PJ was not pleased. PJ was, to borrow a term he used himself, another sort of “p” word. PJ could barely find anything good to say about a 20-point victory over an outmanned team, which isn’t to say he was at a loss for verbiage.
“I want to see some intensity and some fire and some fight,” Paul Johnson said Saturday. “We’re just not nasty enough. We’re too nice.”
That Georgia Tech was never in distress against Jacksonville State didn’t mollify the Jackets’ coach. If anything, it made him ever madder. Jonathan Dwyer scored on the game’s first snap and that, in PJ’s mind, “probably wasn’t the best thing that could have happened.” Because it didn’t give Tech cause to buckle down and execute. It didn’t give it cause to do anything except flail for the final three quarters.
Tech led 17-0 after 15 minutes but outscored the Gamecocks by only three points over the next 45. It managed three touchdowns over that span, one of them a punt return. It lost three fumbles, all three by quarterbacks. Said PJ: “Maybe we should have knocked the crap out of them in fall camp and they’d have hung on to the ball.”
Asked about his team’s passing game: Johnson said: “It was OK — about like everything else.”
His offensive line? “About like everything else.”
About his second-team defense, which yielded a touchdown on the game’s final drive: “If something like that had happened to me, I’m going to be ["p"-word here]. I’m not going to be smiling.”
Did he catch some second-teamers smiling after JSU’s touchdown? “No,” he said, without smiling.” If I did, I would have went and got ‘em. But I didn’t see anybody looking crushed, either.”
Johnson believes these Jackets have the capacity to be really good, perhaps better than good. “I’m trying to raise the level of expectations,” he said. “We could come in here and say, ‘We gained 500 yards [actually 497],’ but we didn’t play the way we needed to play to reach the level I want us to reach.”
On why Tech ran only 11 third-quarter plays: “Because we weren’t worth a crap. We missed every read on the option.”
On his displeasure over a missed PAT: “I don’t think you should be high-fiving each other when you miss a extra point that a junior high school team could make. I don’t think you should have a group discussion and sing, ‘Kumbaya.’ ”
We pause to reflect: Tech wasn’t awful. It was great in the first quarter, mediocre thereafter. Dwyer gained 74 yards on his first carry and only 21 more.
And here we must also note: As teaching tools go, this game falls squarely into PJ’s wheelhouse. He has five days to prepare his men for an old enemy in orange, and those men had already gotten the message. Said Dwyer: “If we came out like this against Clemson [due in Thursday night], we’d get beat.”
The Jackets have had nine months to revel in beating Georgia, nine months to hear how much better they’ll be in Year 2 under PJ. Some teams can handle that. Others require some instruction.
Of his teams at Georgia Southern and Navy, Johnson said: “They liked to win. They fought hard. They played scared. We’re talented, but we don’t have that down-and-dirty part.”
PJ’s men might find some of that these next few days. There will be no “Kumbaya” moments before Clemson comes to town, no group harmonizing. There will be only the sound of one man yelling.
How might practice be Sunday? Said Dwyer, the diplomat: “I don’t think it’ll be any different.”
Said defensive end Derrick Morgan, the realist: “I think it’ll be different.”