Georgia Tech stops the bleeding but assumes nothing

It was a much easier day for T.J. Barnes and the Georgia Tech defense. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

It was a much easier day for T.J. Barnes and the Georgia Tech defense. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The last time Boston College came to Atlanta in 2007, Matt Ryan threw for over 400 yards, Georgia Tech lost and dropped six of its next 10 and Chan Gailey lost his job.

Boston College’s latest season visit to Georgia Tech intersected with a firing again. It was only the defensive coordinator (Al Groh), not the head coach, who lost his job this time. Groh didn’t even make it through October. But if something had gone haywire Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wouldn’t have had anybody left to point a finger at. Serious questions that would’ve seemed implausible after Johnson’s first two seasons would’ve been asked.

Was his program spinning out of control?

Were players, who had followed Johnson’s lead for an ACC championship and 20 wins over 2008 and 2009, now not listening to him?

Was the talent really that bad?

The panic is on hold for now. Georgia Tech crushed Boston College 37-17. The final score would’ve tilted even 10 points more to the left if the Yellow Jackets had somebody who could kick straight. (They botched three short field goal attempts and an extra point. Johnson would gladly swap a major organ for a soccer player who can kick an oblong ball.)

Paul Johnson said he has been concerned about his team's competitiveness. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Paul Johnson said he has been concerned about his team's competitiveness and focus. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

So after three straight losses and the excommunication of Groh, the bleeding has stopped. For now.

It’s difficult to know what this game really means. Boston College is bad. Really bad. Like, Duke bad. Like, losing to Army bad. Like, after the Falcons’ win at Washington two weeks ago, Ryan walked out of his post-game news conference and said, “We lost to Army!” – that kind of bad.

The Eagles are 1-6 and their only win came over an FCS school, Maine. On the subject of firings: How does Frank Spaziani still have a job? When Tevin Washington completed a 27-yard pass on third-and-26 in the second quarter, setting up a touchdown, it’s a wonder Spaziani didn’t just walk off the field and have himself committed.

Johnson wasn’t about to make any grand proclamations Saturday. He didn’t do it a month ago when Tech whacked Virginia 56-20 before the three-game losing streak so he wasn’t going to do it now. But at the very least, we can safely conclude that Tech players haven’t quit on the season or on Johnson.

“I wasn’t concerned that things would spin out of control,” Johnson said. “My concern was that we needed to learn how to be intense and focus and how to approach things. I only know one way to go and that’s balls to the wall and to be competitive and that’s the way I want them to be. At times we are, and when we are we’re pretty good. And at times we lose focus and it’s like junior high school.”

Johnson clearly is making sure he has his players’ attention. He even took a shot at those on his team who didn’t suit up for the game: Quoting: “I’m going to take care of that. You don’t need to be on the sideline if you can’t get into the game – it’s not a party for them, either.”

The defensive game plan was simplified and the Jackets were better. No coincidence. (Johnson during the week: “We don’t need 80 calls. We don’t need a buzz word on everything.”)

Safety Isaiah Johnson  said, “It hasn’t been as complicated as Al Groh’s defense.”

The defense held Boston College to a lone field goal in the first eight possessions. The offense only stopped itself (see: crooked kicking foot). It had over 400 yards in the first half and not a punt until the fourth quarter. Vad Lee, the redshirt freshman quarterback, flashed his talent with a 24-yard touchdown run (making four defenders miss) and a 45-yard touchdown pass.

Alas, there were highlights. There was a win.

“It’s nice to be back on the right side of the scoreboard again,” Johnson said.

It had been a while.

By Jeff Schultz

EARLIER: QUICK HITS: Tech defense better, Vad Lee impressive

EARLIER: LIVE: It’s desperation time for Georgia Tech and defense

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69 comments Add your comment

Jon

October 20th, 2012
8:37 pm

It was Boston College. They still have a LONG way to go and need some big name recruits.

Ol'JacketFan

October 20th, 2012
8:38 pm

Jeff 5-2 Duke 20 5-2 UNC 6

Jeff Schultz

October 20th, 2012
8:42 pm

Ol’JacketFan — Sorry. They’re still Duke in my book.

Jeff Schultz

October 20th, 2012
8:43 pm

Besides, it’s really more of an “historical” backhand, if you know what I mean.

Ol'JacketFan

October 20th, 2012
8:44 pm

LOL@ JS good to see you still have a sense of humor. Cutcliffe’s doing a tremendous job over there.

2BT

October 20th, 2012
8:48 pm

how much validity would any kind of win over BYU next week warrant Jeff? Are we going to pen a column proclaiming that BYU is = Duke because Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, or Steve Young are no longer there?

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

October 20th, 2012
9:15 pm

At the end of the first half, Tevin Washington had led the team to two touchdowns and a missed field goal. Vad Lee had led the team to two touchdowns and a missed field goal. At the end of the game, TW had a higher completion rate and more rushing yards … but VL had a slightly higher yards per carry level. I’m glad Lee had plenty of opportunities to get into the game, but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to having a quarterback controversy. (Of course, I could change my mind as early as next week, depending on each man’s performance.)

AMG

October 20th, 2012
9:43 pm

FB Yellow Jacket, you were not at the game and if you were you would note that Lee looked so much better than TW that fans were cheering every time he was put in the game and most were upset that TW was in the game. It is not a close fight, Lee is way, way more talented and should get the majority of snaps. Note, stats dont show the three or four bone headed mistakes TW made. he under threw 2 sure TDs caused two more fumbles and generally looked like a freshman lost in the woods.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

October 20th, 2012
9:49 pm

Actually, I WAS at the game. Right now I would rate the two quarterbacks as roughly equal in terms of performance, although Lee might be a bit more talented. I DO think Washington runs the option better, although with more reps I’m sure Lee will eventually catch up with him. The thing is, every remaining team on our schedule has a better record than the Jackets (including Duke), so we need to use the QB who does the best job managing the WHOLE offense. For now, I think that’s Tevin Washington.

Jeff Schultz

October 20th, 2012
10:02 pm

2BT — BYU not a great team but they’re world beaters compared to Boston College. Gave Notre Dame a tough game today.

Jeff Schultz

October 20th, 2012
10:02 pm

1 4 GT — I might be headed there soon. Punk. :)

Jeff Schultz

October 20th, 2012
10:04 pm

Flowery Branch — I agree Vad Lee is more “talented” than Tevin Washington. His inexperience still obvious on some plays but kid can make plays with his legs and arm.

Grammar Police

October 20th, 2012
10:07 pm

THEIR not they’re !!!!

The Eagles are 1-6 and they’re only win came over an FCS school, Maine.

TrishaDishawareagle

October 20th, 2012
10:16 pm

Jesus wept…we lost to vanderbilt..

This would have to be the falcons bye week..nothing to look forward to tommorrow

1 4 GT

October 20th, 2012
10:47 pm

That is not me @ 9:29 PM Jeff! I was still on my way home to Eatonton (2 hour drive + stopping to eat a late dinner with Tech friends) from the game @ BDS. I suspect the creepy jerk Barry’s Uncle that has been making offensive comments on Ken’s blog for about 1 month now. Anyway, that is not the real 1 4 GT @ 9:29 PM today.

1 4 GT

October 20th, 2012
10:49 pm

NAME THIEF @ 9:29 PM SATURDAY OCTOBER 20, 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Delbert D.

October 20th, 2012
11:30 pm

1 4 GT – The name thief creep seems to feel left out or something. Pretty sad life, if he was impersonating me in absentia over the last couple of days when I wasn’t even on the blogs. To avoid any confusion, I’ll just hang up my hat (with the gold feather) and make this the only post tonight.

UGA = Yawn

October 20th, 2012
11:57 pm

We don’t really care. The season ended some time ago. GT can not play 4 quarters of intense football. We can play 2 to 2 1/2 maybe – that it. Never will we be elite until we can concentrate and play 4 quarters of football. We are average.

Duke Bad ... yeah right

October 21st, 2012
12:14 am

we should be so lucky w./ l wise,

duke is now 6-2 and bowl eligible. they won a game they usually lose in beating nc with a last minute td today. having duke competitive can only make the acc better top to bottom.

we just need a few marque teams to step up. but we will never have an lsu or bama in the acc. matter of fact no other conference in the country will. when you are competing against bama/lsu who routinely over sign to the tune of 35 players every year.to your 22 it is just not possible. they can cherry pick the talent they want while hording those players they ‘discard’ from their competition.

what are you going to do when E$PN has their contract with the sec and they give this recruiting tactic their blessing by not reporting on it. i am somewhat surprised that none of our illustrious reporters at the ajc have not written a thing on it. shameful.

far as this game goes all we can do is build on it. we allowed less than half of our ppg over the last 3 games. the players now have a game behind them to adjust to the new coaching etc. coach kelly probably learned a ton about his players and what works and what doesnt.

we got some needed quality snaps for our qb in waiting and he looked very good at times. we definitely have things to build on. i certainly like the direction we are headed as opposed to that direction under groh.

all the teams ahead of us in the coastal lost. miam, nc and vt. duke plays fsu clemson gt and miami in its last 4 games. so while our chances of winning the conference are still dim they are not out of the question …. YET.

if we win out … a big if…. we could play ourselves back into contention. at this point all we can do is play em one at a time and hope for the best.

onward we go. next baby step is byu.

what i would like to see happen is cpj and drad contact randy shannon the former coach of miami for an interview for our d co coordinators spot at the end of the season. if coach kelly continues to make strides with our d by all means include him in this process. coach shannon is certainly intriguing for sure.

- while leaving miami he was cleared of any wrong doing by the ncaa.
- he knows the acc
- he is young. much younger than al groh.
- he is a very good recruiter
- he is a very good d co ordinator in his own right
- he is the current linebacker coach at tcu and a d co ordinator position would be a good spot for him.
- i could see him welcoming a chance to get back into the acc.

just a thought.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
12:19 am

Good Heavens Jeff Schultz,

Are you some kind of a Georgie tek fan ? One team in the Top 10 or so and the other a big zero. Every game, you write story after story about this middling team going nowhere.

What’s up with that ?

You got a desk job, or what ?

Georgie tek is on NCAA Probation today right now. If UGA were, you’d have a clear comment about it every week.

macrotech

October 21st, 2012
12:21 am

CPJ is as competitive as anyone on the planet….WHY would he play the player that gives him a lesser chance to win? No doubt, I’m as excited about the future with Vad Lee, but I HAVE to believe that to this point…TW is the best option! Looking forward to seeing how this D measures up to BYU’s efforts next week! GO TECH!!!

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
12:29 am

_______________________________________
DawginLex October 18th, 2012 1:15 pm

“If we don’t cover=dissappointment”
_______________________________________
Georgie tek beat a 1-6 team and we beat a 1-6 team. We’ve played well in one game all season : the Vandie game. Now we’re off to JAX to play in that stadium an hour and a half from their campus at a stadium where the Gator Bowl is played every year, and where Mark Richt has won 3 games out of 11 games. This Top 10 or so match-up features an opportunity to do something about Mark Richt’s 3 wins in 17 games over 12 years now against teams who made the Top 10. What I’ve seen all season long, these Bulldogs have no legitimate right to win.

We’ll beat

Georgie tek

though, along with the other pansies on our schedule. We will not play in The SEC Championship Game between Florida and Alabama.

Great Scott.

South Carolina folds like a cheap suit every year.

GTPhenom

October 21st, 2012
1:49 am

Sorry, but from being at the game first hand as a student, I can tell you right now that when Vad Lee is in the game, their is a true “electricity” type feel to the game again. You remember the days with Bey-Bey, Nesbitt, and Dwyer tearing up defenses left and right? That was kinda what it felt like to me and everyone around me every time Vad Lee was on the field. Tevin made WAY too many boneheaded mistakes AGAIN. While he may be the “better” QB at this point, that is only due to reps and the fact that he has been in this program for FIVE YEARS!!! Let Vad Lee get major reps, and see where the cards fall. If we don’t make a bowl game, at this point it ain’t a big deal; bowl games lost any kind of meaning YEARS ago (minus the top tier bowls). I’d rather be ready for a potentially great year next year than to have another sub-par season next year by starting TW . . .

Boo Boo

October 21st, 2012
2:02 am

If Tech has a Special Needs Team coach, they should fire him or her. If they do not have one, they should hire back Al Grogh and then fire him again, to set an example. Then, they should go for two on every touchdown and go on every fourth down inside the opponent’s red zone, rather than pretend to kick a football through goal posts, until they can find a European exchange student enrolled and on campus that isn’t too busy studying to try kicking balls at goals on Saturdays.

Kickin it with Cremins

October 21st, 2012
2:33 am

I agree that TW still makes some really boneheaded mistakes & VL definitely brings that optimism of being able to make a play by ground or air. VL is the future & with more reps will be solid in running CPJ’s system. However I disagree with giving VL all the reps the remainder of the season because for the Seniors on the team who are still fighting…..TW still gives us the best chance of winning.

GTPhenom

October 21st, 2012
3:29 am

Never said give VL all the reps. Simply said give him “major” reps. As in more than two true series in a game. There was no way we should have taken him out after he had back to back great scoring plays if you ask me personally. And I’m not against giving Lee a start and seeing what happens. I appreciate what Tevin has done for our program, but let’s be honest, some QBs can win, and some can’t. For whatever reason, regardless of what stats he puts up, Tevin just isn’t the type of leader to will a team to a victory. And it shows in his record as a starter. With Nesbitt, I had confidence every game that we could find a way to win, regardless of who we faced, or what the situation was. Tevin hasn’t ever inspired the same type of confidence.

GTPhenom

October 21st, 2012
3:29 am

Boo Boo, I’m still wondering about that myself. I thought we hired the ST Coordinator to improve them. So far, I ain’t seen too much improvement.

Stinger2

October 21st, 2012
3:54 am

Jeff: part of your quote about bad teams was “Duke bad”. Have you checked Duke`s record and where they are in the ACC standings? Maybe its time you take a look.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
5:51 am

Kentucky’s only win all season long is over Kent state college, Jeff.

The team who beat us 35 to nothing in our last outing 2weeks ago until the 10:45 mark when Steve Spurrier yanked his starters, itself has been blown-out 2 weeks in a row since. Their latest last night against our opponent in our next game. And, we play them an hour and a half from their campus at the stadium where they have the Gator Bowl every year.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
6:36 am

(1) Lost 8 in row made top 10
(2) Lost 10 in row SEC with winning SEC record
(3) Lost 10 in row who made top 25
(4) Lost 16 of last 18 now who made top 25
(5) Lost 14 of 17 now who made top 10
(6) 66 scholarship recruits left + 1 transfer-in of 107 signed to play 2012
(7) 2012 Strength of Schedule # 103 with only ranked team left Florida

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:04 am

# 59 Red Zone Defense
# 92 Turnovers Gained by our Defense
# 72 Rushing Defense
# 47 Total Defense
# 49 Scoring Defense
# 49 on 3rd Down Conversion Defense
# 41 First Downs allowed by Defense
# 82 in sacks of opposing Quarterbacks, no pressure

# 49 First Downs by our Offense
# 55 in sacks allowed, wow Aaron Murray really runs fast 4.81
# 94 Fewest Penalties per game
# 55 Turnover Margin as a team all 2012, too
# 40 Red Zone Offense
# 32 Turnovers Lost

# 109 Net Punting, walk-ons
# 62 Punt Returns, walk-ons
# 44 Kick-Off Returns, walk-ons telling Malcolm Mitchell not to return it
# 45 Kick-Off Returns Defense

_____________________________________________
I can just imagine, you don’t want to see the stats in fact
_____________________________________________

ToeMeetsLeather

October 21st, 2012
7:04 am

Hey Jeff, instead of saying BC is “Duke bad”, just say they are “Georgia schedule bad”. With the exception of the fake USC, pitiful list of teams to this point.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:08 am

____________________________________________________________
ZANDER OGLETREE WAS SUSPENDED FOR HALF THE SEASON 2012
____________________________________________________________
That answers your question about Zander Ogletree ?

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:11 am

“except of South Carolina, pitiful list of teams to this point UGA has played” ?

# 108 Strength of Schedule all 2012 season long for UGA.

http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/2012/Internet/toughest%20schedule/tough.html

Click Cumulative for entire schedule played and not played.

collegeballfan

October 21st, 2012
7:26 am

Lay off of Duke. They are bowl eligible and it is still October.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:35 am

21 First Downs allowed to 1-7 Kentucky, 13 on the ground vs us

77 Net Yards Rushing with Gurshall
206 Net Yards Rushing Kentucky with no offense, none

8 penalties UGA for minus 70 yards

Average Punt 37 yards UGA
Average Punt 44 and half yards Kentucky

Beat us in Kick-Offs Kentucky
Beat us in Kick-Off Returns Kentucky

More 3rd Down Conversions than us, Kentucky
More 4th Down Conversions than us, Kentucky we can’t even line-up

More Red Zone Conversions, Kentucky
Higher Red Zone Percentage, Kentucky

Sacks by UGA, 1
Sacks by KY,, 3

Point after, 2 of 3, UGA
Point after, 3 of 3, KY

TOUCHES Heisman Candidate Todd Gurley including all passes, punts, kick-offs, runs 15

15 plays to Todd Gurley entire game, that’s outstanding Mark Richt, out-standing

And, what was this LAUGHING coming off the field at half-time Mark Richt ?

11 possessions UGA: 5 punts, lost 1 on Downs, settled for 1 field goal vs 1-7 Ky

Supposed to win by FOUR (4) TOUCHDOWNS
# 100 Passing Offense 1-7 Kentucky
# 100 Rushing Offense 1-7 Kentucky
# 103 Total Offense 1-7 Kentucky
# 109 Scoring Offense 1-7 Kentucky

# 91 Passing Defense 1-7 Kentucky
# 75 Rushing Defense 1-7 Kentucky
# 83 Total Defense 1-7 Kentucky
# 93 Scoring Defense 1-7 Kentucky

only good game we’ve played all season long 2012 : Vandie

Nice Coaching job there Mark Richt vs 1-7 Kentucky, especially your LAUGHING IT UP at half-time leaving the field all happy like.

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:44 am

_____________________
Brainiac, Richt for for Life
_____________________

Where are you ?

_____________________
Brainiac, Richt for for Life
_____________________

Same place all the Kool-Aid drinkers are

_____________________
Brainiac, Richt for for Life
_____________________

Thomas Brown

October 21st, 2012
7:45 am

Every team we play all 2012 season long, are 25 wins 40 losses

Boise state college schedule

wreckbone

October 21st, 2012
8:07 am

Don’t care about UGA and since out took all you had to best Kentucky a Tech win its not automatic.

Vad did look electric at times yesterday. Tevin just seems to get confused. To me a fifth year senior throwing the ball past line of scrimmage is not acceptable. We can be a good team next year if we can find a B back that can take the pounding. Haven’t had one since Allen and Dwyer. I do agree TW runs the option better. But I cheered very loud and stayed longer to see Vad’s pay late in the game. If we can develop a pass rush we can win our games. Will not have automatic short yardage situations until we have a tough B back. That is the biggest difference. Nesbitt and his b backs could get thosealmost automatically. Vad passing was great to see. Like his long pitches also very crisp. And man can that kid run and juke. That rushing td he had was great t to see.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 21st, 2012
8:09 am

@wreckbone……I THINK it was Vad who threw the ball past the line of scrimmage, not Tevin. I could be wrong, but that’s how I remember it.

ToeMeetsLeather

October 21st, 2012
8:27 am

It was TW SS

ramblingbuzz

October 21st, 2012
8:44 am

Hate to pick nits, but when we could have put the dagger in BC’s heart CPJ went back into that conservative, ball control offense again. No passes, B back up the middle. Drives me nuts. If not for the roughing the punter call against BC, this game could have been a lot closer than any Tech fan wanted. No, it’s not the offense that has lost all the games, but his play calling baffles me sometimes.

ramblingbuzz

October 21st, 2012
8:44 am

Yes it was TW, not Lee.

Delusional

October 21st, 2012
8:51 am

Thomas Brown must still be drunk. Go to sleep Thomas. Drunk and stupid is no way to go thru life.

Sid

October 21st, 2012
8:54 am

all that said I’m not 100% convinced we don’t fold our tent w/o the roughing call in 4th… I was there & that game certainly didn’t FEEL like a 20 pt win…

ramblingbuzz

October 21st, 2012
9:09 am

Yep, before that roughing the punter call, I had that deja vu feeling. Just hope the team realizes it has to improve its performance to beat BYU.

UGA = Yawn

October 21st, 2012
9:11 am

From Yahoo Sports (I love that they used the word ‘hideous’!): The only sour note for Georgia Tech was a hideous display of kicking. David Scully’s first field goal attempt from 22 yards was blocked, then he hooked one wide left from 28 yards. Johnson switched kickers, and Justin Moore connected on a 32-yarder. But Moore missed a 41-yard try, then yanked an extra point outside of the left upright.

Go Jackets

October 21st, 2012
9:38 am

Schultzie, TOTALLY disagree with point 3 on other blog……I say more like 50 percent of the time Tevin cannot convert a 3rd or 4th and 1 under this silly offense, not the defense’s fault. Its(the O) GREAT tween the 20’s, but come crunch time, under Tevin this O folds up like an empty McDonalds bag.

Smyrna Gold

October 21st, 2012
10:15 am

Let’s just enjoy this win because it’s probably the last one of the season.