Notes: Tech defense receives energy infusion

1. Charles Kelly has no magic formulas. Georgia Tech’s interim defensive coordinator is just trying to emphasize the basics.

In his first interview since being elevated from secondary coach in the wake of Al Groh’s firing, Kelly endorsed a simple approach to coaching defense.

“I believe this,” he said. “I believe you try to put guys in the best situation, let ’em play fast and let the chips fall where they may.”

Tech went through its second practice of the bye week Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets will practice again Thursday and then be off until Monday. Tech plays Boston College at home Oct. 20. Players and coaches described the Wednesday practice, conducted in full pads, as energetic.

“The energy in our live drills has changed,” cornerback Louis Young said.

“He has great energy, fire, passionate,” outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said. “That’s all you can really ask for.”

Kelly said the first priority in his preparations is to make sure players know where to line up and how to execute plays. Under Groh, improper pre-snap alignment and mental errors were often problems. Coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday he thought Tech had 47 missed assignments in its 47-31 loss to Clemson, Groh’s final game.

“The biggest thing we want to do is concentrate on going back and working on the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “This game, it’s not very complicated.”

2. Aside from having a new coordinator, most players on the defense are working with new position coaches thanks to a shuffling of responsibilities. Special-teams coordinator David Walkosky is coaching the defensive line, for example.

“They’re sponges. They absorb coaching,” Walkosky said of his new charges. “It’s been a great adjustment.”

Said nose tackle T.J. Barnes of his new coach, “It’s been cool. He’s a ball of energy.”

Walkosky is leaning on Andy McCollum, who had been coaching the line and is now working with the inside linebackers. Walkosky said his plan is “to try to let them run to the ball and set them loose a little bit.”

Tech will limit the amount it plays “two-gap” defense, in which linemen were tasked with controlling the gaps to their left and right and will instead play more “one-gap.” In that scheme, a lineman is responsible only for one crease and can play with a more attacking style. Johnson said that Tech was playing two-gap defense “a lot more than anybody else in the country” and didn’t have the right personnel to play it.

3. Young called Groh’s firing “bittersweet.” Young had been recruited to Virginia by Groh when he was coach there, then ended up at Tech after Groh was hired as defensive coordinator in Jan. 2010. Young had said previously that he saw Groh as a father figure.

“It hurt a little bit, but I understand it’s a transition and that’s just part of growing up and being a man,” Young said.

Attaochu also was recruited to Virginia before Groh switched jobs.

“I shot him a text message, just telling him how much we appreciate him over here, how much he’s taught us,” Attaochu said. “He’s a man of class, so I thought I’d show him some class.”

4. Guard Shaquille Mason and center Jay Finch were among those missing practice Wednesday with undisclosed injuries. Guard Omoregie Uzzi returned to practice after being held out Tuesday. Johnson said there were no serious injuries and that “everybody should be back on Monday,” the one exception being safety Fred Holton.

5. With the bye, Tech players and coaches will have their only weekend off until December. Many won’t get too far from the game. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said he planned to watch his sons play football Saturday morning. Offensive tackle Ray Beno and Young both want to watch their younger brothers play. Barnes is going the opposite direction. He said he’s going to Daytona Beach, Fla., by himself to lie on the beach. Barnes grew up there.

“Just to get away from football for a little bit,” he said.

In case you missed it…

Notes: Jackets move forward without Groh

Jeff Schultz: Radakovich says Johnson is ‘right person for this job’

Audition begins for interim Charles Kelly

More from Johnson on Groh

Mark Bradley: Groh goes, but question about talent remains

Al Groh fired at Tech

Players had trust in Groh

190 comments Add your comment

AlabamaRamblinwreck

October 10th, 2012
10:08 pm

What is wrong with Holton? I just don’t understand “never-healing” injuries to kids this age?

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 10th, 2012
10:14 pm

Surprised I’m first – I’m usually in bed long before now.

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 10th, 2012
10:14 pm

Guess I was more asleep than I thought!

crackbaby

October 10th, 2012
10:19 pm

Nice for Coach Kelly to have a bye week. He’s a busy man right now. Go Jackets!

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 10th, 2012
10:21 pm

It’s nice to read some good / positive news on this blog for a change. Here’s hoping that the new coaching changes bring the desired results quickly to the defense and subsequently to the team as a whole. Best of luck to Groh in his future – whatever that might hold for him – and best of luck to everyone left behind. Change isn’t always easy as we all can attest.

jacket fan in wisconsin

October 10th, 2012
10:22 pm

If these reports are true, and with Ken they usually are, it sounds as if a big weight has been lifted off the defense. They were doing WAY too much thinking and reacting…trying to remember the scheme and where they were supposed to be.Sounds like they have been set free to play more instinctively and aggressively. I guess we’ll see soon enough. Nice report, Ken.

Same Old

October 10th, 2012
10:23 pm

I like the optimism, but the firing of one has been coach, does not change the reality of what we have.
2 star players! Look for the same. The enthusiasm will last for about three quarters, and then BC will kick our Azz too. We might not win another game this year, especially the only game that means anything, the UGA butt sniffers.

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 10th, 2012
10:24 pm

When we’re “running to the ball” let’s hope we don’t get caught up in our aggressiveness and have the offense pop one for a score using mis-direction.

Same Old

October 10th, 2012
10:24 pm

Why the chicken cross the road?
To kick bulldawg azz!

Same Old

October 10th, 2012
10:30 pm

PJ is not a Tech Man. He doesn’t hate UGA.
Maybe he will after a couple more losses to them will cost him his job.
Too late then.
George Godsey, our next coach!!!!

yeller bug

October 10th, 2012
10:40 pm

BC has a poor record and lost to Army, but they have a good passing attack so it will be a good challenge for us. FSU will take out their loss to NCSU on them which will only help.

I hope we don’t think the O is fine and needs no work. We need improvement in all 3 areas to do well down the homestretch.

ToeMeetsLeather

October 10th, 2012
10:45 pm

Don’t know that kicking Groh to the curb will do any good or not. Sure seems like everyone left is pointing to him as the problem. I guess we will see if the guys can get off the field on third down a little more often over the next six games. It’s time to put up or shut up guys.

Thanks for the report Ken.

THWG

1 4 GT

October 10th, 2012
11:06 pm

TML….boy I hope so! I expect to see an energized team come on the field come the 20th. GOOOOO JACKETS THWGeorgie

Paul in Nh

October 10th, 2012
11:17 pm

What I saw in the MTSU and Clemson losses was a defense that never caught up with the hurry up offense – a defense that never seemed to “get the message” quickly enough. That is a coaching issue.

George Stein

October 10th, 2012
11:28 pm

I really want to be optimistic, but it’s difficult. We’ll see, I guess.

GT-UT

October 10th, 2012
11:37 pm

I think Barnes is doing himself some good. Getting away is good as long as you can recharge. Playing football…or any sport needs a bit of reflection and down time. Just come back and get after it!

I like the energy. Lets see it gameday. Get after it…just because you can!

TECHIE

October 10th, 2012
11:39 pm

on some D plays vs clumpson one or two of the mid LBs were turned, looking backwards over their shoulder when the dang ball was snapped, WTH was that.?

TECHIE

October 10th, 2012
11:42 pm

I think CAG is a fine man and has had a terrific carreer and may have more but at times on the sidelines did he have a lost look on his face.? —–to me , yes.

yeller bug

October 11th, 2012
12:17 am

I have hope and here’s why:

If we had 47 missed assignments last week, then that’s not so much a lack of athletic ability, but a lack of understanding. Clemson had 93 offensive plays so that’s a missed assignment every other play although there could be several on one play. So how many of those missed assignments resulted in positive plays for Clemson? It’s one thing to be blocked or miss a tackle, it’s a whole different problem if you’re totally out of position. It’s an unforced error. They are gimmes to our opponents. If we simply go where we are supposed to go, then the only failures are getting beat athletically or a bad play call—we blitz against a hot read etc. Eliminating the majority of positive plays by opponents due to missed assignments will increase our ability to make stops and get the D off the field.

Let’s say that 25% of those missed assignments last week occured on 3rd down—that’s 12 screw ups. If half of those were the cause of Clemson getting a first down that’s 6 gimme first downs and if just 1/2 of those were prevented because we were in the right place, then that’s 3 3rd down stops—forcing a punt for Clemson. If that would have happened, we would have won the game.

I don’t think we’re as bad as we seem. Hopefully Coach Kelly will re-scheme things to get us in the right position to make plays. We won’t always make the play, but cutting down on unforced errors will dramatically improve our chances.

Jimmy

October 11th, 2012
4:29 am

I love the quote by Young, “It hurt a little bit, but I understand it’s a transition and that’s just part of growing up and being a man.”

Just part of growing up and being a man?! Seriously!? I’m glad you’re so cold to the fact that you’re (and your teammates) performance on the field got a coach fired. Way to go kid. Unbelievable.

Let’s just face facts. This defense as a whole just doesn’t have talent. It doesn’t matter who the coach is. If you don’t have the athletic talent you won’t make the play on the field. Groh is just a scapegoat, but everybody will only see this AFTER the season is over, unfortunately.

Jimmy

October 11th, 2012
4:30 am

Oh, and let me just say that I know it’s the coaching staffs responsibility to make sure that the team does have the talent in order to succeed, and therein lies the problem. I mean seriously, when has GIT ever had the talent to ever compete w/ the big boys of college football??

GIT = coaching graveyard.

Jimmy

October 11th, 2012
4:32 am

…and then you have UGA, and they are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Now they do have the talent. You can look at multiple NFL rosters to confirm that. That team does have a coaching problem. Too bad Richt waits until it’s too late to try something new (IE firing DC Willie Martinez after YEARS of horrendous play).

trueblueeagle

October 11th, 2012
6:07 am

its time to do away with 3-4 defense and play the 4-3.

Defense

October 11th, 2012
6:32 am

I agree with the blue eagle– transition back to a 4-3

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
6:43 am

@Jimmy.
Groh got himself fired.
He was hired to be an improvement over Wommack and wasn’t.
Although Groh was not owed by Virginia as much as Gailey and Hewitt were by us, he still is a multimillionaire on the college welfare system.
When a coach wants to leave, they tear up their contract and no one ever holds them to it.
When they get fired, then the contract becomes written in stone and they demand every last cent.
If they can tear up contracts, then the AD should be able to when they are fired.
That is the way the system is?
I’ll be thinking about that when time comes to renew next year.
And I hate to agree with WnE, but I don’t like the way he showed up here ready to stab the prior defensive coordinator in the back.
What was he doing here but hoping Wommack got the ax.
What a guy.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
6:50 am

Groh – a bad hire.
Maryland new D coordinator Stewart – a good hire.
Ken provided a link to an article in the Washington Post.
Stewart uses the 3-4 too but blitzes a lot.
Guess what?
Maryland went from being the ACC’s punching back to having a stout defense.
They have already won as many games as they did the prior year.
That is what a good coordinator could have done for us.
The Groh hire was the easy choice.
Who else did CPJ consider?
Anyone?
Might as well have kept Wommack.
Wommack, btw, was the scapegoat for the 2009 Uga loss.
Groh got the job because someone else was scapegoated.

Jacket Man

October 11th, 2012
6:54 am

The mere fact the Paul Johnson had been on top of this issue since last season, and had been discussing it openly, with his former Defensive Coordinator since then, tells me he had already warn CAG about the potential ramafications of a repeat of some of the epic fails of the defense from last season. My guess is that CPJ also expressed his concern about why he thought were some of the reasons the players were having issues. I would also suspect that after the Miami game, there was a “conversation” between the two men, just to compare note, and then after MTSU, a bit more than a “conversation”. After Clemson, and seeing nothing had changed, my guess is CPJ saw that CAG had dug his heels in and refused to make any changes, and knew by now there was going to be continued issues with the defense, so he felt he had no choice but to make his change now, rather than wait until the end of the season.

No Head Coach likes to fire their Assistant Coaches, in particular their Coordinators. The fact that GA Tech has one that’s willing to do so, even in the middle of the season, because it’s the best thing for the success of his program, means we are a very fortunate program. There are some Head Coaches who won’t do anything for years, hoping things will eventually turn themselves around on their own, or they’re so “comfortable” in their position they just don’t care if the team wins or loses.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
7:25 am

No head coach likes to admit making a big mistake.
Stewart – great hire. (Maryland)
Groh – terrible hire.
In case u haven’t noticed, our already small fanbase is getting smaller again.
You have heard about the Michigan – Ohio State rivalry?
That is because Michigan State seldom defeats Michigan.
Michigan State fixed that by winning 4 in a row.
It can be done but the opportunity may have passed.
No sense in firing Wommack if we were not going to get anything better.
Tenuta blitzed too much.
Groh blitzed too little.

Tokyo jacket

October 11th, 2012
7:26 am

@yeller bug – I agree. I think our offense is good enough to carry us through BC and UMD (maybe BYU?) with only slight improvement by our defense – which could come only in the way of enthusiasm and running cover-2 or simple blitzes. College football is a game of momentum. We haven’t seemed to carry momentum as much as lose it for the past two years. This team needs a shot in the arm. Playing hard and fast against a BC team should do the trick. That said, if we can’t beat BC, we probably ought to give up.

Lastly, the World Wide Leader’s ACC blogger still has us as a bowl team, even though she wrote a NASTY article about CPJ/CAG.

GFJacket

October 11th, 2012
7:34 am

Jimmy, Tech had the talent to compete with big time football when college athletics was really about learning, not providing the academically challenged gimme degrees in return for significant revenue generation on Saturdays. Tech will never compete with big time football as long as it has no P.E., Turfgrass Management, (fill-in-the-blank) Studies Majors. UGA has those and thus can recruit the best 5 star blue chippers.

GFJacket

October 11th, 2012
7:37 am

And before you start citing Stanford, Notre Dame, etc. as counter examples, those schools also offer non-technical liberal arts degrees. Why do you think Duke’s basketball team mostly majors in Sociology?

TechLB

October 11th, 2012
7:54 am

Engineering school = advanced math
Liberal Arts school = many more choices

It really does make a difference but we can be successful with smart players too…let’s not use it as an excuse.

Tokyo jacket

October 11th, 2012
7:57 am

@Jacket Detective, who would your choice for DC be?

Tokyo jacket

October 11th, 2012
8:00 am

@GF jacket – agree with a lot of what you said except Duke’s basketball team. During one game they showed their test scores/grades. By my quick math, they actually beat out the average GT student, not just athletes.

Also, we were competitive in the late 1990s and early 2000’s with national championship teams.

TechLB

October 11th, 2012
8:00 am

CPJ made the best hire he could at the time, Groh has had a successful career building good defenses. If Paul had hired a no-name DC and he failed, you’d be criticizing that. He had to make a change, the defense was fundamentally awful, really, seriously bad. It wasn’t a matter of better athletes beating us, we were often way out of position, listless, just clueless…

People are saying the right things about playing with energy, simplifying things, getting to the ball, etc. Hell, if we’re just in the right place and tackle a little better I’ll at least feel like we’re improving!

Lots of football to be played, let’s win a few of these!

Go Jackets

Wal-Mart Retards

October 11th, 2012
8:09 am

It sounds simple, but I haven’t really heard too much about the D lining up out of position before. Why give receivers an 8 or 9 yard cushion on 3rd and 6? Even Sneezy and the other LBs were lining up outside of the tackles. That is a recipe for disaster. Lots of medium yardage passing and gashing up the middle. The guys need to “stay home” and as CPJ has said, not try to trick anyone.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
8:12 am

@Tokyo jacket.
Someone smart enough not to get outcoached every week obviously.
Some have offered lists.
I mainly follow Tech and have not looked around.
We succeed at football when we have coaches smarter than the other side.
We stole Heisman from Clemson.
We promoted Dodd because he was an obviously smart assistant.
And it is a great shame, we did not encourage O’Leary to leave sooner so we could promote the brains of the outfit, Ralph Freigen.
Without the Freigen hire, O’Leary would never have defeated Uga and been fired.
Look at the improvement in the Falcons once they hired better coordinators and got rid of the ones holding them back.
Mike Smith looked around and hired two with great reps.
That is what should have happened in 2009 if we were not going to give Wommack another year.
CPJ better get this one right or I’ll get Falcon season tickets instead of Tech.
Maybe.

Birmingham Jacket

October 11th, 2012
8:15 am

2-star recruits does not a good defense make.

“Re-energized”… Hilarious. UGA will drop 60+ on these guys.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
8:15 am

Dawg fans are comparing their coach to the Dalai Lama.
One said Richt was an energy vampire.
Got to compliment them on their creativity.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
8:23 am

You may be right Birmingham Jacket but we have seldom had highly ranked classes.
Georgia Tech has succeeded with guys who outcoach the other side.
Thomas, Attaochu and Hunt Days have talent.
It is impossible to evaluate our secondary when we allow every QB to get comfortable, even in our own stadium, from lack of pressure.
If u cannot get pressure from your lineman, then u have to occasionally blitz.
AnotherJacket fan suggested early and often.
U don’t want to be too predictable about it though.
QBs make bad decisions when pressured.
Someone else besides Tevin should be getting the pressure in BD stadium at the veryt least.
Bobby Dodd stadium should not be home away from home for opponents QBs from the lack of a coordinator who will turn the guys loose.
We are not all 2 stars.
And some 2 stars can be coached up.
Prove me right guys.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
8:33 am

Maryland’s head coach knew he had to make a good hire after his first year was a near disaster.
He did and their defense is now ranked 8th in the country I think.
Much improved anyway.
CPJ may not be on the hot seat with his contract and what we are paying Hewitt but he better figure out who would be a good fit here.
If he hired Groh because he would come cheap, he learned u get what u pay for.
If Kelly gets them to play great, he could win the job but a mild improvement should not land him the job.
I am not recommending Kelly.
This is CPJ’s call and he better get this one right.

crackbaby

October 11th, 2012
9:13 am

@Jacket Detective

Certainly entitled to your opinions but a couple points of order if you will allow.

1) George O’Leary was a fine HC and his record reflects that. If not for O’Leary, TEch fans would not have had lofty expectations for Chan. Friedgen was the O-coordinator and had great relationships with QBs (especially Lil’ Joe).

2) Friedgen’s record (10 yrs HC at Maryland) would lead people like you to level the same criticism that CPJ endures (won with previous coaches players, can’t recruit). Here are the Terps finishes in the Conf // Div under the Fridge – 1st, T-2nd, 2nd, 8th // 4th, 2nd, 5th, 3rd, 6th, T-2nd.

Honestly, how many H.S. recruits and their parents are going to be impressed when a 400 lb slob sits in their living room and talks about commitment, character, etc.?

3) Forget about the number of stars (recruiting blather). I certainly am no expert, but it seems to me the Jackets do have more talent than is shown on game day. Although the D is weak in the interior (line and LB), guys like Brandon Watts, Q Nealy, Dieke.

Our WRs lack strength and body control but it’s because they are young and still filling out. CPJ has done a great job of tall, rangy WRs.

Just me $.02

Just A Comment

October 11th, 2012
9:15 am

Said all along too much 2-gap! No one can play it given legalized holding by the O. Groh’s 2 gap was complicated as to rules for rules for rules in each situation and therefore was meant as auto pilot once taught. No chess match with OC of opponent, With the spread and 20 more O plays a game at least and legalized holding doomed to fail and it did.

SansWorld

October 11th, 2012
9:20 am

Man I miss the good ol glory days of Wommack’s defenses.
Really? Even with several NFLers the ‘09 defense was awful. Not as bad as the last 3 games this year, but they gave up over 6 yards a play. Sorry that Groh did not work out, but a change was needed.

Freddie Blassie

October 11th, 2012
9:29 am

CPJ better do this and better do that?? Or what? You gonna wet your pants?

Tech has enough talent to score 33 points a game, without the Presbyterian game. That should be enough to win. Tech’s defense would be better just lining up in a base defense and playing hard.

I thought the Al Groh hire was great given the man’s experience and accomplishments. It proved not to be a good fit at Tech. Al had a chance to prove that he could get it turned around, but did not do it.
Just like fatigue making ball players play like cowards, so does indecision. Figure out what the defenders’ strengths are and put them in the scheme that fits them; give them three or four calls or stunts and let them play.
My prediction is that GT will beat Georgie this year in Athens and win their bowl game.

Tokyo jacket

October 11th, 2012
9:38 am

I think, barring excellent improvement from Kelly, bringing in Randy Shannon is probably the best move we could make right now – national championship ring as a player and defensive coordinator, great character guy, knows the ACC, can recruit Florida and Texas, and is currently the LB coach for a squad ranked number 9 in total D and 10 in scoring defense. Combine that with our offense and I think we’d be in GREAT position.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
9:48 am

@Freddie Blassie.
Or CPJ joins the now long list of failed football and basketball coaches at GT.
Tech ADs have been mostly clueless since Dodd.
But you know what.
I do not like contributing to the Hewitt 1.7 million per year AD mistake.
Any good lawyer would have advised against the only rollover contract in the country.
I’ll leave that to u Freddie.
Enjoy.

GT Dude

October 11th, 2012
9:48 am

I have watched our down linemen get virtually no push into the back field this season, I like the idea of simplifying and lets try some simple bull rush, swim and spin moves. Let the down line men wreak havoc and have the four linebackers clean up the mess
As Johnson says this game isn’t that difficult.

Jacket Detective

October 11th, 2012
9:51 am

@Tokyo jacket.
Good suggestion.
I hope CPJ considers him.
If CPJ hired Groh without looking around then Virginia left a trojan horse at our door who we let in.
You do not fire coordinators midyear unless something is badly wrong.

carolinajacket

October 11th, 2012
10:00 am

So, again, what exactly is wrong with Fred Holton, and is he lost for the season? Things have been awfully quiet about a guy who was supposed to be the best defensive back on the team.