UPDATED: Tech out-slugged by Clemson, 47-31

Clemson's Andre Ellington (23) tries to get by Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu.

Clemson's Andre Ellington (23) tries to get by Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu.

Updated, 10:10 p.m.

CLEMSON, S.C. – As late-afternoon shadows crept across Memorial Stadium, the Clemson faithful stood in full-throated roar. The sellout crowd sensed its team about to deliver a knockout punch to Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets complied. Another fourth-quarter breakdown torched three quarters of effort and offensive play-making in a 47-31 defeat to No. 15 Clemson Saturday in Death Valley. A week after absorbing one of the worst losses in school history,  Tech made good on its vow to give a better account of itself against the Tigers. It did, but up against an arsenal of offensive weapons and its own self-destructive habits, it wasn’t enough.

“Right now, we’ve got to play close to perfect,” coach Paul Johnson said. “Clearly, we’ve got to score more points.”

The Jackets fell to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC and made the bus ride home down I-85 with regrets of plays missed and chances squandered packed underneath. They also are owners of their second three-game losing streak in the past three seasons.

Twelve months after opening the season 6-0 for the first time since 1966 and rising to No. 12 in the polls, the 2012 Jackets have scuffled their way to a less glorious piece of history. Tech goes into its bye week with its worst record after six games since the 1994 team, which started the season 1-5 and later brought about the late-season dismissal of coach Bill Lewis.

“We’ll come back,” Johnson said. “They played hard for the most part, and if they’ll play hard, we’ve got to find a way to try to help them win.”

As was the case against Virginia Tech and Miami, the Jackets held a fourth-quarter lead Saturday, this time in a game that few gave them any chance to win after their 21-point home loss to Middle Tennessee State last Saturday. The Tech offense at times scalded Clemson’s poor tackling defense. Quarterback Tevin Washington operated the option effectively, freeing up A-backs Orwin Smith and Robbie Godhigh to gain 178 rushing yards on just 11 carries. He completed nine of 14 passes for 144 yards.

Said Smith, “I saw guys with more drive than previous weeks.”

Tech’s  work led to kicker David Scully’s 26-yard field goal that gave the Jackets a 31-30 lead with 13:03 left in the game, the fourth time they had wrested the lead from Clemson. The Tigers responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, one of their six scoring drives measuring 70 yards or more, completing it with a 35-yard pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. A two-point conversion gave Clemson a 38-31 lead.

A team that is becoming painfully familiar with an inability to rise to the game’s biggest moments tripped again, this time literally.

Chris Milton misplayed the ensuing kickoff, fumbling the ball before recovering it and then slipping to the ground at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Washington pitched to Smith, who was overrun by Clemson defenders and dropped for a safety for a 40-31 lead. The stadium shook in approval.

The episode recalled Smith’s own safety on a kickoff against Miami.

“You can play 10 years of football and never take a kickoff return on the 1-yard line and have a safety on a kickoff return,” Johnson said. “We’ve had both. It seems like it shouldn’t happen.”

On the series after the safety, the Tech defense, which allowed 601 yards to Clemson, gave a spark when inside linebacker Daniel Drummond intercepted a Tajh Boyd pass, returning the ball to the Jackets at the Tech 45-yard line. Down nine and needing two scores, Tech drove and then sent Scully out for a 37-yard field goal. His try was blocked, his second miss of the game.

“That was pretty much it,” Johnson said.

It brought an end to an afternoon that held the hope for a season-turning upset but was done in with a mound of errors. Tech tried for a first down on 4th-and-1 from its own 37 on its first possession of the game and was denied on a sneak by Washington.

Nose tackle Shawn Green made one of the plays of the game in the third quarter, intercepting a screen pass and returning it 17 yards to the Clemson 26, but Tech squandered the opportunity to add to its 28-27 lead. A botched snap between center Catlin Alford and Washington on 4th-and-1 from the 7 gave the ball back to the Tigers.

Occasionally better defensive play and pass-rush pressure often placed Clemson in 3rd-and-long situations. As has become rote, though, the Jackets allowed Clemson to convert 13 of 19 third downs. Tech has given up 31 of 46 third downs in the past three games.

The first-quarter fourth-down try in its own end spoke more about the state of Tech’s defense than Johnson would.

“I thought we could make it,” Johnson said.

Once again, opportunity lost.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

361 comments Add your comment

GTfan2012

October 8th, 2012
10:49 am

I am certainly disappointed, but just like last year after 6 games, things are never as good or as bad as they seem. I think GT has about average talent compared to the last 15 years or so. We usually have somewhere between 4-8 players that eventually make it to the NFL on our roster at any given time. Right now, if I had to name a few that have the potential, I’d say Hunt Days, Attouchu, Sweeting, Young, Smith, Mason, and Uzzi…. Sounds about average to me.

I would like to make a public bet with WnE. I believe GT is still a very talented team. I believe that our coaches haven’t forgotten how to coach. If GT goes 6-7 or worse, I’ll leave here and never post again (I’ll even ask Ken to block me). But if GT goes 8-5 or better, WnE has to leave and never return. Will you take my bet WnE?!?!?!

GTVegas

October 8th, 2012
10:52 am

Groh has got to go. I really don’t care that there aren’t coordinators available mid-season. Let an assistent do the job, maybe even Julian Burnett. Let him wear his own #40 jersay to the game as an interim coach, can’t be any worse.

I don’t blame CPJ for going for it on fourth down from his own side of the 50 given the expectation of our defensive performance. He knows that we need to score on almost every possession to overcome Al Groh.

We can’t afford a head coaching change now, not that I condone that move, anyway so we need to fix what we can. I actually like CPJ’s affense and believe that scoring 30+ points per game should get you the win. Call me old school, but defense wins games. Our lack of defense, any defense, changes the offensive gameplan.

As for a new defensive coordinator, we need someone young. Take a chance on someone like Lance Thompson, very good guy, young (relatively) and energetic.

Carly

October 8th, 2012
11:18 am

Oh well……….that was last weeks game………………….

WnE

October 8th, 2012
11:21 am

re:
GTfan2012
October 8th, 2012
10:49 am

I am certainly disappointed, but just like last year after 6 games, things are never as good or as bad as they seem. I think GT has about average talent compared to the last 15 years or so. We usually have somewhere between 4-8 players that eventually make it to the NFL on our roster at any given time. Right now, if I had to name a few that have the potential, I’d say Hunt Days, Attouchu, Sweeting, Young, Smith, Mason, and Uzzi…. Sounds about average to me.

I would like to make a public bet with WnE. I believe GT is still a very talented team. I believe that our coaches haven’t forgotten how to coach. If GT goes 6-7 or worse, I’ll leave here and never post again (I’ll even ask Ken to block me). But if GT goes 8-5 or better, WnE has to leave and never return. Will you take my bet WnE?!?!?!
______________

That’s a sucker bet!

GT & CPJ gets fat on weak competition and based on your scenario is allowed to LOSE to UGA yet again to end the season 7-5 and then it is a 50-50 shot in the bowl game vs. a VERY WEAK bottom tier ACC-Bowl to get to 8-5.

GT has been so bad the first half of the season, that a 7-5 finish would lead to a very crappy Bowl especially since the ACC is clearly the WEAKEST of all the BCS conferences including the Big East.

If you really believed that GT had the “talent” you listed above then you would make that same BET and wager that GT goes 6-0 over the last 6 games to go 8-4 AND we have to also win a BOWL that would make CPJ & Co. 9-4 to end the season.

You are basically saying that you have FAITH in our TALENT, yet you make an allowance for CPJ to LOSE to UGA yet again!

How much faith is that?

Will you go for my counter-bet?

5150 UOAD

October 8th, 2012
11:32 am

Any TECH players get their house Egged & Toilet Papered?

Tech fans back your team and coaches.

Be mad at a loss and want better but NEVER take it out on Players and Coaches.

WnE

October 8th, 2012
11:38 am

re:
GTfan2012
October 8th, 2012
10:49 am

I am certainly disappointed, but just like last year after 6 games, things are never as good or as bad as they seem. I think GT has about average talent compared to the last 15 years or so. We usually have somewhere between 4-8 players that eventually make it to the NFL on our roster at any given time. Right now, if I had to name a few that have the potential, I’d say Hunt Days, Attouchu, Sweeting, Young, Smith, Mason, and Uzzi…. Sounds about average to me.
_________________

Of those guys you listed Hunt-Days has the best shot, he closes quickly to the ball and has shown good speed and change of direction.

Uzzi & Mason are HORRIBLE pass blockers and are short and don’t have the “long arms” that NFL scouts are looking for, also Uzzi has had a problem with injuries so his chances are looking dimmer by the day.

Attouchu has disappeared and right now he’s looking like a Free Agent guy or a 7th round draft pick, JA-45 looks nothing like Daryl Smith, Key Fox or Philip Wheeler guys that were drafted in the 3rd-4th round range, Attouchu is not the can’t miss NFL guy that he projected to be after his T-Fr. season, basically JA-45 hasn’t gotten any better since then.

Orwin Smith has no defined position, he’s a high 4.5s or low 4.6s guy without much size, at the NFL level guys Orwin’s size need to run in the 4.4s with great acceleration & change of direction, he hasn’t run between the tackles at GT, he hasn’t pass-blocked at GT, and he has only avg. 7 touches per game from scrimmage over his GT career, add in all that and then take into account that Dwyer & Allen were 6th & 7th round draft picks and it is looking like Orwin won’t be drafted at all, he’ll have to make an NFL club as a FA.

Sweeting has looked terrible!

Nothing else need to be said about Sweeting.

Lou Young has size & some athleticism, he has a better chance than Sweeting.

From your list, 2 guys have a pretty god shot at the NFL, the rest is just optimism on your part..

Before you dismiss my analysis, keep in mind that NFL GMs are a lot more critical than I am.

TIGERGREAAT

October 8th, 2012
1:40 pm

Tech- don’t feel too bad with your defense, Ours is about as bad or worse. Both have to be perfect on the O side or they will lose.

Ramblin Man

October 8th, 2012
2:18 pm

I still have faith in CPJ as an offensive coach, but I do find blame with him for the defensive problems. He hired Groh so there for he carries some of the blame for the struggles. The offense is under presure to score every time they have the ball and no offense can do that every game. This is causing the players to try and force things and think to much as well as making CPJ try and force some things he should not and shy away from some things as well. Groh WILL be gone after this season, but somebody has to find a way to dial in some plays that these players can perfrom and give the TEAM a chance in the next six games. I am holding a glimmer of hope that they can take 4 of the next six. The team showed a lot of effort in the loss to Clemson and hopefully the players and coaches can build off that.

North Ave Trade School

October 8th, 2012
2:20 pm

Fire Paul Johnson!!!

GTfan

October 8th, 2012
2:30 pm

I will say it again PJ is a lousy big game coach 3-18 vs Miami, VT, UGA and bowl games. Add in loss to MTSU. Time for a coach that has a system you can recreuit 4 and 5 star kids too. Not some HS gimmick offense. Not Grohs fault on D either. What top defense recruit wants to be cut block for 6 months in games and practice and risk a serious injury??? REALY PEOPLE.

Carly

October 9th, 2012
2:04 pm

Well, Groh’s gone……………….Is your b!itching gonna continue?