Georgia Tech sees flaws in easy win, and that’s a good thing

Joshua Nesbitt couldn't pass but he could run: three touchdowns and 130 yards in the Tech's opening win. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Joshua Nesbitt couldn't pass but he could run: 130 yards and three TDs. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The last time Georgia Tech was coming off an outright ACC championship (in 1991), the Jackets lost their opener to Penn State, wallowed through the regular season (7-5) and finished the season in the Aloha Bowl (a low-level consolation prize, coast line and palm trees notwithstanding).

Program direction was difficult to gauge, particularly after Bobby Ross left to seek paradise with the San Diego Chargers.

If you were hoping for some hint about what to expect from Tech this season based on Saturday’s season opener, don’t. They played one of the lesser States (South Carolina’s, not Penn’s). These games are not season tone-setters. Opponents such as South Carolina State aren’t scheduled for answers, they’re scheduled for exercise.

In that sense, mission accomplished. The Jackets won easily, 41-10. There was no huge celebration. Players ran onto the field amid no reminders of their ACC championship hanging in Bobby Dodd Stadium, and they probably walked off of it without any tremendous sense of accomplishment.

But maybe that’s a good thing. It says something about an elevated expectation level.

Jackets coach Paul Johnson saw several things he was not happy without, including two turnovers and mistackles. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Jackets coach Paul Johnson saw several things he wasn't happy with, including two turnovers and mistackles. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

“We won 41-10, so we’ve got to be a little bit happy,” coach Paul Johnson said. “But at the same time, you know you can play better, and it’s my job to point that out to them, and I did. They know. They’re not dumb. They’ll watch the tape. They’ll see. Some of those guys will be embarrassed.”

Paul Johnson won 20 games in his first two seasons, more than any Tech coach in history. Were you under the mistaken belief that would mellow him?

He is, by his own admission, “a cup half-empty guy.” That’s OK. If a coach buries an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) team and then declares, “And next, we look to take over the Baltics,” there’s probably something wrong.

The second game (at Kansas) will be more difficult than the first. The third game (at North Carolina) should be more difficult than the second.

The assumption is that neither Kansas nor North Carolina will open the game with an onside kick, as South Carolina State did. How’s that for desperation in a season opener? The strategy failed. Tech recovered the ball at the 42 and drove for a touchdown in four plays.

Johnson on the opponent’s strategy: “I thought it was great. It gave us a shorter field.”

There was a time, not long ago, on North Avenue when any lopsided win, even over an FCS team, would be celebrated with a parade. This one caused the head coach to crack on his team’s deficiencies.

We saw a Jackets’ offense that can still run (372 yards, six touchdowns) and can’t pass (1-for-6, 8 yards, one interception). We saw a 3-4 defense (now tutored by Al Groh) that more often than not was in the right position to make plays but missed too many tackles (the visitors rushed for 178 yards).

Johnson’s postgame analysis included words such as “mistakes” and sloppy” and “focus” (as in lost). When he was asked about the game’s “chippy” play, he responded: “We should’ve used some of that effort playing a little harder and not be so chippy.”

Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt now runs the triple-option with near perfection. South Carolina State was determined to take away the Jackets’ B-back, Anthony Allen. So Nesbitt often kept the ball. He carried 16 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores came on fourth down, including a fourth-and-three from the Bulldogs’ 35 on that opening drive.

But throwing the ball, he struggled. When somebody asked Johnson about Nesbitt’s passing, he joked: “Oooh. Nice, wasn’t it?” Ouch.

Nesbitt’s interception was first a drop by receiver Tyler Melton (the ball bounced off his chest). But when a quarterback goes 1-for-6 for 8 yards, it’s not all bad luck. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Nesbitt said.

They all do. But dissatisfaction after a 41-10 win isn’t a bad thing.

Previous posts . . .

No more excuses — Georgia’s arrests fall on Mark Richt

If NCAA has any question, Dogs should sit Green to be safe

Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets open with wins

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

213 comments Add your comment

F-105 Thunderchief

September 4th, 2010
6:30 pm

Go Tech! One step at a time.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

GOJACKETS86

September 4th, 2010
6:39 pm

It was a pretty good performance overall. Game 1 jitters are expected! I think they will learn a lot from this game and be fully prepared next week! Can’t wait for a real test!! GO JACKETS!! Glad PJ is the way he is…does not read much into a big win over an FCS opponent like some other coach used to who shall remain nameless.

Calarry

September 4th, 2010
6:40 pm

Didn’t Bobby go to San Diego and took them to the Super Bowl with Ralph and George???

TML

September 4th, 2010
6:41 pm

A decent-enough start. You have to start somewhere. Kansas will be somewhat of a challenge on the road, but we should take that one…good practice for learning how to win on the road, which will be especially important this year. CPJ and CAG will get it figured out before we go to Kennan. http://www.stinGTees.com

Ol' Jacket Fan

September 4th, 2010
6:46 pm

Good starter game, lots of players got a chance to play signigifcant minutes. Offense (running) was clicking nicely, defense getting used to a new scheme. Any new information on the severity of the injury to Will Jackson?

All in all the game went as expected. No doubt they can play better, crisper and I have faith in CPJ and CAG that the team will perform at a higher level as the year goes along.

Go Jackets!

Destin Dawg

September 4th, 2010
6:52 pm

Go Tech.. i think you’ll go 7-0… then we’ll see.. .. go dawgs.. Gt vs. Uga should be 2 top 10 teams !!

Destin Dawg

September 4th, 2010
6:57 pm

GJACKITS86 why do GT fans always start out negative on some body else… ?????

just a thought

September 4th, 2010
7:06 pm

can someone explain to me about the “tape” that CPJ and the coaches/players will take a look at. Is it really tape/film? Or is CPJ just referring to the DVD’s or any other computer device?

jabster

September 4th, 2010
7:09 pm

Calarry: You are correct. CBR went to San Diego, not Detroit.

mwh6767

September 4th, 2010
7:10 pm

Destin I pretty sure he was referring to tech’s own former coach Chan “but I killed Furman” Gailey. Not everything is about the dawgs. Settle down.

Buzz29

September 4th, 2010
7:11 pm

The funniest thing happened when Washington over threw Roddy and my old man turned to me and said,”if Nesbitt would’ve thrown that pass it probably would have hit the goal post.”

All in all, we looked flat. Hope we make some adjustments next week. Looking forward to my trip to Lawrence next week!

Go Jackets!

mwh6767

September 4th, 2010
7:12 pm

Thought its all done on computer now. Its just a saying. Games are recorded and then loaded on the computer. Maybe the players get dvd’s of games broke down for them but that may just be video files as well.

Ol' Jacket Fan

September 4th, 2010
7:13 pm

OMG Jax St just beat Ole Miss in double OT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who says FBS teams can’t be dangeroius!!!????????????

Mcsteveb

September 4th, 2010
7:14 pm

Not bad for a pre-season game. But, the run defense was pretty scary. Gotta get a whole lot better before NC, VT or Miami. Nesbitt is the MAN…but I’m not sure I’m buying into the Heisman hype

mwh6767

September 4th, 2010
7:15 pm

Buzz, I agree. Tech looked really flat. The offense in particular. Defense showed some promise, like how they adjusted to what sc. st. was doing but still those big runs have got to stop. Just show more emprovement next week on defense and get the energy back on offense. I will be happy with a 35-10 result in Kansas next sat.

Saint Simon

September 4th, 2010
7:18 pm

((((((((((((((((( UGA 30 – GT 24)))))))))))))))))))))

HAHAHHHHAAHHAHAAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE RUN THIS STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ol' Jacket Fan

September 4th, 2010
7:34 pm

Ah it’s so good to see the trolls…..:-(

Paul in RDU

September 4th, 2010
7:36 pm

Ol’ Jacket Fan – I think you mean FCS teams can be dangerous – although it is tough to keep them straight
FCS = Football Championship Series – aka Div 1A
FBS = Fottball Bowl Series – aka Div 1

Paul in RDU

September 4th, 2010
7:38 pm

Bobby Ross left GT for the Chargers eventually taking them to the Super Bowl. He went to the Lions after that.

Brock

September 4th, 2010
7:38 pm

One thing to remember. Paul new he could beat these guys without opening up the playbook. Hence, kinda flat on offense. He didn’t give Kansas anything to look at. We held Allen totally out. He’ll have a big game in Kansas. Pretty much what I expected.

Ol' Jacket Fan

September 4th, 2010
7:38 pm

@Paul, LOL. I still think of them as 1A or 1AA, thanks for the note :-)

gt4ever

September 4th, 2010
7:47 pm

I have NO idea what the coach was talking about, when he said missed tackles….. I was at the game, and my impression was that little ole SCS was pushing our defense around at will. The only good thing was that they didn’t stick to their running game…. If they had the score might have been closer… I can say this with confidence, what I saw from the defense today was worse than last year, a pitiful showing, given the talent they were up against and the time they had to prepare. The offense againg showed it could run the ball on a inferior team, and againg showed that we are very one demensional… It could be a very long season for my Jackets… Hope I’m wrong, and time will tell…….

Brock

September 4th, 2010
7:49 pm

Paul in RDU

September 4th, 2010
7:52 pm

gt4ever – I watched (what I could) on ESPN3 and my impression was the same as yours. SCState’s OL pushed our front 7 around

DScottGT91

September 4th, 2010
7:55 pm

I worked today and as such followed on the game tracker and the live blog. Why did JN seem to monopolize the number of carries? We won’t win if we don’t get others involved in the offense. I am also concerned that we only passed 8 times when we could have used this game to work on that phase of our game.

That said, a dubya’s a dubya. Next week should be more revealing…..

JSS

September 4th, 2010
7:57 pm

Glad to see that you guys caught that Lions thing…

Ol' Jacket Fan

September 4th, 2010
8:00 pm

DScott, we ran the ball 57 times today. JN had 16 carries, I think he distributed the ball quite well today as shown by 6.5 ypc average.

Hayseed Dixie

September 4th, 2010
8:22 pm

We looked flat, yep. No tempo.

Our LBs would penetrate the O-line, but the funny thing was is that they were a step too quick and would overshoot the RB. I don’t think they’ll have that problem against Div I.

Still have to throw it better than this if we want to be elite.

Joe Schmoe

September 4th, 2010
8:28 pm

Being at the game today, I can tell you where it seemed the most problems came up. They ran the stretch play to death, either left or right and the back would make a cut back up the void… This didnt stop till they put TJ Barnes in. Walls may have a good motor, but he is undersized at NG, and doesnt cause the pile up that TJ does, and allows the LB to do their job. Pass D was on for the most part, just wondering why Isaah Johnson Didnt start the game at Saftey?

Hilton Head Island

September 4th, 2010
8:32 pm

41 points,
great win.

Beat Kansas !

Joe Schmoe

September 4th, 2010
8:38 pm

I also agree that our playbook was a generic play book, with the basic triple option, sweeps, and QB draws…. Thats what it made it feel like the game was going on forever.

Washun Ealy

September 4th, 2010
8:39 pm

Yea, we hit and run this state. I gotta go to da DMV.

Jeff Schultz

September 4th, 2010
8:45 pm

Calarry — Yes on Ross. That was changed. Forget went to Chargers, then Lions.

Warden

September 4th, 2010
8:45 pm

Hey Reggie! You run cell block C buddy!

High Schooler II

September 4th, 2010
8:50 pm

SC State put up 272 yards on you guys and you expect to win against legitimate teams down the road. Nesbitt is one bad hit away from Tech being a one and eleven team. Tech sucks!!!! Can’t wait for the weekend after Thanksgiving! We’ll see whose 3-4 defense is legit!

Richard Alpert

September 4th, 2010
8:51 pm

Hey Warden, isn’t there a World of Warcraft marathon online?
Josh Nesbitt for Heisman.. He would be the 4th string QB at UGA behind Murray, Mason, Gray, and Brandon Smith

Richard Alpert

September 4th, 2010
8:52 pm

Nevermind.. make that the 5th STRING!!!

Jeff Schultz

September 4th, 2010
8:52 pm

Buzz29 — Are you going to Lawrence. Me too. Looking forward to it. I hear it’s a very cool town, much like Athens (sorry).

Jeff Schultz

September 4th, 2010
8:53 pm

Paul — got that, thanks.

MWT

September 4th, 2010
8:54 pm

Higher Schooler –

If your players aren’t in jail, it will probably be a good game.

Jeff Schultz

September 4th, 2010
8:55 pm

Gt4ever — Can’t see how you can say defense was worse than last year. Last too many plays where guys were nowhere near the ball. Not case today, although that 55-yarder was bad. You’re right about getting beat up early up front, but I think that changed as game went on.

Reggie Ball for Heisman

September 4th, 2010
8:56 pm

Is anyone else surprised that any Tech fans went to the game on the same day DRAGON CON was in town??

Jeff Schultz

September 4th, 2010
8:56 pm

JSS — What’s up?

GADevildawg

September 4th, 2010
8:57 pm

Its a 1-AA school…it should be an easy win…no matter what Div 1 team is playing them. You have learned nothing about GT till they play a team with a pulse.

Joe Schmoe

September 4th, 2010
8:59 pm

Jeff, that change can be contributed to TJ and some of the other guys filling in their proper gaps, which made the stretch plays irrelavent. If we had this D last year, it would of made a diffrence. Could be worse… You could have been the team that lost to Jacksonville State today!

Joe Schmoe

September 4th, 2010
9:01 pm

GADevildawg, for that matter, we didnt learn anything from anyteam that played a FBS school… Unless you lost to them. UNC is hanging with LSU without all those players, DANG.

High Schooler II

September 4th, 2010
9:01 pm

MWT: Yeah, half the team today was in jail and still put up 55 points and the defense stifled the run…same thing it will do to your team in November. Tech has a freakin’ one dimensional offense. Keep talking trash and live in your dream. The truth will unfold for your pathetic team.