Archive for October, 2012

Special-teams mistakes cloud Tech win

Georgia Tech solved problems on defense. The special-teams unit is still looking for answers.

“It’s like putting your finger in a dyke,” coach Paul Johnson said. “You get one fixed, another one pops.”

After poor special-teams play in recent seasons, Johnson hired David Walkosky to be his first-ever special-teams coordinator in the offseason. The return game has shown flashes and the punt team has been stable, but there has been little consistency. Saturday’s problems were in the kicking game. David Scully had a 22-yard try blocked and then missed a 28-yarder.

He was replaced after making one of three field-goal attempts in Tech’s last game, the Oct. 6 loss against Clemson.
Justin Moore, who took placekicks last year, took over in the second half, making a 32-yarder before missing a 41-yarder and then a point-after try. Johnson said Moore told him that the ball was on the ground when he tried to make the point-after. It was Moore’s first extra-point miss after converting all 56 …

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Georgia Tech post-game quotes

“It was nice to get back on the right side of the scoreboard. I thought we played well in the first half on both offense and defense and then we lost focus in second half. As I told the team, 37 is more than 17, so we will take the win and try to build on it for the next one.”

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson

“My concern was that we needed to be more intense and focus on how control things. I want them to be competitive and sometimes we just seem to lose our focus out there. I think one problem is the guys [on the sidelines] that aren’t dressing and I’m going to take care of that. They need to learn that they aren’t at a party on that sideline. They need to get into the game and they won’t be there anymore if they are not.”

Paul Johnson on his concerns after the three-game losing streak

“It sure didn’t hurt to get that call. It was good to get a break like that.”

Paul Johnson on the roughing the kicker penalty against Boston College on a Tech punt

“Our kicking game was a mess. …

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Paul Johnson says Vad Lee could see expanded role

When Georgia Tech fans have called for freshman quarterback Vad Lee, coach Paul Johnson has noted that starter Tevin Washington has played well and Lee hasn’t been good in practice.

Lee had a good week of practice so he got to play more against Boston College on Saturday. He ended up playing so well that Johnson sounds as if he’s considering expanding Lee’s role.

Lee led the Jackets to touchdowns on two of his three first-half possessions and flashed the talent that made him a top recruit for Johnson in 2011. Washington, who is well-versed in Johnson’s triple-option offense, also played well during Tech’s 37-17 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Johnson said having two effective quarterbacks is “a good problem to have.”

“We will see how we go,” Johnson said after Tech’s 37-17 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium. “Tevin is the guy and as Vad comes along, he comes along. He has a lot of ability If he continues to practice well he will get more opportunities. It’s not the end of the world …

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Updated: Tech ends slide against Boston College

Updated, 10 p.m.

On the same day that the weakest team in the ACC showed up, Georgia Tech’s gloom fell away.

Returning from its bye week and eager to air out the stink of a three-game losing streak, the Yellow Jackets throttled Boston College 37-17 Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In Tech’s first game since the firing of defensive coordinator Al Groh, the Jackets defense looked like a more cohesive and agile unit.

The scenes repeated with head-scratching frequency –ball-carriers slipping out of the grasp of Tech defenders, quarterback zipping downfield passes to convert long third downs, opponents flipping footballs to officials in the Jackets end zone and giving teammates five – did not get nearly as much play Saturday.

“Everybody was kind of on the same page,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We’ll see when we grade the film, but you didn’t see the busts.”

After firing Groh Oct. 8, Johnson said that the defense would be simplified to enable players to play with free minds and …

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Georgia Tech-Boston College preview

Three storylines

What will we see from the defense?

Coach Paul Johnson made the decision to dismiss defensive coordinator Al Groh because he determined the unit’s performance would not get better under his leadership. Now we’ll see if the Yellow Jackets can actually improve. Johnson has already offered details of what he wants out of the defense, led by interim coordinator Charles Kelly. It’s time for the Jackets to try to fill the order.

Can the Jackets start the second season properly?

After the 2-4 start, Tech is looking at the final six regular-season games as a second season, a chance to finish strong. Players and coaches reported practices with high energy and tempo during the bye week and leading up to Saturday’s game. Tech can show its commitment by finishing off plays, playing crisply and avoiding mistakes. A successful final stretch would go a long way towards altering the perception of the season and the team’s future.

How will Tech play in the fourth quarter?

If …

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Tech counts on simplicity to fix flaws

Al Groh saw the tidal wave coming but was unable to avoid being washed away.

Paul Johnson will now get his turn to test out his own disaster containment theories.

Said the Georgia Tech coach, My strategy is to make it simple so that guys can play fast and they can play.”

The Yellow Jackets play Boston College in their seventh game of the season Saturday, quite happy to forget that the first six ever took place. The play of their defense following the Oct. 8 dismissal of Groh, Tech’s defensive coordinator since 2010, may determine the depth of their memory loss. In the span of seven practices, three occurring during the Jackets’ open week, Johnson and the defensive coaching staff have sought to revamp its approach.

Johnson wants to rely less on tactics that he believes overloaded players and return more of the game to them.

“Are they going to block you sometimes? Sure,” Johnson said. “They’ve got coaches, too. But what you don’t want to do is beat yourself. Make them have to …

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A Tech book worth reading

The more devout Georgia Tech fan knows that this season marks the 70th anniversary of Clint Castleberry’s single glorious season as a Yellow Jacket, when he finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting (the highest by a freshman to that point) and led the Jackets to a 9-2 season for coach William Alexander. Castleberry went off to fight in World War II, never to return. His No. 19 is the only football jersey that Tech has retired.

His story is told with expertise and detail by Tech grad Bill Chastain in “Jackrabbit,” available here. It has been a great history lesson not just about Castleberry but also about Alexander, Bobby Dodd and the city of Atlanta in that era.

Bill was good enough to answer a few questions for the blog about the book. For those interested in Tech’s football history and Castleberry specifically, this is a terrific read.

1. How does a Tech grad end up in writing?

Like a lot of college students, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I graduated with …

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Notes: Tech defense prepping for problematic formation

Notes for Friday’s paper.

1. In advance of its Saturday game against Boston College, the Georgia Tech defense has been working on defending the stacked receivers look that Middle Tennessee State and Clemson both used effectively against the Yellow Jackets. In it, one wide receiver lines up at the line of scrimmage and a second takes his stance behind him. As both run downfield, the second can run behind the first without getting bumped at the line, allowing an unencumbered start to his route.

“Things that have given you problems in the past, you’re going to see them again until you fix ’em,” interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said. “That wouldn’t surprise me to see that.”

Kelly, who was last a coordinator in 2005 at Nicholls State, will call plays from the coaches box, with the calls signaled in from the sideline. Said Kelly of rehearsing play-calling, “You kind of do that in practices.” Much of the work is done in meetings with the defensive staff to decide what …

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Tech defense bracing for more up-tempo

Some notes from interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly’s interview Wednesday:

1. Kelly praised the collaborative work of defensive assistants Andy McCollum, Joe Speed and David Walkosky.

“Dave had some good ideas on protections, how to attack protections, Andy had some good ideas in coverage stuff,” he said. “It’s about making us better.”

Paul Johnson also has had input.

2. Kelly said that a number of second-team players or backups have performed well in practice, naming inside linebackers Anthony Harrell and Tremayne McNair and defensive backs Jamal Golden, D.J. White and Demond Smith.

“We’re looking forward to giving those guys an opportunity and see what they can do,” he said.

3. On preparing for play-calling responsibilities: “You kind of do that in practice. The coaches, we meet as a staff and we talk about situations, what we want to do in these situations and we’ll go over that with Coach Johnson, so he’s on the same page with what we’re thinking and he has a lot …

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Game-plan advantages for Tech vs. B.C.

From a game-planning perspective, Boston College is in something of a pickle.

On Oct. 6, the Eagles played Army, whose offense is similar to Georgia Tech’s. Such a game often clues in Tech coaches as to how their opponent will try to defend the Yellow Jackets’ option-based spread. Eagles coach Frank Spaziani noted that it does help his team by increasing familiarity with the atypical offense.

“There’s a couple layers, the yin and yang to that,” Spaziani said.

Further, with Charles Kelly taking over as Tech interim defensive coordinator in place of the fired Al Groh, the Boston College offense isn’t entirely confident of what it will see from the Tech defense.

“It’s a little bit of professional guesswork,” Spaziani said. “I wouldn’t imagine them changing too much. There’s going to be some subtle differences we’re going to have to be prepared to adjust to.”

Speaking on the ACC coaches teleconference, Spaziani drew a lofty comparison with Tech coach Paul Johnson and his offense …

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