Examining Groh’s work at Tech

From Doug Roberson:

When Paul Johnson hired Al Groh after firing Dave Wommack, he was asked what he liked about his new defensive coordinator.

Johnson, fresh off winning the 2009 ACC championship with a defense that oddly gave up a lot of big plays but was effective in big situations, said that Groh, known for his 3-4 defense, would be able to fix things when they were going wrong.

Some things – tackling, fundamentals, limiting big plays — have “broken” in the past two weeks in losses to Miami and Middle Tennessee State. The defense has given up more than 1,100 yards and an average of 45.5 points. There’s not a lot of time for repairs with this week’s game at Clemson, which averages 510 yards and 40.2 points per game with a balanced offense.

Johnson didn’t try to defend his team’s play during his press conference on Tuesday, but at the same time defended Groh while holding himself and his staff accountable.

“… I don’t think the man forgot everything he knew in the last two weeks,” Johnson said. “But ultimately, we’re responsible. We’ve got to get it on the field. It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s what happens. So we’ve got to do a better job of getting it on the field.”

The reasons for the poor play are somewhat evident: poor tackling, poor fundamentals and, against Middle Tennessee, a lack of energy. Johnson said “You’ve got to do some of that stuff. Every time the ball breaks the line of scrimmage, it doesn’t have to be a touchdown.”

At his introductory press conference in 2010, Groh said hoped the players would pick up the 3-4 as fast as possible, but said it usually takes three years for the players to operate more instinctually.

Now in year three, Groh’s defense is statistically worse than Wommack’s in his final season.

This year, the defense is allowing more points (26.8) and yards per game (397) than they have since Groh was hired, while allowing slightly fewer rushing yards (155.2).

In Wommack’s last season, the Yellow Jackets gave up 24.8 points and 360.3 yards per game. Their worst two-game stretch occurred against Mississippi State and Florida State in which they gave up an average of 37.5 points and a total 1,026 yards. The Yellow Jackets won both of those games because the defense forced seven turnovers and the offense averaged 46 points and totaled more than 1,000 yards.

Groh’s defense this year isn’t making those stops. The overtime losses to Virginia Tech and Miami illustrated the critical-stop issue. In the defeat to Middle Tennessee the defense, missing two key players because of injury, came out flat and it showed in the missed tackles that allowed the Blue Raiders to total more than 500 yards.

Groh said the team has always emphasized tackling drills in practice, and focused on it even more this week ahead of the game against the Tigers, who feature numerous playmakers like Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins who need but one mistake to turn the routine into a big play.

One thing Wommack’s defense had that Groh’s does not is a consistent playmaker.

Defensive end Derrick Morgan was Wommack’s big-play man, finishing with 12.5 sacks to win the conference’s defensive player of the year award before he left to become a first-round selection in the NFL draft. No Tech player has come close to reaching that total since. Linebacker Brad Jefferson had four in 2010 and Jeremiah Attaochu six last year.

No Tech player has more than one sack this year. The team has just seven. Attaochu, the outside linebacker many expected to become a force, has been dealing with injuries this year and hasn’t been as effective, posting just one-half sack.

Johnson said it’d be great to have another Morgan, but that it’s wishful thinking to expect to have one every year. He indicated that he hopes that players, like Attaochu or Jemea Thomas, who have shown a lot of potential, will become consistent playmakers.

“It’s not like we’re null and void of players,” he said.

Without that consistent playmaker to pressure quarterbacks, Tech’s defense is giving up big plays in campaign-promise bunches. After allowing 50 in 2010 and 47 in 2011, the defense has allowed 22 this year and is on pace to give up 57 if team plays in a bowl. Wommack’s defense gave up 66 in 2009, but made stops when it needed to defeat Wake Forest and Clemson in the ACC championship game.

Defensive end Izaan Cross said if the team will focus on everyone doing his job, “the playmakers will emerge.”

But he knows they can’t play like they did the previous two games if they hope to beat the Tigers.

“We’ve got to all come together and have a conscious effort to come out with everything we can,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game.”

Tech under Groh

A look at Georgia Tech’s averages on defense in coordinator Al Groh’s three years:

Year/Scoring/Rushing/Passing/Total/Per play

2010: 25.2/169.7/201.9/371.6/5.7

2011: 26.1/161.5/197.6/359.2/5.5

2012: 26.8/155.2/241.8/397/5.7

Last year under Wommack

2009: 24.8/151.6/208.6/360.3/6.1

Thanks for reading. A word of caution: Everyone is welcome to his/her opinion, but profane language or antagonistism towards other commenters and posting under someone else’s handle are bannable offenses, no matter whose team you support. Consider this a warning.

In case you missed it…

Tech targets tackling flaws

Slowing pace crucial

ACC reverts to 8-game league schedule

Michael Carvell: Tech recruits react to 2-3 start

Offensive line not meeting Johnson’s expectations

Team leaders call for accountability

Notes: Abnormal heart rate gives Jackson scare

Tech considering safety options for stadium

Johnson addresses defense

Johnson: ‘You want fans that care’

Johnson to team: Stop pouting

Fitting MTSU loss into Tech history

After debacle, Tech braces for Clemson

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

571 comments Add your comment

RochesterJacket

October 5th, 2012
9:38 am

Keep the faith, Tech Nation!

SansWorld

October 5th, 2012
9:38 am

SansWorld

October 5th, 2012
9:45 am

It certainly helps if there is a dominate play maker like Morgan. Burnett is missed this year. Last year he was the glue that held things together in many games, he was able to make up for mistakes of his teammates. I think we have plenty of good players remaining, and the scheme is not necessarily preventing success. Everyone: players, coaches and fans to some extent need to pull together to up our performance and execution.

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
9:55 am

Word of advice teksters: Take the Excedrin before kick-off. Should be close the first 10 minutes, then watch-out! It will be a one way race to the end zone. Clem 61 – tek 21.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 5th, 2012
10:00 am

I hope that they have finished mourning over the Miami loss. Time to play a good game against a good team. ” GO JACKETS “

BuzzedforGT

October 5th, 2012
10:08 am

Considering last years outcome, I’d expect Clemson to their revenge. Just can’t see this game being close. Tigers by at least 20.

BuzzedforGT

October 5th, 2012
10:09 am

Correction – “I’d expect Clemson to get their revenge”

Burdell

October 5th, 2012
10:09 am

Yeah…and that is what all the pundits said before the Clemson game last season too Sammy.

Let’s play the game and see how it turns out.

GO JACKETS!! Beat the Fighting Dabos!

Teddy Roosevelt

October 5th, 2012
10:11 am

Well, I don’t think we can get much worse. The only direction for the defense to go is up!

GT Joe

October 5th, 2012
10:12 am

Great article, Ken. Next article:

Examining Tevin Washington’s work at tech.

RM

October 5th, 2012
10:21 am

Remember Bye Bye BUD?
& now BYE BYE Groh!

Fuzzyjacket

October 5th, 2012
10:22 am

I think the Jackets shock Clemson this weekend. Agreed that they got smacked at home. But a few basic improvements such as improved tackling will lead to better outcomes. TW is a nice guy but I think it is time we saw VL.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:23 am

Win or lose, I will be in Death Valley tomorrow cheering the Jackets on. GO JACKETS !!!!

FL Jacket

October 5th, 2012
10:23 am

Joe…

It was Doug Roberson, not Ken. And the next article should be…

“Examining GT Joe’s inability to move forward”

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:27 am

Examining Groh’s work at tek: Oatmeal and applesauce at 8:00AM, nap at 9:45, strained peas and soup at 12 noon, 1:00 wax poetically about the man in the glass and 3-4 defenses, nap at 3, 4:30 checkers with the back-up mike LB, 5:30 PM bus arrives to travel back to Shaddy Acres.

Clem 61
Tek 21

yeller bug

October 5th, 2012
10:27 am

One way to stop Clemson is to jump outsides every play—it only gives up 5 yds and eventually it will be half the distance to the goal of which there are an infinite number of penalties available and Clemson still will not score.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:28 am

@ Sammy…….where are my fries. Get back to work, bubba

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:29 am

You forgot one thing yeller: teks defense actually would have to make contact with the offense players to stop it from being a “free play” which is what MTSU experience most of the game last week.

Clem 61
Tek 21

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:29 am

We don’t serve lunch until 11:00. 61-21

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:33 am

@ Sammy……I wouldn’t be harping too much on the Tech defense, when the mutt defense sure hasn’t been stellar this year either. USC 42 – UGA 28.

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:35 am

No worries here, at least I know the defense for UGA has not quit this year. UGA 35 – chickens 33.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:39 am

No way on earth that Richt beats Spurrier. And the chicken’s defense is much better than “choke” Grantham’s defense is.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:39 am

Tech’s defense hasn’t quit on us. We never had one to begin with. lol

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:44 am

Chickens start off notoriously slow this year in every game. Should give UGA a good shot at taking a good lead and hold on in the end. Something your teksters have not been able to do the last few games.

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:45 am

I can see why this is turning into a UGA blog. Gotta get ready for lunch change over. Drive-through is a bear on Friday’s

jacketnation deflation

October 5th, 2012
10:45 am

We need to go back to a four three,which ain’t going to happen under Groh. The D-Line makes very few plays. We need real player makers at Defensive end. Remember Morgan Burnett? Three stud linebackers to go with a stud d- line. This maybe the worst Tech defense since the days of the Bill Lewis teams. If I have stomach another loss like last Saturday( to that team that lost to (McNeese St) I think I would puke. Tech should be in the same conference as Georgia State. Sorry to sound like such a sore loser but I am so disgusted with this defense it is really sickening. Did we really lose to Middle TN or was that just a bad dream?

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
10:45 am

uhhhh, Sammy, with the possible exception of the Tennessee game, UGA hasn’t done anything in the first half against anybody this year.

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
10:52 am

We’ll I am counting on a fast start for Dawgs. No fast start, no win. No win and UGA will have to take its frustrations out on tek later in the year. Either way, this is a lose-lose weekend for you teksters.

SansWorld

October 5th, 2012
11:01 am

“One way to stop Clemson is to jump outsides every play”

Clemson’s Defense did this with good effect last year since the Refs did not call it.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
11:05 am

@ Sammy……I don’t know why you would count on a fast start this week, when you haven’t had one yet this year. And USC has the best defense you will face regular season this year. So don’t hold your breath. In fact, USC is the best team you will face regular season this year. They’re a helluva lot better than Mizzou, Vandy, FL Atlantic, and Buffalo. And Tennessee exposed you last week for just how weak you really are but refuse to admit. Remember, the mutts struggled for awhile against Mizzou; USC had no trouble with them at all.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 5th, 2012
11:09 am

@ Sammy….one thing I can guarantee though is that if USC beats the mutts, I WILL NOT be on the UGA blogs next week harping about it. But if Clemson beats Tech, I am sure you will be on here spouting drivel. I am not as obsessed with all things UGA as you apparently are with all things Tech.

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
11:28 am

Selective memory: Mizzou played out of their minds at home against UGA. USC played at home and were given 14 points by poor special teams play by Mizzou. We will find out how weak UGA really is when we play tek in Athens.

DS CE'91

October 5th, 2012
11:38 am

Let’s do this….

GO JACKETS!!!!

dwagdawg

October 5th, 2012
11:38 am

examining Sammy dwag’s body of work at Mickey D’s:

fries burnt
bathrooms nor cleaned
burgers not flipped

fire the bum, Ray Kroc is screaming in his grave.

dwagdawg

October 5th, 2012
11:39 am

1 4 GT

October 5th, 2012
11:48 am

It’s time for some chastising of the blog “moderator”. While Ken does a really good job of giving us good info on the doings @ the Flats and I appreciate it………..lately the final paragraph is a reminder to us “children” to make nice….with daily reminders for us to not cuss, not call others vile names & (my favorite) to not be “antagonistic”….no matter which team the posters support. We are reminded the above are offenses for which we can be banned. Daily reminders………..no punishments. There is at least one guy that I, and I would think others do also, find very antagonistic. He made 6 straight (7 of 8) posts on one of Ken.s blogs. If that doesn’t meet the criteria of being antagonistic, I don’t know what else will. His initials are S….. D…. I find him to be very antagonistic. Enforce your rules or stop with your daily reminder to “make nice”.

1 4 GT

October 5th, 2012
11:59 am

I have no desire to post on the “Dawgs” blog & wish that all GT bloggers that do so just to stir the kaka on the Georgie blogs (notice the use of the plural….”they” get at least 2..3 if you count the daily recruiting blog..while we get 1 with an occasional recruiting blog). I think for either to side to post pot stirring comments on the other’s blog is just plain stupid & silly, childish behavior. The GT guys doing this forget how outnumbered we are & that “they” can literally swamp us in their kaka. So just grow up. Both sides just grow up and stop it. I know you won’t, but I had to say this. And I don’t really expect Ken to do anything either. He is far more lenient than I would ever be.

ToeMeetsLeather

October 5th, 2012
12:04 pm

I must admit Sammy, you had me laughing at the typical Groh day.

But my friend, I’m afraid you guys are about to get exposed, like TECH did last year, with your early season 5-0 start against a weaker than weak schedule. I predict all of these UGA car flags we see flying today will be laying in the floor board on Sunday. Take care buddy.

Delbert D.

October 5th, 2012
12:07 pm

yeller bug -
“One way to stop Clemson is to jump outsides every play—it only gives up 5 yds and eventually it will be half the distance to the goal of which there are an infinite number of penalties available and Clemson still will not score.”

We have a Zeno’s paradox vs. quantum mechanics issue there.

Delbert D.

October 5th, 2012
12:14 pm

1 4 GT – The difference between me and a lot of posters on those other blogs is that I try to be informative and I don’t make a pest of myself. I pointed out just this morning that *somebody* has to be in the top 10, otherwise there wouldn’t be a top 10. While that would seem to be simple and obvious, it appears to be an advanced concept for some bloggers. But I didn’t belabor that point over there.

Born2Buzz

October 5th, 2012
12:19 pm

Interesting, Groh’s D has gotten worse (and has been worse than Womack’s last D) in the main criteria, scoring, every year.
Rushing D has gotten slightly better, but Passing D has gotten much worse (it’s still kind of early but the writing is on the wall, every team will throw the ball a bunch and run the hurry up O).

We could see that this was a mistake when in Game 1, the very first possession of Al’s career here, South Carolina State had a 17 play, 7:35 minute, 58 yd drive. It only resulted in a FG. Their next possession was an 11 play, 4 minute, 53 yd drive where they missed the FG. Right there we saw an inability to get the other team off the field, and that was fricken South Carolina State. It hasn’t gotten any better, in fact it looks to have gotten worse.

Groh Must Go!

And 14GT, yes it is sad when Ken has to put his “children behave” disclaimer on every blog. Sorry Ken, you are doing a great job for us Tech fans that would like to have a real blog to discuss GT football. Sadly there are too many “children” out there.

sega jacket

October 5th, 2012
12:26 pm

It seems Tech Defenses have struggled to find an identity since John Tenuta left. Tech needs a coordinator like him that brings a different perspective and allows our players to use our intellect to overcome what is often times been a physical mismatch.

Brian

October 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

“Johnson said it’d be great to have another Morgan, but that it’s wishful thinking to expect to have one every year.” Seriously!? That sounds like Dave Braine’s lame attitude when he said we can’t expect to win 9 or 10 games every year. We have one of the highest paid coaches in the country and have a great location right in downtown Atlanta, the capital of The South. You better believe I expect to have better players and win more games and win ACC championships. If that’s your attitude PJ, it’s time for you to go!

Sammy Dawg

October 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

14 GT, if I were being antagonistic, I would make personal comments about tek fans and their bloggers. Which I am not. This is strictly college (however humorous it may be) football. You should go over and see how quiet tek folks are over on the UGA blogs. Ya’ll been mighty nice and well behaved the last couple of weeks. Hardly a trace of you over there. However, if the tables were turned (on the quality of our football seasons), do you think it would be quiet over there? History says no. Yet I am the only Dawg fan really over here. 99.99% of Dawg fans feel sorry for what tek is going through. It’s ugly and will only get worse before it gets better. UGA may lose tomorrow, but at least they are not falling apart at the seams.

Kyle

October 5th, 2012
12:38 pm

Groh has to GO!!!!!!

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 5th, 2012
12:44 pm

I think Yogi Berra said that the game is 90% mental and the other half is physical. ” GO JACKETS “

1 4 GT

October 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

After the last 2 defensive “jims” (intentionally misspelled), and comparing the stats and realizing the players spend 3 of 4 years learning to play AG’s “defense”, I see no way CPJ can keep him. I find myself kinda wishing (yeah, I know…wish in one hand &……..well, you know) CPJ would be gone too & GT would hire Giff Smith as HC….with one proviso….make every effort to get “Goose” from NE..just make a real effort. I imagine the search for a new coach, without someone in mind, would be lengthy & the $$ for a kinda “known” coach rather high.

wt. king

October 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

This is like the Obama admin….. a lot of talk with no action or good results.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 5th, 2012
12:47 pm

Sammy, we may have lost a stitch but the seams are good. Easy to repair.

BigTimeTECHFan

October 5th, 2012
12:47 pm

This defense is Grohing up. I like this years defense, better then last years. Last two weeks were just fluke games.