An inconvenient truth: A year later, Tech isn’t all that talented

The hair is Anthony Allen's. The defenders are all State's. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The hair is Anthony Allen's. The defenders are all State's. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Now we know. The Georgia Tech offense isn’t as good, and the defense isn’t any better. And that’s why the Jackets, who suffered their second regular-season loss of 2009 two days after Thanksgiving, have lost twice before October this season.

This isn’t a failure of tactics, be they Paul Johnson’s or Al Groh’s. This has to do with players, and the lack thereof. Even when the defense was hemorrhaging yards last season, there was always the chance Derrick Morgan would make a play. There’s really only one playmaker on this roster now, and he’s the quarterback. And even Joshua Nesbitt needs help.

“We had 81 plays on defense,” said Groh, the new coordinator. “We made three plays of significance — Brad Jefferson’s two sacks and Jerrard Tarrant’s interception.”

North Carolina State came to town and left having hung 45 points and 527 yards on Tech. Whenever the Jackets drew close, the Wolfpack drove the length of the field and rebuilt its lead. There was nothing mysterious about it. N.C. State just had better players, and they made bigger plays.

Groh again: “There’s a lot of one-on-one football when it’s zone blocking.”

Meaning: State’s guys won the one-on-ones. And they didn’t just win them against Groh’s hapless defenders; State overpowered Johnson’s stylized offense, too.

The Jackets mustered only seven first downs and 137 first-half yards, and when you’re an option team, you cannot do as a more conventional team would do — pass your way out of an early funk. For Tech to fall 10 points behind, as happened on four different occasions, is to play the other guy’s game. And Tech isn’t very good if it can’t play its coach’s way.

“Sometimes you just get beat,” Johnson said, and this was such a day. The pros in charge of State’s defense — coordinator Mike Archer and linebackers coach Jon Tenuta, who once worked for Tech — deployed an NFL-caliber linebacker in Nate Irving, and Irving’s forays into the backfield kept the Jackets in third-and-long all game. For all his daring, Nesbitt isn’t a third-and-long quarterback.

Irving was credited with 16 tackles (4 1/2 for losses) and two sacks. Asked how many times No. 56 slammed into him, Nesbitt said: “I lost count.”

There have been times under Johnson where his offense could override almost any level of defensive largess, but that’s not apt to happen as often this season. Anthony Allen isn’t Jonathan Dwyer. Stephen Hill isn’t Demaryius Thomas. Nesbitt still is Nesbitt, but a quick and strong defense — such as State’s — isn’t about to be undone by one man.

If it sounds weird to be talking about offensive liabilities on a day when the defense was awful … well, Johnson has built his program on the spread option, and it was the mighty ‘O’ that carried Tech to the ACC title a year ago. If these Jackets are to play for another league title, it will say more about the weakness of the league than it does their intrinsic worth. Last year’s Tech would beat this year’s by two touchdowns.

Tech fans already are all over Groh, but the man who worked under the Bills Parcells and Belichick didn’t forget how to draw a 3-4. There’s just no Lawrence Taylor to wreak the off-the-corner havoc that a 3-4 demands. (Jefferson, who had two of Tech’s three sacks, is a middle linebacker.) And there’s nothing Groh or Johnson can do to turn one of these Jackets into a Hall of Famer.

Groh: “There’s no supermarket we can go down to and buy new players. This is our team as constituted.”

Tech will get better as it goes — these are clever coaches — but “better” still could fall short of “good.” In preseason Johnson was asked if this team had as high a ceiling as last season’s. His reponse: “I don’t know why it wouldn’t.”

Surely he knows now. As smart as Johnson is, he can’t outflank and outscore everybody all the time. He needs better players. He had better players last year, but too many of them left. This doesn’t mean Tech still can’t have a decent season. It just means that the ceiling in 2010 is a lot lower.

453 comments Add your comment

NCDAWG

September 25th, 2010
5:01 pm

bahahahahahaa!!!! GO DAWGS!!

GoldenRod

September 25th, 2010
5:02 pm

LMAO@ Brace for Impact indeed. Groh is a complete failure.

Wolfpacker

September 25th, 2010
5:05 pm

Yesterday I posted that the short passes by Wilson, and the blitzing would cause turnovers. Both came true.

The Wolfpack is the sleeper team of the ACC. Tech can still do well. Hopefully they will get a better bowl and finish off the GA Dawgs who clearly stink.

Denver Dawg

September 25th, 2010
5:07 pm

Yep, go ahead and blame Groh. Blame SOMEBODY. It’s what you do…

Wolfpacker

September 25th, 2010
5:09 pm

By the way, Tech fans are some of the best in the ACC along with Clemson. SEC fans are mostly obnoxious – Auburn and Vandy being exceptions.

JacketBacker84

September 25th, 2010
5:11 pm

I am EMBARRASSED by this team’s performance on our own home field. I used to deny claims that Coach Paul Johnson was only winning because of Chan’s recruits, now I see that it is true. Al Groh needs to be fired by Monday morning, this defense is absolutely atrocious, worse than what we saw against UGag last year when they rushed for 339 yards.

I am truly embarrassed with this effort (or lack there of) today! It’s gonna be a LONG season.

Ward

September 25th, 2010
5:12 pm

Coming from a UGA fan, I hope that this loss will humble the Techies a little… It is a long season with lots of opportunities to grow for both our teams, but this goes to show you that your program is in no better shape than ours! I don’t see UGA getting drilled like that in Sanford Stadium by NC State… How’s Paul Johnson working out for you now?

macrotech

September 25th, 2010
5:12 pm

Denver Dawg, anything like your mutts ‘blaming’ everything on Martinez….that new guy seems to be the answer!!! LMAO…guess it’s what you do, too!!!

Nativebird

September 25th, 2010
5:13 pm

You MUST have a passing game at this level. How many times do they have to prove it. NC State for goodness sake looked like Dan Marino against us. NC State! CPJ cannot and will not defy this truth of nature. It’s like Gravity and Taxes. You have to have at least the threat to pass at this level.

A She She

September 25th, 2010
5:13 pm

What a joke of a conference……..

mwh6767

September 25th, 2010
5:13 pm

Denver dawg, blame bobo , blame richt , blame murray, blame the refs and blame clarke county pd. It’s what you do…

Go Jackets

September 25th, 2010
5:13 pm

Well mark if there is anyone that is an expert in lack of talent…just sayin’…Like your great predictions for the braves. I swear everytime mark. Since the Jackets have no talent, please pick them to lose every week.

macrotech

September 25th, 2010
5:13 pm

Wolfpacker, we have been humbled by your team….OUCH!!! Best of luck for the remainder of the season!!!

Judge Smails

September 25th, 2010
5:14 pm

How’s the coach’s Johnson? You nerds sure do jump off the DragonCon quickly.

JB

September 25th, 2010
5:16 pm

I’m a dawg so Ill tread lightly, because dawgs have many issues,but
i said all summer Tech did not have the players or depth to win the ACC
again, groh or not.

Rut Roh, the (Complete) Wreck is back

September 25th, 2010
5:16 pm

From what I have seen of the 2 big GA teams this year, TECH is the worse of the 2. UGA’s losses were decided late in the 4th Quarter of games that could have been won minus a few key plays against ranked teams. Tech just looks awful no matter what way you slice it. They almost lost to a UNC team last week that is missing half their Defense, and looked pitiful against Kansas and NC State. UGA is STILL the better team.

Ty Webb

September 25th, 2010
5:16 pm

Looks like this game ended up in the lumber yard…..

Scott

September 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

To me NC State is one of the games on our schedule where Tech should have more talent. The talent pool in the state of Ga. is better. I tip my hat to Wilson who is a great QB but our linebacker play over the past few years is horrendous. Tech used to recruit good linebackers and that has not been the case lately. It is also obvious the Jackets O-line is getting their tails whipped all the time so they must not be able to recruit the talent there either. I am disappointed that Johnson did not find a way to give Nesbitt more time to create plays whether it be shotgun or more quick passes/pitches. Could be a long year.

SteveW

September 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

I thought that DC from last year did a good job with minimal talent. I was surprised they let him go, but I know Coach Johnson wanted a National Title this year, and is aggresively pursuing. Unfortunately learning a new 3-4 defense is not the way go. Tech has been recruiting D like crazy the last 2 years, and will see the fruit next year. I hope they keep Groh around that long.

And It’s not all Groh’s fault. The OL is much younger than last year. And not having Dwyer and Thomas is definitely hurting. I still say Tech goes 9-3, with the only other loss to UGA. We’ll see, but with losses like this, Tech may tank. This was not a close loss. If UNC hadn’t have been missing 12 players, they may have lost last week also.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

September 25th, 2010
5:18 pm

Lets see

Cannot run a real offense

Cannot fill a high school stadium

Cannot have a running back a QB

Cannot win in a real conference

Cannot beat a lousy UGA team

I guess thats why they call you the joke by the coke

TrueDawg

September 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Auburn fans are the exception? Please, you must not live near any of them but I will give you Vandy.

Tech fans, don’t give up on Groh just yet. He’s a great coach, but not a miracle worker.

And Dawg fans, I wouldn’t laugh just yet. We still have to play tonight and there’s no telling which team is going to show up. Lets hope they put a whooping on the fake dogs.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

September 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Boy I wonder what the comments would be if they had gotten the two field goals and not have thrown that pick 6

dawgfan

September 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Mark, there have been times when Johnson’s offense can override almost any defense? And when, pray tell, has this happened? LOL @ the media continuing to hype this clown. He’s a mirage. He’s a deck of cards. Its all an illusion. This guy thrives on weak competition. How many ranked teams has he beat at Tech? Why can’t he win a bowl game? This team was ranked top 15 in the preason and you’re putting their 2-2 start on the PLAYERS? How in the good holy hell is such a meltdown not a coaching problem? Why does Johnson continue to get a free pass? Does he have pictures of you and Schultz cheating on your wives or something? I simply do not get it. The guy could murder 100 nuns and you idiots would still have your lips pressed firmly to his chubby butt cheaks. Simply unbelievable.

Johnson will NEVER do anything outside the joke ACC. Know why? Because despite all his big talk and chest puffing, he really doesn’t want to. To use his words, its not the goal. The goal is to beat as many ACC creampuffs as possible to keep an insecure and desperate fan base happy. That’s the honest to God truth.
Georgia Tech football is a joke.

Hello

September 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Right. It’s the players’ fault Tech lost, not Paul Johnson’s offense.

The Paul Johnson Offense has never lost a game-lifetime undefeated. Just ask Paul Johnson.

Bobby

September 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Nah, we still flew our Tech flags proudly on the way home.

TO HELL WITH GEORGIA and GO MISSISSIPPI STATE!

Doug D.

September 25th, 2010
5:20 pm

Paul Johnson smart, Mark? Can’t adapt, too stubborn to change. The guy’s a burro.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

September 25th, 2010
5:20 pm

St. Simons, Yellow Fuzz, where are you guys I need some good insight here

JB

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Hum…..after watching Arkansas the first half against, Dawgs may be better than I thought.
Jackets, you guys in for a long year with us.

Jacket Dad

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Today Tech got outplayed and outcoached in every aspect of the game. I’m not giving up on them for the season, but they’ve got to get better or it’s gonna be ugly.

We have to develop some type of passing to offset our run game. When teams figure the running game out (which is happening more often) then we have nowhere to go. As for the D and special teams – not good.

DIT

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Denver dawg
Don’t understand your post earlier. I’m a Dawg and I know and so do you because we have been on our blog, that we complain about our coaches. Both schools have some serious issues and we as fans/alumnus should be upset. Complaining and pointing fingers has been going on for over 100 years at each program. It’s what we fan’s/alumnus do.
I complain about the lack of enthusiam my Dawgs show for the past 2 years.
I thought tech would win this one. Was surprised by the outcome. Still, only one loss in the ACC. Y’all still could have a good season.

dishearted tech fan

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Sad but true. Really thought we would be much better – now I just hope we can win 6. What happen?

Doug D.

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

No truer words were ever stated Hello. That jackazz is a legend in his own mind for sure.

Tech Man

September 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

This Tech team is not very good at all and when we win we just loose the next week. We think we’re great when we do when and then turn around and look like crap. Along season ahead. 7-5 if we’re lucky, real lucky.

Barry from Eastenders

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

This is not a good football team and the recruiting classes of the last 2 years are not gonna do much to solve the talent problems anytime soon. The class that is being amassed thus far looks to no better. It could get ugly gang.

ScoutDawg

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

KRAKOTEK, Thanks for the entertainment! Now we see your 7th grade offense and what it is worth. After tonight we see who is trending up and who AIN’T!

DCJacket

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

I can’t understand why we don’t incorporate some short curl routes, etc. Just something short to keep the defense honest and get Nesbitt’s confidence up. Why do we consistently try to throw the ball 30 yards down field when our receivers don’t have the talent and our QB doesn’t have the accuracy… But I agree Mark, definitely not the coaches.

Wolfpacker

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

Too early to tell whether Tech or UGA is the better team this year – but based on lots of experience, Miami, Maryland, and FSU only barely rank above Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and LSU as “obnoxious” fans. I also read about UGA’s “Fulmer award”. If I were a UGA fan, I wouldn’t be showing my a** on this website.

RAID

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

Tech’s defence may be bad but there’s no tallent for Groh to coach up plus it’s a brand new system…It’s gonna take a few years….with that being said, the offence is obviously being figured out by more teams than just the good teams……Not a cut down, but I’m sure that Joe, sitting in the 50th row can throw the football better than Nesbitt……Learn how to throw out of the shotgun to add in a good mix…….there’s a reason that the triple option does’nt exist in big time college football anymore……time for CPJ to move up to modern football…….I hope the dawgs do the same tonight Tech’s gonna be ok this year….but look out for what the future brings……Go Dawgs

wolfpackof1

September 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

For all the trash that was talked to me walking into the game, the only words I heard leaving the stadium were something about an SAT score. Some things don’t change.

Judge Smails

September 25th, 2010
5:23 pm

How do you guys measure yourself against others? A She She wins? Maybe by pimples during prom would be a better outcome.

RLM

September 25th, 2010
5:24 pm

Tech does not have recruiting classes in the Top 25 like some of the teams that play for a NC every year….Also ever wonder why Duke, Vandy, Northwestern, and Stanford never are mentioned in the NC conversation? The standards at those schools along with enrollment make it a little harder to field a NC contender year in and year out.

That being said Wilson is a STUD and NC State is no joke….They are a good football team and Sorry to say this but Tech cannot compete on the NC stage with a defense that gives up 100 yd game rushers every week and an offense that has no passing game. The Spread Option has passing plays that are effective in it’s arsenal. The Triple Option is Run, Run, Run and Run Some More. There is an occasional pass but when your QB is your offense…Shut him down and then you can Win if you are the opponent.

Make the others beat you and stop Nesbitt. No short passes!!! No deep threat!!!!! No one on defense making a Play!!!!! That is a long year. It is nobody’s fault. It is the talent that this team has. And sometimes you have to be creative.

Tech Fan Since 1980…..Tech fan Forever!!!! Just a thought!

The Cardinal

September 25th, 2010
5:26 pm

Don’t lump our team in there with your lousy school. Our academics, as well as, athletics continue to make you “the joke by the coke”.

Doug D.

September 25th, 2010
5:27 pm

DCJacket that’s a no brainer. Your stubborn coach can fit his knowledge of the passing game in a thimble and is to stubborn and arrogant to hire somebody that does. He’s going to be the total ruination of GT football in the long run. Drad should fire him tomorrow before his “talent” leaves nothing for the inevitable new coach to work with.

Tech Forever

September 25th, 2010
5:27 pm

Mark,

Hammer meet nail. Tech will alwasy struggle to get enough talent to string double digit winning season together. But having said that, running a spread option or gimicy run ‘n shoot is the only real equalizer of any substance. We’ve proven stringing together an impressive run of 7 win seasons is the best Tech can do running conventional schemes. So I’ll take the unconventional with status quo talent level that still gives Tech a better than average shot at winning week to week than the conventional with status quo talent level that gives Tech a shot at being average.

PJ= overrated

September 25th, 2010
5:27 pm

So now it’s the players fault huh? Last year when they were winning in the pathetic ACC it was because PJ was a genuis. What happened? I thought when PJ got his players he was really going to show us something.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

September 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

Wolfpacker

My suggestion to you brother is shut your mouth punk about UGA

You beat GT not a real team

Enjoy your win but dont let it go to your head

roughrider

September 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

” Last year’s Tech would beat this year’s by two touchdowns.”

They still would have lost today.

JB

September 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

When is Saint Simons gonna rip the badge off the “new sheriff in town”… LOL
PS…. Tech fans….come back tonight to give us crap….LOL

Jacket Fan

September 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

To run a 3-4 you need exceptional linemen that can beat double teams 25% to 30% of the time. Don’t seem to be on our roster. My Mom could block L. Walls. J. Burnett has a much better idea of where the line of scrimmage is – play him. Nesbitt seems to have matriculated at the R. Ball School of Passing – get a passing quarterback like UGA used to have with Johnson and Robinson and go with that – the opponent knows when we have to pass. Develop some intermediate routes – we do not seem to know what they are. Bostic is the only guy on the roster with real speed. Every time he touches the ball something good happens, but that is only three to four times a game. I thought we were going to throw to the running backs some – oops, we did, but Roddy could not finish the route. NC State is mediocre at best – Oklahoma would beat them (and us) 100 – 0 if they felt like it. Bowl streak is at stake, Jackets – get to work (coaches and players).

Kane337

September 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

As Chan Gailey’s recruits leave could it be Paul Johnson’s lack of recruiting talent on D?