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

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
3:29 pm

Does the ajc no longer deem GT worthy of game day coverage & a live blog??

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:38 pm

Have we solved the two WR together on one side offense?
If not, we see that play all day.

BLT

October 6th, 2012
3:38 pm

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:39 pm

A stop.
That is the tackle Attaochu should have put on VT QB last year.

SS loves Obama

October 6th, 2012
3:40 pm

@1 4 GT…I think they(Ajc) are just running late.

BLT

October 6th, 2012
3:41 pm

14 GT, probably figure it’s going to be a blow out. It’d be so troll infested that they’d need a to call an expert to clean up all the mess.

BLT

October 6th, 2012
3:43 pm

delete the “a”

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:45 pm

BLT

October 6th, 2012
3:46 pm

Wow! Nobody saw that coming! Snark!

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:46 pm

Why not punt?

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:47 pm

If we go for it there, how can we not go for it in the Miami game 4th and one where one play wins the game?

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
3:50 pm

I see that same garbage as I’ve seen all year. No effort or push by the O line, a step slow by the D.

lxUn1c0

October 6th, 2012
3:51 pm

That wasn’t supposed to be a QB sneak. TW screwed the pooch yet again.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:51 pm

“Coverage is completely missing” in year three of CAG.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
3:54 pm

And let’s have the O line set up with narrow splits, bring everybody up into the box.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:54 pm

@lxUn1c0.
Who else goes for it there besides us?
Clemson has studied our plays and whatever we did would have failed.
They can gamble too knowing we usually do not call a pass in that situation.
No other college team would do anything there but punt.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
3:56 pm

Oh my, a COMPLETED FOWARD PASS?????????????

Go Jackets

October 6th, 2012
3:56 pm

4th and 1….whats the percentage of TW fail?

SS loves Obama

October 6th, 2012
3:57 pm

We need to be positive guys.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
3:57 pm

a TD PASS???????????????????

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:57 pm

Tevin haters, how but that?

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
3:58 pm

Our WRs have come to play today.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:00 pm

@SS loves Obama.
If u know SS, your name might be a little funny.
If not and u r one of us, why bug SS?

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

Who won the toss?
Did we defer to the 2nd half?

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

The only question I have……………is WHERE has opening up this offense has been all year? I know what can be run out of it, I just don’t know why CPJ has refused to do it!

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:03 pm

So far, Tech is revealing changes in strategy.
On the sack we at least brought 4.
On offense, we threw and looked good doing it.

lxUn1c0

October 6th, 2012
4:03 pm

Jacket Detective, you’re wrong. Based on the defensive alignment, an option to the right side would have worked. Clemson was aligned to plug the middle and crash the left side of the line. The correct play in that situation is an A-back option to the right with the B-back rolling ahead for a lead block to seal off the blitzing corner, while the WR works up to the safety. Run correctly against that defensive alignment, it could easily go for 6. At a minimum, it would get the chains moved.

But Tevin doesn’t have the eyes to make those calls at the LOS. When in doubt, he just keeps it. You could see CPJ’s frustration on the sideline.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:04 pm

Watts and Attaochu.
What a difference those two make.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
4:05 pm

and we see nothing’s changed on 3rd down defense

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:06 pm

You’re wrong.
If the haters are correct, then Coach Paul Johnson is an idiot to keep playing him.
And an idiot to trust him on 4th and one.
Like I said, no one else goes for it in that sitation.
Not any of the high powered offenses around the country.
So why should we?

SS loves Obama

October 6th, 2012
4:07 pm

@Jacket Detective….why are you hating on me? I never did anything to you. Please leave me alone. This game is going to be close, btw.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
4:07 pm

let’s match up a OLB on a WR all day,. sheesh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
4:08 pm

THWAJC THWAJC THWAJC I’m sure you are right BLT but it still PO’s me.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:08 pm

I am not adverse to using Days on fourth and one but when does he get to play?
We heard he was too good not to be on the field.

The Tower

October 6th, 2012
4:08 pm

Lord this D sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:10 pm

A FG is a win for this D.
Heck any D against Clemson.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

Oh good now ESPN has lost the feed or Direct’s satellite has fallen out of the sky.

SS loves Obama

October 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

Need to control the clock

lxUn1c0

October 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

Conventional wisdom is rarely wise. Statistics say going for it on 4th and 1 is the right call if you’re anywhere near midfield. The problem wasn’t going for it, out was the play itself.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

So far, we have showed up to play.
The quitting last week was an aberation I’m thinking.
Come on Big O.

BLT

October 6th, 2012
4:12 pm

Held them to a FG, that’s a positive.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
4:13 pm

Sunspot interference!

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:13 pm

Not our stats lately.
We keep setting up the other team in our territory.
Did that in both VT and Miami games.

BLT

October 6th, 2012
4:14 pm

I really like Godhigh. I call him Mighty Mite.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:14 pm

We’ve showed up.
We may lose but I m feeling pretty good at this point.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:14 pm

Durn that Tevin.
Called his own number again.

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
4:15 pm

SS loves obama….grow up little boy….quit using Supersize as a joke or whatever you are doing….those of us know him know where he is & it’s not at home….so just grow up & gow away & leave us alone

BLT

October 6th, 2012
4:15 pm

The way CPJ does 4th and short is very predictable. He needs to do the unpredictable.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
4:15 pm

When we are doing good, why do that twice?

BLT

October 6th, 2012
4:16 pm