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

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
5:14 pm

We get the ball first.
Tough to have a drive like that and get nothing though.

GT1990

October 6th, 2012
5:14 pm

DOES ANYONE HERE THINK GROH WILL BE AT TECH UNTIL THE END OF THE SEASON?

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:15 pm

Anybody else feel like you need a q-tip after listening to Lou Holtz? I can’t believe he is still on TV….

lxUn1c0

October 6th, 2012
5:16 pm

I don’t understand kicking a 45-yard FG there. We haven’t made one of those in how long? 6 years? Just go for it and then quickly alike the ball if we get it. COME ON, CPJ, WHERE ARE YOUR INFAMOUS BALLS?

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 6th, 2012
5:16 pm

I hope USC wins tonight and eases the pain !!!

yeller bug

October 6th, 2012
5:18 pm

Coaches own this deficit—poor use of time outs—clueless 2 minute offensive. Why call timeout when Clemson lines up to punt????????? It’s 4th and 1—play regular D and drop back J Thomas in case they punt—TO gives Clemson time to rethink and they get 1st down and go on to score.

Players are playing better—hope our coaches can catch up to what’s going on on the field.

George Stein

October 6th, 2012
5:18 pm

So, are we gonna get blown out in the second half or lose another in crushing fashion?

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 6th, 2012
5:19 pm

CPJ cant coach at this level. When he needs to punt he goes for it and when he needs to go for it he punts. How many times is he gonna line up on 4th down to draw the D offside and then waist a timeout because they dont fall for it. Im sure every team that prepares for GT tells their player CPJ will try this at least once a game soooo be ready.

Rodeo

October 6th, 2012
5:19 pm

My Pre-game Peedictions::

VL will not play today unless its late in the game or its a token single series. CHECK

TW will open up with a pass and then the offense will revert back to run plays. MISSED THAT ONE

They will end up with less than 10 passes for the game unless VL plays. MAYBE

Anything close to the goal TW will call his own number. CHECK

If defense does not pressure the QB then Clem will score >40 points. CHECK – my number is being revised upward to >50.

CigarDawg

October 6th, 2012
5:20 pm

Ouch! Ugly blown coverage.

Plenty of game left and you guys clearly know how to score on them now.

yeller bug

October 6th, 2012
5:23 pm

The difference between Tech and a good team—they drive down and score in the clutch—we do not. Even the announcers are recognizing the wasted time by the offense—heck have Vad ready to go with a 2 minute offense—he passes better anyway and at least we’d have a set of plays to run instead of everyone looking around. That last two minutes was truly pathetic!

George Stein

October 6th, 2012
5:24 pm

Dean Buchan, GT PR guy, just tweeted that over the last two halves we have given up 55 points. Hard to win like that.

Jacket Detective

October 6th, 2012
5:25 pm

Gotta go see friends.
Good luck Jackets.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:27 pm

At least we’re seeing a good efforts from the team today unlike last week. Let’s hope they keep it up in the 2nd half and we’ll just have to see how it ends up.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:28 pm

@George Stein 27 vs Clemson is a whole lot better than 28 to MTSU LOL! Little bit of talent difference between the 2 teams. ;-)

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:29 pm

If Tech had played the 1st half like they “played” the 2nd half last week Clemson would have put 40 plus!

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:34 pm

It is terrible watching a game feeling that you have to score EVERY time you have the ball….

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:35 pm

Wow, we’ll take that spot…

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:35 pm

LET’S GO JACKETS!!!!

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:36 pm

Hello? Am I alone here now?

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:37 pm

Can anyone explain why they can play only to one side (the right)?

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:38 pm

Nice run TW!

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:38 pm

SWEET RUN BY TW!!!!

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:38 pm

Which oftentimes, isn’t, by the way.

Rodeo

October 6th, 2012
5:38 pm

REPEAT AFTER ME – TW calls his own number!

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:39 pm

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
5:40 pm

YESYESYES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:40 pm

Just what we needed. Now, for the love of Pete, how about a stop on D?

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:40 pm

It’s got to be demoralizing for the other players who’d like to score every once in a while.

ibidGT

October 6th, 2012
5:40 pm

Wow. That tackle, rather attempt, by #5 on TW on that big run makes our tackling look decent.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:41 pm

@Rodeo, when the play is there he should call his own #, I know it seems like he does it too much but so far today he’s made the correct reads.

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:41 pm

Can we borrow the Alabama D for the second half? I understand they’re not doing anything this weekend.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:42 pm

@ ibid, yep especically after he grabbed TW’s facemask with no call

ibidGT

October 6th, 2012
5:45 pm

YESSS!@#!@#!@#!@#

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:46 pm

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
5:46 pm

Way to go Green!!!!

yeller bug

October 6th, 2012
5:46 pm

Holy Cow! Put that guy at WR!

Rodeo

October 6th, 2012
5:46 pm

OJF, what I was referring to is that TW calls his own number when they get close to the goal line. So far, my accuracy is at 75%.

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:46 pm

INT!!!

Our best DB…. is a lineman :)

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:47 pm

Hate to be greedy, but we HAVE to take advantage of this…..

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:48 pm

Please tell me we aren’t losing our best lineman to CRAMPING….

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:48 pm

Let’s just hope the OBC has his Roosters ready to struct this evening in Columbia.

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:49 pm

@Rodeo, I understand, but like I said if it’s there he need to take it. Sometimes I feel, like you, that he does carry too much but if the read leads him to the soft spot it the correct play ;-)

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:49 pm

Big 3rd down….

ibidGT

October 6th, 2012
5:50 pm

Go for it…

hedgetrimmers

October 6th, 2012
5:50 pm

I smell a QB draw coming.

DS CE'91

October 6th, 2012
5:50 pm

I’m probably crazy, but I say GO FOR IT!!!

ibidGT

October 6th, 2012
5:51 pm

Ol'JacketFan

October 6th, 2012
5:51 pm

SOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 4 GT

October 6th, 2012
5:52 pm