Of all the directions anybody could have expected Georgia Tech would go under coach Paul Johnson, this wasn’t one of them: He is getting involved in the defense.
Johnson fired his second defensive coordinator in 4½ seasons when he canned Al Groh after a 47-31 loss at Clemson two weeks ago. Athletic director Dan Radakovich gave Johnson a vote of confidence following the Groh firing, but Johnson obviously feels some pressure (internally and externally) to turn around the Jackets. They’ve lost three straight since a 56-20 win over Virginia (allowing 138 points in those three games) and have fallen to 1-3 in the ACC.
There is still a chance to salvage something out of this season. The remaining conference games (Boston College today, Maryland, North Carolina, Duke) certainly all are winnable, and BYU next week isn’t overpowering. Georgia is the most difficult game left on the schedule. The Jackets (2-4) have to go at least 4-2 to become bowl eligible.
We know it’s a desperate time because Johnson, who promoted secondary coach Charles Kelly to interim defensive coordinator, admitted of his team’s defensive preparation this week: “I’m more involved in the planning, more involved in the practice schedules and more involved in everything. For the past two and a half years, I’ve pretty much turned everything over and let a guy do it. Charles Kelly is in charge and it will be his call, but I’m involved with the scheme of what we’re doing. I’m spending more time getting a solid defensive scheme in place that is simple where guys can play fast and they’ll know what to do. We don’t need 80 calls. We don’t need a buzz word on everything. We need guys to learn how to play and play hard.”
If simplifying things doesn’t work against Boston College, it’s hard to imagine it working against any opponent. This is not the same B.C. team that came to Atlanta in 2007 and won 24-10 (behind 435 yards passing by Matt Ryan). The Eagles are 1-5 and their only win came over an FCS team (Maine). They were blown out by Florida State 51-7 last week. They even lost to Army (which stands as Army’s only win this season).
The term “must-win” tends to get overused in sports. But this is about as close to must-win and Johnson and the Jackets can get, because if they lose to Boston College the problems are bigger than just defense.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Opening the cyber-venting lines now if you have any questions.
By Jeff Schultz
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