From my colleague Doug Roberson:
Cornerback Rod Sweeting said there’s Georgia Tech’s secondary pre-Miami and there’s Georgia Tech’s secondary post-Miami.
What happened in between has been forgotten. But it’s necessary to recap before this week’s game against Middle Tennessee State, which also likes to throw the ball.
The Yellow Jackets gave up 436 passing yards, starting with a 65-yard touchdown pass on the Hurricanes’ third play. The score was the result of a mis-read assignment, one of the factors that has contributed to the uneven play of the experienced and athletic secondary this year. They have also been hurt by injuries to safety Fred Holton and cornerback Louis Young, who was also suspended for the season opener. And the lack of a consistent pass rush has amped up the pressure on the secondary to cover for as long as necessary.
Their play will be scrutinized the rest of the season with games against prolific passing teams Clemson, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia remaining.
“On Monday we came in and watched the film and saw the mistakes and things we could have done better … that’s when it left us,” Sweeting said.
Before Miami, the Yellow Jackets had one of the ACC’s best pass defenses, giving up an average of 175.7 yards per game. After Miami, the Yellow Jackets’ pass defense has sunk to the lowest in the conference, allowing 240.8 yards per game, with the second-most touchdowns allowed, seven. Assuming the Yellow Jackets make a bowl game, they are on pace to give up as many touchdown passes (23) as they allowed last year, despite starting a secondary with more than 100 games of experience coming into the season.
Coach Paul Johnson said the secondary has been O.K., which is about as much praise as he gives to anything.
But there are lots of things to clean up, including inconsistencies in fundamentals, assignment recognition and missed tackles.
The Hurricanes stacked the wide receivers on their first touchdown play. One cornerback mis-read his assignment. By the time the safety realized the error, the receiver was down the field.
On another play, the cornerback missed the jam at the line, which allowed the receiver to find a spot in the two-deep zone where the quarterback hit him to sustain momentum. Secondary coach Charles Kelly said they should be able to re-route a receiver with a proper jam.
“There are four or five plays in a game that will affect the outcome of the game,” Kelly said. “You don’t know when those plays will happen. That’s why you have to eliminate the mistakes.”
Lastly, the secondary is missing tackles. Kelly said on Wednesday he couldn’t remember exactly how many yards Hurricanes receivers had after the catch, but “it was a lot.”
The secondary will get a chance to correct its errors against the Blue Raiders, who average 226 passing yards a game. Defensive coordinator Al Groh said Middle Tennessee’s passing game is different than Miami’s in that the Blue Raiders tend toward short passes and like to go sideline to sideline, while the Hurricanes liked to go deep.
It will be a different challenge, but Sweeting said the team is ready. He has already forgotten about the Miami game, and asked Tech’s fans to stay positive.
“We have a lot of games left,” he said. “Don’t use that one game to say the secondary’s bad. Just stick and hang with us.”
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Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog