Georgia Tech’s winning shouldn’t be a surprise by now

Paul Johnson, with Roddy Jones, has led Tech to a 5-0 start in his fourth season. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech, led by Paul Johnson and Roddy Jones, is off to a 5-0 start. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech is 5-0 and ranked No. 13 in the nation. We can’t really know what that means yet, other than the obvious, as stated so eloquently by coach Paul Johnson: “We’re better than the five teams we’ve played.”

Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State.

We’re not talking about the right side of the menu. None were ranked in the AP poll at the time Georgia Tech defeated them. None are ranked now. None can even cling to hope in the “others receiving votes” category.

But to focus on any of that is missing the point about what is going on at Tech. This is Johnson’s fourth season. While it’s true most of his first freshman class in 2008 were recruited by Chan Gailey, the vast majority of the players on this team were brought in by Johnson. These are his guys, brought here for his scheme, schooled in his mindset.

If you’re looking for a reason to feel good about Tech’s future, it makes as much sense — if not more — to look at this year’s team than even Johnson’s first two seasons, when the Jackets were 20-7 and won an ACC championship (later to be stripped) with Gailey’s players. The foundation, the structure, the direction — that’s all Johnson.

Johnson is not the projecting type. He’s not going to speculate how good this team is or can be, other than to say: “I told people I thought we’d be better than everybody said we would be. But I didn’t know how much better, and we still have half a year to go. Trying to pick games is like trying to pick in recruiting. Nobody knows until three or four years how good classes are. So we’ll see how we finish this out.”

Tech wasn’t supposed to be very good this year. But now we look at the schedule and conclude it should beat Maryland on Saturday and Virginia next week. That would bring the Jackets to 7-0. Then come the three games that will decide their fate in the ACC and level of bowl game: at Miami (winnable); Clemson and Virginia Tech (both difficult, but at home). Then comes Duke, then Georgia.

Regardless of how the remaining games fall, the win total should exceed what most projected.

Things like this don’t happen by luck, not in a coach’s fourth season. This isn’t a star-laden group. They’re talented, but young. There’s chemistry. They like each other. But most of all, they’re following Johnson. He has a track record at Tech now for players and recruits to see.

“Most of them know what they signed up for when they came in,” he said. “So now it’s not about trying to transition. I’m not trying to talk them into everything when everybody was telling them it won’t work. That’s the biggest thing we fight here: [Perceptions that] it won’t work, you can’t do this, you can’t go to the NFL. Like I said when I got here, once you’re here, everything will take care of itself.

“The other thing about the fourth year is, they know, this is the way it is. It’s no big deal when you have to run at 6 a.m. for not going to class. It’s no big deal when you have to practice in pads twice a week. Nothing’s a surprise.”

Johnson wasn’t in a good mood this week. He didn’t like the way the team played at North Carolina State, he’s bothered by a cold and, well, he can just be a moody guy. When the rankings came out and the Jackets jumped from 21st to 13th, he hardly blinked, and he made certain his players didn’t blink.

“They know every day from the way I coach them that they haven’t arrived,” he said. “I’m on their butt all the time.”

By Year 4, it’s not a surprise. Maybe the winning shouldn’t be, either.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

318 comments Add your comment

Mike

October 7th, 2011
1:09 pm

Dawg-Hatin' Jacket

October 7th, 2011
1:11 pm

FOOTBALL THIS

October 7th, 2011
1:14 pm

they need to stay diciplined so they won’t end up 3rd like Miami

UGA JOE

October 7th, 2011
1:14 pm

Same thing since PJ has been there. Beat up on mediocre teams, give up a ton of points (25+ to bottom feeders), lose to good ACC competition, lose to UGA, then get absolutely smoked in their bowl game.

Six straight bowl losses and counting.

Dawg-Hatin' Jacket

October 7th, 2011
1:15 pm

duece coupe

October 7th, 2011
1:15 pm

I smell 6-0 under the hood.

Burdell

October 7th, 2011
1:16 pm

UNC is receiving votes and was ranked #25 when we beat them.

LydiasDad

October 7th, 2011
1:17 pm

It’s early, but “Go Jackets” anyway. What’s the good word?

just saying

October 7th, 2011
1:17 pm

this is beating a dead horse but Chan would not have won the ACC with his players, it took CPJ to do it

Jacket Fan

October 7th, 2011
1:18 pm

Johnson has been a winner everywhere that he has coached. I am glad the we have him here at Tech. I no longer have to be satisfied with 7-5 seasons.

BRW

October 7th, 2011
1:19 pm

UGA JOE …………….. TROLL

jacket88

October 7th, 2011
1:19 pm

Same thing since PJ has been there. Beat up on mediocre teams, give up a ton of points (25+ to bottom feeders), lose to good ACC competition, lose to UGA, then get absolutely smoked in their bowl game.

Six straight bowl losses and counting.

You better listen to UGA JOE. He is drawing upon his vast experience as a fan of the Mediocre Mutts!!!

all I remember is

October 7th, 2011
1:20 pm

Georgia has lost 35-14 and 45-19 in the last two Knoxville visits.

TechDan

October 7th, 2011
1:20 pm

UGA JOE
October 7th, 2011
1:14 pm

Same thing since PJ has been there. Beat up on mediocre teams, give up a ton of points (25+ to bottom feeders), lose to good ACC competition, lose to UGA, then get absolutely smoked in their bowl game.
————————————–

What are you talking about? Two division titles and a championship (that should be restored) in four years is more than the pups and Saint Richt can claim. Sure, we got smoked by LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but close losses in the next two bowls (one of which was a BCS game) show improvement in the post season.

Let’s see if thUGA can even make a bowl game this year.

Big Ol Stinger

October 7th, 2011
1:20 pm

“We’re better than the five teams we played”.

Love it.

He’s a no BS, not gonna hold any prima donnas hand, cut to the chase kind of coach.

I hope he’s at Tech for a long time.

Jacket Fan

October 7th, 2011
1:21 pm

@UGA Joe,

Nothing positive to look forward to with your team, so you have to come on here to trash a team that is 5-0. What is ugags record now? And don’t give me the strength of schedule crap. If you guys were as good as you fans claim ugag to be, then you would be undefeated.

Brock

October 7th, 2011
1:21 pm

” None were ranked at the time Georgia Tech defeated them”

how many freakin times I gotta tell someone to look it up. NC was ranked 24th in one poll and 25th in another. Why is that so hard to research? Am I missing something?

Burdell

October 7th, 2011
1:23 pm

You’re missing the ranked #24 Brock. UNC was #25 in the real poll…unranked in the cute sportswriter’s poll.

Jacket Fan

October 7th, 2011
1:23 pm

Enter your comments here

UGA JOE

October 7th, 2011
1:26 pm

Not trolling. Just stating the simple facts. What are yall, 2-8 in bowl games the last ten years? 0-3 with PJ? 1-2 against UGA with PJ? I am not even going to bring up your record against my DAWGS head to headd the last decade b/c you are all aware.
Enjoy the W’s now becuase we all know how hard they’ll be to come by in November and December.

Brock

October 7th, 2011
1:26 pm

well, they show both polls so if it doesn’t matter why waste time voting on it.

all I remember is

October 7th, 2011
1:27 pm

Georgia Tech has an awesome offense.

Brock

October 7th, 2011
1:28 pm

UGA Joe- glad to know tech makes or breaks your seasons now. Thanks for the compliment.

Yep

October 7th, 2011
1:29 pm

Once again the true test of Tech’s team will be whether they defeat UGA or not. Until they start playing at least other BCS eligeable non-conference teams during the year, it is hard to tell whether they are even decent or not due to the fact that the ACC is so traditionally soft.

Not to bash, but UGA should follow this formula as well. It is the low road to guarantee a great end of season record. Richt’s job wold be VERY secure if UGA played Tech’s patsy laden schedule.

duece coupe

October 7th, 2011
1:31 pm

Georgia Tech blocks REAL hard.

" HOT " seat

October 7th, 2011
1:33 pm

Another ‘must win’ game for Mark Richt.

rduck

October 7th, 2011
1:33 pm

CPJ has turned the culture of Tech football around since the Gailey era. During the Giley era, the Tech fans knew that we would win 7-8 games a year and go to yet another subpar bowl game and every once in a decade possibly play for an ACC championship and lose 6-3 to a Wake Forest. CPJ has raised expectations on the Flats. We now expect to have a chance at the ACC championship game regularly. It’s not a guarantee, but it is possible. We no longer have to fear playing the upper tier teams. We expect to play them hard and well. Nobody knows how many wins this team will have, but with CPJ at the helm, the sky’s the limit. We are now one of the feared teams. People hate to play us and that is a very good thing. People had better take notice and really appreciate the job CPJ is doing. With him around, we can expect a very good product on the field for years to come… G

ATL Dawg

October 7th, 2011
1:35 pm

“…when the Jackets were 20-7 and won an ACC championship with Gailey’s players.”

Not so fast Jeff, this one’s not on the books anymore! Sorry Jackets!

Yellow Jacket Smash

October 7th, 2011
1:35 pm

Dear UGA Joe,

Boise State.

That is all.

Ted M

October 7th, 2011
1:36 pm

Its surprising he can’t do better on defense & special teams. If he did great things would happen.

Smart Jay

October 7th, 2011
1:37 pm

UGA JOE – ya know, I was behind a guy with a license plate bracket that said “Georgia Bulldogs – 2002 SEC Champions” Has it really been THAT long (actually it was 2005, but that was 6 years ago!).

And 1980 was over 30 years ago. There’s not even that many seniors over at UGA who were even alive then.

Time flies.

UGA JOE

October 7th, 2011
1:37 pm

Where did I say Tech makes or breaks anything in my life?

Yall simply crap the bed every November and December. That’s all I am saying dude.

I, like Schultzie, am not surprised by the 5-0 start either. Congrats on it. I am just not sold you have a defense that can hold up against better opponents.

Tom

October 7th, 2011
1:38 pm

“Georgia fans are passionate, but let’s face it – they’re not the brightest fans. Passionate, but not bright.”Former UGA QB Eric Zeier, Novemeber 21, 2001 on 790theZone

UGA JOE

October 7th, 2011
1:39 pm

smart jay aint so smart. Your last ACC champ got stripped bro.

Tom

October 7th, 2011
1:40 pm

or maybe November (just 2 e’s)

Rise and Fall of the 3rd Richt

October 7th, 2011
1:40 pm

all your 5 stars and all uga could do in 2010 was 6 wins as well, talk about a big ole pile of dog dewdew

Termites

October 7th, 2011
1:41 pm

Please Please Please – UGA Tech fans… (I know there are very few out here)

Please buy up tickets to fill your high school sized Grant Field – Bobby Dudd Stadium (55,000 for gosh sake) So we all can stop getting a splash page begging folks to buy tix for your product..

No matter how good your record “looks” – you’ll get punked the Sat after Thanksgiving…

UGA JOE

October 7th, 2011
1:42 pm

good one tom. you can’t talk football so fall back on the old we’re smarter than you.

classic.

Jeff

October 7th, 2011
1:43 pm

Get the facts straight in the article. Geez, what is this a dying newspaper with no editors – oh, wait.

09 acc champs

October 7th, 2011
1:43 pm

2009 ACC CHAMPS! 5-0

Reggie Ball

October 7th, 2011
1:44 pm

Tech is going undefeated!

Reggie Ball

October 7th, 2011
1:45 pm

Actually, Tech is not the 2009 ACC champions – don’t believe me – ask the NCAA

rduck

October 7th, 2011
1:45 pm

OK Dawg trolls. For the last time. Yes our SOS is not all that great. And yes, you guys played Boise State. You also got humiliated against Boise State. You also played Soft Carolina, who lost to Auburn who lost to Clemson (an ACC team last I heard) and had to survive against Utah St. and Miss. St. And SC had to fight for it’s life against Navy and has now dumped their QB again. You lost that one also. So you played 2 ranked teams and got beat. Only beat a weak Miss.St. team, Coastal Carolina (insert joke here) and the always mighty Ole Miss. So what is your point again?

Burdell

October 7th, 2011
1:46 pm

Once again the UGA season looks like it will boil down to beating up on little brother and then beating their chests…my, how the once mighty have fallen. Let me know when Murray beats a winning team.

Smokewagon

October 7th, 2011
1:46 pm

Though I’m a rabid UGA fan I have to admit that GT is clicking on all offensive cylinders this year. I wish them well and look forward to a barnburner in Nov. Hope everyone stays healthy so there will be no excuses.

beebee

October 7th, 2011
1:46 pm

Let’s let little UGA Joe have his slobbering say. He is right, you know. It’s the perceived tone of his rant that bothers us.

Tech’s defense has and will worry us sick. A team can contend for a National Championship with this offense. But the defense can cause us to lose to a North Carolina, let alone a game down IN Miami or at home against Clemson or UGA.

I Love my Jackets as much as any of you. But they have got to prove they can stop a real good team; one better than UNC and much better than N.C. State.

bee

reebok

October 7th, 2011
1:46 pm

North Carolina was ranked, barely, when we beat them. But I am the first to admit we have a very soft schedule this year. Tomorrow let’s get to 6-0!

gt45

October 7th, 2011
1:47 pm

All this Tech love is starting to get to the UGAfers. Hide the bullets!

Ted M

October 7th, 2011
1:48 pm

Reggie Ball

October 7th, 2011
1:44 pm

Tech is going undefeated!

If Tech beats Clemson I’m jumping on that bandwagon.

beebee

October 7th, 2011
1:49 pm

I mean lose to a team LIKE a North Carolina. Thankfully that did not happen this time.