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

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:16 pm

If we are gonna throw it 60 times, why not keep Johnson and run the same offense. You’ll be criticizing the next guy because we don’t run the ball enough. I guess that’s what’s fun about being a critic – you never have to make any decisions.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:18 pm

This team is not the 1st college football team to “quit” in a game & it will not be the last. Hell, even the Falcons have done it & they are paid good $$ to play.

Buzz-ard

September 30th, 2012
9:19 pm

I agree, George Stein. And PJ’s processes are flawed. But what matters most is his results are unacceptable. I know his buy-out is high, but if GT keeps him the program is perpetuating the pathetic position that poor results on the football field are acceptable and expected because GT has tougher admission standards. Time to embrace high standards and make your coach accountable to those standards.

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:20 pm

Is the point of Paul Johnson’s scheme to put up gaudy stats and prove his offense works? Shouldn’t the plan be to win football games for Georgia Tech? Are we as fans letting the success of the first point distract us from the pretty dismal failure of the second? Moral victories don’t count, pretty stats don’t go in the “Win” column, and “I’m smarter than you” only works when you back it up with results.

USMC Dawg

September 30th, 2012
9:22 pm

I hope Tech can find a way to win, but you know Dabo Swinney will be out for revenge.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:23 pm

I need to understand what processes are flawed. Convince me I’m wrong.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:24 pm

Further, offer alternatives and why that person would be more successful. Complete the thought.

Beat klimpsun

September 30th, 2012
9:25 pm

Issues are much more than just poor tackling. we just got manhandled up front. and could not get off a block for anything. That double stack receiver set was brilliant in getting us to de-commit the extra guys to run support in the middle. Did they ever line up with a tight end? once they got the linebackers to cheat outside to cover the slots or that 2nd receiver, we were toast. Face it, we’re just not that strong. I’m wondering if the weight room has been off limits for the last few weeks.

BIrmingham Jacket

September 30th, 2012
9:29 pm

Everyone on here knows I’m as pessimistic about our program as anyone…

But that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a really close game Saturday against Clemson; possibly an upset.

Folks:

1) Their coach, while excellent recruiter, is a dummy when it comes to X’s and O’s compared to Johnson (although probably not Al Groh).

2) We had 2 or 3 starters on D, out for Saturday, against MTSU, that will be back this Sat.

3) Went to game. No fans showed up. And the abysmal energy level transferred to the 18-21 year old players.

Not saying we will win. But do agree with the experts in Vegas who predict a +/- 10 point game.

It will be close. And if Vad Lee plays more than TW, we might win.

PLAYMAKER

September 30th, 2012
9:34 pm

Hire Lance Thompson and Giff Smith a dual D. COOR. and Rec. Coor. then CPJ problems will befixed

BIrmingham Jacket

September 30th, 2012
9:38 pm

@ PLAYMAKER

Giff Smith would be huge.

Any chance Tenuta would come back? He could do “a lot” with “a little” most of the time.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:40 pm

I’d love to have Tenutaback, Birmingham. His defense with Johnson’s offense would be good. Still need a young guy who would recruit like a madman, though. I wish I knew who that guy was.

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:41 pm

george: If you had an employee making a salary that was that large a percentage of your company’s budget, and he was performing as poorly relative to stated expectations (yours and his), would you not think that you should be free to openly discuss his shortcomings vis a vie the “bottom line” results? And further, if results were poor but also getting worse over time, would you not think that there was some cause for concern? I mean, the emperors clothes are off and it is not a pretty sight! You can choose to keep your head in the sand and blame everyone and everything except CPJ…I mean after all we are among the best at making excuses…but don’t we deserve better than this?

Jacket Deflation Nation

September 30th, 2012
9:41 pm

Georgia Tech can’t just “regroup” after getting slaughtered by a high school football team. This team they played got beat my McNeese State! Now we can only try to salvage what is left of the season and set new goals like not losing by as much as this weekend and having enough offense to beat Duke. A bowl game is out of the question. Now the Jackets must survive and hope not to embarrass the fan base by having a defense that couldn’t compete against Georgia State; who played Tennessee better than Tech played Middle Tennessee State. Groh rhymes with Go for a reason. Tech has to throw much more often then they can try running the B back up the middle. As for the defense? They would be better off to bring a roll up mattresses on to the field to lounge on. At least then there might a chance the ball carrier would trip over them.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:42 pm

I have what I consider a valid question. NCAA Article 11 states how many coaches & what type a college may have on staff for football. GT/CPJ has the latitude to add more coaches. Is it CPJ’s decision or GT’s to not maximize the staff. We could have 1 HC, 9 assistants, 2 graduate assistants & a S&C coach. Can GT not afford to have more coaches on staff or does CPJ just not want them because he has always done it this way? http://www.annarbor.com/sports/um-football/how-many-college-football-coaches/#.UGjy7K5F8Sk

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:45 pm

Not if he was hamstrung by the organization, billybob. If he couldn’t get the sales people he wanted or needed (or both) of something to that effect, then no, I wouldn’t blame him. I would blame the organization for allocating resources to one person and not giving him the tools to be successful.

I have offered no opinion on Johnson tonight. I have asked those calling for a scalp to show they’ve put some thought into it.

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:46 pm

I feel so sorry for Ken Sugiura, having to put on a happy face and write upbeat and positive articles about the Jackets after the last two weeks, when the whole time he is throwing up in his mouth. How can you go in to those press conference with smug CPJ after a game like this and not want to throw a shoe at him when he starts spouting the same old stuff

Biff Pocoroba

September 30th, 2012
9:47 pm

You don’t want DRad trying to hire a new football coach now. He couldn’t even afford to bring in the coach from Richmond for basketball after having to pay Hewitt millions to go away. We couldn’t afford to keep Bryan Shelton this summer for tennis when he is the only coach in school history to win a NCAA championship. If we have to pay a large buyout for Johnson right now, the only hope would be to bring in the coach from Buford or some other local high school for a few years. For now, just be happy with 7-8 wins and ecstatic with the rare nine win seasons. This offense won’t work against teams with a good defense and time to prepare, so that will cost us 3 or 4 games a year. The best thing you can do is get Netflix and a parking pass for Stone Mountain and the state parks and just get out on Saturdays and don’t watch for the next five years and you will feel a lot better.

Buzz-ard

September 30th, 2012
9:49 pm

George Stein, in what way(s) is PJ hamstrung?

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:50 pm

1 HC..1 QB coach..1 receiver coach..1 OL coach..1 DL coach..1 LB coach..1 DB coach..1 ST coach..2 Grad Ass’t..1 S&C coach….still 2 short of the NCAA maximum limit.

BIrmingham Jacket

September 30th, 2012
9:51 pm

@ Jacket Deflation Nation

I hear you.

But I don’t think it’s a sinking ship, just yet.

1) The offense is scoring enough points to win, now.

2) The production will improve when Vad Lee takes over at QB. And he will.

3) The 34 defense is as appropriate to our talent, as Phil Mickleson playing golf right handed.

4) Groh will be gone after or before this season.

5) If we can get a recruiter like Giff Smith in here, and another Tenuta at DC, we will win 8-10 games/yr. easily.

“NO TEAM IS EVER AS BAD OR AS GOOD AS YOU THINK THEY ARE.”

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:52 pm

George: he knew the drill when he got here, and we and he both said what our goals and expectations were. He is the head coach, it is up to him to solve whatever problems are causing the poor results, and overcome whatever obstacles are preventing success. HEAD COACH means a lot more than X’s and O’s. It means recruiting, it means hiring good staff, it means schmoozing fat cat donors and corporate sponsors, and it means having the political savvy to get the AD to give you what you need to succeed. If he cant manage the rest of that, and only wants to do the on-field coaching, then he needs to be the OC and get somebody else to be HC.

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
9:52 pm

throw a shoe at him….now that right there is funny, I don’t care who you are.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:54 pm

He has a smaller stadium with a bunch of fans that don’t care and they wonder why we aren’t successful. He competes in recruiting with Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and more and he can’t offer them the breadth of majors they can and requires more than the NCAA minimum for admission.

Those are facts. They don’t explain the atrocious tackling and the like, but they explain a little of why we aren’t where some want us to be.

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
9:55 pm

14 GT: If we cant have a little fun, what fun is it? If we take all this stuff too seriously we will all end up perched on a ledge somewhere sooner or later.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
9:55 pm

We gave him the contract, billybob? Was he supposed to turn it down?

CloudmanJacket

September 30th, 2012
9:57 pm

When will CPJ’s seat really heat up. It should’ve by now.

Donnie Davis - Arena Football League Legend

September 30th, 2012
9:59 pm

Even the teams coached by my head coach Bill Lewis performed better than yesterday…..Johnson has built a horrible football team by recruiting less than average players – there are maybe 4 players on the entire roster who will ever even sniff an NFL roster: 1) Attachou; 2) Uzzi; 3) Watts; 4) Orwin (practice squad).

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:00 pm

You paying the freight, Cloudman?

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
10:01 pm

George: At least he could TRY to look like he admits there is something wrong and that maybe, just maybe, HE needs to change something about his approach to get things turned in the right direction. I am so sick of this. The basketball program in the toilet, the baseball team with their annual flame-out in the post-season, and now the football team headed back into Bill Lewis territory…it is just really hard to be a Jacket sports fan these days.

Rodeo

September 30th, 2012
10:02 pm

PjJ appears to

1 4 GT

September 30th, 2012
10:02 pm

George….I love your analysis. What you say above certainly does hamstring recruiting efforts. And I have said the same about the big contract. Much like ARod. If my boss wanted to pay a 1/4 billion over 10 years, who am I to turn such largess down?

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
10:03 pm

Do we have a women’s equestrian team? Maybe they are good and I can become a fan. How about lacrosse…are we any good at that? Anybody have any suggestions for other sports I can follow, since the big three have been nothing but disappointments the past many years?

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:03 pm

What good does it do for him to fire Groh now? It’s September 30. He has who he has.

As for hoops, I buy tickets every year but hoops isn’t really my game. Baseball is notoriously random in small samples, so if you think there’s anything to read into failure in a weekend regional, I can’t help you.

Delbert D.

September 30th, 2012
10:04 pm

@billybob
“I feel so sorry for Ken Sugiura, having to put on a happy face and write upbeat and positive articles about the Jackets after the last two weeks, when the whole time he is throwing up in his mouth. ”

You are not aware that Ken is not a Tech fan, are you? Ken is a reporter, and his beat is the Tech beat. Ken digs for news, choosing not to report only the stuff that is put out by public relations. If you are looking for spin, you will be better served looking elsewhere.

CloudmanJacket

September 30th, 2012
10:04 pm

@ George; I have no idea what the financial commitment is to CPJ. Maybe they cannot fire him, but in my opinion he needs to go. He is a terrible head coach because he is an average OC, terrible recruiter, terrible at hiring assistants, etc. etc.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:05 pm

Thanks, 1 4 GT. I am frustrated, but we need to have a constructive discussion, not a bunch of complaining.

Taylor Bennett dressed as Tinkie Winkie at Halloween

September 30th, 2012
10:05 pm

This is year five of CPJ’s tenure….it is his program…..this train wreck of a season is all on him…do not blame Al Groh……all of these fans who loved CPJ’s abrasiveness when he was winning are now turning on him….the stands are empty…..4-8 is likely…..please make it end.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:06 pm

He is owed $12MM, Cloudman. If you want to pony up, that’s your business.

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
10:07 pm

As i said, we are the best at making excuses…thanks George for summing up our current list of favorites. So, why don’t we just drop out of the ACC and compete as a mid-major? Maybe we could get Vandy, Duke, and Wake to join us…

Coleman Rudolph was right.....Beau Bock is right.

September 30th, 2012
10:09 pm

When you stop playing pro-style offense then you stop getting pro-style football players to want to play for you. At least with Chan Gailey GT could count on 7-8 wins a season. It will take a minor miracle to make a bowl game this year.

Supersize that order, mutt

September 30th, 2012
10:10 pm

I think I am more embarrassed by the behavior (i.e., remarks on these blogs) by some so-called Tech fans, than I was by the team’s performance yesterday. Sure, there are things to criticize and that obviously need to be fixed, but the comments made on here by some of you are just plain offensive to me, and I am ashamed of you guys. George Stein, and 1 4 GT, and even Birmingham Jacket (whose comments I have not always liked or agreed with) are virtually the only posters on this blog to show any semblance of rational thought becoming a true Tech fan. Some of you are no better than the worst of the trolls who post incessantly on our blogs. In fact, since the game, even some of the generally offensive trolls have been showed more class than some of you guys have shown. I am sick of it.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:10 pm

Am I wrong here, billybob?

Supersize that order, mutt

September 30th, 2012
10:12 pm

“have shown more class”…..not “have been showed more class”

billyBobjacket

September 30th, 2012
10:12 pm

Delbert: He is not a fan, but he writes for a paper that depends upon the fans to read his stuff and hopefully some of the ads on the same page. If he crapped on the program as much as he probably wants to and by all rights should, he would not keep his job long. If this was a New York or Philly paper, he would have torn CPJ a great big new one this weekend after that @#$% on the Flats, but he had to bite his tongue and play nice. That’s all I am saying…it must be really hard not to just let loose on this train wreck, and the “engineer” steering it off the tracks while insisting that his way is the best way.

Bring Back the Scottish - Rite Thanksgiving Day J-V game

September 30th, 2012
10:14 pm

I expect losses to Clemson, North Carolina, and UGA. GT finishes 6-6 and goes to a bowl game….wins it to break the losing streak and builds some momentum for next year…….it won’t be easy though……there have been some bad GT defenses in recent years, but this may be the worst.

Play Vad Lee

September 30th, 2012
10:15 pm

why not at this point.

George Stein

September 30th, 2012
10:15 pm

He’s not a columnist, billybob.

Delbert D.

September 30th, 2012
10:16 pm

Air Raid? Not pro style. Kids love it. Shotgun read option? Kids love it, not pro style.

Supersize that order, mutt

September 30th, 2012
10:17 pm

@ Delbert…..I apologize for omitting your name from the short list of rational posters. Yours have been rational and informed also