After debacle, Tech braces for Clemson

Georgia Tech has myriad problems to fix. It can do nothing about one of its biggest.

The Yellow Jackets are playing Clemson, absolutely the wrong opponent after giving up more than 1,100 yards of offense in the past two games.

First, the No. 15 Tigers can safely be assumed to be considerably more talented than Middle Tennessee State, which dealt Tech one of its worst losses in school history Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Second, Clemson will likely spend the week plotting its revenge.

“If we don’t get ready to play a little better and a little harder against Clemson, it’ll be embarrassing,” coach Paul Johnson said Saturday. “They’ve got a great football team. We’ve got a big challenge in front of us.”

Tech has taken five of the past six games against the Tigers, including a 31-17 upset last October that dashed Clemson’s national championship aspirations. Saturday’s game will be a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Clemson on ESPN.

“I don’t care who Georgia Tech has played, beaten or lost to,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday on his teleconference. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for their program, their coaching staff, the tradition of this game and all that stuff. You can just throw all that (overlooking Tech) stuff out the window.”

After permitting Virginia Tech and Miami to stage late fourth-quarter rallies to force overtime and then beat the Jackets, the Tech bubble may have popped. While Tech came within a couple plays of beating both teams, and came back from a 19-0 deficit against Miami to take a temporary 36-19 lead, the team that played Saturday had little energy or focus to give.

The Jackets were run out of their own stadium by a 49-28 score. They surrendered four turnovers and gave up 510 yards of offense to a team they had beaten by a combined 91-35 the past two seasons. This Tech team, with Johnson’s first recruiting classes having reached junior and senior status, has been expected to surpass the 2010 and 2011 teams.

The loss was possibly the most decisive home defeat to a lower-tier opponent in school history. While an FBS team, MTSU belongs to the Sun Belt Conference, a league with neither the resources nor pedigree of the ACC. The task for Johnson and his staff will be to excavate the rubble to find the team that led Virginia Tech and Miami going into the 59th minute of both games.

“I’m as disappointed as [the fans] are, I can promise you,” Johnson said. “I’m embarrassed, too. I’m going to do everything in my power to get it fixed and to get it right. That’s all I can do.”

Two defensive issues – poor tackling and being slow to the ball – could be exploited far worse by Clemson should they persist. The Tigers are ranked No. 16 in the country in total offense at 510.8 yards per game, 29 spots ahead of Middle Tennessee State (443.0 yards per game).

Clemson can attack the Jackets with playmaking wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington. Watkins missed the Tigers’ 45-31 win over Boston College with an abdominal virus. Sunday, Watkins was feeling a lot better and was having blood work done, Swinney said.

“This is a whole different deal,” Swinney said. “I haven’t seen the game, I don’t know what happened. I know in the game of football, crazy things happen from time to time. Sometimes, guys don’t play like they’re capable of.”

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

384 comments Add your comment

GT Fan

September 30th, 2012
7:37 pm

Ken,
This is all you’ve got for us?

I thought there would be something in here about Al Groh’s immediate resignation. What’s the haps, Cap?

McPants

September 30th, 2012
7:54 pm

GT Fan,

Stop complaining. Ken, you do an outstanding job. Keep up the good work, sir.

Go Jackets!

techfanplus

September 30th, 2012
7:55 pm

Ken, All this is old news. Why bother if you don’t have something new.

Chaps

September 30th, 2012
7:57 pm

Not Kin’s fault that Groh is still here.

Ken Sugiura

September 30th, 2012
8:03 pm

thanks for the input.

gt40pinhd

September 30th, 2012
8:11 pm

i hope the problem with mtsu was that we were looking ahead to clemson……

gt40pinhd

September 30th, 2012
8:13 pm

if we don’t overcome the poor tackling that has plagued us, saturday is going to be ugly, really ugly ( like that damn dog uga has).

71TechEE

September 30th, 2012
8:13 pm

Ken can only report what is going on, he can’t change it. And he does an excellent job of reporting. You guys need to call or e-mail the AD and/or the Coach. They are the news makers.

Buford T. Pusser

September 30th, 2012
8:13 pm

Ken,

Thanks for the great coverage you provide. That being said, I have been a season ticket holder for over thirty years and the ride home Saturday may have been the toughest in that entire span. Not because it was a loss, but because of the way they lost.

The defense is horrible and the team was totally uninspired. No emotion, no killer instinct, no flying to the ball on either side, etc. I still support CPJ but the Al Groh experiment has run its course. Fire him and pay whatever it takes to hire a top-tier DC.

Although I was not one of them, I heard the boo-birds in the stands Saturday for the defense. One of the few times I have witnessed that in almost 40 years of watching games on The Flats. If DCAG stays, the attendance will continue to decline, and it was pretty sad Saturday. Clemson may hang a full 100 on us (apologies to Steve Spurrier) if we have the same uninspired defensive effort this Saturday.

No problem with the Tigers...

September 30th, 2012
8:14 pm

…we have their number, just like Miami has Tech’s – four out of the last five ain’t just “lucky”, though the score will be something like 49-45…

Bobby Rodriguez - #3

September 30th, 2012
8:14 pm

Ken does a good job with the program and coach he has to work with…..he is not a ‘homer’ but shows some restraint…….GT could pull the upset against Clemson again…..it should be closer than expected…..GT will probably be 5-7 this season.

Dewnsav

September 30th, 2012
8:15 pm

Tech fans…you never know…you might “shock the world” Saturday…stranger things have happened…go dogs

No problem with the Tigers...

September 30th, 2012
8:16 pm

…four out of five when Dabo and CPJ were coaching…

USMC Dawg

September 30th, 2012
8:22 pm

I was expecting Tech to trounce MTSU after the disappointing loss to Miami. CPJ usually takes it out on the next opponent after a tough loss. HOWEVER, it will be interesting to see if the players get up for this game and don’t quit on CPJ.
I suspect CPJ will dig deep this week and RUN it down Clempson’s throat Saturday.
Hope Tech wins!

GO DAWGS!

Delbert D.

September 30th, 2012
8:23 pm

Clemson under Swinney has shown that they are eminently capable of losing, no matter what the circumstances. I would not be stunned if Tech beats them. I likewise would not be surprised if the Jackets tank, given the inability of the coaching staff to lead and inspire this team.

lindseysnot

September 30th, 2012
8:24 pm

@ no prob and Bobby…no, we’ll get the crap beat out of us again…we’ll hang 27-36 points on’em, cause their D is horrible too, but we’re not going to win that game…I say we lose 46 to 27 or 30…remember we have NO pass defense, w/Sammy Watkins being back, it’ll be a circus. I love my Jackets, but it is what it is.

StingerSplash

September 30th, 2012
8:24 pm

There’s not a lot Ken can do on a Sunday. Johnson doesn’t do a Sunday teleconference with reporters, like Richt, Spurrier and others do. So there’s not a lot of fresh quotes and fresh updates.
PJ has likely been watching film and looking at changes to make since 7 this morning at the office.

smitty

September 30th, 2012
8:26 pm

poor tackling in miami’s final drive in regulation which allowed them to tie the game was key……..poor tackling throughout the entire game with MTSU was pathetic……don’t see that getting fixed in time for the clemson game…….as others have said, this could be incredibly ugly and clemson’s D might have some shutdown capability with regards to tech’s option offense, making the possibility for a truly lopsided score likely……..watkins by himself can destroy GT……..but, as dabo himself said, stranger things have happened……..the way tech’s season has gone they could blow out clemson…..NOT

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
8:27 pm

We are gonna get killed by Clemson.

I’m stunned Ken didn’t terminate Groh, GT Fan, because that’s part of his job. Wait, what?

Buzz-ard

September 30th, 2012
8:27 pm

For a school that trains students to solve problems, design solutions and manage to results, GT sure has completely failed to deal with a dismal football program that has been completely mis-managed by an ineffective CEO (PJ). It will take GT 4 years to recover once they finally decide to fire PJ. May as well take your medicine now. Your players have quit on your coach and on your program. They have raised the white flag. Time for an all-inclusive coaching change.

BigTimeTECHFan

September 30th, 2012
8:28 pm

Tech will pull it out this week against Clemson. They will be fired up and put it to Clemson, but still will be close game like VT game

BigTimeTECHFan

September 30th, 2012
8:29 pm

Is Attaochu and L Young playing this week?

yeller bug

September 30th, 2012
8:32 pm

What we’re attacking the messenger now? Come on.

Thanks for the article Ken.

We were 2 plays from being 4-0. We were about 22 plays from being 5-0. OK, maybe 32.

We’ve got to play the rest of the games….nothing to play for but pride and perhaps a bowl game. Time to see if we man up. CPJ is our head coach, the players are our team and they need our support. Constructive criticism is fine, but incessant ranting and raving does not improve the situation.

Hal Nowell

September 30th, 2012
8:32 pm

If you read Ken’s coverage last night, you will find that when asked about the future of our DCAG, Coach Johnson responded that he “needed to watch the tape first”…I was sitting in the West Stands and don’t need to watch any “tape” of that game to know that serious changes are needed all around.

Techster

September 30th, 2012
8:33 pm

What’s the box score if we just go ahead and forfeit?

Delbert D.

September 30th, 2012
8:33 pm

Execution is the answer. Start with …

jacket backer

September 30th, 2012
8:34 pm

Groh needs to go now, no question. Promote an assistant and see if he can do better. The bigger issue to me seems to be the lack of effort and intensity the team displayed on Saturday. Have they quit on Johnson? If so, this will be one ugly game on Saturday and the rest of the season will be a joke. Might be time for DRad to start looking at some coaching resumes. Hope I’m wrong. It will be interesting to see the effort on Saturday. Go Jackets!

Delbert D.

September 30th, 2012
8:35 pm

Start with the calls on defense. Those guys have been playing confused.

Buzz-ard

September 30th, 2012
8:40 pm

Jacket Backer, the answer to your question is yes, they’ve quit on PJ. Until a change is made, your program will continue to hemorrhage losses, pride and ticket holders, not to mention revenue.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
8:42 pm

Managing to results without considering process is fundamentally stupid.

Dewnsav

September 30th, 2012
8:44 pm

if the fans quit can you blame the players for the same?? a fan is like character…a faux fan is there when you’re winning, a real fan is to be there when you’re not…go dogs

Hal Nowell

September 30th, 2012
8:47 pm

Ken, you do a fabulous job…love reading your thorough and informative updates. However, no need to be so diplomatic in reporting on Coach Groh’s banishment to the upstairs box on Saturday. What’s the inside story there? I may be totally off-base, but is there a rift among the coaches that is affecting the team’s focus?

Clyde

September 30th, 2012
8:48 pm

For Al Groh to sit in the box for the first time, they were obviously experimenting with something and it didn’t really go that well yesterday. It will be interesting to see if he’s in the box again this weekend.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
8:48 pm

He didn’t say that, Hal.

Biff Pocoroba

September 30th, 2012
8:49 pm

Groh will probably refuse to talk about the game just like he did last week. Johnson will probably wait until next week to fire him since they will have a week off and more time to prepare the defense with the interim coach. The call in show got pretty ugly last week with people telling Johson that Groh needed to go while Wes mocked them and hung up. This week will be a lot worse so they might stop taking calls like Chan did.

OldSchoolTechFanatic

September 30th, 2012
8:50 pm

The players deserve better than the coaching they have gotten.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
8:51 pm

Ideally, he wouldn’t have the option, Biff.

Craig Neal

September 30th, 2012
8:52 pm

Ken – I heard the attendance was not good Saturday but have not found a figure anywhere. Do you have it?

Techster

September 30th, 2012
8:52 pm

There could be a major difference for football players who quit on their coaches and their teams. It is called the “One Year Rule.” Football scholarships are given one year at a time, fellows, so if you don’t want to give each play, each game, each season your best effort, you may just not have that scholarship when next year rolls around. Every year, a coach has up to 85 scholarships to offer and he can give them to current players or brand new ones. The only scholarship limit is 85. A coach could clean house anytime he wants…

Russ

September 30th, 2012
8:54 pm

Keep PJ and AG!

Buzz-ard

September 30th, 2012
8:55 pm

Swapping out your DC is appling a band-aid to a gunshot wound. The patient is in shock, bleeding life and in immediate need of professional trauma treatment. No one wants to play for PJ.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
8:56 pm

Do you have any information not present in the media to support that, Buzz-ard?

Hal Nowell

September 30th, 2012
9:03 pm

George Stein, according to the AJC quoteboard:
“After the game, I’m just considering going and watching the tape.”
- Johnson on whether he’s considering any changes on the staff

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:05 pm

Correct. You misquoted him.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:07 pm

HEY yeller bug…..I’m still laughing @ your 22 plays..on, 32 post …..I’mm still laughing….THANKS….I needed that real bad….between you and the the Falcons pulled out their game, I am getting done pouting.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:08 pm

could only make barely coherent sentences for laughing and looking thru laughter tears

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:11 pm

Like I said elsewhere, good thing we have Tevin and Groh to blame so nothing sticks to teflon CPJ. How long can you ride one win over UGA, one tainted and revoked ACC championship, and a few wins over Clemson? (I mean, it’s Clemson after all…)

Craig Neal

September 30th, 2012
9:13 pm

Never mind about attendance…..I got it from the school’s athletic department site – Attendance: 39270……granted, everyone knew it would be low based on the opponent, a noon kickoff, and coming off the loss to Miami, but that is pitiful…..not what D-Rad had in mind when he hired CPJ to be a team that the Metro Atlanta area would be interested in……the next coach GT hires should run an offense which throws 60 times a game…..this is bad and could get a lot worse unless GT beats Boston College and BYU.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:15 pm

Johnson deserves plenty of blame, billybob; he hired Groh. I think the issue is that some people aren’t quite so reactionary and we also recognize that paying him $12MM not to coach Tech is probably not going to happen.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:15 pm

Techster….to the best of my knowledge, GT does not pull scholarships as long as you make your grades in class. If anyone knows different, I will stand corrected.