Another game effort yields another galling Georgia Tech loss

Tevin Washington with no particular place to go. (AP photo)

Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington with no particular place to go. (AP photo)

On its face, it wasn’t a terrible loss. Georgia Tech came within one unmade play of upsetting the Coastal Division favorite in a charged and daunting setting, and the Coastal favorite needed overtime to prevail. All of which made it …

A terrible loss.

With so much to gain on Labor Day night, Georgia Tech threw it away in the time it takes to say, “No way Virginia Tech can score in 44 seconds.” Had the Jackets won, they’d have stamped themselves as the new Coastal favorite. Had they won, they’d have been ranked in the Top 25. Had they won, we’d have no real reason to wonder if the best days of Paul Johnson have come and gone. But they lost, and now we do.

This isn’t to suggest Johnson coached a terrible game. His team was positioned to win with 13 seconds left in regulation, but the Hokies converted on fourth-and-4, same as Utah had converted on fourth-and-14 in the Sun Bowl. Two games running, Georgia Tech has been one play from victory. Two games running, it has lost in OT.

Here we return to concept of plays, made and unmade. Georgia Tech has come to have too few of the former, too many of the latter. It’s not so much a question of scheme as manpower. Johnson and Al Groh can draw pretty X’s and O’s until the cows come home, but if their men don’t block and tackle and throw and catch, it matters not one whit.

“I’m proud of the defense,” said cornerback Rod Sweeting, beaten on a fourth-quarter touchdown. “We’ve got to finish.”

But that’s what all narrow losers say. The lot of the gallant foil is to make most every play but the winning one.

Of the third-down play that became the killing overtime interception, Johnson said: “It was the same pattern we scored on [in the final minute of regulation]. I didn’t see anybody open.”

Of Tevin Washington’s 10 completions, not one was taken by a Tech wide receiver. The Jackets managed only 288 yards on offense, and those yards came grudgingly. Their longest gain was a 22-yard Washington scramble. The longest run by a B-back, supposedly the star position in Johnson’s offense, was eight yards. The longest run by an A-back was 13 yards.

After Tennessee beat North Carolina State last weekend, Vols coach Derek Dooley noted that the biggest determinants of a game’s outcome are turnovers and big plays. Georgia Tech made only one turnover against a good defense (and that in overtime). Still it lost because a defense that played mostly well didn’t force a single turnover and because Johnson’s offense — at least against those opponents who are both skilled and drilled — has lost the capacity to hit home runs.

The offense hasn’t changed from the high times of 2008 and 2009, but the players have. We note yet again: There’s no B-back as good as Jonathan Dwyer, no wide receiver as good as Demaryius Thomas, no quarterback — unless Vad Lee pans out — as good as Joshua Nesbitt. Neither is there a defensive force to match Derrick Morgan. And no, none of those big-timers was signed by this coach.

Asked what he said to Washington after the overtime interception, Johnson said: “Nothing.” Then: “What do you want me to say?”

Oh, maybe that Washington tries very hard and very nearly won a huge game, but in the end he tried to throw the ball away and threw it to the wrong team? That Washington is an OK college quarterback but no Nesbitt? That Tech has become a team of great ambition but modest upside? That Johnson’s program will be stuck on eight, maybe nine, wins until it recruits better?

As rousing as this effort was, the result was even more sobering. Georgia Tech had every chance to take a giant step forward but tripped over its limitations. Yes, there’s still a chance the Jackets can win their division, but that will require much luck. (Virginia Tech has to lose two ACC games, and Georgia Tech would have to run the league table.) And to be frank, GT’s luck seems to have taken a hike.

There was a time when this team and this coach won these games — at Georgia in 2008, at Florida State in 2009, against Clemson twice in ‘09. The spirit is still willing, but the flesh is demonstrably weaker.

“There’s absolutely nothing we can do [now] except play football,” defensive end Izaan Cross said late Monday night, but the feeling persisted that Georgia Tech can play its best football and it won’t be good enough to claim another ACC title.

A championship team would have beaten Virginia Tech. The Jackets could only come excruciatingly close. It is, sad to say, what they’ve come to do.

By Mark Bradley

236 comments Add your comment

Ben

September 4th, 2012
3:06 pm

Should have gone for 2… There was no way Tech was ever going to win in OT.

Elmer Fudd

September 4th, 2012
3:14 pm

2008 was a long time ago.

Elmer Fudd

September 4th, 2012
3:15 pm

” No one has ever stopped my offense ”

- Paul Johnson

Bruce Dalrymple

September 4th, 2012
3:18 pm

This game could have been titled “The Complete Works of the Paul Johnson Era In 3 1/2 Hours.”

Same old. Same old.

Goldenglove002

September 4th, 2012
3:22 pm

That game shouldn’t have ever been close. Amazing that GT didn’t win with all the screw-ups from the Hokies. 10 point swing came from a bad snap and missed easy field goal.

Elmer Fudd

September 4th, 2012
3:26 pm

There was a time when this team and this coach won these games — at Georgia in 2008, at Florida State in 2009, against Clemson twice in ‘09. The spirit is still willing, but the flesh is demonstrably weaker.

All those years Tech had some big time talent.

Now they dont and they are losing.

With CPJ recruiting and the ” system ” Tech runs that isn’t going to change.

Nobody wants to play in the Triple Option. It doesn’t appeal to these kids in the least.

TDone

September 4th, 2012
3:28 pm

So Mr. Bradley, when your precious Georgia Bulldogs trip up this weekend in Columbia, what will you say? I’m waiting…

GTT

September 4th, 2012
3:29 pm

Have to recruit better to get better results. You nailed it.

Steve

September 4th, 2012
3:29 pm

Where are all of those Tech studs saying Tech would win for sure? Looks like another typical 7-5 season coming up!

Steve

September 4th, 2012
3:30 pm

TDone, what makes you think UGA is going to lose? Will be a close game with UGA winning 27-24. UGA opened as a 4 point favorite as well. Missouri is also still not ranked.

Elmer Fudd

September 4th, 2012
3:34 pm

TDone, what makes you think UGA is going to lose?

All Tech fans live vicariously through whoever UGA is playing.

He is just trying to make himself fell better.

Notice he didn’t refute anything anybody has said or what Bradley wrote.

This is typical post loss Techie behavior.

Bobo

September 4th, 2012
3:35 pm

Last night was disgusting. There was no excuse not to win that game. The defense DID play well for most of the game BUT the limitations of the 3-4 once again reared their ugly heads on that final drive. If you consistently give up 4-5 yards on a dive play up the middle because of your mismatch at the line, then eventually something bad is going to happen when the 2nd level fails to make a play. Last night, that something bad happened at the worst possible time. PLEASE scrap the 3-4, I’m begging you.

As for offense….well….I’m afraid our bad recruiting is starting to catch up with us. We have no dominant running back, which hasn’t been a problem at Tech, really EVER since we started our bowl streak 15 years ago. We’ve put more running backs in the NFL than UGA in that time frame. Now, I can’t say that there is a single offensive player (other than Uzzi or a lineman or two) that has a chance at the NFL. We better re-stock or Johnson is a year or two away from 5-6 or 4-7 no matter how creative he is.

Bobo

September 4th, 2012
3:35 pm

Enter your comments here

Numbers Don't Lie . . Politicians Do

September 4th, 2012
3:35 pm

4-12 against FBS schools that have an open week before facing CPJ (3-12 if you don’t consider Middle Tennessee State a FBS school). Apparently, CPJ is quickly becoming the only person left who believes that “No one has ever stopped my offense”.

Seems to me that the Jackets better figure out a way to successfully run a West Coast or other type of offense . . . and then use the option like a ‘wildcat’.

BTW, Tech has three FBS opponents left this year with open dates before they play (Middle Tenn, UNC, and Duke) . . . if the trend continues (especially a loss to Duke), and you can officially declare the option offense “dead”.

GT Fan

September 4th, 2012
3:35 pm

There’s a homerun threat at B-back, but it’s hard to hit homeruns, PJ, when Brodderick Snoddy stays on the sideline!

Same goes for PJ’s quotes about Synjin Days!!! “He’ll play somewhere, for sure” ….. I think I saw #10 play ONE snap last night! And that was b/c TW’s helmet came off, and the new rule says the player whose helmet comes off must sit out the next play.

TWO supposed too talented players to be sitting on the sidelines, sat …. on the sidelines!

JAdams

September 4th, 2012
3:36 pm

DAWGS looked like world beaters Mark

Ben - What?

September 4th, 2012
3:36 pm

How can you justify going for two when a FG would have lost the game?

Melanie

September 4th, 2012
3:37 pm

Your thoughts on the recruiting “limitations” at Tech Mark? If memory serves, Demaryius Thomas was a 2 star recruit. And Stephon Tuitt, who flipped to ND, would have been the first 5 star recruit Tech has signed? Is that correct?

If Tech isn’t going to have P.E. majors, etc. how do we compete for these athletes?

I too saw a huge lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Washington lacks the speed to be a great option QB. He is a Trent Dilfer QB for this system. I do like CPJ and hope he can pull in a couple of guys to make something happen at those key positions. Missing Roddy Jones like crazy! Hoping for good things this year and was pleasantly surprised by the defensive performance for 59 minutes. But also have gotten used to the feeling that if the other team needs to convert third or fourth and long, they will. And that we will lose the close game. Also feel like CPJ doesn’t gamble as much as he used to, which I also liked. It feels like we don’t expect to win, whereas in 2008 and 2009 it did. But we did play the #16 team in the country like we were equals. First OT game ever in Lane Stadium.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2012
3:39 pm

“There was a time when this team and this coach won these games — at Georgia in 2008, at Florida State in 2009, against Clemson twice in ‘09.”

LOL. There’s your problem Bradley. You cite those games like they were big victories over top ranked foes. Florida State was 7-6 in 2009. Clemson was 9-5. Georgia was 10-3 and fielded statisically what was one of its worst defenses in school history (this is a fact). You overrated Paul Johnson. You continue to overrate Paul Johnson. The guy is in over his head in big time BCS football. The evidence is overwhelming.

1-4 vs. Virginia Tech

1-3 vs. UGA

1-3 vs. Miami

0-4 in bowl games

At any legitimate football program this would get you fired. At Georgia Tech its just business as usual.

BarryB

September 4th, 2012
3:41 pm

Look, in the end it boils down to the D not making one play and we’d all be talking about what a great yeat this could be. In this case just one bad angle by a defender who simply needed to break down and make a tackle. Didn’t matter that the guy caught the quick slant. Had he done so, VT is throwing one last Hail Mary. The O drove and scored with 44 seconds left on the road against a very good defensive team and that says something. While the D played great they didn’t make the one play that would have won the game. But looked better by far than last couple years. Long season, huge loss but I have a feeling they’ll be considerably better this year. Guess we’ll see.

GT in CT

September 4th, 2012
3:43 pm

I agree with you much of the time, Mark, but I think this is an overreaction. To my eyes, VT was the slightly better team and they won. As for the coach, I’m not at all sure Tech can find a better coach who (importantly) wants to stay at Tech.

macrotech

September 4th, 2012
3:43 pm

Yeah, Mark, we should just call it a season…wrap it all up in blanketed statements and call it a failure. On the other hand, perhaps we’ll let the season plays out and deal with reality at a time more appropriate than the beginning of the year. Shucks, wasn’t it you that picked GT to win? Hell, with your reasoning, WHY would ANYONE read another word you type? I’m going to hold onto my optimism a little longer. GO TECH!!!

George Stein

September 4th, 2012
3:46 pm

As I said earlier, so long as UGA fans are trolling, I’ll assume we’ll be just fine. As soon as they stop, I’ll get worried.

Numbers Don't Lie . . Politicians Do

September 4th, 2012
3:53 pm

One other interesting little factoid . . . VT has beaten GT the last three years and has had an OPEN date before each of them . . hmmmmm. I guess their schedule maker is a bit better than ours.

Mr Smiley

September 4th, 2012
3:56 pm

As a GT fan I say it’s (been) time to move in a different direction with CPJ. He needs to be able to recruit in order to use this system and compete at the highest level. So far, his talent pool has decreased every year.

Also as a GT fan, it’s nice to be a fan of a team that you actually have a degree from…

BG

September 4th, 2012
3:59 pm

Fish fry’s seat is getting very warm.

CC

September 4th, 2012
4:02 pm

Paul Johnson is 1-3 against UGA. Just saying!

GTBob

September 4th, 2012
4:04 pm

Quit beating around the bush Mark, just come out and say it. Do you think GT should fire Paul Johnson?

51-7

September 4th, 2012
4:13 pm

Fish Fry is 1-4 vs VT, 1-3 vs UGA, 1-3 vs Miami, 0-4 in bowl games, LOL :-)

I’m glad he’s not on the hot seat lol

REW

September 4th, 2012
4:13 pm

How quickly you forget MB – beat #5 Clemson last year -

John

September 4th, 2012
4:16 pm

The Hokies were the toughest opponent on this year’s schedule (yes, including the Dawgs), and the Jackets just took them to overtime. In their house. After everyone has a chance to stop hyperventilating, I think we’ll see that every game left on the schedule is winnable. The toughest game this year is now in the past, and the results are nothing to be ashamed of. The Hokies have a tougher ACC schedule than GT, so it is conceivable we will be seeing the Jackets face FSU in the championship.

GTBob

September 4th, 2012
4:17 pm

Paul Johnson is 1-3 against UGA. Just saying!

What should he be vs UGA?

Mark Bradley

September 4th, 2012
4:20 pm

One note: Rod Sweeting seemed to blame himself for one of the completions on the final drive of regulation, but I’ve since seen the tape and he wasn’t at fault on either.

ramblingbuzz

September 4th, 2012
4:20 pm

There are no moral victories for CPJ. His system is archiac and he is too stubborn to admit it. His record against top 25 teams in the past 3 years is terrible. To paraphase the politicians question, “Are you better off than you were a year ago?” For GT fans, the sad realization is no. This is not reflection on the student atheletes who play hard, but just can’t seem to make the crucial plays when they have to. Unfortunately, it seems the Jackes have forgotten how the win the big games against top 25 competition. For those fanswho think the situation will improve this year or the next or next, I say it will take a complete offensive overhaul to make it happen. And CPJ is not going to admit anything needs changing.

jackets

September 4th, 2012
4:21 pm

Sounds like someone is upset that they just can’t pick the big games correctly! It is great when you get picks like uga winning over buffalo to make you feel like a genius. But always being wrong in the big, close games? Looks like Mark Bradley should be on the hot seat as a columnist. The track record is there; year after year, Bradley just cannot get it done in the make-or-break games. If he cannot correctly predict the most important games of the year, maybe we should promote Schultz to our #1 columnist. At least he’ll make us laugh with his incorrect picks!

New coach

September 4th, 2012
4:23 pm

Can we please find a less arrogant, yet modern thinking coach?

I think a NEW AD would be a great place to start.

Kevin

September 4th, 2012
4:25 pm

“The Genius” is too arrogant to recruit better players. He wants to get the credit when (if) the team succeeds.

Nativebird

September 4th, 2012
4:25 pm

Just when I thought the Bradley wing of the CPJ apologists society couldn’t blatantly attempt more pitiful smoke screen excuse making to the now 5th year of this horrible experiment gone wrong….you’ve once again topped your own biasness. How many times in five years will it take Mark , or will you continue ignore the plain to see fact….that ANY team with more than a week to prepare for this triple option nonsense will easily shut this team down? Mark it, stamp it, write it down again….Gesrgia tech 2012 season: Not the bottom of the division…not the top. Middle of the boring never will have a chance pack. Again. What’s that old saying about expecting a different outcome when continuing doing the same thing over and over again?

Stinger 2

September 4th, 2012
4:26 pm

Mark: I think most GT fans agree with your analysis of GT football
program at this point. They do not have quite enough talent and
always seem to stumble at the precise wrong time. However, all
is not bad. They will be o.k. as always but not much more than
that.

RICHARD

September 4th, 2012
4:27 pm

ILL SAY IT I HAVE BEEN A GA TECH FAN AND BOOSTER FOR 49 YEARS.JOHNSON HAS NOT RECRUTIED ANY TALENT SINCE BEING AT GA TECH.WASHINGTON PLAYED 3A FOOTBALL IN ALABAMA NOT 6A 3A. HE HAS NEVER PLAYED AGAINST TOP TALENT………BOTTOM LINE IT REMINDES ME OF THE BILL LEWIS DAYS..AND GA TECH FANS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND GEORGIA IF WE LOSE A CLOSE GAME WELL WE PLAYED HARD ALMOST WON.GEORGIA LOSES U DONT HEAR WELL WE ALMOST WON.IM SICK OF EXCUSES THE DIFFERENCE IS GEORGIA EXPECTS TO WIN 10-12 GAMES GA TECH IS HAPPY JUST GOING TO A BOWL…………….BRING BACK THE BOBBY DODD AND BOBBY ROSS DAYS….ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

dawgfan

September 4th, 2012
4:27 pm

“What should he be vs UGA?”

According to all of the tough talk out of the nerd herd around 2008-2009 he should be 4-0 by now. You remember it, don’t you GTBob? There was a “New Sheriff In Town” and everyone had better look out!!! Its amazing that you clowns didn’t crack your sternums you were pounding your chests so hard. Fast forward a few years later and its back to the same tired, pathetic and sore loser excuses about academics and moral victories.

Simply hilarious.

Sammy the Nerd

September 4th, 2012
4:29 pm

Tech loses and UGA is overrated. Different year, same story. MB more of your predictions on the season will come crashing down after Saturday!

nate

September 4th, 2012
4:29 pm

Steve
A 4 point fav, ranked 7th against an unranked team??? That line should be 7+. That right there should worry dog fans

RICHARD

September 4th, 2012
4:30 pm

AND JUST TO LET GA TECH FANS KNOW WE HAVE A 4 STAR ALABAMA RECRUIT THAT TRANSFERED TO GA TECH WON 3 STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS AT QBACK WITH 6A PRATTVILLE HIGH 6A,6A,6A NOT 3 A IF HE WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ALABAMA HE DAMN SURE IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR US

ramblingbuzz

September 4th, 2012
4:31 pm

When CPJ first arrived at GT, I bought into the hype that maybe his system would make up for the lack of playmakers. No longer. You win with better players and more of them no matter what system you run. GT has some hard-working young men, and some talented players. But we do not have the difference makers that win ballgames. And to fans those out there predicting we will win the rest of the games this year, you must have watched a different game than I did.

GTBob

September 4th, 2012
4:32 pm

His record against top 25 teams in the past 3 years is terrible.

He is 4-7 against top 25 opponents the last 3 years. Its not great but its not terrible. People seem to forget who we are sometimes. We aren’t Alabama.

nate

September 4th, 2012
4:33 pm

Demar thomas was a 3 star

GSUStud

September 4th, 2012
4:33 pm

Thanks for embarrassing the Great State of Georgia last night.

GTBob

September 4th, 2012
4:34 pm

According to all of the tough talk out of the nerd herd around 2008-2009 he should be 4-0 by now.

Sounds like you are just butthurt because some GT fan trash talked you after the 2008 game. Take it like a man next time.

ramblingbuzz

September 4th, 2012
4:36 pm

Maybe your defintion of terrible and mine are different. A .363 winning percentage is pretty bad.