These short takes are presented as an adjunct to the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game column, which can be found here. A team named Tech won 23-21, but it wasn’t Paul Johnson’s.
1. Paul Johnson, a coaching lifer, appeared shaken after this loss. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a season like this,” he said. His Yellow Jackets, who were ranked No. 14 in the land and favored at Notre Dame on Sept. 19, are 3-7 and cannot finish in anything better than a last-place tie in a division they were picked to win. Several of those losses have been of the excruciating variety, but this was the worst. Tech lost three second-half fumbles, dropped a third-down pass that would have garnered a first down and saw a potential winning drive aborted by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Johnson’s offense was limited to 258 yards and didn’t score a point after the first quarter. For the sixth time this season, the Jackets lost as a betting favorite. Good grief.
2. Jeremiah Attaochu, meet Errin Joe. The 2011 Tech-Tech game here turned on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Attaochu, who threw a punch at the Hokies’ Logan Thomas after the massive quarterback didn’t go down. (Might have been a late whistle.) The 2015 edition turned on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against guard Errin Joe, who was whistled for shoving a V-Tech player after quarterback Justin Thomas was stopped at the Hokies’ 39 with 57 seconds remaining. “The Attaochu one was probably a personal foul,” Johnson said. Of the Joe penalty, Johnson said: “They kept rocking our quarterback. I assumed it was going to be offsetting (penalties), but it wasn’t.” The penalty pushed the Jackets back across midfield. Thomas was sacked on third-and-20. His pass on fourth-and-27 was incomplete.
3. Johnson offered praise for his defense, which kept the game close despite the three turnovers; for his offense, he offered none. “We just stopped executing,” he said. “Right now, we’re not very good.” The Jackets gained 130 yards in the first quarter, after which they led 14-0. They gained 128 yards thereafter, and the only G-Tech touchdown came on Brant Mitchell’s interception return of a terribly thrown Michael Brewer pass. The Jackets were outgained by 146 yards over the final three quarters, and the Hokies aren’t renowned for their offense. This was a bad loss to a not-very-good opponent, the second in a row for G-Tech.