We’re live from Tech (land of peace and Paul Johnson)

This is Paul Johnson. Do NOT get him angry.

This is Paul Johnson. Do NOT get him angry.

(My web readers. I rewrote the top of this blog to run for an early print edition, which will come out before the completion of tonight’s game. So you’ve got bonus warm-up coverage! You know, I didn’t have to worry about this kind of stuff back in the days of paste buckets and my old Royal.)

When Georgia Tech went into Athens last season, clipped the home team and then assaulted the hedges, it ended several years of misery for one fan base and created at least a 12-month headache for another.

But the Yellow Jackets can do so much more than that now.

The Tech program that went into Thursday night’s game against Clemson found itself with a rare opportunity. Georgia probably isn’t as bad as it showed in its opening loss at Oklahoma State. But how strange is it that there suddenly is more grumbling and dissatisfaction around the Bulldogs’ program than at Tech?

Some of that comes naturally. Georgia has more fans, more alumni and garners more attention. It plays in the SEC. It follows that it’s going to have more scrutiny. It always has and likely it always will. But it has been a while since the Dogs were going into their second game of the season with such dissatisfaction about the offense and criticism of the offensive coordinator (Mike Bobo), the quarterback (Joe Cox) and to some degree the head coach (Mark Richt, if for no other reason than he is the boss of both).

But at Tech? Peace reigns.

Johnson (9-4) had the best first season for a Tech head coach since William Alexander (8-1 in 1920) or John Heisman (6-0-1 in 1905). A win over Clemson would have given him a 2-0 record for the second straight season. That might seem like a modest and somewhat obscure achievement. But only one other Jackets coach has ever done that. That would be Alexander — 88 years ago.

Contrast that backdrop with what we’re witnessing at Georgia. Coaches and school officials spent part of Thursday shooting down an Internet report that Cox was injured and/or was going to be benched from the starting lineup against South Carolina Saturday in favor of the freshman, Logan Gray.

A loss Saturday and the Dogs will be 0-2 for the first time since 1996. Angst is at an unusual high for Week 2, certainly in the Richt era.

Tech will never cast as big of a shadow over the area’s sports landscape as Georgia. It’s like the Mets going against the Yankees in New York, or the Angels going against the Dodgers in Southern California, or the History Channel going against MTV in your fried brain. It doesn’t matter when one is so clearly better than the other. The other is always going to be bigger.

But that shouldn’t diminish this opportunity for the Jackets. A strong second season under Johnson combined with a step back by Georgia would enable Tech to grab some attention. Certainly, it needs it. It’s not a good sign that the Jackets opened ACC play Thursday night on national TV and there were expected to be 5,000 empty seats in their 55,000-seat stadium.

To fill those seats in the future, the Jackets need to not only win but play the kind of inspired football Johnson is demanding. He jumped his players after last week’s perceived sloppy win over Jacksonville State. Completely understandable. Wins over Jacksonville State don’t move the meter. It’s about performance and playing to a standard. Johnson’s standard wasn’t met.

As he said earlier this week: “My expectation level is for our guys to go out play hard on each and every play. The wins and losses take care of themselves. I do not care what scheme you run, how talented you are. The one thing I know in all my years coaching is if you do not play hard you are not going to be very successful.”

Play to that standard and they’ll get attention. And the timing couldn’t be better.

I’ll be blogging live before and during tonight’s game. So if you’ve got any thoughts or questions, let me hear (or read) them.

Here’s mine: The Clemson game is pivotal for this season, or at least as pivotal as a Game 2 can be. A victory gets the Jackets out of the gate early in the ACC and gives them a little bit of momentum going into a  difficult first half of the schedule (next: at Miami, North Carolina, at Mississippi State, at Florida State, Virgina Tech). A loss and suddenly things become more desperate.

Most are focusing on the game’s two running backs, Jonathan Dwyer vs. C.J. Spiller. I’ll be looking for something else: toughness and resolve. If Tech is going to be a player in the conference this season, it needs to step up in games like these, establish control early and play with an edge. A loud home crowd, a night game,  national television — all that can work in their favor with a strong performance.

Back to coach Paul Johnson. Here’s an obscure but interesting statistic: If Tech wins, Johnson will be the first Jackets coach since William Alexander (1920-21) to start at least 2-0 in his first two seasons. That covers several coaches: Bobby Dodd (1-1, 1-1), Bud Carson (2-0, 1-1), Bill Fulcher (1-1, 0-2), Pepper Rodgers (1-1, 1-1), Bill Curry (0-2, 1-1), Bobby Ross (1-1, 1-1), Bill Lewis (1-1, 1-1), George O’Leary (1-1, 2-0), Chan Gailey (2-0, 1-1). Dodd’s predecessor, John Heisman, went 2-0 and 1-0-1 in his first two seasons (1905-06).

That’s it for now. Below I’ve got a chart on how all Georgia Tech coaches have fared in their first two full seasons, listed in order of won-loss percentage. Johnson’s two-year record obviously is incomplete.

Coach (Years)              Rec. (Pct)

William Alexander (1920-21)16-2 (.889)

John Heisman (1906-06)     11-3-2 (.750)

Paul Johnson (2008-09)     10-4 (.714)

Pepper Rodgers (1974-75)   13-9 (.591)

Bill Fulcher (1972-72)     12-10-1 (.543) 

Bobby Dodd (1945-46)       13-8 (.542) 

Chan Gailey (2002-03)      14-12 (.538) 

George O'Leary (1995-96)   11-11 (.500)

Bill Lewis (1992-93)       10-12 (.455)

Bud Carson (1967-68)       8-12 (.400)

Bobby Ross (1987-88)       5-17 (.227)

Bill Curry (1980-81)       2-19-1 (.114)

712 comments Add your comment

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 10th, 2009
2:27 pm

On my way!!!

Roddy Jones will be the difference, not 16.5 yards a carry, but enough.

Tom

September 10th, 2009
2:32 pm

And that one win for Curry in his 2nd campaign (1980, over Bama at Legion Field) was the only win that season.

Tom

September 10th, 2009
2:34 pm

oops, meant 1981 on the Bama win

RK

September 10th, 2009
2:36 pm

Get robbed yet?

breaker 1 niner

September 10th, 2009
2:40 pm

Jeff,

What adjustments do you think Tech made after the Jstate guy ran through them (and why Jstate stopped running, I have no idea)?

optionoffense

September 10th, 2009
2:42 pm

Jonathon Dwyer 200+ rushing yards….
Roddy Jones and Anthony Allen 150+ combined….
Josh Nesbitt will throw a 50+ yard bomb as Clemson is up on the line for the run…..

Tech 28
Clemson 23

Tide Rising

September 10th, 2009
2:43 pm

Good luck to the jackets. Either Roddy Jones or Dwyer should break lose a few times for big yardage. I see Tech winning this one on their way to an ACC championship.

TTT

September 10th, 2009
2:47 pm

Georgia Tech is by far the better team. However, this will be close. In saying that, if I’m in a close game I’d rather have Paul Johnson as my coach than Dabo…..

Tech pulls it out 30-27

Dawgfan

September 10th, 2009
2:49 pm

UGA fan here just wanting to wish the Jackets luck tonight. I enjoy seeing them do well in conference play, and I must admit that the option attack is really something to watch, particularly since watching the UGA offense is kinda like seeing a retard get kicked in the head by a mule and then come back for more. Wouldnt surprise me if Tech went undefeated in the ACC this year.

Ramblin Wrecker

September 10th, 2009
2:55 pm

My keys for the game are:

Defense: get pressure on the QB early and often. Kyle Parker is a RS-F. If we get him rattled it can make this a rout. We have the secondary to take advantage of mistakes, if our defensive line can get pressure.

Offense: Josh Nesbitt stays healthy and secures the football. Nesbitt has that “it” factor that makes things happen. That’s why GT beat Clemson at Clemson last year, because Nesbitt took over the game. So if he is on the field and doesn’t lose the football, GT rolls.

Extra key: special teams. Clemson has a decided advantage in the skill positions of special teams. However, if Jerrard Terrant and Orwin Smith can provide the spark they did last week, then GT has a chance to negate that advantage. That could be the difference.

This should be great!

September 10th, 2009
2:55 pm

Two sorry teams playing in a sorry conference that makes them look better than they are, and a high school offense against a team with no QB. I’m looking forward to watching… The NFL tonight.

HairyDawg

September 10th, 2009
2:56 pm

Undeafted in the ACC? That’s a joke,

Clemson torches Tech who is looking ahead…..(and the Clemson defense is way too fast for the option to work).

Clemson 49 GTech 13

northavenuetradeschool

September 10th, 2009
2:59 pm

Gee Hairydawg that wasn’t a homer comment or anything.

RonnieGarDner

September 10th, 2009
2:59 pm

If you leave early enough you will get there before the gangs wake up.

RonnieGarDner

September 10th, 2009
3:00 pm

What gate do the fans go pick up their gun?

LSUTiger

September 10th, 2009
3:01 pm

Still laughing at 38-3. CLEMSON 38 TECH 6

Ramblin Wrecker

September 10th, 2009
3:02 pm

HairyDawg,

Clemson hasn’t scored 49 total points against GT in the last three years combined. And GT beat Clemson at Clemson last year without running the offense smoothly (as we did on your hairy a$$e$ last November). Go back to your own blog and obsess about which sorry QB will or won’t be starting in your loss to South Carolina this Saturday. Chump.

To Hell With Georgia!!!!

RonnieGarDner

September 10th, 2009
3:03 pm

Difference in a game at Athens and a game at Tech:
Athens fans are asking about keys to the game.
At Tech people come up wanting the keys to your car.

Ramblin Wrecker

September 10th, 2009
3:03 pm

I heard Mark Richt is petitioning the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Joe Tereshinski III since his QB situation is that bad off.

LopezKahn

September 10th, 2009
3:05 pm

PERP

September 10th, 2009
3:11 pm

GiT your hands up and gimme that money.

northavenuetradeschool

September 10th, 2009
3:12 pm

Hey RodneyGardner-

You’d fit right in with my wife anyway…she’s scared to go down to Atlanta too. Maybe put a pair of pink panties on you and let you dance around like a fairy?

HairyDawg

September 10th, 2009
3:14 pm

Ramblin Wrecker

Beating a crap team last week has obviously went to your head. YOu get stomped in this game, Miami, FSU, North Carolina, Virgina Tech, and then the revenge game against the Dawgs

OUUUUUUWWWWWW SICK ‘EM DAWWWGGGSSS

Tech Student

September 10th, 2009
3:14 pm

But Ronnie,

Those are all Bulldog fans wanting my backpack, laptop,
I-Pod, and money.

Sonny Clusters

September 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

Jeff, we was down there a few minutes ago and the Clemson fans has set up some tents at the Varsity. They has some orange tents with paws on ‘em. We was under one of those tents when we made a visit to Clemson back when we was playing ball. They had some new tractors under there and would finance ‘em for landscaping graduates. We was almost Tigers. We come real close. We will probably be rooting for the Tigers tonight even though we like the Jackets because they is hometown. Jeff, you is hometown, too, and that’s why we like blogging here.

GT fReAk!

September 10th, 2009
3:22 pm

Schultzie, do you think CPJ leaves Dwyer in to pad his stats for the Heisman? I was disappointed in his lack of playing time last week….even after the game was decided in the 1st QTR. It would have been nice to have 100 YDS+ against that sorry team. I’d expect to see Dwyer the majority of this game, and I expect to see him get about 150+ or more. Also, I expect from Nesbitt about 200+ passing and 50+ running. As long as we key in on Spiller, I think we’ll own Clemson like we owned UGA last year. Join in Schultzie…..THWG! THWG!

Alabama Jack

September 10th, 2009
3:23 pm

dawg fans suck

Mac

September 10th, 2009
3:23 pm

Are the muggers stationed before the ticket takers or after?

pathetic dog fans

September 10th, 2009
3:27 pm

have no comments other than to point out the crime around the GT campus? Nothing good to say about your team this year?

and no comments on UGA professors shooting their wives in broad daylight or abductions of co-eds in downtown Athens?

northavenuetradeschool

September 10th, 2009
3:28 pm

Hey Mac

Like I told Rodney Gardner…if you’re scared put on your panties and dance around like a fairy…they’ll leave ya alone.

pathetic dog fans

September 10th, 2009
3:29 pm

http://onlineathens.com/stories/090909/new_491142416.shtml

in case you mutts aren’t reading the news on “your” town

Techie

September 10th, 2009
3:29 pm

We’re havin’ a crime wave! A tropical crime wave!

Jeff Schultz

September 10th, 2009
3:30 pm

Breaker1Nine – going to very honest – I was in Stillwater and didn’t see the game. But there’s probably a good chance that it was more of a blown assignment than needing an adjustment.

Sonny – have some chili fries on me. Just mention my name. It opens doors.

GT – I hear ya, but I don’t think you can risk things like that this time year. What if he was playing in fourth quarter and got injured? Everybody would be screaming. It’s a long season.

HairyDawg

September 10th, 2009
3:31 pm

Hey Alabama Jack

Maybe they should call you Alabama Jill?

optionoffense

September 10th, 2009
3:34 pm

Jeff-

Hopefully Tech takes care of business early and cruises. If that’s the case you ought to be able to go over to Durham and Strom and be knocking back a few cold ones by the end of the 3rd.

St. Bernard

September 10th, 2009
3:36 pm

Me thinks Clemson may fare better than Jack St. and it’s second team qb.

Next Door Neighbor

September 10th, 2009
3:36 pm

If the Jackets put the ball on the grass as many times as they did against Jax St., it’s going to be a long night.

optionoffense

September 10th, 2009
3:37 pm

St. Bernard-

Me thinks you’re an idiot.

GA Tech Insider

September 10th, 2009
3:38 pm

Jeff;

I hope you brought some sun glasses and pepto along to Bobby Dodd tonight. I understand that Clemson is coming out in their all purple uniforms and orange helmets this evening. What a color combo. Sheesh.

By the way, I am also concerned that the way that Dabo tries to get his players all hyped up, he may get bumped in front of the ‘Ramblin Wreck and squashed like a little kitty in front of a Mack truck. I’d hate to have the ASPCA come after the Jackets just before kick off.

GT4Ever

September 10th, 2009
3:41 pm

LSUTiger…This coming from letting Washington put up almost 500 yard total offense on you guy last weekend. Didn’t they go 0-12 last year.

Glenn

September 10th, 2009
3:43 pm

Here’s the latest Video from the GA Tech “rappers”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8GuH9oDHrU

DMWC

September 10th, 2009
3:45 pm

Keys to the game:

1. Ball security.
2. DL pressure on Clemson QB.
3. Using Bay-Bay effectively to keep Clemson’s defense honest.
4. Homefield advantage.

1-3 are in the hands of CPJ and the team. 4 is in the hands of the crowd. Be loud.

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 10th, 2009
3:47 pm

I’m g@y. Very g@y. Jeff Schultz – will you marry me?

East Cobb Hokie

September 10th, 2009
3:48 pm

Good luck Jackets. Jeff – my key to the game. ROTATING assignments by Clemson defense, and then sticking with rotated assigment. If Tigers do that it should be a game. If not, it will be a Jacket romp. Hoping Jackets are undefeated coming into the 10/17 showdown.

Bullseye

September 10th, 2009
3:49 pm

Should be a good night of head bashing tonight on the Flats. Just know the Miami Hurricanes will be watching and waiting for their turn next week. Time for some overdue payback.

Phil of Playaz Ball

September 10th, 2009
3:49 pm

I must admit am amused by the mugging jokes.

That begs a question, though: Athens vs. Atlanta – Do I want to get raped or mugged?

Bobby Dodd Tech guy, #21, #20

September 10th, 2009
3:50 pm

“I’m a ramblin wreck from GaTech and a hell…”…Frank Howard seemed to have a chew the size of a baseball in his cheek, Bobby & Frank were the best of friends actually but you’d think each game was a grudge match from the locker room perspective….

GT4Ever

September 10th, 2009
3:50 pm

The only thing I’m concerned about is the ST for Clemson. If we can contain Spiller then we should be alright. Watched the the replay of CU and Mid Ten. and Parker didn’t look that good even with the few drops their WR’s had. He does look like he can run though. He didn’t look very good even when he had time to throw, except for some rollouts. I think he’ll have a tough time against our more athletic back seven. Their defense was all that either. Dasher for MID TEN. just couldn’t read it right. If we score real quick it will be all over. GO JACKETS!!!

reebok

September 10th, 2009
3:56 pm

show up. wear white. be loud. GO JACKETS

Ted Striker

September 10th, 2009
3:56 pm

Paul Johnson has man boobs.