4:45 a.m. and getting up 30 minutes later to come to the office.
“You just want to punch somebody or go hang yourself or something,” he said.
2. Punter Sean Poole is out after suffering an injury making a tackle Saturday. Poole was in a sling with ice on his shoulder/collarbone area after the hit. He was replaced by Ryan Rodwell, a true freshman who was the first punter in Johnson’s tenure to come to Tech on scholarship . Rodwell became the third true freshman to play this season, following wide receiver Anthony Autry and defensive lineman Adam Gotsis.
Johnson said he expected cornerback Louis Young, who left the game with an upper-body injury, and guard Will Jackson, who didn’t finish the game after injuring his leg, to play Saturday. Johnson said that safety Fred Holton (foot) ran Monday and is improving, but he wasn’t sure about his availability for Saturday.
3. Wide receiver Jeremy Moore has been reinstated to the team after leaving for personal reasons last Tuesday. Johnson said Moore came to him Thursday and told him that he had made a mistake in leaving and wanted to come back. Johnson left it up to the team’s seniors, who accepted him. Moore practiced Thursday but did not dress for the game. He apologized to the team Monday.
“Young guys, they do rash things sometimes,” Johnson said.
4. Johnson said that there is not a “hard-and-fast rule” regarding the number of audibles that the quarterback can make at the line of scrimmage. Following the game Sunday, quarterback Tevin Washington said he is coached to only make one “check” at the line, which helped lead to a 4th-and-1 play in overtime resulting in no gain. Johnson accepted responsibility, saying that Washington may have misinterpreted being told to not get in “a checking contest.”
5. Defensive end Izaan Cross will wear the No. 40 jersey Saturday in honor of former linebacker and captain Julian Burnett, who suffered a career-ending neck injury in the Sun Bowl. Different seniors have worn it each game. … Tech will play its Oct. 6 game at Clemson at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Tech’s home game Saturday against Middle Tennessee State will be a noon kickoff and be televised on regional sports networks, including Fox Sports South in the Atlanta market.
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Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog