1. A spot in the ACC Championship game is great and all, but Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson intends to keep his team’s sights trained on Georgia. In a roughly seven-minute media session following the Yellow Jackets’ Monday practice, he mentioned players or coaches being focused on the Bulldogs, their need to be focused on them or the game’s importance no fewer than eight different times.
Coaches didn’t celebrate the announcement of Miami’s self-imposed postseason ban because “we’ve been kind of tunnel-visioned on getting ready to play Georgia,” he said. He didn’t have an opinion on any advantages of the Yellow Jackets’ being an underdog because “I’m just worried about Georgia.” He won’t assign any staff member to start preparing a scouting report on Florida State because “we’re focused on Georgia.”
The attention to Saturday’s game is undoubtedly necessary. The Jackets are 1-3 against Georgia in Johnson’s tenure, part of a 1-10 record in the past 11 games. The 2012 Bulldogs appear to be the best Georgia team that Johnson has faced.
“The quarterback (Aaron Murray) is a long-time starter and a good player,” he said. “They’ve got a good receiving corps, the freshman running backs (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall) are really good and then defensively, they’ve probably got four or five first-round draft picks. A lot of talent on that team, no question.”
He did throw a curveball in response to a question about the possibility of the Bulldogs looking past Tech to the SEC Championship game against Alabama.
“I wouldn’t think so, but I don’t know,” he said. “I’m worried about Georgia Tech.”
2. Johnson gave a positive report on A-back Orwin Smith, who left the Duke game Saturday in the second half with an ankle injury and did not return. Johnson said that “I think he’ll be O.K.” for the Georgia game. Smith is Tech’s leading rusher at 61.2 yards per game and most dynamic offensive player. His career 9.4 yards-per-carry average is the highest of any active FBS player with 100 or more carries.
Said Johnson, “We’re hopeful that we’re not going to lose anybody for Saturday.”
3. Coaches named quarterback Tevin Washington, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and safety Isaiah Johnson as offense, defensive and special-teams players of the week, respectively. Washington tied his career high with three touchdown passes and also set the ACC and school career records for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with his 36th career touchdown. He led Tech on five touchdown drives overall.
Attaochu had five tackles and two sacks. It was his second multi-sack game in the past three. Johnson’s special-teams play included an open-field tackle on a Duke kickoff return. Johnson plays on multiple special-teams units.
No Tech players were named ACC players of the week. Washington, Attaochu and offensive tackle Ray Beno were nominated at their respective position groups.
5. A week after recording 100 knockdown blocks against North Carolina, which was a team best in Johnson’s five seasons, the Tech offense did one better, putting Duke defenders on the ground 101 times on 86 plays. Guard Shaquille Mason was responsible for 28 of those blocks.
Said Johnson, “It’s going in the right direction.
6. Tickets for the ACC title game are on sale through the Tech ticket office. For more information, visit ramblinwreck.com or call 1-888-832-4849. Ticket information is also available at accfootballcharlotte.com. On ticket re-sale website stubhub.com, tickets were available Monday evening starting at $7.99. … Johnson said he didn’t have an opinion on Maryland’s departure from the ACC to the Big Ten because he hadn’t given it much thought as “I’ve been kind of preoccupied.”
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog