A season on the brink: Tech’s 2-3 and headed to Clemson

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson looks on during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Atlanta. North Carolina won 38-31. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson looks on during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Atlanta. North Carolina won 38-31. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Paul Johnson thinks happy thoughts. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

On Sept. 19, Georgia Tech was favored at Notre Dame. By Oct. 3, the Jackets weren’t even a .500 team. That’s how quickly this season has come undone. And here’s the odd part: Tech has been favored in every game.

That’s about to change. The Jackets are a touchdown underdog for this week’s game at Clemson. Given that Florida State and Georgia are in the Top 25 (and Tech no longer even receiving votes), you’d guess the Jackets will be home underdogs against those teams. Which means: They’ll have to upset somebody to go 7-5.

A quick Tech check: Offense isn’t working to specifications, defense collapsed against North Carolina, special teams have again been nothing special. That suggests this team is 2-3 on merit. (And the two victories were against Alcorn State and Tulane, neither of which looked capable of winning a game at the time but neither of which has lost since playing Tech. Go figure.)

After Saturday’s doings in Athens, there’s reason to believe Clemson is the best team on Tech’s schedule. But if you’re going to play Clemson at Clemson, this is the week. The Tigers are coming off a hairbreadth victory over Notre Dame that  thrust them into the College Football Playoff discussion. Given how excited Dabo Swinney gets over big victories — and Saturday’s qualified, especially since Clemson nearly blew it — it’s reasonable to assume that his players get pretty excited, too. That’s exactly the sort of good team you want to play.

Tech even got a break from the TV schedulers. This could have been an 8 p.m. start, but in the early minutes of Sunday morning it was announced that ABC had opted for Miami-FSU in prime time. Night games on the road are rough. A 3:30 start in Death Valley is no day at the beach, but it beats the alternative.

It’s hard to believe that, in Week 6, Tech is already in last-stand mode. It’s possible to win the Coastal Division with two ACC losses. (Tech should know; it did last year.) It might not be possible with three. (Although Tech finished in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami in 2012, the year the other two couldn’t or wouldn’t play for the conference championship.) But to go 2-4 with only Virginia remaining as a gimme — though Virginia Tech, which amassed 100 yards of offense in a home loss to Pittsburgh, is pretty close — would put this program in real danger of missing a bowl for the first time since 1996.

It would be galling to go 5-7 (or worse) in any season. It would be a stunning reversal to have a losing record the year after winning the Orange Bowl. Upsetting Clemson would stop the gloomy talk. But here we note that Tech’s past three treks up I-85 have yielded losses of 14 points, 16 points and 24 points.

Oh, and speaking of that game in Athens: Mark Richt? Good coach. Nick Saban? Great coach.

Reader Comments 0

97 comments
GTBigJim
GTBigJim

BHam Jacket, dont waste the effort on GTBob, Leather, etc....they simply do not really understand the game of football...and if you have a different (albeit correct) opinion, they just go to the old faithful "go back to the Ugag board you troll"


Telephone poles did NOT go away because we ran out of trees....we simply found a BETTER way of doing things. 


They prefer to set the bar real low so they are not disappointed. 


Or they make ignorant statements like "we out rush everyone we play" or "we beat Miss last yr"....I think they believe you get actual points for "most rushing yards". Not sure. Or that last yr was the norm, not the other 7 sub .500 seasons under the genius. (cupcakes subtracted of course)


I will say it again, I have NEVER wavered...that outdated offense WILL NOT WORK IN TODAYS GAME. Period. 


It kills you on BOTH sides of the ball! Dont give me the "its the defenses fault" THAT IS CRAPPPPP!!!! we have had 4 DC and one johnson!!! WHY DONT YOU GET IT???? His "SYSTEM" is TERRIBLE!!! 

GTBob
GTBob

@GTBigJim Its kind of strange then that if you look at Offensive Efficiency from last year which does not include FCS opponents and is adjusted based on the difficulty of the rest of the opponents, that we were the #1 most efficient offense in the country by a wide margin.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/feioff2014

Here is another measure for you from last year. In games against winning FBS opponents, GT ranked 14th in the country in total offense and 10th in the country in scoring offense.

Explain to all of us who know nothing about football how GT could put up such good offensive numbers against quality teams if the offense they run will simply not work like you claim.

Rick_James
Rick_James

I wouldn't bet against Tech in this game..

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

The rabble is angry today, my friends. The long knives are out. There will be many changes in CFB.

Carnack* sees:
Chip Kelly at Texas; Charley Strong to So Carolina.

Spurrier to Lake Oconee's 1st Tee.
Kirby Smart to Georgia.
To Ga Tech --- wait for it - Coach Mark Richt.
Coach Paul Johnson to West Point or Maryland.
Hold me to this.

GTBob
GTBob

@Pat_Pending Im fairly certain that if Mark Richt offered to coach for free that GT still wouldn't hire him.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket Yep. I really miss the days of Calvin Johnson catching balls and us never winning more than 7 games or finishing the season ranked. Ah, the good ole days.

GTBob
GTBob

@Rick_James Im ok with some mediocre years as long as they come with some good years as well. Constant mediocrity starts to get old though.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket There you have what? What are you expecting from GT football? Nothing but 10+ win seasons? Do you have any sense of reality at all?

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket

Whatever you say Dave Braine.  I can tell you Tech isn't going to get there under Johnson because we can't attract enough talent.  Kids don't want to play in that system.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket So you think if we fired CPJ today, we can get another coach who will pull in top 10 recruiting classes and win 10+ games every season. Is that what you are telling us?

Also, Braine never should have said what he said, but he wasn't wrong.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@Pat_Pending

Johnson's triple option belongs at West Point.  We will never see another Calvin Johnson on The Flats as long as that system is in place.

Peachs
Peachs

Parity played in our favor last year not so much this year. What really saves Tech is the under expectation of Tech and the over hype of the other teams they play. Not many teams get beat like Georgia did last week ,and were favored. Most games at Tech are lost by special teams, Duke ran a few back, ND the kicker missed two dead on field goals, UNC, they just got stupid.  Georgia got it handed to them by a team not much better if any than ND, no parity there, no one thing you can point to and say that was the factor that lost the game, really don't see that very much any more.  Is that what Bradley meant to say?

JetBuzz
JetBuzz

It's perhaps PARTIALLY a personnel issue from the sideline's perspective, but we need more diversity of O plays and schemes. Look what UNC's razzle-dazzle accomplished against our D: 6 points. And shorter screen and slant passes mixed in with dives and TO sweeps. We can be VERY predictable, as ALL our opponents know from experience and film.

At least the pressure is more on Dabo & Co. Saturday...a good thing for us to just "go out and play". 

Dawgonnit
Dawgonnit

Glimmer of hope to me is Tech threw 21 passes and hit 12 for close to 60% ratio. The last two games Tech has thrown 20 passed each or so, unheard of in Johnson's time.  Eventually the passing game will click and open the triple option back up. It will also help in recruiting I believe. That said the coaches need to think of some of their decisions, particularly not taking points (field goals if can), not being aggressive inside the red zone on offense, and not punting when it's 4th down from say insides their own 50 yard line. Bobby Dodd, Ross, etc...played for  position, took points and occasionally gambled on 4th down. The time of possession close will confuse most fans in each of the last 3 games. You think we are getting beat bad only to look at the clock. That's good but we need to look at the scoreboard more.

Nowayjose9
Nowayjose9

@GTBob You mean duke and unc are now capable of severely slowingpaul johnsons's heralded triple option!! Yep that's the case. But hey, he won 10 games, let's extend him 5 more years! Brilliant. I blame this all on PJ. No way a team does what gt did last year and come out this pathetic without coaching being involved..the lack thereof. I guess in 2019 he will come out wanting another good season so he can sucker gt into another contract ext.

GTBob
GTBob

We are throwing more passes because we have to. Not because we want to.

GTBob
GTBob

@Nowayjose9 Our offense struggled against Duke and ND. Not really against UNC although they did better in the 2nd half. Either way we are throwing more passes because we are behind at the end of games, not because we have determined that we just can't run the ball.

Also, kudos to Paul Johnson for having some magical ability to have good years whenever he wants to. You have to admit, that would be a pretty impressive ability. 

39Concepts
39Concepts

who should I blame most for this bad season: the players or coaches???

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

As to the state of the program, several regular posters to the Georgia Tech blogs have said all along the opinion that next season is the one to be most optimistic about, given the key players from last year's team who graduated and or moved on to the NFL. Tech is relying on a lot of talented players from the last 2 recruiting classes on both sides of the ball. In game 5, we saw 2 more first-timers. As has been said today, all those guys are getting a lot of experience.

For this year and every year, the most important game, the only game that matters is the next one.

MyMourningJacket
MyMourningJacket

what about that guy that coaches Jack State.  The Grass of John might be greener for Tech

juvenal
juvenal

Johnson is going to call his game-every 3-4 years he will have the right mix of players for it to work-just in time for a contract extension........ 

GTBob
GTBob

@juvenal So you think he should be fired immediately so that we can bring in a coach who will win 10 games consistently at GT?

Nowayjose9
Nowayjose9

@GTBob @juvenal How about a coach who won't lose to duke and unc in back to back seasons! The previous 2 never did. Or one that can at least win enough to get to a bowl, which is ridiculously easy but somehow pj manages to win the orange bowl and now looks to be leading a team to at best a 4 win season. Wow great.

GTBob
GTBob

@Nowayjose9 So you believe that every time a team is struggling, the coach should be fired, no questions asked, without any consideration for what he has done previously? Seems logical. Im sure we will hire a great coach to replace him if they think they will be fired after 5 games.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

GTBob, George Stein, Augusta Jacket, I see your post down below and wanted to weigh in but didn't want to just tag on below and have it lost in the shuffle.  You guys and others are always on here with positive comments and good insights.


What blew me away about the game was the decision with 1:29 to go in the half to throw the ball 2 of 3 downs.  We had dominated the game simply running the ball and mostly running the option.  It was like CPJ said "it doesn't matter who we have at AB, just run the system and it will work, just like I said."  But then, after our D got blitzed for a 9 play TD drive, he chooses to go against what had worked for 25 min and throw the ball???  And of course our D goes back out there after about 15 seconds are run off the clock and gets blitzed again.  It should have been 21-7 at half.  That was a pure and simple coaching mistake.


And about the goal line dives by JT that got stuffed, in the first half we ran the same play 3 times at the goal.  Yes we got 2 of them in but every time it was not much of a gain and both TDs had to be reviewed it was so close.  Why are you having your 180 lb QB trying to run that play instead of simply handing it to your 230 lb BB???  Maybe if JT just did a normal QB sneak he'd have a better chance, but the follow play isn't a good one with a light QB.  That's why we would bring in Byerly for those type runs.  Again, a pure and simple coaching mistake.


We should never have lost this game and CPJ needs to take the blame.


Oh, and what has he done to get the shaft from the ACC refs. 

gt51
gt51

@Hookedonshortpasses @Born2Buzz

yes.  it would have taken time off the clock or forced unc to call a timeout.  they scored with 4 seconds left.  thats what you do when theres no chance at getting a first down.  force the other team to call a timeout.  coaching 101

GTBob
GTBob

@Born2Buzz I don't disagree with this. There is plenty of blame for the coaches in this game on both sides of the ball. Im not going to pretend that I know what plays we should have called but it seemed pretty obvious that if we ran JT a second time on the goal line play that we had little chance of scoring.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Born2Buzz GTBob, George Stein, Augusta Jacket, I see your post down below and wanted to weigh in but didn't want to just tag on below and have it lost in the shuffle.  You guys and others are always on here with positive comments and good insights.


Thanks.  I enjoy your posts as well.  It's always fun to dialog with fellow fans instead of trolls.


What blew me away about the game was the decision with 1:29 to go in the half to throw the ball 2 of 3 downs.  We had dominated the game simply running the ball and mostly running the option.  It was like CPJ said "it doesn't matter who we have at AB, just run the system and it will work, just like I said."  But then, after our D got blitzed for a 9 play TD drive, he chooses to go against what had worked for 25 min and throw the ball???  And of course our D goes back out there after about 15 seconds are run off the clock and gets blitzed again.  It should have been 21-7 at half.  That was a pure and simple coaching mistake.


I tend to agree with you here, but as @GeorgeStein said, it's hard to overly criticize a coach for being aggressive.  I would have probably run the clock down with some running plays and maybe tried a pass if I got closer to midfield with time left.  That being said, we had been unstoppable on O to that point, so why not get aggressive.  The real issue was the botched punt snap.  It's amazing that Rodwell got that off.  The short field did us i and Freeman missing that sack allowed Williams to spring free for the TD.


And about the goal line dives by JT that got stuffed, in the first half we ran the same play 3 times at the goal.  Yes we got 2 of them in but every time it was not much of a gain and both TDs had to be reviewed it was so close.  Why are you having your 180 lb QB trying to run that play instead of simply handing it to your 230 lb BB???  Maybe if JT just did a normal QB sneak he'd have a better chance, but the follow play isn't a good one with a light QB.  That's why we would bring in Byerly for those type runs.  Again, a pure and simple coaching mistake.


It worked a good bit last year.  I think the issue is less JTs size than the absence of Shaq Mason.  Also, I think we overstate Byerlys usage last year.  He was brought in for two goal line TD runs against Tulane, two against NCSU,  & one against GaSo.  The other 2 TDs were against Duke, where he relieved an injured JT.  After that, we rarely saw him again.  The real issue is that we were stuffed at the 1.  If we had run a toss sweep or an outside run and got stuffed we would all be griping about why we didn't run it up the center.  Fans complain a lot.  It's what we do.


We should never have lost this game and CPJ needs to take the blame.


I am against this whole line of thinking.  Assigning blame for losses is asinine,  CPJ didn't coach the refs to make that call on Gotsis.  CPJ didn't coach the long snapper to make a bad snap.  Should he put a different QB in since JT has fumble-itis this year?  Yeah, he made some calls we disagree with now, but we'd be singing his praises had they worked.


Oh, and what has he done to get the shaft from the ACC refs.


This is a good question.  I'd like to know the answer to this one myself...

Nowayjose9
Nowayjose9

@Born2Buzz Great points. He also lost the duke game with lousy coaching decisions.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

All will be well with Tech after this weekend's game - Clemson is still Clemson, and will melt under the pressure of Tech's relentless option.  Wasn't it just last year that TECH beat Clemson when Clemson had "the best defense in the NCAA"?

And, by the way, I am a Clemson fan, thought I know Clemson and UGA just do not have the killer instinct of better, upper echelon NCAA teams.

R Tooty
R Tooty

Its great to be an arm-chair coach on Monday morning.  We all seem to know what is wrong with the jackets.  Bottom line, their just not playing well.  Some due to injuries, some due to inexperience and probably some due to bad calls by the coach.  With that said, we can only hope for the team to improve as the season progresses.  If they don't, it WILL be a long season.  I really don't see us winning another game.  Its not just the O, its the D and the ST.  All three have been terrible.  Its easy to blame the coach, but he only puts the players on the field.  At some point, they have to start playing as a team.  An upset this week would be welcomed.  Whoever made GT a 7 point underdog must have been smoking pot prior to the decision.  I would say more like 21+.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@R Tooty We will likely win 4 more games, maybe 5.  Pitt, VT, UVA, Miami are all easily winnable IF we don't beat ourselves.  Clemons, FSU & UGA will take something better than we've seen so far.

Nowayjose9
Nowayjose9

@Born2Buzz @R Tooty Too funny. The only team that looks worse than gt is VT. Heck uva played ND much tougher and closer than gt. Gt was never in the nd game. And we all know how gt plays @ uva. I see 4 wins, maybe 5 and a missed bowl. Yet this buffoon gets 3+ mil a year and a extension for one decent season. Incredible.

Mulk
Mulk

@Nowayjose9 @Born2Buzz @R Tooty


Jose,


One decent season? Don't you keep up? He has been recognized as the ACC coach of the year 3 times. In 8 seasons. Buffoons don't get recognized for Coach of the Year awards.

GTBob
GTBob

@Nowayjose9 UVA lost by 42 points at home to Boise St. Their only win was a 6 point victory over an FCS team. GT isn't playing great but we aren't nearly as bad as they have been.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@maxman2660 "I love to hire bad coaches and give them ridiculous contract extensions." ???


TheD1Guru
TheD1Guru

Stop the madness. Things happen in the world of college football that cannot be explained. Players that are supposed to be who you are counting don't show up in the game. Plays that have worked every time they are called suddenly do not. Coaches don't play one snap. Richt didn't lose the game on Saturday and Saban didn't win the game on Saturday. The PLAYERS won and/or LOST the game. UGA was hit into submission on Saturday plain and simple. They did not match the intensity of the Tide. That comes from the HEART of a PLAYER not from coaching. It all boils down to controlling the grass under your feet in the game of football. The UGA players didn't do that; the Tide players did. So, stop with the fire Mark Richt crap and the Richt got outcoached mularkey. UGA players forgot that they weren't playing Southern this week. It was an embarrassing loss to say the least but BAMA will do that to just about everybody that they face. If you are not a physical football team, and UGA is not, that is what happens to you when you play BAMA. Go beat Tennessee and their snakebitten head coach BJ, who was also "outcoached" Saturday and all will be right with the world. 

MyMourningJacket
MyMourningJacket

We could be getting into Bud Carson territory this season.

MyMourningJacket
MyMourningJacket

I would have Tech a 12 point underdog if I worked in Vegas.

UGAforever
UGAforever

Nice picture of Bitter Beer Face Johnson.