In his Tuesday news conference, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson gave more insight into schematic changes he wants to incorporate for the Yellow Jackets defense. In short, he would like the defense to distance itself from much of the approach of former coordinator Al Groh. Johnson recounted a number of problems he had with Tech’s scheme with Groh, most of it revolving around what he thought was an overabundance of complexity.
“We don’t need 80 calls,” he said. “You don’t need a buzzword on everything. We need guys to learn how to play and play hard.”
Echoing comments he had made previously, Johnson said he has become more involved in putting together the defensive game plan and practice schedule. He also said more players will play and suggested there will be fewer sub packages, saying that no-huddle offenses have exploited Tech’s defense by keeping a nickel or dime defense on the field after converting a first down on 3rd-and-long.
“And that’s what’s happening, whereas in years past, you didn’t see 72 guys change on third down,” he said. “There might be an extra defensive back go in and one guy come out.”
A change Johnson mentioned more than once is that the defense won’t change its play call on the fly as the offense shifts formation.
“There’s got to be some communication, but when one guy goes in motion, it doesn’t have to change seven people,” he said. “I’m not saying that the other way was that complicated, but the way it was, it wasn’t working. I got tired of hearing, ‘Well, I didn’t get a call.’ ‘Well, yeah, you did.’ ‘Well, no, I didn’t.’”
It may mean that players aren’t in the “ultimate supreme position,” as Johnson put it, but the hope is that a one-call system will reduce confusion or miscommunications. He said that at times, because of communication issues, one side of the defense was playing one call and the other side was playing another.
“I think you’ve got to learn how to play defense and you put your eyes on a guy and they’ll tell you where the ball’s going, as opposed to trying to recognize 82 different plays,” he said. “That’s just me.”
1. Center Jay Finch will practice Tuesday, but Johnson wasn’t sure if he would be in a gold (limited contact) jersey or not.
2. Johnson said he hadn’t seen a difference in strength and conditioning. With new strength and conditioning coach John Sisk starting in May, “I don’t think you’re going to see a difference this year,” he said.
3. Johnson on his recollections of Tech’s last game against Boston College, a 19-16 win over the Eagles in his first-ever ACC game. “We struggled offensively like crazy and we played really good on defense. We turned ’em over, held ’em repeatedly when we turned it over. And managed to hit a couple of plays offensively and just enough to win the game. … That was probably one of our better defensive games since I’ve been here.”
4. Johnson said his personal preference regarding the ACC’s scheduling format would be to get rid of the permanent crossover partners if rivalries such as North Carolina-N.C. State and Miami-Florida State could be preserved.
“Truthfully, Georgia Tech-Clemson, that’s a good game, that’s a close game, but it’s not the same rivalry as Georgia Tech-Georgia or North Carolina-N.C. State or Florida State-Miami probably, although it’s turned into one because we play each other every year. But historically, it probably wasn’t the same. But the other teams are, so I don’t know how they get away from [permanent crossover partners] unless they change divisions.”
In case you missed it…
Thanks for reading.