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

October 1st, 2012
1:00 pm

Lewis was the worst we could get, Ross was the best. PJ is closer to Ross than Lewis, or Curry, maybe around O’Leary. I think what O’Leary has done with Central Fla. is exceptional. PJ has room for improvement, O’Leary gave us all he had and had exceptional assistant coaches. JP is a loner. O’Leary is part of that crew now up at Penn State,he like Ross has some roots in the college football community. You read his roster of assistant coaching staff and you got a club of guys that have been together as friends for a while, he can trust them. PJ got screwed by Groh, didn’t see it coming. Who would?

DS CE'91

October 1st, 2012
1:05 pm

I’d like to see what Days can do if given a steady number of carries at A-Back as well. I worry about his fumbles, but we lost 3 last week anyway. I was very skeptical when it was announced that Days would go to A-Back – how could he possibly understand the position well enough to be successful. But, if the coaches thought his talent able to overcome his lack of experience, then let’s get him in. At 2-3, we need to take every opportunity to get our best guys on the field, and let them try to make some plays. It does not appear that “scheme” alone will be sufficient…..

The Truth

October 1st, 2012
1:14 pm

Play Vad Lee. 60% run/40% pass.

Fire Groh. Play a 7 man D front and bench Barnes, Young and Sweeting.

uafuneman

October 1st, 2012
1:29 pm

It’s sooooooooooooooooo hard to be Tech fan.6-7 wins while uga is winning 9-10. Oh it’s soooooooooooooooooooo hard.

GTJoe7643

October 1st, 2012
1:33 pm

GT: CPJ has the same number of losses in his past two years as Bill Lewis had in his two full seasons, so not sure why you think PJ is closer to O’Leary. Remember that CPJs record is being tallied during an era in which ACC football has been arguably the weakest it has been in many years, and when UGA was at such a low ebb that Richt’s job was on the line for two years. Granted, O’Leary had the benefit of coaching against that sleazeball Donnan and in the aftermath of the Ray Goof debacle, but at least the rest of our conference was a little more respectable. Right now there are only two ACC teams in the top 25, and one of them is Clemson, for pity’s sake. (Remember WVU hung 70 pints on them a few months back.)

GTVegas

October 1st, 2012
1:35 pm

CPJ was so fed up with Groh, he kicked him upstairs so he wouldn’t lose it on the sidelines. The decision this week should be to leave Groh in Atlanta and let #40 be DC for a day. It could not be any worse.

GTJoe7643

October 1st, 2012
1:40 pm

HaHa…typo…the Clemson fans maybe drained 70 pints trying to forget!

Blah

October 1st, 2012
2:15 pm

It would be typical Tech to lose to MTSU and then come back to defeat Clemson…

Clyde

October 1st, 2012
2:21 pm

I wonder how pissed off the players on offense have been at the players on defense for losing two games in over-time? You know there has been some jawing back and forth between them. May not have helped much against MTSU.

Clyde

October 1st, 2012
2:22 pm

Well, losing the lead two times, forcing OT.

big red

October 1st, 2012
2:34 pm

you have to have the personal to run the 3-4, tech does not have the personal and the defence is getting worse…………somebody do something !!!!!!

Russ

October 1st, 2012
2:58 pm

I am a handsome bulldog. I look in the mirror every day – just keep getting better looking. I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow just to see how I look!! I have female dogs giving me phone numbers and smooches every day. It is great to be a bulldog!!!! Now where’s my chow and fresh ice bags?

wreckmaniac

October 1st, 2012
3:01 pm

A win over Clemson is meaningless. The last two weeks have done this team in. There’s the Falcons and the Dawgs, both undefeated, the Braves going to the playoffs and there’s Tech who is doing poorly enough for the other three teams combined.
No resignation(s) yet ?

wreckmaniac

October 1st, 2012
3:03 pm

Clemson and UGA will both hang 100 on this team

wreckmaniac

October 1st, 2012
3:04 pm

So we get to watch the CMR smirk during the last game of the year again ?

l

October 1st, 2012
3:08 pm

I predict the time is coming when all AJC media will be banned from GT media events. Big surprise

Coach Hewitt...

October 1st, 2012
3:10 pm

For the folks that wanted Chan gone & Reggie B ran outta town…

Reggie Ball started at QB in 49 games over 4 seasons at Tech. In those 49 starts, when our offense scored at least 21 points, we were undefeated. 21 measly points.*

I find that maddening after watching us spread our cheeks on defense and lose twice that many in 2 weeks.

Coach Hewitt...

October 1st, 2012
3:17 pm

30 wins & no loses when we scored more than 21 in Gaileys last 4 years with RB… SMDH…

Full Metal Jacket

October 1st, 2012
3:17 pm

Tech fans are grateful to have your consistent and competent updates and reports, Ken. Thank you. I don’t post much any more but I do truly appreciate being able to keep up with Tech sports in the paper. We haven’t always had a diligent beat writer. To the malcontents yelling for heads to roll, etc.: get over it, guys. There will be no coaching changes mid-season and while Groh may be gone at the end of the year (we knew he wouldn’t be here long regardless of his success), Johnson will be here a long time yet. I would like to see what Lee can do with 1st string reps throughout the week and throughout a whole game. Washington hasn’t progressed making reads and adjustments over time, and he succumbs to pressure late in games. Of course, the QB hasn’t been missing tackles and playing flat on D, so Johnson really needs a systemic, team-wide turn-around. Maybe it’s time to lay a foundation for next year.

Full Metal Jacket

October 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

While I am a football fan first, about the only good thing I can say about this past weekend is that the basketball arena looks real nice. Go Jackets.

Rico

October 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

I keep hitting refresh to see when Groh is fired…How long will it take?!! Lord

Coach Hewitt's cheeks

October 1st, 2012
3:28 pm

I knew there was something odd about you, Coach, but I thought you were just strutting courtside, not actually in pain. Washington is a better QB than Ball, but that’s not saying much. Gailey was a good coach with bad PR who did not suck up enough to key alumni. That should be a lesson to Johnson. When the fans stop showing up and the wealthy alums get restless, time is short. We’re not there yet and we can still right the ship and salvage a winning season, but the losses in bowl games and the regular losses to UGA have to stop.

Coach Hewitt's cheeks

October 1st, 2012
3:31 pm

Groh ain’t going nowhere mid-season (no experienced assistant to replace him) because that’s just not a smart move. He’s probably out in December/January though. Johnson is the head coach for years to come. Get used to it.

Russ

October 1st, 2012
3:34 pm

And to tell you the truth, I don’t care if we go undefeated this year or not….I’m just glad they stopped spray-painting my posterior white for each game.

Full Metal Jacket

October 1st, 2012
3:39 pm

If the team comes out with fire in their eyes and plays Clemson a straight-up tough game in Death Valley, then Johnson and Groh will show they still have this team. Just as importantly, it’s time for team leaders to stand up and actually lead. Fans will put up with honest losses and occasional mistakes, but quitting and lack of effort will empty a stadium quicker than anything.

Full Metal Jacket

October 1st, 2012
3:44 pm

Finally, Tech beating UGA and a bowl opponent, if they even make a bowl, have just gone from important to critical, which is bad news given UGA’s strength this year.

JB

October 1st, 2012
3:52 pm

I’m thinking Tech plays Clemson Tough Saturday. Tech will come to play and Clemson will be lax. Just watch.

Ken Sugiura

October 1st, 2012
3:55 pm

GT Girl – Attaochu, Young and Holton were all out. Brandon Watts was out for much of the first half for reasons that aren’t entirely clear and was replaced by Malcolm Munroe.
Tyler Marcodes, a redshirt freshman, started, and D.J. White, another freshman, got time, as well, as did Adam Gotsis.

GTOhhhhhhhhhh!

October 1st, 2012
3:56 pm

Last Saturday’s loss was truly embarrassing. The team was flat and the coaching uninspired. Tech should have had a better player at every single position that MTSU and yet lost handily. Mathematically, Tech could still have a good record, but when fans see players quitting and coaches clueless they start staying home to watch better games on TV. Then they stop buying season tickets and giving money and before you know it, DRad’s scrambling to find some way to creatively finance a huge buyout and still hire a quality coach. C’mon, Coach Johnson and supposed team leaders, most of us are still behind you and want to cheer for you and the team, but give us a sign…..give us a competitive game in Death Valley. Otherwise, I’m going to have to stay home on Saturdays so I don’t miss the other games where real teams play, and real players lead.

SouthernCrescent

October 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

Thanks for staying on the beat and keeping us apprised, Ken. Will Defense be at full strength at Clemson? What’s the injury sitch on O and D? Any sign yet how CPJ is going to handle practice this week: punishing runs and reps to get their attention or “let’s-just-block-it-out-and-start-anew”? Not really sure how CPJ’s done it in the past.

Connor

October 1st, 2012
4:03 pm

No doubt in my mind that my Georgia Southern Eagles could beat Tech this year

Silly Mutts

October 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

@southernCrescent…CPJ hasn’t made any adjustments yet after a loss or losses….This year is a continuation of last year! 1-4 VT 1-4 UM 1-3 UGA 0-4 Bowls…what else can you say? Have “faith”? That is really comical if so! GT is now irrelevant in college football! I wouldn’t doubt if Clemson puts up 100 points on GT this weekend. Prediction Clemson 70 GT 3.

Big Jim

October 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

You “fire AG” people are IDIOTS!
You people that think this is the FIRST time this team has ever quit are IDIOTS, and this mess just started last week are IDIOTS. (Ah Gardner Webb ring a bell, ah every bowl game?)
You people that think this offense will work in big boy football are IDIOTS.
You people who keep defending the Johnson are IDIOTS.

How many more times do you want to hear this bumblin’ red neck say “hee hee, well ah, ah, worst loss ever hee ha, I am embarrased, ah ha, hee haw…” You should be you f’ing moron!

You think 4-5 star kids want to play in that Sh**t offense? You are fooling yourself. As I have said since day 1 of this morons hiring….wood telephone poles did NOT go away because we ran out of trees….we found a BETTER way!

Its called the forward pass you STUPID F’k! Just like every other team not named for our armed forces run, and EVERY NFL TEAM!

SouthernCrescent

October 1st, 2012
4:11 pm

OK, team,….one more time. “The Flats is WHERE we play, not HOW we play!”

BobbyPetrino is available.

October 1st, 2012
4:15 pm

Just saying.

Big Jim, Tiny D**k, Even Smaller Brain

October 1st, 2012
4:17 pm

If you think everyone else is a moron and an idiot, you may be living in a house of mirrors.

Bobby Petrino is still available.

October 1st, 2012
4:22 pm

Still just saying…..

Bobby Petrino is still available.

October 1st, 2012
4:26 pm

True he can’t ride a motorcycle very well, he may sneak out on your program in the dark of night, and he can’t be put in charge of h.r., but the current coach isn’t the most likeable guy. either and at least Petrino might be able to recruit and win.

GT Fan Man

October 1st, 2012
4:36 pm

Have a feeling there are going to be more GT fans jumping from railings, bleachers, score board whatever before this one is over!!!!

Buzzed-for-Life

October 1st, 2012
4:48 pm

I’m calling for EVERY Georgia Tech to embrace our team during these difficult times. GT is the TOP school in the Nation academically.

Embrace who we are instead of who we are not,

We are Georgia Tech!!!

Sun Belt Conference

October 1st, 2012
4:57 pm

Short Answer: No
Long Answer: No

Sun Belt Conference

October 1st, 2012
5:02 pm

Multiple losses and out come the academic arguments.
Typical.
please go to http://www.ajc.com/trigonometry-reggieball.

Sun Belt Conference

October 1st, 2012
5:03 pm

“So we get to watch the CMR smirk during the last game of the year again ?”

Yes, but more like 2nd quarter. Even he will feel bad for you by the end.

Boise Dawg

October 1st, 2012
5:08 pm

I have a strange feeling about Tech this coming weekend and am considering picking them for the upset. It seems like Paul Johnson seems to pull something when backed up against a wall… then again, PJ doesn’t play or coach defense. I think the defense looked better than adverstised after the Va Tech game, but clearly Va Tech is not a very good team this year….

tao

October 1st, 2012
5:19 pm

If tech upsets clemson, they have a chance save the bowl streak! Defense must play their best game of the season vs clemson speedy offense! Go Jackets!!

tao

October 1st, 2012
5:25 pm

I would like to see an ocasional toss sweep pass from the a back! To mix it up a little bit. The stadium was emptiest ive ever seen it vs mtsu. Then they got hammered/embarrassed on top of that! Cmon Jackets win out to show the world how to respond to adversity!

2Dawgs

October 1st, 2012
5:38 pm

gt40pinhd
“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).”

My father, rest his soul, went to tech and saw the bees win a share of the NC with Colorado. As a Dawg I expect better competition than the jackets will offer this year. Only one win against Richt since he’s been at UGA. Time for CPJ to go? Get rid of that playground thing they call offense and play grown man football.

Knute Rockny

October 1st, 2012
5:39 pm

As Dandy Don use to say “Turn out the lights the parties over”. The Jackets go down by 30+ in Death Valley this weekend.
After the lost to BYU on October 27th, Coach CPJ slides out to town under the cover of darkness………….he best take Al with him.
Wreckmaniac, CMR may have a smirk after the Thanksgiving Saturday game, but CPJ will have to see it from his Television.
Knute

gtgrad81

October 1st, 2012
5:40 pm

Tech needs to learn how to tackle…..catch the ball…..block…..play with enthusiasm…..oh….that’s right….football 101. Worst football game I ever witnessed. DCAG players play with finesse…no aggression….players wait for the runner to run to them…….they “push” and don’t hit…no wonder why we lose in the fourth quarter….the other team is still fresh, since they been tagged and not tackled the whole game……..season is done. Good Luck Next Year….and fall just started.

GT1990

October 1st, 2012
5:44 pm

Can’t believe you waste your time writing something about the turf on saturday morning???????????????????????????????????????