These short takes are offered as an adjunct to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game column, which can be found here. Georgia won 13-7. Georgia Tech finished 3-9.
1. If I’m Ted Roof – or Mike Sewak – I’m not sleeping too soundly. Roof is Tech’s defensive coordinator. Technically speaking, his defense ticked upward from last season. The Yellow Jackets ranked 43rd in yards against and 52nd in third-down percentage defense entering Saturday’s game. They were 79th and 114th last season. Still, Paul Johnson is tough on defensive coordinators – he has had three in eight Tech seasons – and he went out of his way to disparage a reporter’s assertion that the Jackets had done OK against Georgia rushing attack except for a few long bursts. “Those count, too,” he said. He also said reporters need to have higher expectations. He also made it a point to rip his offensive line – Mike Sewak is the O-line coach – yet again, saying, “Pass protection was bad like it has been all year.” Looking ahead to the offseason, Johnson said: “I have some ideas what I want to do.” That didn’t sound like a vote of confidence for anyone.
2. For all Johnson’s fussing, the person he should be fussing at the most is … Paul Johnson. In beating Georgia in Athens last season, Tech rushed for 399 yards. On Saturday, it rushed for less than half that – 184 yards. This is Johnson’s offense. He designed it. He calls the plays. He recruits to its intricacies. He had, in Justin Thomas, a quarterback regarded as the best offensive administrator Johnson has had at Tech. But the Jackets could rush for only 216 yards against Notre Dame and 71 against Clemson, two opponents that – like Georgia – had both the manpower and the coaching to limit this offense. If not for a dubious unsportsmanlike conduct flag against the Bulldogs’ Jake Ganus, the Jackets might well have been shut out for the first time since Oct. 18, 1997 – 236 games ago.
3. Speaking of Thomas: What happened? He was regarded as a Heisman candidate in preseason, but he was nothing special once the playing began. Last season he mustered 1,719 yards passing and 1,086 rushing. This year, he passed for 1,345 yards and rushed for 488. Thomas wasn’t made available to the media after the game, but Johnson had this to say: “He’s a really tough kid. I don’t think he played as well as he did a year ago, but I’m not sure that was all his fault … We had a lot of freshmen out there. He hasn’t been getting the support he did.”