Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN damns Georgia Tech with faint praise

When last we encountered Chris Sprow of ESPN.com — and if it seems like just yesterday, that’s because it was — he was saying nicer things about the 2009 Georgia Bulldogs than you’d expect regarding a team ESPN ranks No. 16 in the land. Well, guess who ESPN ranks No. 15?

Aw. You guessed.

The same Mr. Sprow takes on 15th-ranked Georgia Tech (link requires registration) and — wouldn’t you know it? — gushes less about the Jackets than about the Bulldogs. (Let the record reflect that ESPN’s ratings were done not by Sprow but by esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach, who’s a Georgia grad.) And a magnifying glass isn’t required to read between Sprow’s lines: He wonders if Paul Johnson’s option-based spread is really all that.

As was the case with the Georgia preview, extensive quotation will be done. (Because ESPN’s Insiders is a pay site, and I’m Clark Howard.) So here goes:

• “What [Tech coach Paul Johnson] should do is put the ball in the hands of star tailback Jonathan Dwyer. As a sophomore, Dwyer finished 12th in the nation in rushing with 1,395 yards, but it was what he did on first down that was telling. At home, on 54 attempts, he averaged 11.1 yards per carry, moving from first down to first down.”

• “Tech’s offense — under the leadership of returning junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt — isn’t a complete one-trick pony. It can run in a lot of directions and get a lot of people involved. Consider that Dwyer’s 6.98 yards per carry was over a yard less than freshman Roddy Jones. The kid from Stone Mountain, Ga., went for 8.5 yards whenever he carried the ball.”

• “The bottom line: Tech is set up to be the best rushing team in the country.”

The 2009 Jackets are more apt to:

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• “Despite the offensive plaudits, Tech simply wasn’t dominating on the scoreboard. It outscored opponents by only 4.1 points a game (24.4 to 20.3) for the year, and on those rare occasions when the running game needed a boost from a little passing, it got ugly … Having even a hint of an aerial threat would help. Terrible passing teams that make an effort to improve usually gain a W or two.”

• “As the caretaker of the program, Johnson knows that he earned praise last year not because Tech was so good, but because so little was expected of it. That’s not the case anymore. Last year many looked at the underclassmen dotting the starting lineups and penciled in the team for 3-9.

My two cents: I could’ve sworn Tech was good in 2008 — it finished 9-4 and beat Boston College, Florida State, Miami and Georgia. And I’m inclined to think a team that won nine games in Year 1 under an exceedingly stylized coach would get better with time and a deepened knack for nuance. That’s why I think the Jackets will win the ACC. But I have, as we know, been wrong at least once in my life.

271 comments Add your comment

Kevin

June 16th, 2009
6:43 am

No GT will not ACC like they can’t win the college world series either….they be 7-5 this season….and beside the lovely Non-fans who only show up for Varisty food be there with empty seats!and no they will lose to Georgia bulldogs in atlanta by score of 45-10

MattyB

June 16th, 2009
7:19 am

Mark, I thought we had an understanding after the Chipper blog the other day? No more nice stuff regarding GT in order to avoid the Bradley curse this fall? Great, we’re doomed for sure now!

Mac

June 16th, 2009
7:24 am

I was at Ga. Southern for Tracy Ham and have followed the team through all of its flexbone years. In year two at Tech you will see an effective passing game. It’ll be Step Two in the process. At Southern when Ham and his pair of 1,000-yard backfield mates weren’t ripping off huge chunks, Monty Sharpe and Delano Little were hauling in bombs. Exciting football. The same will happen at Tech this year.

Reebok

June 16th, 2009
7:24 am

The route to the ACC title runs through Frank Beamer and his V-Tech team. G-Tech vs V-Tech at Bobby Dodd will determine who wins the division & goes to the ACC Championship game. For the first time since Chan Gailey reared his ugly head on North Avenue, Tech is a better-coached, more disciplined team than Georgia…I’d say Tech goes 10-2 or 9-3 and beats Georgia agin. IMHO, of course, as always…

bp

June 16th, 2009
7:29 am

And all the dogs commenting on tech articles continues.. looks like someone is a lil worried. Find something better to do than say tech sucks to make yourself feel better bro. Im sure you will be dead on w/ that 7-5 record.. And if we are so bad, why the hell do you care

ThaMan

June 16th, 2009
7:32 am

Kevin the moron, I have all of the money you can come up with to cover that statement. Put it where your big mouth is. Typical fleabag.

exNFLplayer

June 16th, 2009
7:42 am

GT will finish no better than 3rd in their division. Why? Defense or lack thereof.

Lenny in Ludowici

June 16th, 2009
7:52 am

Tech will end up with 10 wins and a nice bowl bid. Passing has to improve.

On another topic of interest, I’d be surprised if any SEC or ACC teams would make the NC game if ESPN, FoxSports or NCAA has their way. With the intense hate they have for anything Southern, look for U$C to again make the top of the rankings.

However, I did find a rather interesting site with somewhat of an alternate view from the regular media blathering idiots. Check this out:
http://www.cfbwizard.com Main headline story “Commentary on the NCAA”

SimpleDawg

June 16th, 2009
7:56 am

You little nerds finally get an article and then you have to read defamming comments from other fans…..kinda like having someone in your neighborhood walk their dog over to your house and let him take a big ol’ crap in your yard….

RW

June 16th, 2009
7:57 am

Kevin. That sounds more like another FLA win over UGAG score…or was it 49-10? HAHAHAHAHA!

RW

June 16th, 2009
8:01 am

Ya know, Kevin, with Tebow back, and your QB and “hot dog with extra spicy mustard” Moreno gone, the annual FLA butt-kick will probably be more like 69-0.

Rob T

June 16th, 2009
8:08 am

ThaMan. Yeah right. Are there any of those even associated with the trade school. And girly boys don’t count.

brewdawg

June 16th, 2009
8:10 am

It’ll be nice when all this ridiculous forecasting and trash talk is over and the actual games begin. I learned over time, having grown up a Dawg fan during the Ray Goff era, then maturing through some of the false hope of the Donnan era, to always temper my expectations. Talk after the games are played, not before.

MaxwellsSilverHammer

June 16th, 2009
8:11 am

Any dog that takes a dump in my yard is a dead mofo, don’t you know.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
8:13 am

Students, if we could reflect on Mr. Sprow’s analysis for a moment … am I the only one who interpreted it as a semi-refutation of Paul Johnson’s contention that Tech’s offense will only improve in Year 2?

red92s

June 16th, 2009
8:15 am

So you wrote an AJC article, about an ESPN article, about Georgia Tech, relying mostly on direct quotes from the other author. You get paid for this?

Mac

June 16th, 2009
8:18 am

No. You are right and he is wrong. The offense will definitely be in a higher gear in year two.

Mac

June 16th, 2009
8:20 am

Sounds like brewdawg is younger than and more mature than the Tennessee coach.

MaxwellsSilverHammer

June 16th, 2009
8:22 am

We digress for obvious reasons, but I think you are correct. The Jackets can win the ACC. As others have stated, Coach Johnson is still developing his offensive system and will only improve. The theory that ACC Coaches etc. have seen the offense and are preping for it, is just that. Coach Johnson has also seen their defenses and can prep accordingly.

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 16th, 2009
8:29 am

Mark, I to have been wrong before (It’s been years though), but you are correct.

After GT beat UGAg 53-18 do you think they will still be ranked 16th?

slimpickens

June 16th, 2009
8:33 am

Fire Mark Bradley. Fire the AJC

Paul H

June 16th, 2009
8:43 am

Johnson’s offense ISN’T all that. It scored 3 points against LSU in their own back yard. That’s embarrassing. Maybe they were still admiring their shiny new rings from beating UGA in a regular season game.

The Dude

June 16th, 2009
8:54 am

Mark, I wouldn’t say “semi-refutation”. I would say it was a direct refutation with a little smoke and mirrors show about Tech being “poised to be the best rushing team in the country”. I have no idea what the results will be, but Sprow is representing ESPN as being skeptical at best. Skepticism should make the games that much more fun to watch.

HBGDawg

June 16th, 2009
9:07 am

I think GT will be better on offense, but they will be much worse on defense as well. I don’t think they win the ACC, but they will improve offensively.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
9:08 am

If Tech beats Georgia 53-18, Georgia will move up to 10th and Tech will drop to 17th.

Kidding.

Another reality

June 16th, 2009
9:11 am

As a GT fan, I’m not worried about the offense at all….we’ll score points. It’s the defense which concerns me. We lost 3 good D linemen and it’s not like we stopped anyone the last 4 or 5 games of the season. If GT is going to make any noise they’ll have to improve on defense as much as they do on offense. Isn’t that right UGA fans?

exNFLplayer

June 16th, 2009
9:14 am

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
8:13 am
Students, if we could reflect on Mr. Sprow’s analysis for a moment … am I the only one who interpreted it as a semi-refutation of Paul Johnson’s contention that Tech’s offense will only improve in Year 2?

Mark B. it could be a reflection of the possibility that Tech’s defense will not be able to stop anybody and that the logical way for an OC to attack Tech’s D is with a clock eating ball control type offense that forces Tech’s D to put a lot of people in the box and force Tech’s suspect secondary into single coverage allowing opportunity for the big play. Simply put, IF an opposing offense can keep Tech’s O off the field, well guess what. And there are at least 5 teams on Tech’s schedule with the potential to manhandle Tech’s D line. There are also at least 3 teams on Tech’s schedule with the capability to manhandle their O line as well. People are not looking beyond Tech’s skill players into areas where they have some substantial question marks.

UGAsNewOwner...IsGT

June 16th, 2009
9:14 am

Woof! Woof! Woof! I hear a lot of barking but the bite is gone. Roll over and play dead….good dawgie.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
9:17 am

I didn’t quote Sprow’s article in its entirety — came close, though — and he did make mention of Tech’s need to rebuild its defensive line. But he spent most of his space and analysis on the offense, as I tried to indicate.

Otto

June 16th, 2009
9:23 am

3 good DL lost from last season will hurt most programs just ask any UGA fan. The offense is set to score some points. Breaking in the new DL will make the early part of the season interesting. Tech’s clock consuming running attack should help take pressure off the young DL. GT could very well win the ACC. FSU is my pick for the ACC if they can have a season without key players being suspended. Yes I know thats a big IF.

Saint Simons

June 16th, 2009
9:23 am

45-42!!!!!!!! hahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha

TommyP

June 16th, 2009
9:24 am

We KNOW Tech’s offense is going to be good….pretty sure it’ll be better than last year.

It’s the defense I want to know more about. If they only outscored opponents by 4 last year and they lost a lot on defense, how are they going to be better?

Someone fill me in.

Biscuit

June 16th, 2009
9:27 am

If your defensive ends play disciplined football and your offensive jumps on GT’s defense, you beat them. Once the score gets a couple TD’s in your favor you have got to keep playing defensive football on the option. Make them pass the ball and they are done.

Let them run, and they get you; it’s going to be an interesting year

gte268p

June 16th, 2009
9:28 am

Wow, Sprow thinks the passing game needs to develop for Tech to become more of a threat? Who would have thought that? Oh wait, EVERYBODY. Thank goodness I don’t have a subscription to that crappy website!

The Dude

June 16th, 2009
9:30 am

I’m still confused by the people who think Tech’s offense is a “clock-eater”. Mark, I don’t suppose you’d do me the honor of posting what percentage of Tech’s touchdown drives last year consumed 3 minutes or less of clock, would you?

Suspect Secondary

June 16th, 2009
9:32 am

Need I remind you dawgies that Morgan Burnett was tied for most interceptions in the nation last year? Our D is going to be just fine. They won’t be a steel curtain, but they’ll get the job done.

PMC

June 16th, 2009
9:32 am

For the life of me I don’t understand criticising the offensive system. Clearly they didn’t get to the bulk of it last year as there are plenty of opportunities for passes in that system. They need to fix thier special teams and they had better hope thier defense is deeper than last season. I’m a bit worried about how they will do on the Dline and at the Cornerback position. They need to be opportunistic and they really need to control the clock but with the speed they have at B Back they can still keep up with big plays if they get into a track meet without changing what they do. They only need to be effective with the passing game. A waggle here and there and completing a 20 yard out here and there.

Sidslid

June 16th, 2009
9:33 am

Always skeptical of ESPN “journalism”. Remember, ESPN has a contract with the SEC, and no such arrangement with the ACC.

gtfanfrom1951

June 16th, 2009
9:33 am

About 11-1 and Orange Bowl win…..

Rick

June 16th, 2009
9:35 am

Mark, I am curious. Does ESPN like it when other media outlets give away their “premium” content for free?? Not that I care, mind you. I rather enjoy it since I wouldn’t waste my money on it. I guess I’m just surprised that you are allowed to do it.

Unless Tech gets better at passing the ball, I don’t think their offense will get much better. Too often, imho, people assume that another year of practice, games, etc means that the players will automatically get better. I think that’s true for the strength positions (interior line, etc) because the players get bigger and stronger as they get older and get better technique, but not with the skill positions. Sometimes, players just peak early (see Fred Gibson).

I think Tech’s season will come down to defense and turnovers. They did a good job of protecting the ball last year. Will they be as lucky this year?

chad

June 16th, 2009
9:35 am

Just wait until the games start and watch all these nay sayers remove the foot out of their mouths. Like CPJ said he has been running this system for many years now and not many people have found a way to stop it when excuted well. That’s any offense, execution fellas is the key. Just wait proof is in the pudding.

JB

June 16th, 2009
9:41 am

Tech will go 8-4 AND lose to Georgia. DAWGS have that date circled.

Joe Schmoe

June 16th, 2009
9:42 am

I think I will go on the side of Paul Johnson on this issue. They have 25 years of film, and we have 26 years of experince. As far as the defense goes, the linebackers and secondary will be close to top notch, and the D line will be underrated, especially when baby hughy TJ Barnes gets on the field. We also have Derrick Morgan who is probably better than M. Johnson.

JB

June 16th, 2009
9:42 am

Johnson won a lot of games at Navy……..Lost a lot also………..Against pretty weak teams. We’ll see how year two plays out..Woof..Woof….

Joe Schmoe

June 16th, 2009
9:43 am

JB, as if we dont have that date circled as well?

DGTech

June 16th, 2009
9:44 am

If the recruits we signed comes in and make an immediate impact this year, GT will do great things. UGA isn’t a concern at at all, it’s the rest of the ACC. I mean the ACC was the toughest conference in football last year. Let’s get it done again GT!!

Chris

June 16th, 2009
9:44 am

The passing game needs to improve, but it is a MUST that our special teams have to improve. The LSU game is a clear indicator of that. Special teams killed us in that game.

gtforever

June 16th, 2009
9:46 am

Thanks for some GREAT insight exnflplayer…. I couldn’t have said it better. DEFENSE makes good teams GREAT. We have yet to recruit enough of the in the trenches players to make a difference. Hopefully, we can close the gap in recruiting, and find some dominating players that can push some people around. Until that day, well, we will be an average football team… Win or Lose, Go Jackets, and THWG!

JB

June 16th, 2009
9:47 am

St. Simmons…..38-3……Still laughing………..hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
worst LSU team in years……couldn’t sniff the end zone……………..

BigTimeTECHFan

June 16th, 2009
9:47 am

Morgan Burnett is back and one of the top 5 DB in NCAA. LB’s will be a lot better, QB’s back, DL refreshed but good players.

Score ratio took hit with Josh Nesbitt out a few games and parts of others, Key is Nesbitt, If he stays healthy GT will win ACC and play in BCS bowl. O line more in tune to offense this year, last year was big change in style for them.