Georgia Tech’s famous offense? It was downright offensive

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson talks with quarterback Justin Thomas (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson talks with quarterback Justin Thomas (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Justin Thomas and Paul Johnson: Not their best day. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

South Bend, Ind. — These short takes are presented as a companion to the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game column, which can be found here. Tech lost 30-22. It wasn’t that close.

1. No fun with numbers: Through three quarters, the Yellow Jackets had gained 195 yards. Except for one 48-yard burst by A-back Broderick Snoddy, the Notre Dame defense made Tech work in bite-sized increments. In coaching terms, the Fighting Irish kept the Jackets behind the chains, which is a bigger deal when you run so much better than you pass. Tech’s first 12 possessions yielded seven points, two missed field goals and seven punts. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly credited his scout team — which had, he said, christened itself “Swag” — with giving his defense a spirited look at Paul Johnson’s spread option, but the cold truth was that Brian VanGorder’s defenders were both well schooled and hugely talented. Not many ACC teams are both. Clemson, yes. Florida State, yes. But nobody else.

2. Paul Johnson’s take on the first half: “(It) was awful. We gave up two long pass plays; our kicking game was atrocious — missed two field goals, punt the ball sideways a couple times — (and) then we can’t do anything offensively.” Not to put any ideas into the coach’s mind, but he’d make a pretty fair sports writer. All of the above was true. Harrison Butker’s two misses — from 30 and 43 yards, this from the man who sent the Georgia game to overtime from 53 yards away — brought major deflation. The defense did a fair job standing up to Notre Dame’s interior rushing until C.J. Prosise broke his 91-yarder in the final seven minutes, but Tech cannot hope to win against a stout opponent when its kicker keeps missing and its offense isn’t even halfway up to snuff.

3. That Tech stayed so close for so long had much to do with Notre Dame. Two Irish turnovers — the first an end-zone interception by D.J. White on which Kelly admitted first-time starter DeShone Kizer had been fooled by Tech’s bracket coverage — kept the Irish from building a working lead, but the Irish defense had such a grip on Justin Thomas and Co. that it mattered not. And, for the first time this season, it became clear that the players around the Tech quarterback aren’t as good as those who carried the team to 11-3 and the Orange Bowl title.

Reader Comments 0

177 comments
Guyon
Guyon

Back to normal. Tech's plan has been to beat three cupcakes, and win half of the ACC games to have seven wins and go to a bowl. This year, Tech has only two cupcakes, so it may mean six wins. If we lose to Clemson, FSU and UGA, Tech will have win the rest of the games to have seven wins. That will be hard to do. 

I enjoyed the outstanding performance of the team last year, but it's now back to normal. 

gt51
gt51

ajc only allowing 5 articles per month before you have to pay?  these articles are easily found on the internet somewhere else for free.  or i can just go to chick fil a.   why would anyone pay.

gt51
gt51

tech played like crap and still was in the game at the end.  kicker was horrible.  that first td the irish had was such a joke.  text book offensive pass interference.  that has to be called.  that changes the game right there.  the 91 yd td is a product of stop the irish or broke.  disappointed but not feeling disgusted about team.  

MaxMose
MaxMose

tech needs to junk that high school wishbone and use a regular spread or pro offense to attract top recruits!

96JB
96JB

Ole Miss, LSU, Bama, UGA...... all look pretty dang good. Also, Stop Tech on first and second down, you win. 2nd and 2 playing Tech is Death. ND stopped them.

IHATEPOLITICIANS
IHATEPOLITICIANS

Bring ND down south to the SEC they would beat 99% of the teams to include uga.

Norge Chef Dawg
Norge Chef Dawg

Trying to make yourself feel better about being exposed?

canon ball
canon ball

Had to turn it off cause the announcers were so biased for ND....Bring ND on down South to the SEC and bring those announcers with them with a briefcase with excuses why ND gets their Arses kicked ...God bless fair and balanced  sports casters....if you can find one....PS you can bring Ohio State also.....

Thomas Grzesik
Thomas Grzesik

You probably went to school in SEC COUNTRY. Your Nick name is probably Moran because your clan can't spell Moron!!!!!

RonCochran
RonCochran

What does this game have to do with the sec? Are you some kind of weirdo that likes gt or Georgia depending on who is winning? So you want to play the sec rules all game? That auburn, Missouri and Florida sure look good don't they? Oh wait, you probably like ole miss now. By the way, Doug Flutie played agaisnt nd in college, no love loss there, idiot.

Grant1296
Grant1296

UGA would beat Notre Dame like a rented mule...

GTBob
GTBob

@Grant1296 Based on what exactly? A win over a South Carolina team that will probably win 4 games this year? 

Grant1296
Grant1296

Perhaps we'll find out Bobby....

Both teams are undefeated .... If they both keep that up, they should meet at some point....

IHATEPOLITICIANS
IHATEPOLITICIANS

@Grant1296 yea uga would have to rent a mule to leave town after the a$$ whipping ND would put on them.  Can't wait until Bama cleans uga's clock!!!

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@GTBob @Grant1296 Yeah, ND's 7 point win over mighty UVA is all the proof in the world how great they are, and they shutdown Tech!

Grant1296
Grant1296

Bamma bug???

I believe your sorry Jackets play UGA this year...

Why are you waiting for Bamma???

GTBee
GTBee

Longbeach, that was a redshirt freshman starting his first game. You can find good in our play against that?

LongBeachJacket
LongBeachJacket

@GTBee  Absolutely. Not surprised Kizer was good. Fully expected. Very talented. Strong O-Line, strong offensive gameplan and throwing to sure fire NFL receiver (Fuller).  He played well but didn't beat us by himself.

LongBeachJacket
LongBeachJacket

OK everybody...pump the breaks....we lost.  ND was better.  As I said on another blog...two factors would determine it.

Line of Scrimmage, Turnovers.

ND won the line of scrimmage (both sides).

Tech played hard all day and hung in...but couldn't stem the tide.

Turnovers was a push at 2-2.

We saved points on the DJ White pick.

Shame we couldn't convert on the ND fumble right before the half.


As usual, after a loss, analyses are "endless" (including mine :) ) as to "what went wrong"  "who was wrong"  "who was right"  "woulda, coulda, shoulda".... Life ain't perfect and football ain't either.  Sometimes the other guy is better and deserves to win.


That said, this game was a PERFECT placement (schedule wise) to "get things" corrected before the conference schedule begins.  ND clearly exposed Tech in some areas that need work. I suspect the coaches and players will work extra hard to study and make the corrections.   It might be a bit of a reach at this point but ND might be and I emphasize MIGHT be the best team we face this year in the 12 game season.  Even with multiple key injuries, they looked really, really good all over the field at every position.  Kizer was a more than able (and poised) replacement for Zaire.

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On the other side, I think Justin Thomas didn't have his best game...he played hard, no question about that.

Big part of that was the fact that he was being pressed constantly by ND's front 7, who played all out to keep Thomas from "working his magic" to beat them.


Overall, a balanced view should be optimistic for the rest of the season.  Have to play them one game at a time...so they just have to show up each week and let the season play out.


My early "gut" feeling is Tech will play very strong and fundamentally sound against Duke next week.

Duke is not ND..BUT...they are still going to be a tough out on the road.  They are a good team.

(To think otherwise is to think incorrectly.)


I'd like to see Tech go in there and get a resounding win...BUT....any thing resulting in a W next week should be seen as positive.  Fairly confident and hoping for the best.


One final add note:  Tech's Defense.  They deserve credit for playing a fundamentally sound game...and keeping the game in hand until mid-4Q.  No major gaffes or missed assignments.   Will Fuller made several great plays against decent to very good coverage by Milton.   Some good hard tackling (PJ Davis, also Chris Milton).   Very difficult to sustain on the road against a good team when the offense is struggling.


Final, Final add note:  Harrison Butker's missed kicks hurt.  30-yd and 43-yd are "routine" for a kicker with his ability.

He did not have a good day...and...given everything else...Tech NEEDED him to be good yesterday...He wasn't...


Shake it off.  Correct the execution.  Keep playing.  Still think we are headed for a really, really good season that may see another trip to Charlotte the first week of December. 


GO JACKETS

DawginLex
DawginLex

ND is pretty darn good


Tech will be fine


Encouraged by our qb play yesterday but long way to go


Gauntlet starts in two weeks for Dawgs 

Mewslim
Mewslim

@DawginLex


BS.  ND should have lost to UVA.  But UVA pulled a loss from a victory.

GTBob
GTBob

@Captain@Obvious There are a lot of teams that almost lost to teams they shouldn't have. None of them did.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Also, I see a lot of comments about Johnson's play calling, WRs not running routes, etc.  Look this is the option, and no one knows it better than Johnson.  There is no one better at it...period.  As much as I dont like the offense, I don't think anyone could have done as much as Johnson has done at Tech with this offense.  I think anyone else would have been cut 2 years ago, and Tech would be in the middle of a life after the option rebuild.

But the fact is, his WRs aren't schooled to run routes like passing offenses do.  Justin Thomas is not schooled to read defenses the way a typical passing QB does.  Nor his he schooled in any kind of typical pocket passing.  There is no, "well this isn't working why is he not calling something different"?

You either run the option, or you don't.  There's no in between.  We've seen what happens when Johnson gets away from his play book.  It's never pretty.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 But the fact is, his WRs aren't schooled to run routes like passing offenses do.


Oh, really?

MikeS777
MikeS777

In regards to scheduling, Tech has a brutal schedule this year.  There's no way around it.  Add to that, the have the preseason ranking and Coastal favorite bullseye on their back.  Despite all the media pointing fingers, everyone plays cupcakes.  The problem is playing them all up front.  It stacks the schedule into some nasty stretches that Johnson's teams have typically struggled to navigate. One loss turns into 2 or 3 more in a row.

The next 3 games are @Duke, UNC at home, @Clemson all in consecutive weeks.  There is no breathing room, and you know Clemson wants payback for last year.  Then there's the season end stretch of Va Tech at home on a Thursday, @Miami, and UGA at home all in consecutive weeks as well.  No bye weeks or cupcakes to break these stretches up.  Add FSU in between these two stretches.

I don't think Tech would have won this game in week 1 or 2, but then they could have played Alcorn St after it to give them a breather before starting the ACC slate.  Or they could have shifted that game back to later in the season like before the UGA game.


GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 Sadly we play in the ACC rather than the SEC East, where we'd also be 3-0 with UGA's schedule.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@GeorgeStein @MikeS777 And yet SC beat UNC week one.  This was actually a comment defending the fact they have cupcakes on their schedule.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 We're probably gonna beat Carolina, too.   Not sure what your point is.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@GeorgeStein @MikeS777 "Probably" is an indicator.  UNC put up huge numbers on you guys last year.  Duke has owned you guys too.  Any reason to believe that changes this year?

MikeS777
MikeS777

This is just life with the triple option.  It's been this way for 8 years.  Notre Dame is a team full of top 10 recruiting classes.  Johnson doesn't recruit close to that.  So he has this unconventional offense that relies on a team like ND to show up without the discipline it takes to defend it.  But when a team like ND shows up well prepared and ready, there's not much that can be done.

But then teams without that talent and preparation can't handle this offense.  That's why you see him rolling up points on teams like Va, Maryland, UNC, N.C. St., Pitt, Syracuse, etc.  With Vad Lee at QB in 2012 they tossed up 68 points on UNC and 42 on Duke in the two weeks before UGA held them to 10 points.

An opportunistic defense helped Tech a lot last year vs Va Tech, Clemson, and UGA when the offense was struggling to put points up.  UGA would have been up 21-7 at halftime if not for the D forcing 2 fumbles at the goal line.  They got one pick in the end zone against ND to keep them from going up 14-0 early, but that wasn't enough.  


GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 Oh God, you again.   Just like clockwork, you show up with a loss peddling your bu-----t narratives.   Leopard never changes his spots.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 Takes one to know one is where you're taking this?   You spent all season lecturing us last year on the way to 11 wins.   You're just unencumbered by facts.

MikeS777
MikeS777

No I didn't, but I'm glad you think you want to keep track of that. As well as pretend Tech's offense rolled through every game last year.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeS777 Dude, if you want to go back and look at all your takes last year, go ahead.   You and I both know what you said.

Subway73
Subway73

Tech played hard, especially in the fourth quarter. Perhaps playing a couple of inferior teams to start the season was not a good idea.I think they will still have a very good season.  Johnson is one of the better coaches in the college game.

R Tooty
R Tooty

Well, first of all, we knew we were not going undefeated all season.  Its early in the season and I hope the OL learned something from this game.  ND had something to do with the outcome.  Considering how much the defense stayed on the field, I felt like they played well, minus a few plays.  The offense lost this game, pure and simple. If the offense could have just played partially, we could have won this game.  But hey, their still my team.  Lets move on and learn from this.  I'm disappointed but life goes on...Go GT.

skeeterN
skeeterN

I don't follow Notre Dame that much, but dam, #9 on defense is a stud.

There's no shame in saying ND has superior athletes compared to Tech.

Tech should still finish 9-4 or 8-5.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

All around the country it was a strange day in college football. At least the play-for-pay FCS games are finished. Oh, wait...they're not.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Delbert_D

No, they're not--disgustingly.

The only hope is that strength of schedule will eventually play a more critical role in determining rankings and playoff positions--as well it should.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Lots of predictable posts on this one.

FSU scores 1 TD on offense against BC and the consensus is "good D from BC" - GT scores 3 TDs against ND and it's a "high school offense".

MikeS777
MikeS777

@PaulinNH Its called Power Program bias.  Part of the beauty pageant that is CFB, and basically why I've moved on.  I told myself I wouldn't get into it this year, but I guess I'm going to allow myself a one week slip up here haha.

It's the same with Ole Miss and LSU jumping up in the hype all the sudden.  Maybe Bama isn't really as good as we thought.  Auburn should have lost to Jacksonville St., so why is LSU all the sudden a contender for beating them?  Power Program Bias.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@GeorgeStein @PaulinNH   Its been exposed for sure.  I think the cracks were showing in 2013.  They gave up 40+ to OU and A&M, that year and didn't exactly shut down Auburn.  I think their D line is not as dominant anymore.  There's no Mount Cody or any of the NFL first rounders like in past seasons.  Without that, they can't make these spread teams pay.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@PaulinNH Bama has given up 40 points in three of their last six games.   Waiting on all the takes detailing how their defense has been figured out.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@PaulinNH @GeorgeStein No he certainly doesn't.  I didn't watch it, but doesn't Ole Miss run a pro style offense?  I know they were sweating Bo Wallace leaving, but this new QB of theirs seems to be quite a bit more consistent.