CineSport’s Noah Coslov and I discuss Georgia Tech’s matchup with Middle Tennessee State.
Jon DeWitt was driving to work one morning in February when he received text messages from two colleagues. They offered their sympathy to DeWitt, Georgia Tech’s sports turf manager, over the football team’s schedule.
“They’re like, Oh, man, your schedule [stinks],” DeWitt said. “I haven’t even seen it. What are you talking about?”
It wasn’t that the Yellow Jackets had a string of tough opponents. Rather, Tech’s schedule included four consecutive home games for the first time since 2006. For DeWitt, who manicures the Bobby Dodd Stadium turf with precision, care and mania, it meant his field would be in for a month-long beating.
This week, DeWitt has nursed the field to stage Tech’s game with Middle Tennessee State before it receives three weeks of relief.
“Just trying to hobble through and look as good as we can,” DeWitt said Tuesday.
Facilities director Shawn Teske calls DeWitt fanatical, passionate and “about the best there is.” According to
Shortly after 7 p.m. last Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson may not have been shaken, but the Yellow Jackets’ sharp-witted leader was not himself.
“I don’t know what to say,” Johnson said, beginning his post-game news conference following Tech’s 42-36 overtime loss to Miami. “I’m as disappointed as I think I’ve ever been.”
His funk continued after he returned home. He watched football games and, with his daughter Kaitlyn visiting from college, tried to not be miserable. He re-played the game in his head 40 times, he said later, and finally fell asleep at 4:45 a.m., a half-hour before he woke up to go to the office to review game video and begin preparing for Middle Tennessee State.
By Tuesday morning, Johnson was offering a new tune.
“I’d be more concerned if we were trotting out there every week and we’re getting pummeled 50-6 and there wasn’t much hope,” he said. “Call me an optimist. I don’t think anybody’s ever considered me a real
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
1. Four games into Georgia Tech special-teams coordinator David Walkosky’s term, coach Paul Johnson’s review of special teams didn’t require sparklers and trumpets.
“Well, I think in some areas they’re improved, and in other areas we took a step back,” Johnson said on the ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday. He also characterized it as “a mixed bag.”
Statistically, the results for three of the “big four” units — punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return — are similar to last season’s. The punt-return team, though, had a smashing performance against Miami. On back-to-back returns, Jamal Golden recorded two of Tech’s three longest returns since the second game of the 2009 season.
The average starting point for opponents after kickoff returns has been just inside the 28-yard line, slightly better than last season’s 28.1 average. The comparisons aren’t entirely applicative, as the kickoff line was moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line and
Paul Johnson on the ACC coaches teleconference on special teams Wednesday:
“Well, I think in some areas they’re improved, and in other areas we took a step back. We had a terrible blunder last week that created a safety. We did have a couple of nice punt returns and gave up a long kickoff return. So it’s been a mixed bag.”
Some (actually, a lot) numbers:
1. Tech’s net kickoff average is 37.2 yards, meaning that opponents’ average start is the 27.8-yard line. The net is 11th in the ACC, which surprised me because it’s seemed like it’s been better. Last year, the average start was the 28.1-yard line, which was ninth in the league. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, because the kickoff line was moved up five yards and touchbacks are now returned to the 25.
To compare, the top six kickoff cover teams forced average starts at the 21.4, 23.5, 23.8, 23.9, 25.5 and 26.
This year, it’s 21.2, 21.9, 23.3, 23.4, 23.7 and 23.7. So the better teams are doing slightly
The next move belongs to Al Groh.
Two Saturdays ago, the Georgia Tech defense harassed Virginia quarterbacks Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims, accumulating 16 pressures, by the Tech defensive coordinator’s count and two sacks. Saturday, Groh and his defense were plundered.
The Yellow Jackets gave up 609 yards in the 42-36 overtime loss. It was the most yards that Tech had given up since 1997 and the most that a Groh-coached team had surrendered in his nine years as Virginia’s head coach followed by two-plus seasons at Tech.
Wednesday, Groh didn’t address the game at length, saying that he was done talking about Miami. It was the first opportunity for news media to speak with Groh, as he is not made available following games and defensive coaches and players speak on Wednesdays.
“I haven’t thought about that in a few days, so I’m ready to move on,” he said.
What Groh did address was that Tech’s pass rush was negated by Miami’s protection scheme, in which the
1. Georgia Tech cornerback Louis Young has met his share of adversity in recent months, some of it of his own creation. He is trying to use it to his benefit.
“It’s pretty much made me a stronger player, basically, so really it’s a blessing,” Young said. “It’s kind of added a little fuel to my fire.”
Young fractured his thumb in the preseason and has had to play with a padded cast. Against Miami last Saturday, he suffered an upper-body injury that forced him out of the game may keep him out of Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee State. He has yet to practice this week.
More notably, he sat out the Sun Bowl and the season opener against Virginia Tech because of an NCAA suspension for selling tickets to the Georgia game last November. Young maintains that he didn’t know that selling tickets to a friend was against NCAA rules and thought that only selling them to alumni, boosters or agents was prohibited.
“It was just an immature decision,” Young said.
A few notes that went unused in the notebook posted online.
1. Quarterback and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said B-back Broderick Snoddy is getting closer to being able to play, but has to keep working on his blocking.
“He’s made some improvements, but that’s an area that’s still a little bit of a concern for us,” he said.
Bohannon was encouraged by Snoddy’s improved work rate in practice in recent weeks.
Said Bohannon, “We’ve got to keep working, see if we can get him out there.”
As for quarterback Vad Lee?
“I think we’d like to get him in the game (Saturday),” he said. “Every time he’s gone in, he’s done some good things. So we’ll just kind of have to see how the game goes and, obviously, that’s something you’d like to do.”
2. Rather remarkably, A-back Orwin Smith said he didn’t receive any nasty posts on his Twitter or Facebook accounts after his safety in Saturday’s game. Kind of unfortunate that this is actually unusual, but so
Notes from Tuesday.
1. There have been no dramatic pep talks, but Georgia Tech seems to be rebounding from its crushing overtime loss to Miami on Saturday.
“Guys aren’t really moping on the loss,” A-back Orwin Smith said following Tuesday’s practice. They had been down “kind of right after the game and maybe a little bit Sunday, but I’m not even hearing much about it [Tuesday].”
Quarterback and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said he and his players talked for about 15 minutes in a meeting about how to respond to the adversity of the loss, which followed an overtime loss in the season opener to Virginia Tech. Bohannon said he reviewed the Miami game video several times Sunday and Monday but is ready to move forward. Quarterback Tevin Washington has a similar mindset.
“He’s a pretty resilient kid,” Bohannon said. “He’s tough as nails.”
Smith said that the Yellow Jackets had an energetic, productive practice Tuesday as they prepare for Middle Tennessee