Tech notes: USC defense loaded

1. It was no season of triumph for the USC defense. The Trojans, picked No. 1 overall to start the season, completed the regular season ranked 45th in scoring defense and 63rd in total defense.

Regardless, Georgia Tech, which plays USC in the Sun Bowl Dec. 31, sees a defense teeming with talent. Safety T.J. McDonald and outside linebacker Hayes Pullard in particular caught the attention of quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon, who said the two “have stood out as awfully talented players.”

McDonald is “big and he plays all over the field,” quarterback Vad Lee said. “That’s somebody we’ll definitely have to look for.”

McDonald, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior, was an All-America as a junior and will likely be one of the top players at his position in the NFL draft. McDonald was one of nine USC defensive players receiving All-Pac-12 first-team, second-team or honorable mention recognition. Pullard, a freshman All-America last season, was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. Defensive end Leonard Williams was selected the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year.

Bohannon favorably compared the USC defense with Tech’s past two opponents, Georgia and Florida State. Those teams held Tech to a combined 25 points. Six of USC’s listed defensive starters are freshmen or sophomores.

“They’re good now, but in a year or so, they’re going to be really, really good,” Bohannon said.

2. Safety Isaiah Johnson is probably out for the Sun Bowl, coach Paul Johnson said after practice Tuesday. He suffered an undisclosed injury in a seven-on-seven drill in a recent practice. Isaiah Johnson has started 26 consecutive games, going back to the start of the 2011 season.

It is no small loss. Johnson was one of the team’s most improved defensive players and is the team tackles leader with 87 total stops.

“He was really playing well, so you really feel bad for him,” Johnson said.

Potential replacements include Chris Milton, Jamal Golden and Demond Smith. Golden started five games at the start of the season at safety due to injuries to other players.

Offensive tackle Ray Beno returned to practice Tuesday after having surgery to repair a broken finger. Outside linebacker Brandon Watts, who has been out with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return Wednesday.

3. Johnson hired David Walkosky in February as his first special-teams coordinator to coach only special teams. He added defensive line responsibilities midseason when defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired. Asked Tuesday if Walkosky will return to his original special teams-only status, Johnson said “possibly.”

Johnson gave mixed reviews to the special teams this season, saying the return game had improved but the punt team in particular lagged. As he has said in response to questions about hiring a full-time defensive coordinator, Johnson said he will address it after the bowl game. Charles Kelly has been serving as the interim coordinator. Johnson’s coordinator hire could also impact Walkosky’s status.

4. According to media reports, USC quarterback Matt Barkley has not been practicing and is not expected to return until the Trojans’ first practice in El Paso, Texas, Dec. 26. Barkley suffered a shoulder injury in the Nov. 17 loss to UCLA. With the draft upcoming, it’s conceivable Barkley could sit out even if cleared to play. On the depth chart, Barkley and Max Wittek are listed as co-starters.

Wittek started in place of Barkley against Notre Dame in USC’s final regular-season game, completing 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

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Jackets dump Alabama State

Notes: Waller’s confidence growing

Greene no longer with team

Notes: Orwin Smith nears record

Tech notes: When Shaq met Shaq

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

64 comments Add your comment


December 18th, 2012
7:21 pm

First! Go Jackets!

Ice eater 1969

December 18th, 2012
7:28 pm

True Johnson is playing better, but plays to make the tackle after the catch and not a hard hitter. Probably the bend but not breach al groh coaching.( let them catch it in front and make a sure tackle) Seems like a good player and look forward to seeing him next year where his true speed can shine in an aggressive defense. Get strong hit hard and Sunday is possible!

BIrmingham Jacket

December 18th, 2012
7:44 pm

Game is an absolute joke at USC -10.5, especially since Johnson will start Washington.

GT 13 USC 35

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 18th, 2012
8:02 pm

Wow. Vad Lee got a quote in this article. Will that be a sign that he might see more playing time in this game? Doubt it. During the Fla State game, the sideline reporter said after halftime that the coach said both qb would play in the second half. Did that happen? No. It seems Vad ad libbed too much for the coach’s liking in his short appearance in the first half. The only way we win against USC with Washington at qb is if we blow them out and that ain’t happening.

Preparation for Sun Bowl

December 18th, 2012
8:21 pm

[...] for Sun Bowl Ken Sugiura notes on Sun Bowl…. Tech notes: USC defense loaded | Georgia Tech Reply With [...]


December 18th, 2012
8:39 pm

Did they fire Paul Johnson yet? Or, are they waiting until after the bowl game?

George Stein

December 18th, 2012
8:40 pm

Please play Chris Milton. Dude has done all he can do on special teams already. If nothing else, he’ll blow up Lee and Woods.

dry dirt road

December 18th, 2012
8:47 pm

this game will be a joke since Tech disregarded flu shots during pink month; I am disturbed at how Tech is progressing in an effiminate way; they drop the BD years yj with the veined wings symbolic of veined arms from execise that males display on their arms, in favor of female veinless arms, then they wear pink and disregard flu shots that month; then they get manhandled by Middle Tennessee who lost to McNeese State this year; also they kick off at first instead of elect to receive and score first in an aggro manner; CPJ has got to go, Tech needs shotgun, wildcat, pistol offenses, the CPJ offense is only effective against small teams such as Presbyterian, but it wasn’t effective against MT which was a small team


December 18th, 2012
8:49 pm

Birmingham Jacket, you’re on AJC all the time. You’re not making much sense, which isn’t much of a surprise considring half the post you make seem like they were typed up by some kid who hasn’t gone through puberty yet.

Jacket Time

December 18th, 2012
9:21 pm

Ouch no Isaiah. We’re gonna need all the help we can get on D and by that i mean score a sh$t ton of pts on offense.


December 18th, 2012
9:43 pm

Question; who was the last QB to win a bowl game at GT?

Answer; Reggie Balls backup.

Pretty sad.

GT Grad

December 18th, 2012
10:39 pm

i think im gonna love how this bowl game is gonna shape up

Delbert D.

December 18th, 2012
11:34 pm

I’ve seen the USC defense not play especially well in a few games. I watched all of the Oregon, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA games. They did fine against ND and Stanford, but Oregon and UCLA put up numbers on them. Also, they lost to Arizona, giving up 39 points. This past weekend, Arizona squeaked by Nevada 49-48 on 2 TDs in the last minute. That game was a blast to watch.

Bohannon’s “awfully talented players” fits well when applied to the whole defense. Talented, but play awful.


December 18th, 2012
11:50 pm


Please have a look at the UGA basketball team, and then you can get back to us on who is a REAL embarassment.


December 19th, 2012
6:46 am

There’s plenty of film out there on stopping Tech’s offense. USC will be fine. They faced much more sophisticated and balanced offenses in the Pac 12. The key is shedding all the cut blocks and stopping the dive. That’s about it. Its not rocket science. Tech’s triple option has become a caricature of itself and is a total joke..

Besides, Tech’s pathetic D couldn’t stop a granny in a wheelchair. USC’s D need only be average for them to win this game.

Oh well Techies. At least you’ll have an excuse, which is all you ever care about anyway. USC is just another “football factory” and all their players are dumb illiterate thugs, right? Yeah, go with that.

Paul Johnson is a genius.


December 19th, 2012
7:55 am

Hmmmm……I smell dwag trolls. Nothing on your blog boys? Back to the Independence Bowl for you Dwags next year with Murray going pro and most of your defense drafted. And don’t you play LSU & Bama in 2013?

OAN….Might be a sore point with Johnson (everything seems to be) but someone needs to ask him about his plans for rotating QBs in the bowl. Tough break for Isaiah; how about Orwin, is he practicing yet?


December 19th, 2012
8:03 am

So Barkley might not play even if he is physically able? That’s one of the things wrong with college football, it’s a minor league for the pros. Even though only 5% of college players get drafted. Of course the college game is still much more interesting than the pro game.


December 19th, 2012
8:07 am

Tech 49
USC 45

Johnson finally wins a bowl game

Bama 28
Notre Dame 13

Everyone will finally realize what 2 overrated jokes ND and USC are

BIrmingham Jacket

December 19th, 2012
8:22 am


Check the server. The “Roll-Tide” post under my name at 8:39 is not my post.

For the record; I hope Notre Dame (a real college) beats Alabama (a joke of “higher education” and a poor charade for semi-professional football).

You guys at Bama better enjoy it. Saban is gone after this year. BAMA can’t match the $15-20 mil an NFL franchise will offer him.


December 19th, 2012
8:23 am

DawginLex………..Let’s hope you are right on those 2 predictions. You are 1 of about Dawg posters on here that bring some class with you.

big gt fan

December 19th, 2012
8:24 am

look for another disappointing game as long as washington in lineup playing most of snaps, im glad this misery is over.


December 19th, 2012
9:02 am

yeah, at least TW can’t lose any more close games after this one……..maybe it won’t be close after the half & at least Vad can get experience for next season………


December 19th, 2012
9:04 am

@big gt fan

the misery has only begun… and will continue to fall as long as CPJ is here….

Alabama Jack

December 19th, 2012
9:20 am

There will be a mandatory meeting of all dawg trolls at the Stegasaurus to view an endless loop of the last 15 seconds of the SEC CG over and over and over and over and over……interspersed with dawg bassetball low lights,.

Big Montana

December 19th, 2012
9:33 am

The Trojans better strap it on for this game. Tech’s coming hard and fast!


December 19th, 2012
9:35 am

Hey coach how bout a Defensive Coordinator to help sow up recruiting and instilling what principles and schemes that may help you defeat USC.

GT fan

December 19th, 2012
9:52 am

34-28 GT…..

Booze Hound

December 19th, 2012
10:30 am

0-5 in bowls coming up. Please fire Johnson before next season.

GT Fan

December 19th, 2012
10:35 am

December 19th, 2012
6:46 am
There’s plenty of film out there on stopping Tech’s offense. USC will be fine. They faced much more sophisticated and balanced offenses in the Pac 12. The key is shedding all the cut blocks and stopping the dive.
how many times have experts such as yourself said that GT’s offense is a joke, high school offense run by D-II talent, then follow that up with statements that it’s best to have more than one week or plenty of film study to stop the D-II’ers running the high school scheme?

“The key is shedding all the cut blocks and stopping the dive.”….Maybe Lane Kiffin should hire you to replace his father?

92 jacket

December 19th, 2012
10:37 am

I hope Beno’s surgery does not hamper his big play receiving threats


December 19th, 2012
10:52 am

I have mixed feelings about CPJ. Used to think he was the answer as far as bringing GT football back. Now I just think he’s an ornery donkey’s butt who might be able to put a good football team on the field if he hires a decent defensive coordinator. However, if he’s going to be so disagreeable all the time, he’d better start winning more ball games. Yeah he knows more about football than most of us fans, but losing to MTSU, every year to UGA an in a bowl game doesn’t win him many supporters among the alumni and fan base.

Booze Hound

December 19th, 2012
11:04 am

At this point, why would anyone think that Johnson is going to make a good defensive coordinator hire? He’s already hired two (plus promoted a third to interim) and they’ve all stunk. No defense, garbage special teams, almost total inability to pass the ball when the games on the line…what else will it take to get people to see that this clown needs to go!

GT Fan

December 19th, 2012
11:20 am

DC hire ……….
IMO, the process gets really jumbled (i.e. Kelly’s in the mix) if GT’s D plays 4 qtrs in the Sun Bowl the way it played the last 2 qtrs in the ACC Champ game.

This has me on the fence should the D do just that. Do I want Kelly as the permanent DC or would I rather have a totally new DC hired?

Ken Sugiura

December 19th, 2012
11:24 am

Birmingham Jacket – thanks. taken care of.


December 19th, 2012
11:34 am

USC not wanting to play in the Sun Bowl is the only hope GT has of winning this game.

Paul in NH

December 19th, 2012
11:40 am

“The key is shedding all the cut blocks and stopping the dive.”

dawgfan is obviously a defensive genius. Some of his other pieces of advice include:
“if you want to beat the Patriots you have to get to Brady”
“double team Calvin Johnson”
“watch out for changes in the play at the line of scrimmage when the Broncos have the ball”


December 19th, 2012
11:55 am

dawgfan, thanks for describing what the “factories” have become in today’s NCAA environment. Couldn’t have said it any better myself. Well done sir.

Also, I understand you have volunteered baby sitting services for Reuben’s kid. Way to step up and help out with your STUDENT athletes. Once again, you have out done yourself.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 19th, 2012
11:55 am

Tech will win the game because USC has no interest.

@Bham jacket…your Bama envy is killing you. Nick Saban will at Bama much longer than Paul will be at Tech. New England only pay Bill 7 million so Nick could get 15. Stick with your night shift job at Publix.

GT Fan 4Life

December 19th, 2012
11:59 am

I’ve been a Johnson supporter from Day 1 but i’m like you now, i’m just not sure if this guy is the answer. I too believe he is an offensive genius but he’s too proud of himself and won’t listen to anyone’s opinion.. and he’s a complete jerk to all of the media, not to mention how smug he is on the call-in radio show. If he would take notes from Brian Gregory on how to present yourself to the media, fans, boosters, etc then I think a lot more people would cut him some slack. It’s tough to pull for a guy who loses and is still a jacka**


December 19th, 2012
12:04 pm

Well said 4Life, CBG gets it, not so sure about CPJ. Next year is a big year on the Flats for coach.

Jacket Detective

December 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

Instead of flogging the same dead horses, why not get with the basketball program and get yourself immediately cheered up?
We are in the ACC.
We are going to be better at basketball than football.
Cremins was very good for Tech to get us started in the ACC.
But his approach was flawed in not having a bench.
Gregory is recruiting more than one player per year.
There is a battle at practically every position for minutes.
Recruiting and coaching.
What a concept.

Jacket Detective

December 19th, 2012
12:26 pm

Friendly battles I might add.


December 19th, 2012
12:30 pm

4life, not as smart since he lost the ass’t to GSoU?


December 19th, 2012
12:33 pm

JD, horse isn’t dead unless we drop football………prefer basketball, cph’s teams could not execute, too many turnovers………


December 19th, 2012
12:42 pm

Agree with posters about Johnson needing to be more marketable. I still think he can turn this around but he needs to be willing to adapt. He has to develop more talent. Stars may be higher under Johnson, but Tenuda certainly developed better players. I really don’t think it would be that hard to sell one of the top schools in country, located in heart of top southern city and playing in BCS conference. He needs to learn from CBG.


December 19th, 2012
12:50 pm

What a joke! Tech shouldn’t be in any bowl!!

Al Bundy

December 19th, 2012
2:06 pm

Ken, Can you tell me why my post got blocked?

GT fan for life

December 19th, 2012
2:19 pm

dan radakovich got sold a bill of goods with this fool and now we are stuck with his ugly ass because we can’t afford to fire this fool

Bad Dawg, Bad Dawg

December 19th, 2012
2:32 pm

Dawgfan, congrats on your “almost there again” season. Looking forward to Auburn and Vols returning to championship form (both have won national champtionships in the modern era) and relegating Dawgs to 2nd tier SEC East behind Gators, Gamecocks and Vol. Dawg fans still reliving the SEC Championship game weeks later. Think goodness for Gators, Auburn, Bama and LSU to carry the SEC torch. Boy, not even going to a BCS Bowl and having played in (and lost again) your champtionship game.

Mike S.

December 19th, 2012
2:32 pm

I really dont care what Johnson does next year. UGA learned how to play defense again and is back to the SEC title contender level teams that Chan got fired for not beating. Gailey at least competed, and you could argue he should have won a couple of those games. Johnson has pretty much gotten mauled the last two years…42-3 in the third quareter!! The ACC has devolved around Tech as well. How is this going to turn around? Tell me that. Hope that UGA, Clemson, and FSU forget how to play football again? Johnson one win was against one of UGA’s worst defenses ever. The ACC is getting pounded out of conference, so even if the conference record improves, that proves nothing but winning in a mediocre conference.

The only reason Johnson isnt gone after this year is because we cant afford to fire him. Washington is not to blame. I dont recall Vad Lee doing anything vs UGA or BYU for that matter.