A canny loss to UGA leaves Tech fans giddy about their coach

Paul Johnson, thinking of something. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Paul Johnson thinks of something. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

This we know: Georgia Tech folks obsess over Georgia. (An unkind reference to UGA is included in the song “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech.”) And it’s beyond dispute that the Jackets lost to the Mutts (another unkind reference) in Athens on Saturday. And yet …

Tech people walked away from that game feeling good about themselves, which never happens when Tech loses to Georgia in any sport. But it happened this time. It happened because Techies, who pride themselves on brainpower, were tickled at having outsmarted Big Brother.

OK, I know what you Bulldogs are saying. I’ve read the responses to this little missive from late last night. To paraphrase the stance of (some) Georgia folks: “If Paul Johnson is such a genius, how come he lost to Mark Richt again? Isn’t the name of the game to win?”

Well, yes. But there can be honor in defeat, especially when the defeat is so hard-fought and cleverly wrought. There can be no denying that the Jackets were the aggressor throughout and the stronger side up front. Those 411 yards rushing weren’t wisps of smoke. (Fun fact: The Jackets ran for two more yards against Todd Grantham’s million-dollar defense than they had against the one misguided by Willie Martinez in the epic upset of 2008. And this time they did it, as I’m guessing you’re aware, without Joshua Nesbitt.)

Urban Meyer, my role model in all things, believes the measure of a coach is how his team fares “when the checkers are equal.” The checkers weren’t anywhere close to equal Saturday night — even Tech people fully expected their team to get blown out — and the Jackets were a PAT from a tie inside the final five minutes. Georgia made three mistakes (two turnovers and a botched kickoff) that yielded no Tech points, while three Tech fumbles spawned three Bulldog touchdowns … and still the Jackets kept coming.

Full credit to the Bulldogs for making the requisite plays at the end, but fuller credit must go to Johnson and his Jackets: They got nearly the maximum from their diminished resources on a night when Georgia’s best player, the sublime A.J. Green, could be seen running out of bounds three yards short of a first down when the score was 0-0. (Georgia scored on the next play, Kris Durham’s catch-and-run, but still.)

And when the careening game finally seemed lost, that rascal Johnson conjured up one last way to make it winnable. He ordered cornerback Jerrard Tarrant to tell the other Jacket defenders, “Let ‘em score.” A Tech employee standing on the sideline heard this exchange and was terrified the Bulldogs would catch on to this strategic bit of jujitsu, but they didn’t. Washaun Ealey burst through the line and kept going and everyone in red and black got really excited — for five seconds. Then they realized they’d been snookered.

Said Richt: “We didn’t coach very good there. We got outcoached right there. It was good strategy by Coach Johnson. I thought [when it happened], ‘He got us there. He got me.’ ”

Said Johnson, almost shrugging: “It was the only way we could win the game.”

In the end his team lost, but the same Tech man who’d told me after the Jackets’ uninspiring defeat of Duke that he fully dreaded Saturday night in Athens was positively giddy in this losing aftermath. And another Tech man, the former captain Taz Anderson, sent this e-mail 18 minutes after the final whistle: “Tonight you saw a great football coach take a group that has little talent and keep them in a game where they were clearly overmatched.”

OK, I know what (some of) you Bulldogs are saying to that: “They’re Techies and they lost– who cares what they think?” And under other circumstances I might agree. But after this wild night I’d suggest both sides saw  the same game, which is to say an on-paper mismatch that became an on-field white-knuckler. And I’d also ask this: When was the last time Georgia’s coach worked a game that good?

791 comments Add your comment

CBB1

November 28th, 2010
1:45 pm

First!!! Go DAWGS!!!

CBB1

November 28th, 2010
1:46 pm

Mark Bradley and Chip Towers “Run This State.”

Mark Bradley

November 28th, 2010
1:48 pm

Actually, CBB1, Chip and Sonny Perdue run this state. I have nothing to do with anything.

But kudos.

SECFAN

November 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

Kinda funny watching the defending national champion Alabama play no. 2 ranked, undefeated and probable 2010 national champion AU in the Iron bowl and then watching these 2 pathetic georgia football teams a day later. Both are now 6-6. Really? Is that all this weak arse state has to offer in college football? Looks like the state of Alabama has its foot on the neck of the state of Georgia in college football.

Paul H

November 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

FUN FACT: 42-34

rusty

November 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

Go Gamecocks

UGA Dawg

November 28th, 2010
1:51 pm

I said it great to be a UGA Engineer… We beat you in the Board of Regents and we beat you on the gridiron.

Paul H

November 28th, 2010
1:51 pm

FUN FACT: 9-1. We own this state.

Bob

November 28th, 2010
1:51 pm

A win is a win. Paul Johnson was out coached last year.

Cousin Vicker

November 28th, 2010
1:51 pm

“When was the last time Georgia’s coach worked a game that good?”

Perhaps last year when UGA upset the eventual ACC champions in Atlanta

CBB1

November 28th, 2010
1:51 pm

Great article, Mark. I agree with you about A.J. I wondered why he ran out of bounds too. Guess he showed us he is headed to the NFL.

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
1:52 pm

Too funny watching this horrible dawg football team celebrating winning the toilet bowl over an even worse Tech team. When ya’ll Georgia boys gonna learn to play some real football? Go sit in your corners and watch the real men in the state of Alabama play some football. Sissies you both are.

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
1:53 pm

Paul H,

UGA is now just the lesser of the 2 joke college football programs in your pathetic state. Wasn’t deliverance based on the state of Georgia?

((((((42-34)))))))

November 28th, 2010
1:53 pm

Enter your comments here

dawggirl

November 28th, 2010
1:53 pm

If I were Tech, I wouldn’t feel so good about having outsmarted this coaching staff. That’s really not saying much, since they suck. Still not ready to run Richt off, but if this next year doesn’t show major improvement, that’s it. I’m not about to just sit here and settle for mediocrity.

Congrats to Tech on a well-fought game by you guys. Good luck in your bowl game.

SECFAN

November 28th, 2010
1:54 pm

@rusty Pretty sure we(Gamecocks) run this state. Don’t you agree?

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
1:55 pm

Paul H,

Sorry dude. I meant to say UGA is now just the team that is not as bad as the other team. Still a bad team though. Good thing Tech can’t even make an extra point. Otherwise they thoroughly dominated Georgia- dawgs couldn’t stop that high school offense all night.

Dawg Gummit

November 28th, 2010
1:56 pm

Kind of funny MB how your genius CPJ gave away points to start the game. UGA fumbles kickoff, GT has 4 & 2 from the 20. Take the points and 75% chance of field goal and GT wins the game. CPJ and his massive ego will not allow the Jackets to win the NC for this reason. UGA lost to Colorado yet you think the GT losing to UGA barely was the best coaching move of the century. Get over it Mark CPJ is 1-2 against two of the worst UGA teams in 20 years.

Dawg H8R

November 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

Tech grads work for NASA. Jawja “grads” work for coca-cola bottling. HEEE-Hawww.

Glory Glory

November 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

So what, we have a lousy coach but we still won. That’s what counts. Teck can brag about their school, academics, rankings, etc. but UGA alums and fans know that football is what is important in the south. We don’t care about anything but football and that’s why we have wond 9 of 10. We have the superior football program and that’s all that counts. The nerds will talk about anything other than football, but who really cares? Football is king in the south and we wear the crown in this state. Deall with it! Go Dawgs!

superDawg

November 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

If pj was so smart why did he start passing the ball.I know he wanted to show the world his team really does suck.

Dawg H8R

November 28th, 2010
1:59 pm

SECFAN, agreed.

matt-t

November 28th, 2010
1:59 pm

Giddy about their coach who lost to the two worst Georgia teams in the past 15 years.

That’s all kinds of funny

Dogs Smell

November 28th, 2010
1:59 pm

Really , Really ? Georgia you’re bragging about beating a team that has the same record as yourself and neither are any good. Next year Georgia fans doesnt look to be any better. Looks like another 6-6 season.

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:00 pm

BBWWWAAAAAHHHAAAAAAAAAA
42-34 ALL YEAR LONG
Thanks for wiping away the pain of a terribles season
I don’t know why, but it never gets old beating you
61-39-5

And to College football in the state of Georgia
No one here cares what your toothless arse has to say
So go back behind the 7-11 dumpster, get on your knees and go back to work
Good thing for you, the State of Georgia has enough talent to keep Auburn competitive, because the state of Alabama doesn’t have shart

Barry from Eastenders

November 28th, 2010
2:00 pm

Mark — You are waaaaay overstating this, as usual. Where was the genius last year when he got pants’d at home by a Joe Cox led team w/o AJ Green and a dead man walking DC? The “genius” also had Nesbitt, Thomas and a better fullback. Also, if he is do great why did he have such an overmatched team on the field? Is he not responsible for that part of coaching also? Great coaches find and sign great players. You latch onto a narrative and go with it despite facts or outcomes to the contrary.

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:00 pm

Dogs Smell
SCOREBOARD LOSER
61-39-5
BBBBBWWAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAA

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:02 pm

Dawg H8R

SCOREBOARD
YOU TALK TRASH EVEN WHEN YOU LOSE
D O U C H E

jarvis

November 28th, 2010
2:02 pm

How’s he doing stocking that defense with talent? It’s not the NFL. Coaching in college requires more than just gameday planning.

baker leavitt

November 28th, 2010
2:02 pm

i believe it was Paul Johnson himself (georgia southern days) that said “you show me a good loser and ill show you a loser”

putting all BS aside, that was an exciting game to watch, i am hoping both programs can get their you know whats together. both programs get a huge F for this season.

Go Dawgs, a win is a win and ill take it anyway i can this season.

hats off to GT, they neve gave up

saint simon 16-4

November 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

Steve

November 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

Mark, how many games do you see Tech and UGA winning next year before a bowl game? Assuming AJ is gone.

Monkey Business

November 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

Florida runs Georgia on the field and in recruiting
South Carolina runs Georgia and drags them too….
But then again, who has not drug UGA up and down the field the past 3 years……?

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

Yellow Jackets can be attracted by vinegar and water
The main compnents of a douche

http://www.ehow.com/how_6759314_build-own-yellow-jacket-trap.html

No Surprise

saint simon 16-4, 9-1

November 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

jarvis

November 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

Also, Johnson f’d his team when he called a pass play on first down with 4 minutes to play and a time out….sack….sack….game over.

Jack613

November 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

Always enjoy your insights, Mark. Glad to see your shout out to former Tech football star turned real estate exec, Taz Anderson, too. Taz sure loves GT and I think he summed up Coach Johnson well, as did you. Good luck to GA Tech – and to UGA – in the Bowls.

Benjamin

November 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

PJ had no choice in the end, superDawg. You would’ve ran draws from 80 yards out with no timeouts and a minute to go? PJ is smarter than you if you say yes… just saying…

At the end of the day, both teams have six wins, six losses, and losses to either Kansas or Colorado. Terrible year for both. Thank God for the Falcons and their ability to bring winning football to the state of Georgia; both the techies and all the UGA fans who never went to the school have had very little to root for this season.

GT65

November 28th, 2010
2:05 pm

Who cares what any Georgia fan has to say about anything. I hate losing to the mutts, particularly when we outplayed them and handed them the game with turnovers.

I have a good feeling about next season, the ACC title will be the goal. I will take conference titles and BCS bowl bids over the moniker, “State Champs” any day. Between Tech and UGA, who has been to the last BCS bowl, who won the last conference championship and who won the last national championship between the two schools?

…exactly!

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
2:05 pm

Laces Out Finkle,

Too funny watching you pathetic georgia teams play football. I can’t imagine how truly bad both teams would be if their star players didn’t come from other states- Murray and Orson from Fla, AJ from South Carolina, Ben Jones from Bama, Tevin Washington from Bama. And BTW AU is about 15-20% Georgia players but is overwhelmingly an Alabama team. Your just mad cause the state of Alabama has historically dominated Georgia and continues to dominate your state in college football- AL. leads Ga in all 4 series between the 4 programs. Suck on that beyotch.

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:05 pm

Monkey Business

How does South Carolina run Georgia
One Year
Check the All Time Record
Check their all time record against everyone
They are a joke and you are too ———-Sore Loser
42-34

BWWWWAAAHAHHA

DOOOOUUUCCCCHHHHHHHEEEEEEE

Monkey Business

November 28th, 2010
2:05 pm

Assuming AJ is gone? Why would he stay under this sinking ship is a better question?

Georgia max 7 wins

GT max 8 wins….

Mark Richt gets released and Paul Johnson gets a raise and Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer, Dan Mullens, and Derek Dooley get wins against UGA…

There you go…

Steve Spurrier

November 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

What happens to all of those great players when they get to Athens?

College football in the state of Georgia

November 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

How pathetic is a program when they are 6-6 and celebrating a win over another 6-6 program. Pretty pathetic. Very pathetic. Incredibly pathetic.

Laces Out Finkle

November 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

PAUL JOHNSON FOREVER

BBBBBBWWAAAAAHHHHHHHAAA

We Dawgs Love Him
What a Tool
I want as much triple joke as possible
61-39-5

GA SUX

November 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

You sure cant drive it.

Golden Tornado

November 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

1917 ~ 1928 ~ 1952 ~ 1990 > 1942 ~ 1980

Big Dawg

November 28th, 2010
2:08 pm

Great article Mark. 99% of time we win on talent alone. Can’t remember the last game we out coached another team for a victory. Maybe Tennessee and the hob nail boot? Seems like a long time ago.

Monkey Business

November 28th, 2010
2:08 pm

Who are Georgia’s Key Players next year?

Murray , Charles then two running backs with no driving skills…..then who?

UF and USC will beat UGA like a drum played by the LITTLE DRUMMER BOY…

rUMPA PUM PUM rUMPA PUM PUM