A fat and sassy Georgia Tech gets handed its comeuppance

Virginia's Mike London had his men primed. His opponent was less than prime. (AP photo)

Virginia's Mike London had his men primed. His opponent was less than prime. (AP photo)

Charlottesville, Va. – Even if the polls suggested otherwise, Georgia Tech was never the nation’s 12th-best team. It was a good team with a clever scheme and a bunch of guys who’d worked hard and coalesced to make the whole greater than the talent on hand. And then, in the season’s seventh game, the workers worked less hard and got what they deserved, which was beaten by an opponent that had won one ACC game since 2009.

Surely Mike London and his Virginia staff saw what was coming to Scott Stadium: A team that could win any track meet but not many wrestling matches. The Cavaliers, who’d lost to Southern Miss and beaten Idaho by a point in overtime, treated this as their game of arrival and, when Tech got done fiddling and flailing, it was. The No. 12 team got beat and deserved to get beat.

“It’s been coming,” said Paul Johnson, Tech’s obviously irked coach. “When you play with fire long enough, you get burned.”

Tech couldn’t put North Carolina State away in Raleigh two weeks ago and had stopped scoring against Maryland last week, and those were troubling signs. But collegiate players can be tough sells: If you’re winning, what difference does it make? For Tech, the winning stopped Saturday. A pedestrian offense amassed 407 yards against a unit supposedly coordinated by Al Groh, who recruited some of these Cavs. Tech’s own sleek offense couldn’t override a 10-point halftime deficit against an opponent that didn’t score again.

“We talked about it repeatedly,” Johnson said. “[Virginia's] backs were against the wall. We were going to get everything they’ve got.”

Message unheeded. The Jackets trailed 7-0 after six minutes and 14-0 with 6:20 gone. They’d been staggered, and they never fully recovered. Whenever Virginia needed to move, it shoved the Jackets backward. The Cavs rushed for the same number of yards (272) as Tech, and they did it with power. Said Johnson, speaking of Virginia’s repeated sorties around the flanks: “We never set the edge.”

Remember when, back over the summer, we suggested Tech might not have enough prime-time players to win the ACC Coastal? Here was a tutorial in the difference between big/strong and smallish/skilled.

Said linebacker Julian Burnett: “When they run the ball right at you and you can’t stop them, it’s frustrating.”

Say what you will about Johnson, but he’s far better with a lean and hungry team than with a bunch of fat cats. Heck, his whole system is built on wrong-footing bigger guys. He said he tried to impart both a warning and a challenge — “We talked in the pregame meeting about what an opportunity we had” — but this time his urgings moved no one.

Johnson again: “Sometimes you just get blocked and can’t block the other team.”

Some try to make every Tech loss a referendum on Johnson’s spread option, but this was no such thing. It was a pounding by a desperate team that hit harder and fought longer. LSU or Alabama or Oklahoma could have laughed off an early flurry by the likes of Virginia, but Tech is not LSU or Alabama or Oklahoma. On talent, Tech is scarcely better than Virginia.

The Jackets aren’t good enough to win, at least not repeatedly, at half-capacity. They’re a good team when doing the things they do well, but if you force them into a different game they’re far less. Virginia hogged the ball — it punted only twice — and nursed its lead, and with 5:58 the Jackets completed a fizzled series by punting to the Cavs, who wouldn’t give it back.

Johnson: “That’s the way everyone is going to play us … They were able to get ahead and in the end in worked.”

Burnett: “I wasn’t surprised [that Virginia sought to be the aggressor]. We just didn’t match it.”

If we’re going to criticize anything about Johnson’s Method after such a loss, it’s more a matter of philosophy: Johnson wants to do it his way — with a roster of middling recruits who’ll fight to the finish — but we saw Saturday what can happen if the middling recruits don’t fight as hard as they might. They get exposed as … middling.

Yes, that’s a bit harsh. Playing hard and well, Tech is a tough opponent for anybody anywhere, and the Jackets will have the chance to beat some big names over the next six weeks. But a sluggish Georgia Tech is just another team, and Saturday it was a loser to a program so starved for victory that its students swarmed the field.

By Mark Bradley

332 comments Add your comment

Charles j

October 15th, 2011
8:39 pm

Chins up..prep for miami

J Clay

October 15th, 2011
8:40 pm

Maybe he isn’t the best coach ever after all

Rob

October 15th, 2011
8:40 pm

How were the Jackets “fat and sassy” Bradley? We played a bad game, like we have the past few weeks. That has nothing to do with “fat and sassy”.

Rob

October 15th, 2011
8:41 pm

This team will bounce back from the loss. Should give us the motivation we need going into the tough stretch of the schedule.

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 15th, 2011
8:42 pm

mark bulldog bradley, you commenting on a Tech loss is actually worse than the loss. Sit Tevin Ball !!!

Randy Carson IMGT '83

October 15th, 2011
8:42 pm

GT

October 15th, 2011
8:42 pm

A little harsh, but sadly not that far off the mark.

J Clay

October 15th, 2011
8:45 pm

Bradley Bulldog??? Have you seen his love letters gushing over CPJ lately. Truth is you got beat by worst or 2nd worst team in ACC…how’s that for coaching?

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 15th, 2011
8:46 pm

This team is young and has talent we need a little more beef and strength on the d-line. That will come next year when they are older. But we need to speed up Vad Lee now we have seen Tevin play against real talent. If we wait till next year with Vad then he will have a lot of growing to do. Nothing and I mean nothing beats game experince !!!

jabster

October 15th, 2011
8:47 pm

We got beat up front…AGAIN. That’s all you need to know.

Dave from GT

October 15th, 2011
8:47 pm

I really dont know why you Bradley, even went to the game. You got a squeeze in Charlottesville?

We Own You....

October 15th, 2011
8:49 pm

Tech got beat becasue they aren’t worth a damn. Period. End of story. 10 of 11 in six weeks. You lose 4 of your last 5 and the bowl game—and two more armed robberies on campus this weekend.

STINGER1

October 15th, 2011
8:51 pm

My Son’s father n -law is a Bradley. He’s a dufuss too.

FSU Bill

October 15th, 2011
8:52 pm

The most over rated team in America thanks to a cupcake schedule gets its due.

STINGER1

October 15th, 2011
8:52 pm

Learn how to spell before you condemn…………….

STINGER1

October 15th, 2011
8:53 pm

Oh Boy……………..An FSU loser too. hmmm we attract all kinds of idiots to our sites .

STINGER1

October 15th, 2011
8:54 pm

Go Home .
So what .you beat duke . big deal

Joe

October 15th, 2011
8:54 pm

I guess this week’s celebration of being ranked #12 was short lived. Marathon, not sprint. GT losses at least 2 more and falls out of top 25 by the end of the year. Virginia isn’t talent. Wait till you see Clemson and UGA’s defense. Bradley is a Wildcat and has never been pro UGA by the way. While I don’t always agree with him he tells it like he sees it, a very bad loss!!!!!

Ed

October 15th, 2011
8:55 pm

Welcome to Division 1 Football GT. The High School games are over.

Matt

October 15th, 2011
8:55 pm

Eat it Bradley. Not one of you media pundits gave the ‘Hoos a fighting chance. Any given Saturday bud. It can, and does happen.

Burgess

October 15th, 2011
8:56 pm

Anybody heard how Gailey is doing with the Bills this year ?

Joe

October 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

Forgot to add seeing a very talented VT defense as well.

kb

October 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

Bradley, You hit the nail on the head in your preseason predictions, Talent is a big problem at tech.

Buford T. Pusser

October 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

“Fat and Sassy?” You are the only person I have heard refer to GT using those inappropriate adjectives. It has been apparent from day 1 that this team was overachieving. As a result, GT must fight hard every game and give no quarter. Unfortunately, they played complacent and got outschemed defensively. Did anyone really believe GT would go undefeated?

Mark, although I have been one of your staunchest defenders, dating back many years, columns like this bring your credibility into question.

The Sheriff has spoken.

K

October 15th, 2011
8:58 pm

The better team won today.
We just had a good first 6 game schedule.
Virginia just knew how to play us today. They were ell prepared.
We will be lucky to even beat Duke this year.
Other teams are getting all the good recruits.

Stinger

October 15th, 2011
8:59 pm

Mark;

Very well written, come uppance was due and could be seen coming. I don’t agrre with the characterization of recruits as “middling” . I like the defensive recruiting that is underway and Tech has landed some talented offensive players as well. Ranked 12 – Tech is not the good – way too young. The rankings are a bunch of BCS…oops I meanted BS.. anyway

Mike Lum

October 15th, 2011
8:59 pm

Hey Old School, you speak the truth. I was afraid that Tevin reminded me a little too much like Mr. Ball. For some reason Washington’s passing has returned to his 2010 form. I hate to throw Vad to the wolves now that we’re in the meat of the schedule, but it’s probably the only way to salvage anything. But with such a weak defense, any offensive adjustments may be rendered meaningless.

Like defense, CPJ puts zero stock in the kicking game, and it comes back to bite him again and again. A D1 team like GT should be able to recruit a decent kicker and punter.

Buford T. Pusser

October 15th, 2011
9:00 pm

FSU Bill,

Thanks for being a trolling loser. You beat Duke. What was the Wake Forest score?

The Sheriff has Spoken.

Dawg in Cali

October 15th, 2011
9:00 pm

Ha ha. Nuff said

LOL

October 15th, 2011
9:02 pm

I told you so

October 15th, 2011
9:02 pm

Way over rated, will lose to VT, Miami, Clemson, and the Dawgs!

Jacket Dad

October 15th, 2011
9:03 pm

This is Tech’s mode of operation year after year. Yes, they have been way overrated this year due to a soft schedule, but they could have and should have beaten UVA today. They were flat and uninspired.

What does it take to get these guys to focus and stay focused? Johnson has not figured it out and better soon. I love the Jackets, but they are regressing this year.

OK guys, suck it up. You got your butts handed to you today. Get mad. Get focused. Get some passion. You can still win more games but you better do some soul searching.

raleturn

October 15th, 2011
9:03 pm

Tech lost due to an offense that is a gimmick high school offense that college teams do not play any more. Have you ever wondered why Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and even Arkansas has given it up? What sealed Techs fate is the Cavs had 2 weeks to prepare for the smoke a mirrors.

Hayseed Dixie

October 15th, 2011
9:04 pm

Mark, your assessment of Tech is right on.

I knew this game was coming after we failed to eviscerate two second string D lines at NC State and Maryland. Great teams put the hammer down, regardless.

The real story here is: what’s happened to Tevins passing? He doesn’t seem like the kind to get rattled. But there it is.

question

October 15th, 2011
9:05 pm

How do you measure fat and sassy? Looked to me Tech just did not play as well as VA….could not stop them when needed and with no passes, just cannot win.

fbGuy

October 15th, 2011
9:05 pm

No BCS for cupcake u and their mildly competent coach.

Nate

October 15th, 2011
9:06 pm

I just want to say that any Jacket fan asking for Tevin to be benched is a freaking moron. Our team has one loss and the loss was not just Tevin’s fault. At worst, we lose 2 of the next 4. Their is absolutely no point in sending Vad Lee out there against Miami, Clemson, and UGA for option training. Stop being a hater and listening to the poser Tech (Dawg) fans and support the Jackets.

"Fired Up"

October 15th, 2011
9:06 pm

Get rid of Al Groh. You’d think he would have his defense ready to knock some heads off since UVA knocked his head off the last time he played on that field.

FIRE Al Groh.

Gary

October 15th, 2011
9:07 pm

Virginia had 2 weeks to prepare. It’s really that simple. Tech has losing record when playing teams with more than one week to prepare.

buzzard

October 15th, 2011
9:09 pm

I guess Clemson is fat and sassy, too.

check4gt

October 15th, 2011
9:11 pm

Solid assessment. Washington’s been channeling Reggae Ball for weeks. Hill continues as a non factor and the defense cannot get out of it’s own way. 7-5 looks realistic.

Buford T. Pusser

October 15th, 2011
9:13 pm

Nate,

Thanks for being the voice of reason. Tech just needs to get mentally tougher. Most people forget that this is a very young team, no seniors on the offensive line or defensive backfield. I still think they go 8-4. Any Tech fan would have accepted that at the beginnng of the season no questions asked.

The Sheriff has spoken.

Ben

October 15th, 2011
9:13 pm

Like the head coach said himself. You saw this coming. Bradley’s right Tech might have been ranked 12th, but they were never the 12th best team in the country. In the begining of the season, the new wrinkles and execution are hard to pickup. Now that teams have tape, it’s going to get tough the rest of the year.

I hope you guys finish out strong so my dawgs can give you a home defeat in your last game. Good luck.

Demosthenes

October 15th, 2011
9:13 pm

Come on. Nobody honestly expected GT to go undefeated this year. They’ve done well, but they just don’t have the defense to stop a physical team. The offense can play with anybody, but the defense is not even pedestrian….it’s sedentary.

Buford T. Pusser

October 15th, 2011
9:14 pm

Ben,

Thanks for being a D!cK.

The Sheriff has spoken.

GT/UVA

October 15th, 2011
9:18 pm

I love GT and have family that attends UVA. I knew this was a big L before kick off. The Jackets have never played well in Charlottesville and I didn’t expect that to change. However, they can still have a great season and must get ready for an important next three games. Go Jackets and THWG!

Buford T. Pusser

October 15th, 2011
9:21 pm

dawg sh^t,

Thanks for using your screen name to describe your personality, lack of education, personal hygiene, and life.

The Sheriff has spoken.

TVFan

October 15th, 2011
9:23 pm

IMO, Georgia Tech doesn’t have anyone on the defensive line that could start for most ACC or SEC teams. OK maybe Duke. That has got to go down as one of the worst efforts at tackling I’ve seen in a long time.

Foothills

October 15th, 2011
9:24 pm

Pains me to agree with something you say Mark. GT is an “ok” team that has to bring its A game each week. Not the best group for the 3-4 obviously-help on the way next year. O-line whipped two weeks in a row. This bunch has to be coached up over the next 5 weeks. I think they will be.

Arob

October 15th, 2011
9:35 pm

Concerned about our lack of passing again. It will continue to haunt us year in and out until we find a qb that can throw a strike on the move. Have not seen that yet with this coach and not sure we ever will. He just thinks he can plod down the field every game. Eventually, you get exposed. We got problems boys.