College football sneak peek: Tech uses slights as sustenance

"That guy over there doesn't think we're going to be as good." (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

"That guy over there doesn't think we're going to be as good." (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Every football coach enjoys a nice slight, real or imagined. (Slights are ready-made motivational tools, and every coach loves to have his work done for him.) Paul Johnson, as you’ve heard, is a little different. He doesn’t just welcome slights — he has built a career on them.

Consider his previous two seasons at Georgia Tech. The first was spent proving that his stylized offense could so work in the ACC. (”It’s not like it’s the NFC East,” Johnson famously said of his new conference.) The second was spent proving that his spread option could win a championship in a BCS league. And this year’s rallying cry?

Proving that 2009 wasn’t an aberration.

If you listen to Tech folks, you get the idea that these Jackets have been picked last in the ACC Coastal. That’s not true. They’re the consensus choice to finish in the Top 25 as the third-best team in college football’s toughest division. Tech finished last season 13th in USA Today’s coaches poll; it starts this season at No. 17. Big difference, huh?

But Tech folks don’t see that as a compliment. On the contrary. Said Joshua Nesbitt, the great quarterback: “People are looking for us not to be the same team … We need to prove everybody wrong.”

Does Johnson relay that message to his men? Nesbitt: “Only every time we talk.”

Much of this is understandable. Johnson has heard for decades that his offense is unsound, and he’s reveling in its success at a major school. But the issues most people have with Tech in 2010 aren’t related to tactics. The concern is talent. The Jackets lost four juniors early to the NFL. Ask Georgia if it hurt losing Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno with eligibility remaining.

The widespread belief among Tech fans is that the clever coach will simply scheme his way around everything. To be fair, there are days and nights when it seems Johnson can outflank anybody. But the Coastal looks wicked, and the Jackets must face two of the division’s three best teams on the road. To suggest that the Jackets mightn’t again go 11-3 isn’t so much a doubting of PJ as a nod toward reality.

Even Johnson has sounded a note of caution. “We could have a better football team and not win as many games,” he said, and five of those 11 victories last season — came by less than a touchdown. A rougher division, a harder schedule … a lesser season, right?

Not necessarily, according to PJ. He thinks this roster is deeper than last season’s, and he sees no reason why these Jackets can’t play for a championship. “If we stay healthy,” he said, “we’ll be OK.”

Understand: Johnson’s definition of OK isn’t 6-6 or even 8-4. He aims higher, and anyone who slots Tech lower is pigeonholed as a naysayer. “Who picks who — nobody knows who’s [going to win]. We control that. We play the game.”

That’s a feeling Johnson loves — control. People can say whatever they want about his offense and his program, but he’s the one with the headset standing on the sideline calling the plays. He’s the one going for it on fourth down. He’s the one willing to talk the talk and walk the walk.

And if these Jackets should manage — all together now — to Shock The World and Confound Their Critics and take another title, Johnson won’t just be walking. He’ll be strutting bigger and bolder than ever.

He’ll be able to say, “Remember when y’all were saying we wouldn’t be as good?” And then he’ll laugh. And then he’ll be off again, in search of the next slight.

This was a sneak peek of Sunday’s special AJC College Football Section, which will appear in the print AJC this weekend. The 34-page section will preview Tech, Georgia, Georgia State, the SEC and ACC, top games, Heisman candidates and more.


137 comments Add your comment

Lincoln

August 27th, 2010
8:30 am

phil Steele and Athlon, the 2 most accurate, pick Ga Tech, 6th in the ACC. Looks about right.

Why is Johnson’s offense so bad in Bowl games? Johnson had a terrible Bowl game record. He’s can’t coach in big games.

POAD

August 27th, 2010
8:37 am

Lincoln. Tech under Johnson has played some huge teams in the Bowls. Iowa might have been the #1-4 team last year if their QB hadn’t been hurt for a few games.

1Jacket7

August 27th, 2010
8:37 am

goldwreck

August 27th, 2010
8:38 am

Let the games begin.”There will be time enough for counting when the dealing is done”.The Jackets will be fine.

BugKiller

August 27th, 2010
8:40 am

Mark,

Why aren’t you or anyone else HONEST about Paul Johnson and his offense?

It’s brilliant in that because no one else uses it outside of I-AA and Navy, it has the potential to win just about every game he plays in the regular season.

Seriously. I’m offering praise for this.

But in the last two years, we seen proven FACT, that give a good defensive coordinator more than 6 days to prepare for Johnson’s offense, and he gets STEAMROLLED.

Tech lost to a mediocre LSU team, or should I say, they were DECIMATED by a mediocre LSU team in the Peach-Fil-A Bowl two seasons ago.

Tech then did the unthinkable and lost to a BIG-ZERO team in a BCS Bowl, something not done by ANY team in ANY conference since the 2005-2006 season.

Why? Because that team had more than 6 days to prepare.

When you have to play this high school offense with a 6 day turnaround, it makes it fairly impossible to win.

Add in a bye-week, it becomes easier to beat Johnson.

Add in a month, and you will ALWAYS beat Johnson.

Johnson is no genius. He is no savior. He’s just brilliant at figuring out how to make life hard on opposing defensive coordinators who are burdened by NCAA-mandated limits on practice time and film study.

That’s the TRUTH.

Washaun Ealey

August 27th, 2010
8:45 am

ill work for bail

lucky21

August 27th, 2010
8:47 am

hey bugkiller oregon lost to ohio state last year to and that big zero team was an injury away from being ondefeated which is alot more than the dawgs can say and btw there goes yoour chances of winning USC and arkansas with ealey arrested

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

August 27th, 2010
8:48 am

This is embarrassing. Where are my Raybans?

1Jacket7

August 27th, 2010
8:48 am

Listen, I don’t care who you like as your favorite team. If you know football you know that CPJ is a winner. He will not back down to anyone. He is always up for a challenge as this article implies. He just wins baby. Now, the reason for that is the system he uses gets more out of less and it will,as we will see this year, totally dominates when the players meet the system used. I hated the fact that we lost to UGA last year because everyone knew we were the better team. And we gave them one and as you know we can’t afford to give them any. But, our weakness is in our size and mostly strength and meanness. In the IOWA game we just got handled up front. But since the LSU game. That is happening less and less. We are now in the third year and as you all read. The off season focused on getting Bigger Stronger and Faster. I believe you will see all of that this year and for each year to come. Our coaching couldn’t be better. It now comes down to the athletes on the field. Dominate the man in front of you and the W’s will take care of its self.

PMC

August 27th, 2010
8:48 am

Well the way it’s looking sets up well for Tech.

Va Tech is overrated but should be really solid.

UNC is self destructing.

Miami could be very good but they don’t take care of the football.

IF GT finds a passing game this year they have a fantastic shot at winning the Coastal division. The offense has to evolve and get better especially the blocking on the line but I have no reason to believe it won’t. Also, I think they play better defense across the board this year as a unit.

TechFaninVR

August 27th, 2010
8:49 am

In Johnson’s first year the Dawgs had two weeks to prepare for Tech and remind me again what happened in that game.

Ash

August 27th, 2010
8:49 am

Johnson can’t coach in big games? Don’t you have some garbage to collect this morning, Lincoln? PJ was 14-3 in FCS playoff games, won 5 out of 6 CIC trophies at Navy while beating Army every year and AF all but once, led Navy to beat ND for the first time in over 40 years, won two bowl games at Navy (only their fifth and sixth bowl wins ever), has beaten every GT rival at least once and won the ACC championship game.

You really bring a whole new kind of stupid to the table, Lincoln.

TML

August 27th, 2010
8:50 am

Lincoln, who said Phil Steele is the “2nd most accurate”? Was it Phil? :) Seriously, CPJ has done this time and again throughout his career. I just love how the state’s media get so mesmerized under the spell of U[sic]GA this time of year, only to be disappointed at least once before UF week. MB, if I recall, you’re picking U[sic]GA over the Jackets this year, too. CPJ is going to make a living proving guys like you and Steak Shapiro and Heather Dinich wrong. http://www.stinGTees.com

RAMBLE ON!!!

August 27th, 2010
8:51 am

Yes, Paul Johnson is the Ric Flair of College football. He just “walks the walk”.

POAD

August 27th, 2010
8:52 am

BugKiller you are a fool if you think IOWA is a bad team. I know for sure all the football you watch is the Dawgs. Iowa was great last year. The QB was hurt and that is when they lost. You missed Iowa’s games then you missed some exciting football. The LSU score was bad yes, but the turnovers giving LSU a real short field was what killed TECH.

Washaun Ealey

August 27th, 2010
8:52 am

I run this cell!

RAMBLE ON!!!

August 27th, 2010
8:53 am

Lincoln is a fleabag. Steele and Athlon are both SEC homers. They are also idiots, but I digress.

TechFaninVR

August 27th, 2010
8:54 am

Having extra time to stop this offense or any offense for that matter is key. However, I think people overlook the fact that in the LSU and Iowa games to name a few, their DL dominated our OL. That was the real key not so much the extra time.

Paul in RDU

August 27th, 2010
8:56 am

I love the comments about GT losing to Iowa because GT “plays a gimmick offense” and they had more than 6 days to prepare. Iowa’s D last year was really good. They took it to PSU and Wisconsin – 2 teams that play pro-style offenses.
And before any SECFanatic makes comments about “weak Big 10 teams” PSU and Wisconsin did pretty well in their bowl games

Aaron Murray

August 27th, 2010
8:57 am

dang Washaun now ur going to make me look bad

WE HIT AND RUN THIS STATE

August 27th, 2010
8:57 am

Haha. Unbelievable the losers your school recruits.

PMC

August 27th, 2010
8:57 am

It really hasn’t been about scheme much in the bowl games they’ve lost. It’s been about execution. LSU and Iowa played harder and better football than Tech did. I’m not sure if that’s an inditement of Johnson or not. I do blame the LSU loss on the ridiculous ring fiasco because they checked out and LSU had something to prove. The Iowa game… they got manhandled. The offensive calls don’t matter when you get embarassed on both lines of scrimmage.

Mark Richt

August 27th, 2010
8:59 am

can someone lend me a few sawbucks? my petty cash fund for making bail for my dawgs – ARP ARP – is tapped out

1Jacket7

August 27th, 2010
8:59 am

TML, isn’t it funny how gaga Steak on 790 is about UGA. I believe those were his panties in the lap of the former UGA AD.

Butts Wagner

August 27th, 2010
8:59 am

The concern is talent. …………………The widespread belief among Tech fans is that the clever coach will simply scheme his way around everything.

I don’t know that this is the consensus fan opinion. My opinion is more like PJ’s.

Not necessarily, according to PJ. He thinks this roster is deeper than last season’s

GT lost some great individual talents, but the talent level overall has not dropped off because the team is deeper than last year’s.

gt45

August 27th, 2010
9:00 am

If this was WWII, he would be Patton’s right hand man! You gaggers may hate GT, but deep down, you love our coach! Go Jackets-

Big

August 27th, 2010
9:00 am

Losing a qb the caliber of stafford and uga’s system is MUCH different than losing what tech has. Tech’s guys can be replaced. you can’t replace a stafford.

pws

August 27th, 2010
9:01 am

Mark, how about a story about yet another thug from UGA getting arrested for driving with a suspended license? WIll UGA suspend one of their star running backs for more than one game? I seriously doubt it.

Paul in RDU

August 27th, 2010
9:02 am

Mark – UNC is certainly one of the best teams in the Coastal Division, but GT may be playing against UNC’s FR’s and SO’s the way things are going in Chapel Hill.
If Butch is implicated with academic misconduct (and the tutor at the center of the problem tutored Davis high school age son – good QB at E. Chapel Hill HS) Chancellor Holden Thorp will fire him. They like to thing of themselves as a public version of Harvard over there in CH.

hotbobby

August 27th, 2010
9:03 am

I wonder why our beloved CMR took the week off before the Tech game this year? HMMM

Nate

August 27th, 2010
9:04 am

The last guy to drive with a suspended licence and hit and run was kicked off the team right? Hmmm

1Jacket7

August 27th, 2010
9:04 am

What are you talking about Big, stars are replaced by stars all the time. Buck Blue, Eric Zier, ???. Stafford and in a couple of year you will have some one else. At Tech, Shawn Jones, Joe Hamilton, Joshua Nesbitt and in a couple we will have another one. It only takes a few years or less to find the next star.

Ramblinwreck83

August 27th, 2010
9:05 am

BugKiller

What does that make UGA’s offense? I saw their offense get steamrolled by a really bad Tenn team last year. Remember that one. Do you remember the LSU game last year. I guess UGA also lost to a mediocre (at best) LSU team at their own house. Hell, UGA had a bye week 2 years ago to prepare for Tech’s offense and got beat at their own house again. Admit that your just another naysayer that doesn’t like Tech and your being biased.
That’s the TRUTH!

Paul in RDU

August 27th, 2010
9:06 am

“Add in a month, and you will ALWAYS beat Johnson”

Clemson played GT in their 2nd game of the season in 2009, after playing Middle Tennessee State in the first game. The Clemson coaches admitted that they spend much of the summer getting ready for GT. Final score GT 30 Clemson 27.

Nate

August 27th, 2010
9:06 am

Suspended 6 games. This guy has a hit and run which is a felony in this state. Let’s see what punishment richt throws down. 1 game would be a joke.

Dontavius Jackson, one of two Georgia players arrested on alcohol-related charges last week, is transferring from the university after summer semester.

SEC blog
ESPN.com’s Chris Low writes about all things SEC in his conference blog.

• Blog network:
College Football Nation

Coach Mark Richt suspended Jackson for at least six games after the sophomore was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and other motor vehicle offenses early Saturday morning.

Jackson, a backup running back, had four carries for 38 yards in 2009.

Richt announced Jackson’s plans to transfer on Wednesday. The school initially said Jackson would transfer after spring semester.

Sophomore split end Tavarres King was charged with underaged possession of alcohol and has been suspended for at least one game.

1Jacket7

August 27th, 2010
9:08 am

Bub Killer, You are 1-1 against CPJ and the Tech offense. Our offense put us in the Chick fila Bowl and the ACC Championship and the Orange Bowl. What has your offense done in the last two years. Get off the insults of the offense. Its obvious that it all comes down to the ability of the players to execute the offense.

Chad

August 27th, 2010
9:10 am

We lost to Iowa because they were the better team. Iowa would crush uga if they played. They are big. We lost to lsu because it was just one of those days where everything goes wrong. Kinda like you against kty last year.
And miami was the 3rd game in 12 days which is enough to slow down any team. And we lost to you, barely, because our defense sucked and thomas couldn’t catch a ball in the numbers. delusional dawg fans once again open their idiot mouths.

now you have one less player for a few games and one less criminal on the roads. lets see how that one dimensioanl offense does without this hit and runner.

JAMES DEAN

August 27th, 2010
9:13 am

I don’t normally chime in on the insults, but you gotta admit, “We hit and run this state” is pretty funny….

Mike

August 27th, 2010
9:16 am

How do you hit a parked car if you’re not buzzed? Well, he had a suspended license. Another idiot and more proof how they make it to easy in this country to get a DL. Should be suspended for at least 3 games if you compare the other arrest.

Hey, Nate...

August 27th, 2010
9:18 am

…there is a HUGE difference in DUI hit and run and hitting a parked car in a parking lot – and, since he was in a parking lot, police have no jurisdiction re: “driving” on a suspended license. All he has to do is say he did not leave the parking lot, and, presto, he is free – now all he has to do is file a false arrest claim and the police are in a heap of trouble.

I will admit, however, that the failure to stop after hitting the car is a problem, yet it is not something for which significant “football” time should be lost. Remember, DUI was not involved this time, so trying to compare Jackson to this is WAY off base…

Paul H

August 27th, 2010
9:21 am

If anything Tech as been given a gift – based on how they were dominated 2 of their 3 final games last season.

cattle dawg

August 27th, 2010
9:22 am

Come on techies … Yall are self proclaimed brilliant.. Im sure that yall can tell a difference between Ealey hitting a parked car and what Jackson did. I admit that both are just dumb and dumber, but until something comes out about alcohol its not anywhere near the same… I will say that the post about , I run this cell and I hit and run this state were pretty good.

Slippery when wet & 5150

August 27th, 2010
9:22 am

Tim Tucker is a JOKE! He post about Ealey and will not open comments because he knows all the abuse the #1 arrested team in the land will get.

Justin

August 27th, 2010
9:22 am

Are Richt and UGA trying to ruin their reputation? Should they simpy spin off the football program and make it a semi pro team?

Paul H

August 27th, 2010
9:23 am

Bottom line is Tech wets their pants on big games – see Peach Bowl 09, Orange Bowl ‘10, UGA game ‘09, list goes on…

Ramblinwreck83

August 27th, 2010
9:26 am

Hey, Nate…

Are you serious? He hit a parked car in a parking lot and left the scene of the accident. I’m pretty sure the police have jurisdiction. He shouldn’t even be driving much less real early in the morning. I wondering what he was doing. Do you really think he shouldn’t miss any time. I guess that’s a UGA fan just wanting to keep all their players on the field regardless of the crime. Really Bad offseason for the Mutts.

gt45

August 27th, 2010
9:26 am

Paul, We’ve won 20 the last two years, the list doesn’t go too much further on!

Paul in RDU

August 27th, 2010
9:27 am

I agree that a DUI is much worse than the current charge for Ealey. However the comments that the police have no jurisdiction because it was in a parking lot is errant nonsense.
UGA Police Chief Willamson said according to the law “you have a responsibility when you hit another car to report it, same as if you hit a fence you have a responsibility to report it. . . . You can’t drive off.”

With the Fulmer Cup for this year coming to a close by next Thursday, I have to congratulate UGA for sealing the #1 spot. Not even ECU or Oregon can close the gap now.

Old Gold Britches

August 27th, 2010
9:30 am

Coach Johnson is in search of the next good slight. You trash talking “under performing” mutts that never measure up………..is this all you got?
We gave you one last year, but not again! Go Jackets!!!!!

Buzzkill

August 27th, 2010
9:30 am

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Another week goes by, another ugag player arrested

For a laugh, search yotube for Jim Romes’ interview with Mark Richt.

Rome: “Coach, in 2 years years you had over 40 players onyour active roster, arrested. Is there a discipline problem with theprogram?”

Richt: “No we DO NOT have a discipline plroblem with players.”

Man, just just cant make this sh** up !!!!

Nice one: UGA = WE “HIT” & RUN THIS STATE.

ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ROTFLMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!