Can Tech and UGA stay afloat in seas of orange?

Chris Milton heads for the proverbial house. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Chris Milton heads for the proverbial house. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Big games for both. Big games after big losses. (Three losses on the trot, in Georgia Tech’s case.) Big road games in big stadiums. Big games in Big Orange Country (though only Tennessee, Georgia’s opponent, bills itself thusly). Big games against opponents with quarterbacks from Georgia. Big games at the same time (3:30 p.m. Saturday). What’s apt to happen?

Georgia’s apt to win. I picked Tennessee to take the SEC East, but I assumed the Volunteers wouldn’t lose every single game of significance. The Vols have lost every single game of significance. They led Oklahoma by 17 points at home and lost. They led Florida by 13 on the road and lost. They led Arkansas by 14 at home and … well, you know.

As noted, Georgia isn’t very good in really big games. Tennessee hasn’t been very good in any game against any Power Five team. Losing to Arkansas, which entered 1-3 and was itself desperate, to fall to 2-3 wasn’t just a bad loss: It was the sign of a team that has stopped believing what Butch Jones is saying.

Over the game’s final 17 minutes, the Vols had three chances to drive and score the touchdown that would put them back in front. They went five-and-out on the first, three-and-out on the second. (Remember, this was in Neyland Stadium.) They actually made two first downs on the third, moving all the way to the Arkansas 49. Then Joshua Dobbs got sacked and that was that.

On those three possessions, Dobbs — who’s from Alpharetta — completed three of nine passes for 35 yards. He fumbled once. He was sacked once. Tennessee even had Jauan Jennings, a high school quarterback who’s now a receiver, throw a pass on the last drive. It was incomplete.

In the second halves against Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas, the Vols have been outscored 42-13. They rank 11th among the 14 SEC teams in passing. Jones’ hire of Mike DeBord — who hadn’t coached anywhere the past two seasons and hadn’t coached in college since 2007 — as offensive coordinator has gone over less well than Paul Johnson’s hire of Al Groh to run Georgia Tech’s defense. Speaking of which:

Tech is a desperate team facing an opponent that could still be riding the high of its narrow victory over Notre Dame when Saturday comes. In a post for ESPN Insider, Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders identifies Clemson as having the best shot (41.9 percent) of the nation’s 20 unbeaten teams at staying that way. (Writes Fremeau: “Our ratings give the Tigers at least a 75 percent win likelihood in each remaining game.”)

Chris Milton heads for the proverbial house. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Tech beat Clemson 28-6 last season. Just for the record. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

In the not-so-distant days of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins and DeAndre (Nuk) Hopkins and Andre Ellington, Clemson won mostly with offense. That has changed. Clemson ranked 10th nationally in total offense in 2013; it was 58th last season and is 62nd now. But the Tigers led the nation in total defense in 2014 and, even without Vic Beasley Jr. and Grady Jarrett (both Atlanta Falcons), more good things were expected.

Through four games, Clemson ranks 23rd nationally in total defense, which puts it seventh-best in the ACC. (Which suddenly has become a repository of defense, for reasons I know not.) Against Notre Dame, Clemson was outgained 437 yards to 296. The Irish had four turnovers on the rainy night and consequently trailed 21-3 after three quarters. They came within a two-point conversion of tying the game.

Notre Dame gained those 437 yards with only a small contribution from Will Fuller, the splendid receiver. Fuller caught two passes for 37 yards and appeared to lose his duel with Mackensie Alexander, the mouthy cornerback. (Tech remembers Fuller well; he caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Jackets.)

Tech’s defense likewise let a lead slip last week. The Jackets were outscored 38-10 by North Carolina over the final 34 1/2 minutes, but it would be wrong to describe this defense as a dud. On the contrary, Tech’s defense is massively improved. It’s 37th nationally in total defense, 29th in third-down conversion defense. (The Jackets were 79th and 114th last season.)

The Jackets are 2-3 because Johnson’s offense has failed. Tech ranks 43rd in total offense, down from 19th last year. (Yes, Tech has played better defense than offense this season.) The Jackets scored seven points in the first 59 minutes at Notre Dame. They managed 20 over 60 at Duke. They mustered 10 over the final 34 1/2 minutes against North Carolina, which ranks next-t0-last in the ACC in total defense.

If Tech can find a way to move the ball and seize an early lead Saturday, those old Clemson fears would bubble up. (“We’re talking about the College Football Playoff but losing at home to Georgia Tech?”) To date, Deshaun Watson of Gainesville hasn’t had the breakout season many expected. He’s fifth in the ACC in total offense. (Tech’s Justin Thomas is 13th. Ouch.)

I can see Tech making Clemson nervous, and in years past a nervous Clemson would become a beaten Clemson. I believe these Tigers are made of sterner stuff and — being brutally honest — I’ve seen nothing that makes me think Tech is a good team. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a close game. I would be surprised if the Jackets win.

Further reading: UGA’s dud rekindles the questions about Richt.

And a bit further: A season on the brink: Tech’s 2-3 and headed to Clemson.

Further still: Mark Richt? Good coach. Nick Saban? Great coach.

Reader Comments 0

282 comments
CT_Jacket
CT_Jacket

"Can Tech and UGA stay afloat in seas of orange?"


Apparently not!

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Not to pile on the AJC ,but Dawgnation is the worst site to blog on ever. A TRUE HOMER of a site, I Hope the AJC getting plenty of CA$H for the adds on the site.Sorry TECH fans but there is nowhere to go but Bradley's page.Thanks ,everyone and now back to your game.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Tech people get incensed when I post on their blog so I'll post here regarding Paul Johnson.

Ala. loses to Ole Miss and Saban says "we didn't do a good job of coaching".

Freeze says after loss o Fla. "We didn't do a good job of coaching"

Richt says "We didn''t coach well"

Spurrier says "We have to do a better job of coaching"

WHAT DOES PAUL JOHNSON SAY? "IF THE PLAYERS HAD CARRIED OUT THEIR ASSIGNMENTS WE WOULD HAVE WON. OUR OFFENSE IS A PROVEN WINNER IF YOU BLOCK YOUR ASSIGNMENTS". Isn't that true with every play. If every player carried out his assignment every play would score a touchdown.

JOHNSON ALWAYS BLAMES HIS PLAYERS!


CT_Jacket
CT_Jacket

@TideDawg Not true.  Just after the Duke loss -


“I’ve done this a long time. I’m frustrated, but I’m sure they’re frustrated, too, so we (have) to do a better job coaching them..." 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Dawg country!! Love the south!! WOOF! :)

gtchuck
gtchuck

@TrueFan1 Dawg Country?  what about Dawg Nation??  Oh wait...that's not going over too well is it.  Its kind of like the AJC's version of a blackout.  But hey, at least no one is complaining about this blog format anymore.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@gtchuck @TrueFan1

Hell, I'm still complainin'. The clunky, slow-as-Christmas sign-in process is still a major pain.

Why must you sign in every time you refresh the page?!

Why does the sign-in "processing" often require minutes to complete?!

Why does the sign-in window not close on its own once the tedious "processing" is completed?!

FIX the damn stuff, AJC! Take responsibility for the trash you're subjecting us to--for a change! Step up to the plate and reassume your long-forgotten role as a major news outlet for a major metro area.

This ticky-tack website is beyond ridiculous.

OH:IO
OH:IO

How does the Music City sound, dogs?


Dec. 30Music CityACC/Notre Dame/Big Ten vs. SECNorthwestern vs. Georgia

OH:IO
OH:IO

the dogs were a laughing stock on Feinbaum yesterday. 


Just wait until next week.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

@OH:IO Anyone who watches  Feinbaum  loves the SEC SEC Most....

WhatExcuseNow
WhatExcuseNow

Milked this crap story for 250 hits. You Da Man Bradley....Well Done.

UncleTom
UncleTom

Two questions:  1)  Should we have the same standards and expectations as Alabama?  2)  If not, why not?  (Obviously we don't answer "Yes" to the first)

Mutley
Mutley

Richt is a coach who has become COMFORTABLE WITH LOSING.

OH:IO
OH:IO

NEW EXCUSE ALERT

NEW EXCUSE ALERT


Not only THE Turf


We now have the WET Turf. 


Rainy forecast for Rocky Top???

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

@OH:IO Awesome game comming up... I see you would rather watch MY Dawgs than your own team...

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

@OH:IO It's funny you never respond to me. I guess I hit a little close to home for you, don't I? You really are a disgrace to the good folks in Ohio. All my in-laws are from there and they STILL live there working the land. They don't have the time or inclination to spew garbage on a blog about a team they don't give a whit about. 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

@FalconUGAFan @OH:IO If your had to live in Ohio during the winter you'd be one miserable person too... LOve the South!!!  Go dawgs!!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Best of luck to UGA and GT this Saturday. Don't allow the team that beat you last Saturday to beat you again this coming Saturday.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Mark Richt on Alabama loss:


“I think strategically we’d have been better off trying to go downhill more,” Richt said Tuesday. “There’s some things we tried to do outside and with the wet turf and some matchups we had out there on the edge, I think our best shot would have been to go downhill against them.”



Ya think so doctor?  I was saying that before the game.  I was saying that we had to match Bama's physicality to win the game.  I played a little high school ball but that is the extent of my experience with football.  How is it I know more than this $4 million a year clown who has been at it for nearly 30 years?  What freaking planet is this guy on?  When has the cute stuff EVER worked in games like this against a big and physical SEC opponent?  It has never worked.  He has tried it before and it didn't work.  This guy never learns. He never progresses.  It's 2015 and this clown still thinks he's coaching FSU against Virginia in 1997 or something.  And if the wet turf is such a problem why in the hell were you running those plays?  Have you never coached a game in the rain before?


Good holy grief he is clueless.  Absolutely clueless. 

khd713
khd713

@dawg fan If the game-plan had been to run the "downhill stuff" and try to match Bama's physicality, they would have lost just as bad – maybe even worse. And then you would be saying that you had said all along they should have run more plays to the edge and tried to work around Bama's physicality. Your Monday-morning quarterback rating is pretty high.

FlatTire
FlatTire

WhatExcuseNow……..


Some food for your thoughts


Please don't tell me that a program like UGA who is 3rd all time in SEC Titles 4th in all time bowl wins and 11th in total wins cannot compete for titles


the problem with UGA is part of the fan base and athletic dept don't care about winning big just 10 games; 


that maybe due to all the other things that can occupy your time in the state of Georgia like going to an NBA game; MLB game; NFL game Nascar race; Indy race, WNBA game;  The Masters; PGA championship Golf and numerous national parks and other big time events


In the state of Alabama you have Alabama Auburn; corn shucking field pea picking and what else bird watching?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@FlatTire


flat,


Compete for titles?


Not the past 10 years 


Just sayin'

WhatExcuseNow
WhatExcuseNow

@FlatTire


Preach it Brother.  I was born in Selma in the heart of the nothingness that is the Black Belt of AL. And I got the he!! out of there as soon as I could make my way.  Not sure where you got the corn shucking deal.  That is more a Midwestern thing.  And, yes, I've lived there too.  But GA has been home for majority of life outside military assignments.  Enjoy all the stuff you pointed out.


But what you poignantly addressed IS EXACTLY WHY BAMA FOOTBALL IS HELD TO A DIFFERENT and HIGHER STANDARD.  There is literally nothing else there to occupy your time other than football.  This is why y'all have a trophy case and Alabama has a trophy building.  Maybe, y'all will see your second trophy in the next hundred years, what with all these distractions afoot.  I hope so for my UGA alumni family's sakes.  



Jmonty
Jmonty

UGA definitely has it easier than GT does.   I honestly think both will struggle this weekend.  Tennessee self destructed against Florida.  They may have been looking ahead instead of focusing on the game on hand.  Clemson looked good against ND, but timely turnovers helped a lot too.  I imagine UGA would have to be the favorite over TN and this game can easily go either way.  UGA in a tight one..  UGA 27-24.  GT??  Yeah....  Unless Clemson pulls a "Clemson", I highly doubt we have a chance.  Clemson 41-31.  

khd713
khd713

@Jmonty Don't see any way Tech puts up 31 points on Clemson's defense, but you never know . . .

UncleTom
UncleTom

If the U.S. Military had the same standards and expectations as the UGA football program does, we would now all be speaking German and Japanese.

cspecial
cspecial

any coach you get would be an upgrade from mark" ram tough" richt.hes in over his head at UGA

dawg fan
dawg fan

@cspecial  But who would lead us to magical 10 win seasons after we get our brains beat in on national television every year?  I just don't see any other coach out there matching Mark Richt's success at Georgia.  No way.  Belk Bowl trophies don't grow on trees.  It takes a great football coach to win one.  Nobody else would want that kind of pressure. 

dawg fan
dawg fan

@FlatTire That and we lost "momentum" and couldn't get it back.   

Grant1296
Grant1296

Be careful responding to me Techeye...

Otherwise you'll be crying cut the S , cut the S, like so many times before....

Stay in your league girlfriend ....