Georgia Tech’s defense undone by poor tackling in loss to MTSU

Georgia Tech was overrun by Middle Tennessee in Saturday’s 49-28 defeat because the Yellow Jackets could neither tackle nor get off the field on third downs.

Both are trends that came to the front in last week’s 42-36 overtime loss to Miami, in which the Hurricanes converted 11 of their 16 third-down attempts and frequently broke tackles after receptions.

The Blue Raiders were almost as successful on third downs, picking up first downs on seven of their 11 attempts. They totaled 510 yards and seemingly broke as many tackles.

“That’s probably as bad a tackling game as I have ever seen,” coach Paul Johnson said.

Middle Tennessee didn’t do anything fancy on offense. The one time they tried it backfired. They used their sideline-to-sideline play-calling to spread Tech’s defense before burning it between the hashmarks with draws and slants, or going back outside for quick, highly accurate passes. The defense played the entire game without outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, arguably their best playmaker, and fellow outside linebacker Brandon Watts missed most of the first half with an injury. But the players weren’t using their absences as an excuse.

In the past two weeks, Tech’s defense has given up more than 1,100 yards. Defensive coordinator Al Groh, like all the assistant coaches for at least the past two years, was not made available to the media after the game. He coached from the box for the first time since Johnson hired him three years ago because they believed it might help quicken the play-calling. The players said that did help.

But there was so much left unanswered.

Groh’s players tried to explain what happened after Saturday’s loss, but often their answers ended with variations of “I don’t know what to say about that.”

“That’s a hard question to answer,” linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days said when asked what has happened to the defense in the past two weeks. “I’m really not sure.”

Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy estimated the Yellow Jackets missed at least 25 tackles in the first half.

No play exemplified the poor tackling like Benny Cunningham’s 23-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Blue Raiders a 28-21 lead. He broke two head-on tackles and ran through arm tackles.

“We have so many tackling drills in practice and emphasize it so much…the guys were just missing tackles,” Nealy said.

On some plays the Jackets couldn’t get close enough to make the tackle.

There was a 75-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that gave the Blue Raiders a 35-21 lead in which Marcus Henry caught a pass in the seam and outran everyone. Before that was a 60-yard touchdown run by Cunningham in which he ran right up the middle of the Jackets’ defense, practically untouched.

“We really haven’t tackled very well for two weeks now,” Johnson said. “It looks like we’re running in mud.”

– Doug Roberson, AJC.

74 comments Add your comment

Buddy Landel

September 29th, 2012
4:47 pm

Very sad performance indeed. Worse loss since Duke a few years ago. This is unacceptable. We deserve all the razzing that our rivals give us.

Buddy Landel

September 29th, 2012
4:48 pm

worst…now worse

Jacet Time

September 29th, 2012
4:49 pm

I guess we don’t have to worry about being disappointed anymore. Saw it last week before OT and now today: No fire, no desire, no heart, no love for the game.

Jacet Time

September 29th, 2012
4:50 pm

I don’t recall us losing to Duke in the last few years?

BuchoMungo

September 29th, 2012
4:59 pm

Very disappointing game Tech. You won’t win if you can’t tackle.

Eddie B

September 29th, 2012
5:00 pm

In the 60 years I have been following Tech, this ranks as one of the worst I have seen. Either we don’t have players who want to win or the coaches are not helping them to play their best.

Eddie B

September 29th, 2012
5:04 pm

We lost to Duke 42 – 17 in 2003.

Jacket Time

September 29th, 2012
5:05 pm

Thats what i thought. Lets not forget Kansas in 2010.

Buddy Landel

September 29th, 2012
5:05 pm

Jacet- more than a few. It wasn’t televised and I remember throwing and breaking my radio. It was 2003. We lost 41-17.

Buddy Landel

September 29th, 2012
5:07 pm

The three losses this year have been painful.

Eddie B

September 29th, 2012
5:09 pm

You are right. Each loss has been more painful than the previous one.

ncjacket

September 29th, 2012
5:13 pm

Embarrassed. Disappointed. Irritated. Never one to say negative things about student athletes. Coaches however are fair game. Team lacked focus. Looked unprepared the last two weeks. Now, who’s got heart? We’ll see.

Tech humbled by MTSU, 49-28 | Georgia Tech

September 29th, 2012
5:16 pm

[...] Georgia Tech undone by poor tackling in loss to MTSU [...]

Jacket Time

September 29th, 2012
5:21 pm

Buddy i thought you meant in the last 3 yrs. Yes they are very painful.

YellowJacket

September 29th, 2012
5:21 pm

It can’t possibly get any worse can it?

Jacket Time

September 29th, 2012
5:25 pm

Honestly though we act surprised when the preseason hype falls through. It seems like this happens all the time. Gotta have thick skin to be a GT fan i tell you what.

79

September 29th, 2012
5:27 pm

To be a Tech man is to know crushing disappointment…Eddie B writes that “this ranks as one of the worst” losses…..as bad as today was,son, it is not even in the top 10…..which is the whole point I make here…GT loses in ways that would have Job denying God……we have since 1975…Fire PJ and bring in….who?…..no one in their right mind would come to this Bermuda Triangle of big-time football…It is not even Oct and I am through with the Jackets for 2012….see you in Aug of ‘13..

ibidGT

September 29th, 2012
5:30 pm

This non stoppable offense of yours doesn’t seem to impressive coach. Scored only 7 in the second half. Only 14 against Miami.

The offense operates in high levels in small spurts, a quarter or two at most. The rest of the game they accomplish nothing.

Washington was absolutely atrocious this game. Horrible reads. 19 carries for 4 yards? SMH

Horribly under threw receivers, the interception he threw should have been an easy walk into the endzone touchdown if he didn’t throw the ball 30 yards short…

SMH

Dubious

September 29th, 2012
5:38 pm

MTSU, up 14 and trying to run out the clock in the last few minutes, ran the ball up the gut 5-6 straight times.They gouged Tech for 8-10 yards a carry. Scored to make it 49-28. There weren’t 2000 fans in the stands at the end, not that the stands were overflowing at the start.

billh

September 29th, 2012
5:40 pm

What struck me is that the loss didn’t look like bad luck, or a fluke. Middle Tennessee seemed to be at least as good of a team and probably better. Now that did surprise me.

Michael

September 29th, 2012
5:45 pm

Well, I hope this ends the support for Washington. Yes, the rest of the team stunk too, but Washington has been bad for two years. He is NOT an option QB. Too slow and mediocre. I thought I would have to wait until a good opponent, but he managed to stink against a former I-AA school even sooner.

Nothing fixable this year. Disappointing, but at least I saved my fall for other things. Last year was worse, being in the thick of things deep into October. The let down came before the leaves started turning…saving us all valuable time on Saturdays.

If do right, no can defense

September 29th, 2012
5:49 pm

@ibidGT: agree about the inconsistent play of the offense – i think this applies to the whole team this year: good in phases, awful otherwise. Washington didn’t make bad reads… his rushing stat line is terrible because he was sacked like 7 times in the game, 4 of which was the direct fault of poor protection by Kidney. As for passing, except that long bomb he underthrew, Washington was on the money… his receivers let him down with drops, or he got no protection at all. He made one gutsy play on 4th down where he leaped over 2 MTSU defenders to keep the drive alive.

Of course, no matter how much he puts into it, he’s not talented enough. I like him as a person and a leader, but he wasn’t built to play physical football.

Max Sizemore

September 29th, 2012
5:50 pm

The pressure is now directly on the administration. This kind of performance is totally unacceptable. The defense just laid down at the end. Pitiful.

TexGT

September 29th, 2012
5:52 pm

Agreed Michael. I am typically against weddings in the fall, but this year I have 3 which will be nice to distract me from this pathetic excuse for “football.”

OldSchool

September 29th, 2012
5:55 pm

Tech was outplayed, outhit, out hustled, outcoached, and out-gutted. A totally pathetic, embarrasing, inept performance. The middle of the Tech defense is soft and weak. #90 is a waste of space. He was pushed around like a big toy the entire game. By the 4th quarter, he—as well as several others—clearly quit. I isolated numerous players in the 4th quarter primarily, and these guys as a unit just quit. Half-hearted tackling and a totatlly visible lack of desire. Every player on this team and every coach should hang their heads in shame. Missing tackles and arm tackles is one thing, but half-hearted, uninspired play is totally unacceptable.

I have been a Georgia Tech fan for more than 50 years and I will be to the day I die, win or lose, but this coaching staff and many of thes players are worthless. If they play this way against Clemson they will get beat by 60 points. If they don’t show more inspired played they will not win another game and the Dawgs will whip them, like, well, a yard dog.

Radkovich needs to take notice and hold this entire staff, beginning with Paul Johnson, accountable!!! Tech will never year and year out be on par with their in-state rivals. I accept thatl, but the kind of play and effort I witnessed today was totally unacceptable and an embrassment to each and every person who calls Georgia Tech their school and their team!

Still a jacket

September 29th, 2012
5:58 pm

If we played them tomorrow the result would be the same. Physically we are overmatched almost any time we line up. We have to rely on the other guys to do stupid stuff and make mistakes. MTSU caught on to this and realized that they didn’t have to do anything fancy. Look for the rest of the schedule to catch on.

North Ave Killer Beez

September 29th, 2012
6:04 pm

Not even suprised :( smh, Pride runs deep. Our prior coach was to proud to make changes and he was ran out of town for it. Hopefully we can find a spread offensive coach. It would suit Vad Lee well.

I KNEW WE WERE IN FOR A LONG SEASON IF TW WAS THE STARTER. SO EASY TO EVALUATE THIS. HOW DOES A MAN MAKING MILLIONS NOT SEE HE IS DII AT BEST.

Jacket Dad

September 29th, 2012
6:09 pm

Poor tackling? Yeah, you could say that. I don’t know what the heck is going on, but there’s definitely way more trouble than has come out. These players have no emotion. No fire. No leaders. No clue.

That my friends, at least partially comes from the top. Johnson does not appear to inspire. He does not appear to be able to recruit. He does not seem to keep from throwing players under the bus. He definitely does not care about defense.

I’m disgusted. Being a Tech fan is the hardest thing in the world. I don’t expect us the NC, but do want a team who plays as a team, who has heart, who knows and plays with fundamentals.

Been There. . . Done That

September 29th, 2012
6:11 pm

Around the early part of the last decade, my then-fiancee noted Tech (after a loss to UGA — where she earned her Master’s) will never have a really good coach stay for long, because he will probably jump to a better/more prestigious job. As a faithful Tech alum, I stated ‘not true,’ and noted once we consistently won 8-9 games (at least), we attract bigger names, generate more years where we have 4-star recruits (or better!), etc. . . .

Now, after this season, last year’s bowl game, and the 14-12 record Johnson & company have compiled 2010-2011 (not to mention THIS disappointing campaign), and the lack of will, I SERIOUSLY wonder. What Va. Tech & Miami (especially this last group) did to close out better simply caused me to consider this a lack of top-tier talent, and/or maturity. . . for starters. Now, I don’t know what.

Who’s willing to bet Radakovic (sp?) meets FIRST THING with CPJ Monday AM, & requests (? some afforded respect for our coach with this word) immediate improvement, PLUS a more heartened effort IMMEDIATELY – on the defensive front most of all – or “reevaluation of the program” will take place at the end!!!!!!

Tech2Tech

September 29th, 2012
6:37 pm

Yes, I think this season is already a write-off. I think the root of the problem is the NCAA violations and the lack of any kind of accountability. I like Paul Johnson as a coach but recruiting to Tech and making sure the players meet requirements is going to be a challenge for any Tech coach. I think Tech needs to look into getting a good college football coach with experience in running a solid offense.

BTW, I think collectively all the bowl losses have been pretty embarrassing.

GT65

September 29th, 2012
6:37 pm

The blame rest on CPJ and his staff.

Bud Carson

September 29th, 2012
6:37 pm

Look at facts, Navy sucks too! After a couple of years people learn how to defend the option. We are in for a few bad years. This has been going bad now for 2 years now. After sitting ten rows back from bench, it is obvious our talent level is way down.

alex

September 29th, 2012
6:48 pm

At game, Not D1 talent, plain and simple:linebackers couldn’t start at Marist…(yes, the high school)

Froggy The Gremlin

September 29th, 2012
6:52 pm

Just plain quitting suggests to me that the players don’t like the coach for some reason.I have not seen this since the Curry days. They would see a chance to win & Curry would squander it every time. Makes me wonder about PJ. The players can’t be that bad without trying.

Jacketfan

September 29th, 2012
7:11 pm

28 points should be enough to win this game just as 36 should have been enough to beat Miami. I’m not saying the offense is earning straight “A”s but the common denominator in all the losses is the complete and total inability of our defense to stop the other team when its necessary. Couple that today with pitiful tackling and apparently just plain quitting by the defense. You can blame Washington all you want but he doesn’t play defense…but neither does anyone else wearing white and gold. But you can’t pin 49 MT points on TW.

TechLB

September 29th, 2012
7:16 pm

@OldSchool – right on.

Bud Carson, c’mon man, people don’t stop the offense look at all the yards and points. We just can’t stop anyone ourselves. AND we can’t go man-to-man and get that 4th and 1 when we need it…that’s a lack of talent.

#1 issue – recruiting #2 – Defense and a lack of talent- see #1

UGA = Yawn

September 29th, 2012
7:37 pm

No this was not more painful then last week’s Miami game which I was present. That was by far the worst in years. After that game, i gave up so could have cared less about this week. My question to you is why on Earth were you so invested in the game this week? Are you not bright. We stink. Stop going to the games. The only way to force change.

UGA = Yawn

September 29th, 2012
7:38 pm

Johnson is NO Curry. Curry was much better.

GT fan Alumni for 56 years

September 29th, 2012
7:40 pm

recruiting recruiting recruiting.
Who to blame:
CPJ, The Hill, Board of Regents.
Our limited curriculum is killing recruiting.

UGA = Yawn

September 29th, 2012
7:41 pm

Someone mentioned the NCAA violations. Maybe that is our way out. I think his contract goes through this year and 2 more years but because he brought violations onto the school – maybe we have an out in his contract that will relieve us of any monetary requirements?

TexasJack(et)

September 29th, 2012
7:43 pm

Been a GT fan since the sixties. So many low points since then with a few exceptions (for which I have been truly grateful). This current trend brings back memories of losses to Furman, 51-7 losses, Gailey mediocrity. The Miami game put me on life support for this season and today pulled the plug. Serious changes need to be made either on the sidelines or on The Hill. Coaching changes or admission changes. Or both.

north georgia fan

September 29th, 2012
7:43 pm

you can’t make plays or tackles while walking that was pitiful

GT fan Alumni for 56 years

September 29th, 2012
7:46 pm

Imagine Nick Saban as Tech’s coach. He could do no better at GT than CPJ with the recruiting handicap we have at GT.

GT fan Alumni for 56 years

September 29th, 2012
7:51 pm

Georgia Tech University. We are a University now. The GT web site says so.
Broaden curriculum now. Athletes identify with a University, not a scientific ‘Institute’.

btgt69

September 29th, 2012
7:53 pm

my beloved yeller jakits have no heart

BostonJacket

September 29th, 2012
8:22 pm

This was a complete disgrace, no question about it. But calling for us to water down our academics in the hopes of recruiting better athletes and winning more games? Sorry, I can’t get behind that. I’d like my degree to keep meaning something, thanks.

techfanforlife

September 29th, 2012
8:27 pm

It’s Tech everyone – they have always been this way -one or two good years followed by several bad ones. Why? I wish I knew – why can’t we get the same caliber players as VT, FSU, Clemson? Our academics can’t be that more difficult than VT so how do they get the players we can’t? Coaching – if you went to the game today you saw players who had given up before the game ever started coaching had nothing to do with it. Not the same team that played the first three games and up to the forth quarter against Miami.

CC

September 29th, 2012
9:07 pm

@ Jacket Dad said it — There’s more happening within the team than is being let known. This is a team that has already fallen apart in the locker room… and it’s simply showing on the field.

juvenal

September 29th, 2012
9:48 pm

tackling? i thought they were just patting them on the back for a good job….

BigDaddyC

September 30th, 2012
8:19 am

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