ESPN foresees a bad moon risin’ for Georgia Tech’s defense

These guys aren't exactly wrapping up the ballcarrier, are they? (AP photo)

These guys aren't exactly wrapping up the Wolfpack ballcarrier, are they? (AP photo)

You probably knew this, but here it is again: Georgia Tech’s defense isn’t as good as its offense.

This wouldn’t qualify as the greatest surprise in the history of surprises, given that Tech ranks No. 2 nationally in total offense and scoring offense and No. 1 in rushing and – here’s a surprise — passing efficiency. And then there’s the D:

  • No. 60 (among 120 FBS teams) in rushing defense.
  • No. 49 in pass-efficiency defense.
  • No. 38 (hey, not bad!) in total defense.
  • No. 66 (pretty bad) in scoring defense.

That last number caught the attention of KC Joyner, who’s known as the Football Scientist and who writes for ESPN Insiders. This week Joyner addressed four  “myths” regarding college football, and No. 4 was that Tech’s offense is potent enough to override its defense. Wrote Joyner (link requires registration):

Georgia Tech is allowing an average of 25.8 points per game, a total that ranks third from the bottom in the ACC. The number is not skewed by one lone subpar performance, either, as every team on the Yellow Jackets’ schedule has scored at least 21 points (and two of those foes were FCS teams).

This weakness may not come back to haunt Georgia Tech over the next few weeks against the Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers or Miami Hurricanes, but it could be a big problem during the last four weeks of the season when it plays Clemson, Virginia Tech, the Duke Blue Devils and the Georgia Bulldogs.

What can I say? When a guy’s right, he’s right. Tech’s D could still be its undoing. But I also note that the two biggest victories of Paul Johnson’s Tech tenure haven’t exactly been works of defensive art.

Nov. 29, 2008, in Athens: Tech 45, Georgia 42.

Dec. 5, 2009, in Tampa: Tech 39, Clemson 34.

I’d also note that Al Groh is a better defensive coordinator than Dave Wommack, whose units yielded those boxcar numbers, and I would again raise my own dumb little theory: That PJ likes, kind of, having a not-very-good defense so the burden falls on him and his offense. Because PJ always figures he’ll think of something. Most of the time he does.

By Mark Bradley

419 comments Add your comment

Herschel Talker

October 6th, 2011
1:04 pm

MB:

The Dawgs win this game yet again this year. Do not regret your preseason prediction.

HT

Craig Skok

October 6th, 2011
1:04 pm

Craig Skok

October 6th, 2011
1:05 pm

Fire Herschel Talker!

db

October 6th, 2011
1:05 pm

J.J.M.

October 6th, 2011
1:05 pm

db

October 6th, 2011
1:06 pm

Run Herschel.

Don’t Talk.

richie

October 6th, 2011
1:06 pm

Tech def has the offense but the d isnt there and they really havent played any good teams. Theyll have trouble with the better teams in the ACC

The Dude

October 6th, 2011
1:07 pm

Um… Tech has only played one FCS team this year: Western Carolina. So ESPN guy gets a FAIL for the whole article.

RamblinWreck7

October 6th, 2011
1:07 pm

42 fourth quarter points(outside of the North Carolina game) when the game was out of reach. These results are skewed a bit.

Benjamin

October 6th, 2011
1:08 pm

MB, what would you say the percentage odds of both Georgia and GT being ranked going into the finale are? I’m optimistic, but I am thinking 50-60 percent…

Steve

October 6th, 2011
1:09 pm

The over/under on the Clemson/GT game should approach 90. I don’t think either team will be able to stop the other one unless there are turnovers. Clemson’s defensive line could be enough to slow down the option attack (like it did last season), but Clemson is not deep at DL. If GT can keep the ball moving, the game will be a shootout, likely with the last team to score winning.

Would love to know

October 6th, 2011
1:10 pm

Would love to know what the average PPG is against the 1st team defense? We’ve had a lot of points scored on us during mop up time when the game was already in hand.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 6th, 2011
1:10 pm

Seeing as how with the exception of the UNC game, the majority of the points given up by the Tech D (plus at least 2 offensive give-aways) were AFTER Tech had built up an insurmountable lead, I don’t see that ESPN’s assessment means diddly squat. I DO however agree that the D had better be at its best against Clemson, VT, and Duke. Does UGA even have an offense?

Luke

October 6th, 2011
1:12 pm

I kind of agree with Wreck7. No, the defense is spectacular, but they’re nuJmbers are definitely skewed by how the second string defense has played as well. And what ultimately hurt us last year was our turnover margin, which is definitely in our favor this year.

Sorry Joyner, I’ve seen our boys play, and I know what they’re capable of. The DLine is kind of soft still (gotta get some pressure up front) and our LBs still need to learn how to cover, but to say they aren’t improved from the last two years and they are “bad” is definitely not giving them enough credit.

reebok

October 6th, 2011
1:12 pm

We’ve played 1 FCS team this year, not 2. Also, the points-scored-against number is somewhat jacked up by teams scoring late against us after the game was out of reach…like NC State’s 14 late points last week after we were up by 25 (or whatever it was) deep in the 4th quarter. Honestly, I think if Groh’s defense holds the other team to 28 points, we should win every game.

Ted M

October 6th, 2011
1:14 pm

That PJ likes, kind of, having a not-very-good defense so the burden falls on him and his offense. Because PJ always figures he’ll think of something. Most of the time he does.

CPJ “likes” his rotten special teams too. However, the fake punt was great and likely won the game for GT. Still his special teams stink.

Luke

October 6th, 2011
1:15 pm

@Steve,

UNC’s DLine is one of the deepest in the country, and we all saw how that went. I think it could very well become a barn burner and will likely be about 35-35 by half. But stranger things have happened. Could also very well be 10-10.

Kurdt Kobain

October 6th, 2011
1:15 pm

Agree with others on here. Other teams have racked up a ton of garbage time points. D still needs work, but it’s better than the numbers show.

DJDawg

October 6th, 2011
1:16 pm

Ahhh HAAAA Cant wait till the DAWGS roll into the Atl for another win!!!!!!!

y3ll0wjacket

October 6th, 2011
1:18 pm

I wish Tech had a tougher defense but I do enjoy the high scoring games. As long as they win. But the gimmick offense has traditionally failed against 1) good teams and 2) teams with an extra week to prepare. While I’d love to win the UGA game, an ACC title game and a good bowl game, I don’t see it happening unless they improve on the defensive side of the ball. However, a few 10-win years and beating UGA every other year or a little more often would ensure CPJ’s paycheck indefinitely.

Tech Man

October 6th, 2011
1:19 pm

I would expect a “Football Scientist” to know whether a team is FCS or FBS…

StingerSplash

October 6th, 2011
1:19 pm

Mr. Bradley, if you would have been within 25 feet of PJ in the moments after the 1998 national championship game, you would know differently.

JK

October 6th, 2011
1:19 pm

Who has Tech played?

Hot Girl

October 6th, 2011
1:21 pm

Tons of garbage points in the 4th quarter against 2nd and 3rd units. Only played 1 FCS team. UNC has the best line in the ACC and is much better than all remaining teams on the schedule. Our D stopped them and had 7 sacks. In the end, I’m not worried. Garbage article….

DJDawg

October 6th, 2011
1:21 pm

@y3ll0wjacket

At least you speak the truth my friend! GO DAWGS!!!!!!!! GATA!!!!! AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!

Buzz ME

October 6th, 2011
1:25 pm

VT or UGA… ARE U SERIOUS? WOULD WORYY ABOUT CLEMSON. WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO SCORE 354 PLUS POINTS TO WIN AND WE WILL

Dick Eskew

October 6th, 2011
1:25 pm

quit with your whining. jackets come on strong kinda like richt’s breath

Supersize that order, mutt

October 6th, 2011
1:26 pm

y3ll0wjacket, two teams who had more than a week to prepare have beat Tech……LSU and Iowa. And in both those cases it was a little of Tech being out of rhythm as well as the other team having time to prepare. That myth about teams controlling Tech’s offense with time to prepare is just that—-a myth

Supersize that order, mutt

October 6th, 2011
1:29 pm

Make that 3 teams. I guess you could include AF too, but since they run a similar offense, they had the entire season and off season to prepare

LeBrick

October 6th, 2011
1:29 pm

Sucks that Tech’s offense averages more than UGA’s bball teams.

Tennessee Jacket

October 6th, 2011
1:31 pm

To all you Dogs fans, hope you enjoy your ride back to Athens after UT beats you in Knoxville this weekend and after GT beats you in Atlanta in November.

GTGreg

October 6th, 2011
1:32 pm

I agree with “would love to know.” We were up 42-14 in the fourth quarter when we put the second team d in, went all prevent, and coughed up a bad fumble that turned into a touchdown (all pretty much meaningless). If you remove the ridiculous special teams scores (blocked field goal, etc.), I think our defense drops down about ten places in the national rankings for total defense. Sounds like Mr. Joyner hasn’t watched any of our games and is just looking at the box scores. I think the defense has yet to have a great day, but that day is coming. Will it happen this weekend? Maybe.

rduck

October 6th, 2011
1:33 pm

western carolina- 7 pts off blocked fg. 7 pts after punt was fumbled on the 5 yd line. defense actually gave up 7 pts.
mtsu- defense allowed 7 pts before the 2nd and 3rd stringers were brought in. they gave up 14.
unc- 24 pts were legit
ncst- defense gave up 14-21 pts before the subs were put in. had 7 pts against us on the Days fumble and return.
ESPN’s numbers are skewed a bit i would say. now do we have a top notch defense? no. but they are much improved over the last couple of years. sacks are up, secondary is playing better and more physical and the lb’s are also an improvement but still needs work….

Steve

October 6th, 2011
1:33 pm

Tech’s ticket sales for this Saturday for the #13 team in the country and a 5-0 team? 43,000. Ha. How pathetic is that? The excuse most fans gave as stated in the AJC? “Noon is too early!” I don’t see any other schools having a problem selling out noon games.

Big Albany Dawg

October 6th, 2011
1:34 pm

We could run a third stringer out there and he could throw all day on the nerds D.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 6th, 2011
1:35 pm

you may have to use a 3rd stringer what with all the interceptions Murray has been throwing. Has he been taking lessons from Stephen Garcia?

gold dust,

October 6th, 2011
1:36 pm

I agree with a lot of the folks on here about garbage time points, but I also wanted to mention something I heard CPJ say when I was at his radio show last night – our offense is so good and scores so quickly, our defense is out on the field a lot. Our time of possession stats are actually good (ranked 22nd), but we also lead the nation in 1-play scoring drives, which means our defense sometimes doesn’t get a lot of time to rest. Coach Johnson seemed to believe that our quick-strike offense has a negative effect on the defense, which I can totally believe. So, combine our defense having to face more possessions than normal with a bunch of blowout wins where we allow garbage-time scores, and I’m not so worried about our Points Allowed figures. I think our defense will do just fine when they’re challenged.

Ashley

October 6th, 2011
1:36 pm

Mark, I like your column, but “I would again raise my own dumb little theory: That PJ likes, kind of, having a not-very-good defense so the burden falls on him and his offense.” is without a doubt the stupidest thing I’ve ever read in a sports column.

Tech Man

October 6th, 2011
1:37 pm

y3ll0wjacket… hate to break it to you, but Chan Gailey’s “traditional” offense also “traditionally failed against 1) good teams and 2) teams with an extra week to prepare.” He was just much more consistent on the failure (5-6 per year).

Chris

October 6th, 2011
1:38 pm

One thing you don’t take into account
Last game they got 7 points on a dumb fluke play with .28 seconds left.
When we get ahead by 20+ points, in comes the 2nd stringers usually against the first team for the opponent.
We’ve also allowed a couple of other fluke scores near the end. I am not worried about the defense. I am worried about the offense because it sputtered a good bit against nc state. The good thing is we still scored 45 against them while sputtering. haha. 7 of which was a pic 6.

st1ng_em

October 6th, 2011
1:40 pm

21 garbage points NCST in 4th. 14 of which came on a 2nd team fumble with less than 2 mins to play
14 4th quarter garbage points MidTNSt after up 42-7
7 pts for blocked field goal WCar @ end of 1/2. Nice play, but should not have happened.
7 4th quarter garbage pts to Kansas GT. Up 66-17 at the time.
0 UNC has a good team

Meeker

October 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

While the Tech defense is not “All-World,” the numbers are indeed skewed. In the first game against WCU, the 2nd and 3rd team defenses allowed 14 points. In the MTSU game, the third string defense allowed 7 points. Kansas game, same story, 7 points against 2nd string with a minute to play in the game. Against NC State last week, 7 points came off a fumble returned for a touchdown with 30 seconds left. Subtract those points from the total and Tech is giving 18.8 points per game. Now, you might say that even if the 1st team had played all the way through in every game, they might have still given up some points, and they very well could have, but raw statistics are misleading. If you watched the games, you saw that a lot of the points that were scored against Tech came in garbage time.

Sorry KC and Mark…

.

October 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

Mark — Your love affair with ‘Moobs’ Johnson is nauseating, not to mention odd in that there is seemingly no real reason for it. The guy runs 3 or 4 plays, all of which were designed by Emory Bellard and others during the LBJ administration. He hasn’t contributed one origional idea to the offense and his defenses are consistently poor.

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
1:49 pm

Tech’s defense is better than 2010

to say otherwise is wrong

However, Ray charles can see the problem just like in the past.

The speed is there and that is all great and wonderful.

Play a team that wants to run the ball right at you and has a defense good enough to slow you down a little and then you have a ballgame.

No one on the schedule qualifies for that except Clemson and us. Miami and VT are horrid.

Enjoy the ride

T3

October 6th, 2011
1:49 pm

Another stupid and useless article from Mark Bradley.

Nothing new here.

These EPSN stats are a TOTAL JOKE.

1. GT vs Western Carolina
WC scored on a blocked FG.
WC scored on a botched pount return giving WC 1st down at the GT 5 yard line.
GT Defense went soft after it was GT 28-0 at the end of the 1st Qtr.

2. GT vs. MTSU
It was GT 28-0 (again) before GT defense went soft and let MTSU score some garbage TDs.

3. GT’s Defense did not allow a 2nd Half TD by Kansas, until 2;24 left in the 4th
and the GT Band was playing Defense.

4. GT vs UNC
If Tevin doesnt fumble on teh UNC 3 yard line, and Stephen Hill doesnt drop a WIDFE OPEN TD pass, this game is 49-21, with UNC dookign the field.

5. GT vs NCST
It was GT 42-14 when (again) GT’s Defense went soft, 4th & 5th striongs were playing.
And of course, if Synjyn Dyas just takes a knee, then NCST only score 28.

So, contrary to the idiot at ESPN and the USUAL derogatory BS Bradley writes about GT,
the GT Defense has been playing LIGHTS OUT, with a MORE ACCURATE 21 pts allowed per game.
And that is AWESOME.

Isnt it odd that 680 doofus Matt Choke-Off made an issue over GT’s Defense.
Apparently, he doesnt even watch the GT OFfense becuae he only has feedback
about the defense.

So, GT fans, forget the idiots like Bradley and Choke-Off, they’re GT haters anyway.

EW

October 6th, 2011
1:51 pm

All I can say is that critics of the CPJ offense, this dawg fan included….have plenty of reason to respect what he’s doing. CPJ is the mad scientist of the triple option the same way Mike Leach is with the spread offense. GT’s defense will get better in the next two seasons, new DC’s always have to deal with the learning curve of a new system.

Bond

October 6th, 2011
1:51 pm

Who has georgia beaten? No one. In fact the best team they have beaten is like 48th in sagarin ratings.

Luke

October 6th, 2011
1:51 pm

@DawginLex,

Miami has the speed, it has just all been suspended for over half the year. I wouldn’t call any Frank Beamer team horrid either. He hasn’t been the head coach of a consistent top 15 team for 15+ years for no reason.

EW

October 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

T3…hahahaha how many times can you say that the d went SOFT without saying that they actually aren’t that good. Hahaha. That’s the same as the old “you can’t fire me, I QUIT” argument. Stop that nonsense and call a spade a spade. Or a tool a tool in this case…

GT07

October 6th, 2011
1:56 pm

Shhhhh, don’t spoil ESPN’s fun. When we hold Clemson to 17 points, everyone may see the D in a different light…