Tech defense gouged, but earns stops

By Doug Roberson

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Georgia Tech’s defense, fresh off performances that seemed to show some improvement since the firing of coordinator Al Groh, seemed to regress in the first 35 minutes of Saturday’s 68-50 win at North Carolina.

But then Tech’s defense started making plays, beginning with three consecutive stops in the third quarter that helped to change the outcome of the game.

“We talked about at halftime if we could get a couple of stops, we thought we could win the game,” coach Paul Johnson said.

The first stop came on an interception by end Izaan Cross. The next came when the defense stopped a fake punt on North Carolina’s next possession. The next came when Tech forced North Carolina to go three-and-out.

The results led to 17 consecutive points for the offense to blow open what had been a back-and-forth game.

Lined up outside the tackle, Cross moved upfield and the running back ran past him without trying to block him, confirming Cross’ suspicion that it was a screen play. He tipped the pass and then caught it at the 22-yard line, though he was so excited after the game he couldn’t remember how he intercepted it. It was his first interception at Tech and led to a 35-yard field goal by Chris Tanner that gave the Jackets a 44-36 lead.

“We were just preaching to ourselves, one stop, we just needed one stop,” Cross said.

Before those plays, the Tar Heels used their hurry-up scheme to roll up 36 points and almost 400 yards and rarely seemed troubled by anything the Yellow Jackets tried to do scheme-wise. Running back Giovani Bernard was especially destructive, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown in the first half and catching a 78-yard touchdown pass on the Tar Heels’ first play of the second half.

Then came Cross’ interception, followed by Tech’s defense forcing a three-and-out. The Tar Heels tried to surprise Tech by calling a fake punt on fourth-and-10 at the 25, but the Jackets stopped the runner after a 2-yard gain. Robbie Godhigh rushed for a 27-yard touchdown on Tech’s next play.

The Jackets then stopped the Heels with another three-and-out on the next drive. The Jackets took advantage with a 32-yard scoring pass from Vad Lee to Godhigh to take a 58-36 lead.

“We figured whoever gets the first stop will win the game,” Cross said. “We wanted to get North Carolina off the field and the rest spoke for itself.”

Though the Jackets made the plays when they needed to, the team gave up 50 points and 497 yards.

Johnson didn’t seem to care afterward, using one of his favorite explanations.

“It’s like I said after the game, 68 is more than 50,” he said. “Sometimes you win like that, sometimes you win 6-3.”

35 comments Add your comment


November 10th, 2012
11:36 pm

D you earned your pay in the second half. I am proud of your effort in the fourth quarter. Keep your eyes on Duke. They have a decent offense…. Make it happen!


November 10th, 2012
11:56 pm

Just get better each week.


November 11th, 2012
12:02 am

Utah State’s defensive coordinator looks like a great fit for GT..
I would mind grabbing someone from Alabama’s staff ..


November 11th, 2012
1:02 am

Giff Smith and Coach Kelly CO- DC’s, you’ve solved alot of problems and this is workable!

Island Jacket

November 11th, 2012
2:42 am

I think Coach Kelly is doing a decent job at DC. Great second half defense.


November 11th, 2012
6:27 am

A win is a win is a win. Let’s get another one against the dookies!


November 11th, 2012
6:54 am

Two out of three games the defense has givin up 40+ points. Here’s a list of good defensive coordinator candidates that would be good for GT.


November 11th, 2012
7:35 am

OMG you guys should SO hire this kid as a Defensive Coordinator! Seriously.


November 11th, 2012
7:51 am

Other more realistic options are Dave Aranda, Mike Refett, and Mike Elko.


November 11th, 2012
8:01 am

This constant yearning for a d-coordinator is just one of the most colossal Miss of the marks I’ve ever seen of a program. No amount of points against a North Carolina can ever overcome the glaring fact that this turkey-necked geek white-board jockey will never ever be a successful head coach at this level. I tell ya what all you apologists, let’s hire him as an offense coordinator, that make you happy? This team needs a HEAD COACH that teaches and coaches football….not offense. There’s a huge huge difference.

tired from all the frustrations of being a yellow jacket

November 11th, 2012
8:10 am

Native bird –you are a total idiot!!

Jacket Man

November 11th, 2012
8:18 am

I think it’s becoming very obvious that Paul Johnson can flat out coach offense, and with him bringing in a new “breed” of offensive lineman (more road grader than usual), it’s becoming obvious he’s evolving it as he’s getting better athletes who can score (QB/RB/WR).

If GA Tech could ever get their defensive house in order, they could play with anyone on their schedule. They have had pretty good defenses in the past, so we know it’s possible. They just need to get it done.

One last thing. I said earlier this Fall that I didn’t think this year would be a great year, but NEXT season would be the one to keep your eyes on because the schedule was more attractive (home schedule was much better) and Vad would be the starter. Well, if they can figure out a defense between now and then, I still have faith next season can be something special.

Jacket Detective

November 11th, 2012
8:37 am

“Turkey-necked white-board jockey”.
Is that necessary?
You may not know this, evidently, but that type of comment reflects more on you than it does Paul Johnson.
Paul made a mistake with his Groh hire and maybe should not have fired Wommack.
But since Bobby Dodd retired, who has done better at Tech?
Bobby Ross?
Better take another look at his first three years.
And like some want to pretend now, the cubboard was not bare when he took the job.
And Ross used Tech football as a stepping stone just like Curry did.
It is really a shame Hewitt did not dump us too because then he would be held in high esteem as well instead of hated.
Dump Tech and they love you forever.
Go figure.
With the contracts of today, we cannot afford to lose our tempers and send Johnson packing with another Hewitt-type payoff.
The UNC game has given us hope and I know some will disagree but I think Jonson has brought along Vad with skill as I have seen a number of QBs (Reggie Ball and Chris Wix at FSU) produce results perhaps under their skill level from possibly being asked to do too much, too soon.
Reggie also suffered from the disadvantage of not being coached by Ralph Freigen.
Anyway I still support the head coach.
And my point from quoting from “Dodd’s Luck” last week was that there were alums – ignorant that Dodd had actually been the head coach during the three prior successful years after Coach Aleck’s heart attack in 1942 – who were peppering the team captain with questions to find a cause to fire the best guy Tech has ever had as head coach.
But that was after year one?
No it actually was in year 4 but the first three were credited to Alexander.
The brains of the outfit – like during O’Leary’s three successful years after the Freigen hire – was the offensive coordinator, not the head coach in either case.
I’m sure the culprit is deceased but wouldn’t the “fan” who sent to Bobby Dodd’s home programs from the six losing games of 1945 be embarrassed if we had learned of his identity?
We were lucky Dodd didn’t get fed up and dump us too.
Dodd was offered higher pay I think in 1956 by a Texas multimillionaire to coach the Longhorns.
He would have likely been more successful had he taken the deal.

TechApp fan

November 11th, 2012
8:53 am

I bass fish and this D reminds me of a titanium spinner bait…light and flexible…it shakes, vibrates, twist and bends, but does not break! That first UNC drive made me think it had broken…thankfully it did not.


November 11th, 2012
8:56 am

Ken –

What happened to Anthony Autry? Am I missing something?


November 11th, 2012
9:29 am

The D stepped up their game in the 2nd half. In the last 29 minutes of the game they only gave up 1 TD! And GT outscored UNC 34-14 during that time.

Crazy Robert

November 11th, 2012
9:59 am

The defense did make a good stop in the first quarter but the offense went three and out, putting the defense on the field again. But the second half is where they picked it up. Looked like they fed off of the offense’s sucesses. Fun game to watch!

count me as another fan

November 11th, 2012
11:04 am

that is fine with cpj.

i keep reading some idiots remark how stubborn he is for instance. so stubborn that we are now on our 3d D coordinator in his 5 years term. yall act like a great D coordinators are plentiful…. so plentiful that everybody can have one. yeah right. duh.

so stubborn that he hired a guy to coach special teams. now that is stubborn.

so stubborn that he is now recruiting huge studs for the o line. nimble athletic small lineman that he has recruited in the past are now history.

yup he is stubborn.

i like the way he brought along vad vlad lee as another poster mentioned. our history during the gailey era is littered with unproven qb’s who lost their confidence when tossed to the wolves too early.

his recruiting is on par with what gailey did if you compare average stars. lets not forget that gailey had ONE good class in his tenure here and it didnt happen until year 7.

for those of you who havent noticed our walk on program is vastly improved over gailey. that can only help. after all who else has god … high on their team. ;o). i do recall many of you whiners complaining about having godhigh. personally i love the kid.

unlike gailey…. paul’s players are graduating.

unlike gailey, pauls ceiling is not 7 wins. lets not forget that the hill has clamped down on exceptions for paul. something that they allowed ‘more of’ under gailey.

if we can ever find a good fit at d coordinator i can see us doing a whole lot more.

while i like coach kelly i dont think he is the answer to our problem . what i would like to see is us go after former miami coach randy shannon. he is young. he was not part of the ncaa investigation at the u. he is a very good D coordinator. he knows the acc and …. HE CAN RECRUIT LIKE A MO FO.

i do think that we could get him away from tcu where he is underemployed as their linebacker coach.

anthony autry...

November 11th, 2012
11:06 am

tore up his knee and is out for the season.

ken correct me if i am wrong but was in not gattis who corralled that tip not cross?


November 11th, 2012
11:16 am

JacketFan 12 – Autry hurt his knee and is out until next year.

JacketFan – I agree with you about next year. I predicted 8 & 5 this year with next year being an ACC title run year. I also suggested we burn the red shirt on Kallon and just line him up as a dedicated pass rusher – something that could have changed some of the outcomes this year. But Kallon should be a force next year and Gotsis is getting some experieince. Shawn Green has also looked really good at times.

Really hope we can get Justin Thomas on the field at A back. From the reviews this year, the kid can really play and will eventually push Vad for pt.


November 11th, 2012
11:17 am

anthony autry – is was Cross. Gotsis did make a nice read and knock down on a screen pass.


November 11th, 2012
11:53 am

Wow, some of the comments… I want to thank Tevin for the years of service he has given to the institute. Looks like Coach has decided to go another way at QB…

If this coach would simply hire an Offensive coordinator and scrap this BS offense, step 1. Step 2 hire a good defensive coordinator. Step 3 make sure both step 1 and step 2 are proven recruiters! Step 4, lose the excuse that we can’t recruit because of academics. Step 5 fill the stadium, because you are NO longer an embarrassment to college football.


November 11th, 2012
11:53 am

If yall boys don’t consider Tyron Nix or Randy Shannon in the mix. Yall will MISS the boat Once again!!
Yall Eg heads need some one who can RECRUIT!!!

The Dulous, '70

November 11th, 2012
12:31 pm

Al GROH is gone……….Great!
Vad Lee is in…………….Greater!
Beat UGA in a couple weeks………THE GREATEST!


November 11th, 2012
1:59 pm

Bring back Ken!

Jacket Detective

November 11th, 2012
2:10 pm

I like the idea of Count Me As Another Fan and others to consider established D coordinators and Randy Shannon for the job.
So far Kelly has not been enough of an improvement to land the job for next year.


November 11th, 2012
3:04 pm

@ignition at 6:54AM
Excellent observations and good info for all to read if you are not a bomb thrower.

I like the guy at BGreen, Penn grad, smart guy, young and hungry. PJ needs to get this one right after Womack and Groh and we all we be having a lot more fun on Saturday.

1 4 GT

November 11th, 2012
3:41 pm

JDet….Bobby Dodd actually accepted an offer from UFla to be their HC. He returned to ATL & told Coach Aleck he was resigning to take that job. Coach Aleck looked at him and said, “No, you’re staying right here where you belong at GT. Now get outta my office & shut up”. Before Coach Aleck’s heart attack.

1 4 GT

November 11th, 2012
3:53 pm

I’ve seen enough improvement in the D to give CKelly consideration. They are playing harder and they are getting all the mindtuck of Groan out of their heads. Just saying.

dry dirt road

November 11th, 2012
6:21 pm

hire Pat Swilling as DC, or Sanford, or Claybrooks, or Perdoni

Supersize that order, mutt

November 11th, 2012
7:52 pm

So you want somebody who has never even coached defense before??? Yeah, right


November 11th, 2012
9:36 pm

I have a possible option for D coordinator. Brian Gregory does a good job teaching defense. All kidding aside, I think the next 3 + years of watching Mr. Lee at QB, and 2 years with S Days at A-back just might be a lot of fun. Pretty good talent at wr, too. Most of the OL comes back. If we can get to the point that we give up 20-25 points a game we will win a lot.


November 11th, 2012
11:06 pm

I want to congratulate Coach Kelly for doing an outstanding job since his takeover! I know the D is not nearly where we all want it to be, but we at least do not look completely confused out there, which is exactly how we looked on every crucial play when Groh was DC. We have athletes, and Coach Kelly has gotten as much out of them as he can considering he had to scrap an entire playbook mid-season and start over again.
Not saying we shouldn’t look for a good hire this off-season, but certainly want to give Coach Kelly his due.

where dreams come true

November 12th, 2012
7:21 am

I am beginning to not be too concerned on D anymore. To contain the UNC to 50 was huge. As long as GT wins by 1 is all that matters. Reminds me when GT beat FSU in Tallahassee, Nesbitt taking the ball back and coming up with a huge play like that. To watch Godhigh jump 3 feet in the air to complete a pass and Golden run 100 kickoff return back was too exciting. I hope CPJ will be saying 68 is better than 67 when GT plays at Athens.

Buzz 2011

November 12th, 2012
8:37 am

Defense did fine.. UNC 50 GT 68. They did fine..