Georgia Tech implodes early, shows itself to be average

Georgia Tech's Anthony Allen is swarmed by Clemson defenders, and that typified the Jackets' day. (AP photo)

Georgia Tech's Anthony Allen is swarmed by Clemson defenders, and that typified the Jackets' day. (AP photo)

CLEMSON, S.C. – A year ago, Georgia Tech wins this game. Somebody makes a block. Somebody makes a catch. Somebody on special teams actually gets his hand on the ball instead of taking out the punter like his own personal bobo doll less than two minutes into the game.

A year ago, something always went right. The Jackets followed a path to the ACC title game and then the Orange Bowl. On Saturday, something always went wrong — and any chances of them repeating either of those trips this season probably imploded with this performance.

It wasn’t just that the Jackets lost to Clemson 27-13, it was the way they stumbled and bumbled through four quarters. They never found a rhythm on offense. They never found a clue on defense. They were pounded up front on both sides of the ball.

Special teams? As coach Paul Johnson neatly summarized: “It was a nightmare.”

The Jackets came into this season wanting another trip to Miami. If this game was any indication, they might be seeking travel trips from Georgia about Shreveport.

From the outset, they didn’t look like an ACC contender. Too often and too early, they were one pie fight away from resembling a Three Stooges episode. It was 17-0 before the first, “Hey Moe!”

They were penalized for roughing Clemson’s punter on the opening drive. (One play later, Clemson’s Andre Ellington, on his way to a career-high 166 yards, ran 55 yards for a touchdown). They had a personal foul for a late hit on Clemson’s first punt return. They had a player on punt coverage let the ball slip through his hands inside the Clemson 5 (Isaiah Johnson fielding a little bit like Brooks Conrad).

They had an illegal block on a kickoff return.

And a bad pitch for a fumble (recovered).

And several dropped passes (including a would-be touchdown by Stephen Hill).

On defense they missed tackles. Or misread plays. Or just missed the boat. Clemson, an average offensive team, converted nine of 15 third downs and totaled 403 yards in offense.

The defense produced neither a sack nor a turnover and allowed Clemson an average of 6.2 yards per rush.

Isn’t this where Dave Wommack left and Al Groh came in?

“On a lot of plays I thought we were ahead of them,” linebacker Brad Jefferson said. “We thought we knew what was coming. We were out there, but we just couldn’t beat blocks. That was a little frustrating.”

It was a similar story on offense. The Jackets failed to take advantage of chances. Tech’s first two drives in the red zone, it had to settle for field goals. Johnson gets as much enjoyment out of field goals as he does shooting himself in the knee.

Offense, defense, special teams — it all adds up to the same conclusion: The Jackets are just average.

It doesn’t mean they can’t finish with a winning record. But getting smacked by Clemson is probably a more accurate gauge for where this team is than consecutive wins over Wake Forest, Virginia and Middle Tennessee State.

Nothing about Saturday suggests they will win at Virginia Tech in two weeks, and the Hokies already are two up in the loss column in the ACC Coastal. The Miami game that follows also figures to be a struggle — unless Tech suddenly morphs into something closer to what it was last year.

The problem is that the issues go far beyond Groh’s inability to make the defense any better. The offense isn’t nearly as potent as it was in either of Johnson’s first two seasons. The primary reason is the loss to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. He gave Johnson (and Nesbitt) a game-breaker, a guy who could make plays down the field and in the end zone. He drew a safety in double coverage, which helped the Jackets’ running game, which is the engine that makes this team go.

He also could block, something this team seems to struggle with. Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett and Jonathan Dwyer were all terrific college players, but Thomas is the player Tech misses most.

Johnson and Roddy Jones both referenced dropped passes after the game. The coach also referenced dumb mistakes.

Quoting: “We have the ball third-and-[short], run the option, 10 guys go one way, the tackle goes the other way.”

Last season, everybody went the right way.

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

273 comments Add your comment

UGA = YAWN

October 23rd, 2010
9:06 pm

We do stink don’t we? Interestingly, I feel Clemson was the first good team we have played so far – yet somehow – we had already 2 losses going int the game. 6-6 maybe and not bowl eligible.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 23rd, 2010
9:10 pm

Tech plays a decent team and cannot even compete,

I would love them to play a middle of the road SEC team

Just to watch the joke of an offense sputter and cough

Schultz your thoughts please

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 23rd, 2010
9:12 pm

YAWN + Middle School Option Veer = GT

JMar

October 23rd, 2010
9:12 pm

6-6 is bowl eligible.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 23rd, 2010
9:15 pm

Hey Tech

Looks like another 42 yrs before another appearence in a BCS bowl

BLAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Bout Time

October 23rd, 2010
9:16 pm

And to think the bumble bees were touting Nesbitt for the Heisman? WOW. A year ago, Tech wins because of illegal plays and uncalled (and obvious) penalties….and that was with your “A” team. Go back to North Ave and get a burger at Juniors. Go Tigers. Hahahahahaha.

UGA = YAWN

October 23rd, 2010
9:17 pm

I think we need 7 wins since we play a few teams that don’t count toward the 6 wins for a bowl.

UGA = YAWN

October 23rd, 2010
9:18 pm

Paul and other UGA silly fools. This is a vent for GT fans. Go vent on your ajc page about your sorry team.

Scott

October 23rd, 2010
9:18 pm

Very disappointed with the continued mental errors and dropped passes. Clemson was due to beat GT sooner or later. I was encouraged the way Johnson mixed up the offensive plays, they just did not execute them enough.

Disappointed

October 23rd, 2010
9:20 pm

Maybe Johnson can’t get the same level athletes Gailey got. Haven’t we heard for the last two years how much better the offensive line will be once he gets his guys in there? Seems the offensive line is getting manhandled every week.

Biff Pocoroba

October 23rd, 2010
9:21 pm

Why do we keep giving long contracts to coaches after one good season. DRad should have learned from all of the angry Paul Hewitt emails he gets every season. Kansas is stinking it up on tv again tonight. It is time to give Tevin a shot and mix it up a little bit and start playing for next season. I can’t imaging us doing any better than 7-5 now. Nesbitt just can’t get it done in the red zone and no one has to fear his arm or Steven Hill’s hands of stone.

Dawggie

October 23rd, 2010
9:22 pm

Nesbitt for Heisman!!!!!!!!

LOL

JMar

October 23rd, 2010
9:23 pm

Unless the rules have changed, one FCS win counts, and that’s SC State. MTSU and Kansas may be pathetic, but they’re still FBS teams. Also, in a BCS conference power grab, the rules have changed this year so that 6-6 teams are on equal footing with teams with winning records (whereas before, all winning teams had to be picked to bowls before .500 teams could be). So thanks to GT’s cupcake schedule, they should get to play in a bowl game.

RUSS GATA

October 23rd, 2010
9:23 pm

How can this be? The AJC said CPJ was the smartest coach in America, Bisher said he was like Dodd. Every single player is an engineer-they sing it unison, all 38,000. Must be those sanitation engineers they let in that are crapping up the program.

UGA = YAWN

October 23rd, 2010
9:27 pm

Odd that UGA fans aren’t on their site venting. Ah….you’re 3-4 and 1-3 in your conference!!!!

Beat Dook

October 23rd, 2010
9:28 pm

juice sourcer

October 23rd, 2010
9:30 pm

Great recap of the game. Bottom line..Tech is just average…which is exactly where they should be and are. Clemson is a better team and better program. Your former AD said something like…we can’t expect 9-3 every year and he is right…deal with this reality Tech fans.

Scott

October 23rd, 2010
9:30 pm

Not good enough to overcome silly penalties,dropped passes, fumbles, etc. Those things did not happen the last 2 years.

Dawggie

October 23rd, 2010
9:31 pm

(((((30-24)))))

8-1

60-39-5

Dawggie

October 23rd, 2010
9:35 pm

To HELL With Georgia Tech!!!!!

when it goes bad

October 23rd, 2010
9:35 pm

Tech guy fell on a climson fumble and still did not recover@#$%^&?

a side note…is #1 really better than #22 was?

juice sourcer

October 23rd, 2010
9:36 pm

Paul Has A Small Johnson ….decent team?…Clemson has way more talent that Tech…get real!! Clemson has top 10 talent and Georgia Tech is not even close and will never be. Georgia Tech is more like Wake Forest…even they won a ACC title…Reality check.

Dawggie

October 23rd, 2010
9:42 pm

Techies….admit it already…… you beat UGA (barely) in 08′, you won a tallest midget contest last year in the ACC…….

bowl wise….. LSU and IOWA…..

YOU GUYS ARE MEDIOCRE!!!!!!

Biff Pocoroba

October 23rd, 2010
9:47 pm

If we finish 6-6, we should refuse a bowl. No need to get stuck paying for 3000 tickets that we wouldn’t be able to sell. Who wants to travel to a game outside of Florida in the winter?

Archie Bunker

October 23rd, 2010
9:51 pm

Interesting jeff. The title of your article fits you so well. Average… On a good day.

Archie Bunker

October 23rd, 2010
9:52 pm

Dawggie, this coming from a ugag team that is going to be 4-4 and has played the weakest schedule in the south so far.

dawgfan

October 23rd, 2010
9:53 pm

There’s nothing dumber than a Georgia Bulldog fan. Nothing.

Scott

October 23rd, 2010
9:54 pm

juice sourcer, please explain how Clemson is a better team/program. One fact is certain, Tech owns Clemson, check the records all time or over the past 10-20 years. When Clemson wins something big please let me know. Please don’t put the spin on fan support etc. 80,000 Orange inbred rednecks filling up a stadium does not make a good program.

Go Jackets

October 23rd, 2010
9:54 pm

Dawggies…We run this state prison…With our little phaggot athletic director and his red panties. Ugayers are so mouthy with their 4 losses to the likes of Colorado and Miss St.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ACC Sports, Ryan Gunderson, Josh Mosley, Roy Harris, Jeff Schultz and others. Jeff Schultz said: Georgia Tech implodes early, shows itself to be average http://bit.ly/bEFsSr [...]

gtforever

October 23rd, 2010
10:01 pm

Have you just figured out that this team is just average….. OMG, We are worse than average, we suck!

juvenal

October 23rd, 2010
10:07 pm

if you can’t get wsb, try around 1420…….is there actually facts about the size?-i know the size of the twins, based on the fake punt….other than the fact that the politics force him to play #9 the days #9 is TOO DAM SLOW, i have no complaints….

Clarke County Sheriff

October 23rd, 2010
10:10 pm

Tech’s season is a bummer. We lost too much talent from last year’s team, and we don’t have the recruits to make an immediate impact. When the O-line doesn’t dominate, then the option looks average. Defense has been questionable since the first day of spring camp. We have some great young talent, but they’re going to take a little while to develop.

I’d still rather be Tech than UGA. They have top 10 recruiting classes every year and still suck. Oh well, at least we don’t have to constantly bail our players, or our AD out of jail.

the real Old Gold

October 23rd, 2010
10:10 pm

It’s all about players making plays and we don’t/can’t do that. The right plays are called.

GTMustang

October 23rd, 2010
10:11 pm

Dawgs fan on here calling GT mediocre when GT is coming off a BCS bowl season and the Dawgs are going to be just 4-4. With thrilling wins over the likes of UK, Vandy, and LaLa. That right there is the pure definition of mediocre dawgs.

Talk crap when you can actually back it up.

20oz Bulldog

October 23rd, 2010
10:13 pm

Tech is a good regional university program, but not the same national caliber as Georgia. The yellow unis look like piss, which fits the program well.

Nice game today nerds.

supersize that order, mutt

October 23rd, 2010
10:14 pm

THUGa is national caliber??? Yeah, right. Nobody outside the state of Georgia pays any attention at all to what happens in Athens, other than maybe the arrests

GTMustang

October 23rd, 2010
10:15 pm

Nice 4-4 record and nice ranking of 60 in computer polls, you moron.

Talk about national caliber. Shreveport vs. Orange Bowl. I am pretty sure GT has been more national caliber recently than UGA you idiot.

supersize that order, mutt

October 23rd, 2010
10:17 pm

Just to show you how “national caliber” THUGa is NOT. I went to the Tech – Kansas game. They kept a constant update of other college scores on the scoreboard throughout the game. Not once did the score of the THUGa – South Carolina game appear, and it was being played at the same time as the Tech – Kansas game. I guess they figured that nobody really cared.

juvenal

October 23rd, 2010
10:19 pm

20oz, played all white today(see eye DR.?)…would prefer PINK, colr only counts in HUNTING!(hate that orange vest, only time i wear that cretin color)………..

Gatorman

October 23rd, 2010
10:19 pm

I like my little Jacket buddies, but somebody needs to say it, Nesbitt is not that good. He has digressed downward this year from his last two, and maybe that crazy Heisman talk got him sidetracked. His tosses are off, his decision making has slowed, but most importantly he really can’t pass. I wouldn’t lay the blame for many of the failings, but look how Texas has plummeted without Colt McCoy, so the QB really is at the heart of offense success. He we have the same problem at the swamp, man the QB decision there has been horrible. I just hope Nesbitt understands that he will be best remembered for his senior year, and his hasn’t been a banner one. The defense really went backwards today, so someone on that coaching staff needs to kick some butts on Monday.

juvenal

October 23rd, 2010
10:20 pm

daugs-it’s on wsb……….(750am)

supersize that order, mutt

October 23rd, 2010
10:21 pm

Gatorman, I’m afraid you’re right about Nesbitt. He improved so much between his sophomore and junior years; I was expecting continued improvement this year. But for some reason, his decision making doesn’t seem to be as good, his pitches are often almost wild, and his passing, though good at times, has certainly not been adequate overall

Obvious

October 23rd, 2010
10:24 pm

20oz Bulldog – “Tech is a good regional university program, but not the same national caliber as Georgia.”

Obviously you have never been outside the state of Georgia. Georgia Tech is both nationally and internationally recognized as a world-class university. UGA only wishes that were the case. Here in California UGA is a punchline for jokes. Yes, the football program and female sports programs receive national recognition but UGA’s reputation as an academic university is laughable. Harrick is well known around here and the infamous quiz at UGA is frequently used as an example of the corruption and dirty tricks used by the SEC and other football factories in the South. Yes, there is respect for football in the South but the SEC schools (not including Vandy or UF) like UGA are considered more as party schools than serious academic institutions. Enjoy being a mediocre university with a decent football program – that’s all UGA has ever been and probably will ever be.

juvenal

October 23rd, 2010
10:25 pm

Gatorman!-a voice of reason!-how is that playing under-classmen thing working out?we have at least 2 better option QB’s on the bench, but you know about the delicale psyches of playing the burt..err..best……

supersize that order, mutt

October 23rd, 2010
10:26 pm

juvenal, from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure Washington is better, although more reps MIGHT help. I DO like what I’ve seen of Sims though.

BUZZ ME

October 23rd, 2010
10:28 pm

CPJ, the option and no D are getting old. Nesbitt is a tough kid but he needs to give up the ball more. And for his passing…I don’t think he could hit himself….and all this is coming from a realistic and frustrated Jacket fan. It’s time to start giving Tevin Washington some time certainly at least when it is a throwing situation. If we finish 6-6 which it looks like we will…shreveport will be a distant wish. And know we have to look forward to another year of Hewitt. Depressing

Damon Evans

October 23rd, 2010
10:36 pm

Hey, why cant the refs throw red panty flags instead of those yellow things

All that needs to be said

October 23rd, 2010
10:37 pm

You lost to Kansas. Your argument is invalid.

juvenal

October 23rd, 2010
10:39 pm

supersize, if we are a 6-6 be team, does it hurt to see Sims(love that #21 name)-thot Tevin early, but want ANYBODY that wins!………..CHAN DID NOT SIGN LINE!>>>>>>