Upsetting Georgia would give Tech needed boost for future

Roddy Jones (20), Troy Garside (33) and Marcus Wright (3) were among celebrating Jackets in 2008. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

From Tech's 2008 celebration: Roddy Jones, Troy Garside and Marcus Wright. (Brant Sanderlin)

During the course of a five-minute interview, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson referenced Georgia’s No. 3 ranking in the BCS three times, just on the chance that we didn’t know.

“It’s not often you get a chance to play the No. 3-ranked team in the country,” he said.

“We haven’t beaten them in three years — that should be motivation enough. And they’re the No. 3-ranked team in the country,” he said.

“It’s an important game — and we also know that it’s the No. 3 team in the country,” he said.

So, just for clarification, Georgia is ranked No. 3 in the country, correct?

“I think so,” Johnson said, smiling. “That’s what somebody told me.”

Welcome to the view from the other side. Johnson is perceived as the other coach of the other team in the other conference. On Saturday, his Yellow Jackets will face the Bulldogs in their annual feud in Athens. Johnson understands the backdrop. Georgia has a bigger fan base, commands more national and local media attention and plays in the Goliath of the conferences, the SEC. So there’s no reason to pretend the situation doesn’t exist. It’s better to go with it publicly and throw roses in the air, but behind the scenes remind his players that this is a chance to stick it to the world outside of North Avenue.

Coach Paul Johnson has endured a rocky season, notwithstanding the Jackets' Coastal Division title. (AP photo)

Coach Paul Johnson has endured a rocky season, notwithstanding the Jackets' Coastal Division title. (AP)

When Johnson gives his pregame Gipper speech to his players, he’ll touch on all of the expected themes for an ignored underdog. Linebacker Brandon Watts speculated, “I’m sure it’ll be how we have a chance to beat the No. 3 team in the nation, and we have a chance to kill their dreams.”

Tech has a chance. Rivalry games often give way to unexpected results. With so much attention in Athens being paid to next week’s SEC Championship game against Alabama and the potential of a berth in the BCS title game, it would be surprising if some UGA players weren’t distracted this week.

But this game is about more than that for Tech. When Johnson took over for Chan Gailey in 2008, it was like he plugged the program into a light socket. He won 20 games in his first two seasons, including an ACC title (later vacated). He led the team into Sanford Stadium in his first season and engineered a 45-42 upset. It was pure joy for players and everybody connected to Tech.

“I was watching it on TV,” said Jackets defensive back Jemea Thomas, then in high school. “They looked so excited when they were winning. They were running around with pieces of hedges in their mouth.”

The Jackets’ program is in need of a similar boost.

This has been a rocky season, notwithstanding their impending happy-birthday-berth in the ACC Championship game (resulting from Miami withdrawing in hopes of minimizing coming NCAA sanctions). Tech’s season has seen ugly non-conference losses to Middle Tennessee State and BYU, defensive collapses against Virginia Tech, Miami and Clemson, a fired defensive coordinator (Al Groh). The recent departure of athletic director Dan Radakovich to another ACC school (Clemson) cast the financial situation of the institute’s athletic department in a negative light.

For many, if not most, Tech fans, it doesn’t feel like 2008 or 2009. It doesn’t feel like a division-championship season — it feels like 6-5. In the stands, it looks like 6-5. The Jackets regularly played before thousands of empty seats at home games. The school also could not sell out its allotment of 8,000 tickets for Saturday’s game. Tech, in fact, returned more tickets (1,900) than Georgia Southern (1,400). (A contributing factor: Tech sold the UGA game tickets only as part of a season-ticket package. Nonetheless, it didn’t look good.)

A win over Georgia would improve perceptions, ease concerns. Johnson isn’t thinking about that. Coaches are wired to just try to win games and assume that will fix everything else.

When asked if he believed Tech fans seemed as excited about the program as in 2008, Johnson replied: “Probably not. But do you think any fans are as excited after the coach has been there for a while?”

Point taken. Mark Richt wasn’t feeling excitement in Athens two years ago, but things have turned. Tech needs a similar turn.

By Jeff Schultz

Post-Thanksgiving blog blowout sale

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Short takes: Ryan awful, defense great, win important

Georgia’s new reality: From on the brink to BCS title possibility

Upsets launch Georgia into BCS title picture (updated game column)

Short takes: Murray wakes up the offense

Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets, Falcons and the lust triangles

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Falcons’ startling admission: Ray Edwards was a blunder

193 comments Add your comment

happydawg29

November 23rd, 2012
1:51 pm

Greg

November 23rd, 2012
1:53 pm

Why would UGA overlook Tech this week with them having to beat Tech in order to even have a chance at a national title? I swear some of you journalists really need to think before you write. We have to beat Tech in order to get where we want to go. And we will.

LDawg

November 23rd, 2012
1:54 pm

Chance to be first and I am not going to take it!!! Crazy things happen all the time in rivalries but not tomorrow. Go DAWGS!!!!

Greg

November 23rd, 2012
1:54 pm

Also, it sounds like you think Tech is going to pull off the upset yet you picked UGA to win. Make up your mind.

Not Disappointed

November 23rd, 2012
1:57 pm

Well, one can dream, but it may not be in the cards this year! :(

As usual, ‘Ramblin Wreck for life!’

TGT

November 23rd, 2012
2:07 pm

As a UGA fan, I never overlook Tech. Anything can happen. Let’s hope for a clean game with minimal injuries(egos only). Go Dogs!

SecondGenJacket

November 23rd, 2012
2:10 pm

Regarding GT fans not buying the entire allotment, there’s some truth to fan apathy. However, there are quite a few die-hard, loyal Tech people that will no longer go to Athens due to harassment both inside and outside the stadium. No school is immune to idiots amongst their fan base, but when Georgia’s president has to issue a warning about public urination and defecation, it’s more than a few bad apples.

fayncdawg

November 23rd, 2012
2:14 pm

Funny that Tech’s 2008 victory hasn’t helped them much as far as recruiting and overall team improvement.All it showed was that a good team with heart and a great sense of urgency playing a gadgety playground offense can beat a team that had neither heart or a will to win. My big question with this year’s Tech team is WHERE IS YOUR HEART? YOU LET MTSU AND BYU DOMINATE YOU AT HOME! WHERE’S YOUR PRIDE? This year Dawg team has NO issues as far as heart and will to win is concerned. And they probably really want to pass the eyeball test with a convincing victory over Tech. And most likely it will happen for the Dawgs. 42-17 Dawgs.

gt45

November 23rd, 2012
2:15 pm

He didn’t endorse Tech to win. Don’t get so defensive. Personally, I would love a win, but realistically, we won’t stop their O. It set the program back years when we lost the next year in the ATL. It would do wonders if we could upset one more time!

WDE

November 23rd, 2012
2:19 pm

SecondGenJacket the entire City of Atlanta Police Dept can’t keep the North Ave Trade school students save in their dorm rooms….a little weightier matter than peeing on the bushes. I hope we beat the Bugs by 50 except then they might fire the Wattle Neck Goon….

calvin

November 23rd, 2012
2:20 pm

Clarification needed, from both Schultz and Bradley. Tech’s 2009
ACC Championship has since been vacated, right? Just need to
clear that up.

WDE

November 23rd, 2012
2:21 pm

And this game will be closer than most think Bugs will get their yardage I’m just hoping we can limit their scoring.

GTBob

November 23rd, 2012
2:25 pm

It would be a good win, but I don’t really see how it would springboard anything for the future. Frankly the game against Florida St is more important for that purpose. The game against UGA is really just a chance to play spoiler, similar to how Baylor did.

GaryT

November 23rd, 2012
2:25 pm

Not getting upset by Tech would give UGA needed boost for present

I hope the Dogs are focused on the Jackets.

[...] This is a sad statement: The school also could not sell out its allotment of 8,000 tickets for Saturday’s game. Tech, in fact, returned more tickets (1,900) than Georgia Southern (1,400). [...]

KBP

November 23rd, 2012
2:29 pm

Tech Fans: Congrats on winning the Coastal! You did not back in. You won enough games to position yourselves for the title. Not your fault that Carolina and Miami cheated.

I don’t understand why CPJ has not been able to recruit top defensive talent to compliment that juggernaut on the other side of the ball. You will certainly run for a lot of yards tomorrow and probably score 4 td’s and I think we score 6.

Go Dawgs and GATA.

Buddy Landel

November 23rd, 2012
2:33 pm

Greg, ….nevermind.

Buddy Landel

November 23rd, 2012
2:36 pm

KBP- I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s perplexing to me as well that GT can’t field a better defense. Next year looks to have more promise than this. A new QB, probably another DC, and besides #17 not a lot of skilled talent leaving The Flats.

Go Vad

November 23rd, 2012
2:44 pm

Dear CPJ,

in order to have a chance of beating UGA, you need to play Vad Lee like you did vs. UNC. Please watch the pass from Lee to Waller to be reminded what Lee is capable of. Nothing against TW except he just isn’t good enough to pull this off and he has had his chance the past two years. Lee does have it in him to do just that if he has a good day and the great thing is Vad believes in himself. So much so, the rest of the offense believes in him too and the entire atmosphere changes. With Vad, losing is unacceptable.

Can’t hurt.

This kid has something special and he came to GT. Glad somebody with his talent did.

Flapjacket

November 23rd, 2012
2:44 pm

I think another reason for the return tickets, or at least a major reason I didn’t buy, is that the seats are flat awful. You might as well be watching from the moon as that new upper upper deck. The upper deck is reasonable, but you’re just not even a part of the feel of the game in the 600 level. Just spoiled from BDS, I guess. The other major reason is that Thanksgiving is out of town for us when the game is in Athens. I’d imagine it’s the same for lots of folks.

Biff Pocoroba

November 23rd, 2012
2:52 pm

Who wants to pay $80 to drive to Athens for a noon game and sit in section 600, so far away that you are better off watching it on tv? You can just drive down to Buckhead and hang out if you want to watch drunks holler at people and act like idiots.

calvin

November 23rd, 2012
3:00 pm

Tech should have let students have those extra tickets as some vastly reduced rate.
Did they think the season ticket buyers would have resented it? Not likely.

GTBob

November 23rd, 2012
3:04 pm

Tech should have let students have those extra tickets as some vastly reduced rate.

I don’t think that would help much. Our student section isn’t even full for Tech home games. There is probably a much better chance of convincing alumni to go.

Sunbury Ga dawg

November 23rd, 2012
3:04 pm

Dawgs are soft……..

Now that i said that Dawgs are ready to wreck tech again……..

wayner

November 23rd, 2012
3:10 pm

i am a gt fan for life,do any of you ga fans know how to get to athens, and yes you do have a very good team,but you fans are ass hoooooles

zzggyy

November 23rd, 2012
3:11 pm

I’m a ‘Dawg fan living in Tallahassee. My wish is that the ‘Dawgs win handily over the Jackets & Tech gets their ‘needed boost’ by upsetting the Seminoles in the ACC championship game.

Joey

November 23rd, 2012
3:15 pm

Hey Jeff, this ain’t 2008.

Willie Martinez is coaching Auburn’s DBs DOWN now . . .

blackandwhitestripes

November 23rd, 2012
3:16 pm

Roll Tide!!!!That is all you need to know.

Truth

November 23rd, 2012
3:17 pm

Tech needs to win this game period….UGA has far better talent….double our Revenue…and double our Fan base….but Tech needs to start getting back on the winning side of this rivalry and re-establish it’s storied football program. One that has 4 national championships to UGA’s two.

Let’s go Tech, Win this one for your Fans….the die hard one’s that have not given up on you or asked for PJ’s removal. Little to they remember the 2008 win in Athens, and the 2009 ACC championship, things that had not been done in many years.

Nerds Say The Funniest Things

November 23rd, 2012
3:18 pm

If Tech somehow pulls off a shocking upset in the ACC championship game, will they be allowed to keep the trophy this time?

Tyler

November 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

Jeff, there is absolutely nothing new in this article that hasn’t been said over and over. How about giving just a little bit of effort if you’re going to write about this game that so many of us hold dearly.

Truth

November 23rd, 2012
3:24 pm

Tyler give Jeff a break….I’m just glad we got another article on this game….not really much more to add to this….its pretty simple….Tech needs to win….We need UGA to go from number 3 in the nation to number 2 in this state

JetBuzz

November 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

Thanks KBP – and let’s hope for a clean no-injury game. And if Miami loses tomorrow, Jackets win the Coastal outright. Crazy season in many conferences!

D problem is partially a chemistry thing w/CAG’s system – was just too complex/old-school for today’s fast-paced CFB. May work in today’s NFL, may not. Didn’t at GT, and now we’re recovering/adjusting/moving-on, which takes time. Recruiting is definitely critical.

Jeff, in your game prediction column you made the analysis that position for position UGA wins the matchup. Perhaps, even though in CFB and especially rivalry games, any one game can turn crazy and defy analysis and logic.

However, you didn’t mention coaches. I do like Saturday’s match-up between sidelines. I’d put a game-day CPJ up against anyone.

Go Jackets! What’s the Good Word?

DecaturHurricaneAlum

November 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

@KBP We didn’t cheat where have you been getting your news? And the ACC unlike with NC didn’t ban us from the ACC title the ACC powers that be wanted us and FSU not GA TECH and FSU.

GaTech Old Timer

November 23rd, 2012
3:30 pm

On paper – we don’t have a chance. Taking into perspective the way we’ve played the first half of the season – we neither deserve to be – or have the right to expect respect. However, as the season has progressed after the halfway point – with all our problems – we’ve hung in there attempting to build something from nothing and finish with our heads up looking forward to next year. owever, it strikes me as amusing that the sportswriters for the AJC – with the exception of Techs writer Ken – have all written articles about the impending game with the purpose of reminding UGA fans, coaches and players that they need to focus on Tech and not look ahead toward the SEC playoff game or possible BCS title hopes. None have been about the reasons Tech should have for being positive going into the game, playing hard and with intensity or exultations of how Tech will benefit if they win – not only this game but if they could somehow begin to dominate the series once again as they have done in the past. It’s almost as if you writers have a vested interest in UGA football prowess whereas Tech is written about as being the one remaining team that might deflate your overblown ego and destroy your predetermined story line so you try to make sure UGA coaches, fans and players keep their eyes on the state prize.
So, my coments to you all is this – have another story line ready for the Sunday papers. Have one ready that tells of the way Tech has pulled itself out of the celler and rebuilt it’s team based on character and fortitude. A team that no one gave a chance to win the game tomorrow but it!

GaTech Old Timer

November 23rd, 2012
3:31 pm

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

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

Dacusville Bill

November 23rd, 2012
4:11 pm

Fire Pitiful Paul–Hire Derek Doooley

Rick James

November 23rd, 2012
4:14 pm

I dont understand why some Tech fans were expecting a lot of positives from this article when you havent had a lot all season.

heyberto

November 23rd, 2012
4:16 pm

Why is this a question? No one expects Tech to win this game, so obviously UGA has more to lose.

Truth

November 23rd, 2012
4:17 pm

The ghost of Jim Donnan past will visit UGA in the hedges on Saturday and deliver GT a victory

kingdaddy

November 23rd, 2012
4:19 pm

I hope all the fans behave and everybody has a good time. I hope neither team has injuries and the refs let the kids play without a lot of flags. Watch your speed coming to the game, and DON’T DRINK & DRIVE! Athens Po-Poes have enough of our money…

Buckeye

November 23rd, 2012
4:20 pm

Afternoon dogs,

Any tom brown sitings?

Buckeye

November 23rd, 2012
4:20 pm

Is there as “First” for Fire Mark Richt?

FireMarkRichtNow.com

November 23rd, 2012
4:27 pm

Never before in the history of the BCS has such an undisciplined gang of illiterates, thugs, illegal drug users, woman-beaters, public urinators, drunks, jailbirds, and low-life morons come so close to backing into the title game. Fortunately for the integrity of the game, Alabama will send these pretenders and their low-rent fantards fleeing back to their mobile home parks and their wretched welfare existence.

RAMBLIN MAN

November 23rd, 2012
4:35 pm

As a tech fan we have 0 shot on paper and i mean 0. Georgia has had a nice season and have far superior talent and better coaching in my opinion. I say we have no shot because of how pitiful the GT actually is. It is beyond horrible. There just is little chance we can force uga into punting situations much at all and the uga defense is not miami or clemson. Much more talented on defense and we wont score everytime we touch it. So unless the GT defense gets some stops and plays inspired which it has not much of the year…this will be a 3 td loss in the end. We will be forced to score every time we have it and that just wont’t happen against the best defense we will face with the exception of FSU which is #1 in the nation total defense right now. 2 tall orders back to back for GT but 2013 looks much brighter.

I can only hope we play hard tomorrow and dont let it get out of hand. The ACC title would be sweet to win but it’s harder to imagine us beating top 10 teams with the defense we currently have. Just reality here but i would love to be wrong! Vad lee and justin thomas will be tough on uga starting in 2013. Watchout for these 2 as they are both only freshman. The offense will be hell to deal with next season without question.

Discount DoubleDawg

November 23rd, 2012
4:36 pm

well said kingdaddy…

it is getting close guys… looking forward to tough game tomorrow. Lets just get by tech tomorrow and then get ready for bama!

AAAAA Athens Bail Bonds R Us

November 23rd, 2012
4:40 pm

Any more dawgs arrested today?

Rick James

November 23rd, 2012
4:46 pm

@Truth

The ghost of Jim Donnan past will visit UGA in the hedges on Saturday and deliver GT a victory
——————————————————————————————————————————
Here’s the real truth..I’m sure that Todd Grantham was all smiles after watching how BYU totally shut down Tech’s offense on video.Georgia had a rehersal last week against the triple option and did well..Georgia is number 2 in the nation with offensive plays or 40 plus yards.Georgia Tech’s defense has given up 40 plus points in 5 games this season and have not faced an offense this good.Georgia is loaded with NFL caliber players,Tech is not.