In its first ACC test, Georgia Tech plays like … Georgia Tech

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The team that got overrun at the end by Kansas last week in Lawrence? Those weren’t these Yellow Jackets as driven by this coach. Those were impostors. Here on Saturday we saw … well, let’s let the coach express it.

“The encouraging thing,” Paul Johnson said, “was that we played like Georgia Tech.”

A Georgia Tech game doesn’t have so much a rhythm as a heartbeat, and at the end it’s usually Johnson’s men who have the bigger heart. There will be palpitations en route, most of the due to Tech’s defense or the lack thereof. But these Jackets are accustomed to that by now. They don’t get antsy when they fall behind. They didn’t get antsy here, where they trailed three times in the first half and again in the second.

They just kept fighting, and for once the fight wasn’t all about Johnson’s stylized offense. Though the offense did muster 448 yards, and Joshua Nesbitt did complete three of four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, and the Tech offense did essentially run North Carolina’s offense off the field. Said Johnson: “I really didn’t feel like they could stop us if we ran the ball three times. Or four times.”

That said, the Tech D — yes, the Tech D — did its bit. It limited North Carolina to seven points over the final 40-plus minutes. Granted, the offense did its bit, hogging the ball for 32 of those 4o-plus minutes, but on its final five possessions Carolina managed four first downs (one of those by penalty).

In sum, this wasn’t the Dave Wommack-coached defense that ould start badly and get worse. This one improved as it went. Said Al Groh, the new coordinator: “When players had to make plays, they made ‘em.”

It would be wrong to say Groh’s group figured it all out Saturday. There were enough defensive howlers to stamp this as a vintage Tech game. Said Johnson: “The first half it looked like nobody was going to stop anybody.” But the Jackets had a chance to lose this vital game after Nesbitt sailed a pitchout past Roddy Jones late in the third quarter, and Brad Jefferson’s recovery of T.J. Yates’ fumble on Carolina’s first snap saved the day.

Said Groh: “Our personality, our identity, our brand is to play with energy , toughness and passion on every play.”

Yes, it’s a brand in progress. But there’s no question that the overall Tech persona — starting with Johnson and trickling down through the indomitable Nesbitt — isn’t so much skill (though there’s much of that on hand) as stubbornness. Said Nesbitt: “We go into every game with the mindset that it’s going to be a dogfight.”

That Tech team that lost to Kansas? Those weren’t the real Jackets. We saw the real Jackets here for the first time this season, and they looked pretty much the way they did a year ago. And in 2009 they were ACC champs.

By winning here, the 2010 team has given itself a chance to repeat after itself. The schedule remains difficult — the Jackets still must travel to Clemson and Virginia Tech — but this date at Kenan Stadium always loomed as the key early test. It didn’t matter how many Tar Heels were missing due to suspension; to be taken seriously again, Tech had to win this game. It did.

“It’s too early to write an ending for this season,” Johnson said, but the ending now has a chance to be brighter than if Tech went 1-2 over its first three games. This was a conference game, a division game, a statement game. And the Jackets’ statement was: “We might not have Derrick Morgan or Demaryius Thomas or Jonathan Dwyer or Morgan Burnett anymore, but we’re still Georgia Tech.”

223 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

September 18th, 2010
4:46 pm

Steve

September 18th, 2010
4:49 pm

Coming from a UGA fan, congrats. However I assure you that you will lose in Athens in November. At least we all still have the Braves! 1-0 in the 3rd.

Wind Turbine Jacket

September 18th, 2010
4:52 pm

Great effort today, MB…just like JN, you played through the pain :-) …well done!

5150 P.O.A.D

September 18th, 2010
4:53 pm

Steve and what are you basing that assured loss to UGA on?

St. Richt

September 18th, 2010
4:53 pm

Steve- not so fast my friend. We’re not scared of the Dawgs. Bring it on.

todd grantham

September 18th, 2010
4:53 pm

best line of the day Mark: the defense isnt Grohing on me.

swampjacket

September 18th, 2010
4:53 pm

first…go jackets!

mtraininjax

September 18th, 2010
4:53 pm

Excellent Win! Thanks for hanging in there to cover the game!

GTinNashville

September 18th, 2010
4:54 pm

Sadly, that Kansas game will haunt us all season. Did anyone see that game last night? Southern Miss beat the snot out of Kansas and we lost to those guys. I understand we played them in Kansas, but that game still should have been a W.

Eastman Jacket

September 18th, 2010
4:55 pm

This was a great win for the program. The confidence looked back and the defense showed in the 2nd half that they can make adjustments this year. Look for Tech to be very tough to beat in the ACC. Thanks Mark for giving props to Tech when deserved.

todd grantham

September 18th, 2010
4:57 pm

Mark, I still think the only human being that knows less about football than Mike Bobo is Mark Richt.

mwh6767

September 18th, 2010
4:58 pm

Good early win. Carolina isn’t a bad team. Yes they had some guys out namely Austin and Wr Little but that is still a team that was supposed to be the team to beat in the coastal. I think this is a team that can and will get better with each game. Tech has a great shot to roll into the Va. tech game with only the Kansas loss hanging on them. If that is the case I will be happy. Va. tech, Miami , duke and thuga. I will take 3 of 4 out of that stretch but let this team get better and better and they have a shot to run the table from here on out. Nobody left on tech’s schedule looks head and shoulders above them. Go Jackets!

Russell0931

September 18th, 2010
4:59 pm

Thanks to all the dog fans who are congratulating us on our win. Too bad your team lost again. Maybe next week. Goooooo Jackets!

mwh6767

September 18th, 2010
5:04 pm

Grantham , I agree with you. Just watching the uga game during tech commercials, bobo looks like he has trouble finding the rythem of his team, how the other team is adjusting and what to call and when. The 3rd and 4 on uga’s last drive was the killer. Bobo sends everybody deep with no checkdown route for a sure first down. It may be time for CMR to take back over the playcalling duties. Seemed that was when uga had its most success.

Technophobia

September 18th, 2010
5:05 pm

We’re still Georgia Tech! Yup, kinda says it all Mark. The defense is starting to gel too and with this being the third game, it’s right on schedule.

Technophobia

September 18th, 2010
5:08 pm

Oh yeah, NC got robbed vs LSU. That was clearly pass interference on the last NC offensive play. Shoulda been first and goal on the 2.

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:08 pm

GO TECH!!! That’s the way-uh huh-we like it!!! Just dated myself didn’t I?! DANG IT!!!

Tech Man

September 18th, 2010
5:09 pm

Way to go Jackets…A lot better than last week;but we got a lot of work to do!! Who idea was for Bama to play Duke?

Observer

September 18th, 2010
5:10 pm

Mark,

Forget the Tech game.

What the hell are you doing covering Tech anyway?
Just doing background for your next Tech hatchet job?

Get your predjudice a$$ back over there where you belong.

And assume your usual position on your knees for Coach Richt and the puppies, and write someth’n really nice about the rednecks.

Maybe that 30 year anniversary of 1980? , or your Herschel retrospective?

Now open wide… like you always do, and keep ‘em happy.

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:12 pm

St. Richt, look at at last year, the last ten years, or the last 100 years. Same results. We still own the bees.

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:14 pm

And to the Tech fans bashing UGA. We were underdogs in both losses. We also did not lose to a team like Kansas. If UGA loses to Colorado, make fun all you want.

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:15 pm

Steve, in the past 100 years, Tech has 4 National Championships to the pups 2….I can live with THOSE results!!!

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:17 pm

That’s very good Macrotech. The point of my post was UGA vs. Tech. Way to avoid the truth.

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:17 pm

Nice little wins you have there…don’t forget your packed stadium, too!

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:18 pm

Even Mr. Bradley and Jeff S. picked UGA to beat Tech this year. They see the usual trend. 3-1 Braves in the 5th.

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:20 pm

Macrotech it’s not my fault Tech can’t fill up their high school stadium unless they are playing Clemson, FSU, or UGA. What’s sad is half is anti-tech.

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:20 pm

yeah…didn’t they pick the dawgs to win THIS game? keep the dream alive…hang onto whatever you need to!

GT12

September 18th, 2010
5:20 pm

I loved the radio play by play for the georgia game.

“We [UGA] sure could use the twenty thousand fans who left at the end of the 3rd quarter to help the defense.”

hahahahahahah!

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:22 pm

What high school stadium holds 55,000 people?

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:25 pm

MacroTech, do me a favor and post the score of the Tech/UGA game since 2000. It’s high school cause only 40,000 or so usually show up. They have high school stadiums that big in Texas.

GT12

September 18th, 2010
5:27 pm

Awwwww. It’s okay Steve. Ya’ll can still beat Florida….

Pshh! HAHAHAHAH!

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:30 pm

GT12 UGA sucks this year. I will be the first to say. They won’t beat Florida or Auburn. They will beat Tech though. Did UGA suck last year? Yes. Who won in November at the home of the ACC champs?

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:31 pm

Name ONE high school stadium in Texas that holds 40,000 people…we won’t hold our breath…you won’t find one. WHAT game did we play that lasted 10 years? That’s a LOT longer than a yachting race!!!

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

For the record, if uga can get its offense going, I think that they could beat UF.

GT12

September 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

Don’t get ahead of yourself Steve. If your team’s performance against florida the past few years is any indicator, you could have a pretty tough time against Dan Mullen.

Against Mississippi State!

HAHAHAHAHHA

Jacket Backer

September 18th, 2010
5:37 pm

Hey Steve, who won the year before when you had two first round draft choices and were presesaon #1?????….. idiot

Go Jackets and SOOOOIEEEEEEE PIG!!

GT Trumpet

September 18th, 2010
5:37 pm

Steve, it’s called losing a rivalry game. Sometimes skill or talent has nothing to do with the outcome of the game, especially when its your rival over the past 100+ years. Look at the scores of the past 10 GT-Climpsun games. Think we should have won that many? No, especially in 2004 where we scored 21 points in the last 5 minutes.

Arno

September 18th, 2010
5:39 pm

Defensive improvement – check.
Passing game improvement – check.
ACC Coastal victory on the road – check.

Jackets2010

September 18th, 2010
5:40 pm

Great job Mark as usual. You can sometimes be blunt about problems at both Tech and Georgia and some folks can’t handle it.
I like an honest opinion myself.
As Carlos Santana sang “I hope you’re feeling better”.
Have a relaxed evening.

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:40 pm

Like I said, bash away. UGA sucks. Just like last year and we all saw the results of UGA vs. Tech. It would be one thing if UGA vs. Tech was like UGA vs. Auburn where the win difference is a few games in the overall series. UGA always has and always will own Tech.

Little Bee

September 18th, 2010
5:41 pm

Wasn’t UGA favored to win today?

RAID

September 18th, 2010
5:41 pm

Congrats Tech!…..Big win….as for my team, well, The D played well enough considering going up in front of the nations best QB…..I had a hard time believing they would miss AJ that much but am now convinced that with him on the field it changes everyones game plan…..My dogs grew up some today though…..Do’nt be surprized to see them run the table out….Aint sayin they will, but I think they’re capable….I think they’ve played the two toughest teams on their schedule…….It’ll makem better down the road…….

Technophobia

September 18th, 2010
5:42 pm

Steve you guys won last year by twisting Nesbitt’s ankle in the pile and it still took luck for you to win. Face it, you’re program is going down the toilet.

The Dream

September 18th, 2010
5:46 pm

Watch out for Cross stepping up as our next force to be reckoned with. He will get better and better. Sylvester will get his sacks in too as the year goes on. I can only wish for a good outcome in November at UGA, but we have a lot of football yet to play before anyone will know. I went to the Kansas game and it was a long week. Do I feel better, hell yes I do. One game at a time.

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:46 pm

Technophobia, luck huh? Kinda like the “fumble” that really did not happen several years ago? Don’t look for excuses. I assure you Tech has several losses to come this year. They beat a USC team missing 12 starters by 7 points. Do I need to even mention Kansas again?

Steve

September 18th, 2010
5:47 pm

And also, we have a freshman QB. Even MB agrees that UGA will start out next year in the top 10-15.

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:49 pm

You mean UNC….don’t ya?! What’s the name of that high school stadium that holds 40,000? Do WE need to mention Kentucky?!

macrotech

September 18th, 2010
5:51 pm

Mark Bradley has givin’ uga a preseason preseason top 10-15? Kind of thought you pup fans had learned your lesson with those preseason predictions…gotta stop fallin’ for that!

GT Trumpet

September 18th, 2010
5:51 pm

The way ugags D and O lines have looked against USC and Arkansas I would say you would do worse against UNC’s linemen than Tech did today.

ACC Fan

September 18th, 2010
5:56 pm

Tech did look good today overall. Those penalties, however, were costly. Without them, the game would not have been so close.