If Tech can’t make Johnson’s offense work, there’s real trouble here

092316-ga-tech-photos-hs21

A dissatisfied customer. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

This mightn’t have been the way to impress the new boss. Paul Johnson’s stylized offense mustered 124 yards – the lowest yield by a Georgia Tech team under Johnson – on a night when the nation’s No. 5 team came to town, didn’t play to its vast capacity but never trailed and never appeared stressed. Tech lost to Clemson 26-7.

In the not-quite-full house was Todd Stansbury, a Tech alum who played football here and was named athletic director earlier Thursday. If the new AD stayed until the end, he was among the few Techies who did. You couldn’t blame those who bailed, given that their Yellow Jackets offered such meager resistance.

It’s not often we can say a defense that yielded 442 yards was the relative star of the show, but Tech’s defense did and was. This didn’t sit well with Johnson, who has griped about his defense – now on its third defensive coordinator, with an interim DC tossed in – since arrival. When it was mentioned that his defenders held Clemson to 26 third-quarter yards, he grumbled that his offense had “helped a little by staying on the field.”

Tech’s third-quarter output – 55 yards, four first downs, zero points.

Earlier in the week, Johnson suggested this offense might be a match for the mighty platoon that powered Tech to 11-3 and an Orange Bowl title only two years ago. It does have the same quarterback, who was the Orange Bowl MVP. But here’s how many times Justin Thomas threw the ball in a game where Tech trailed after 3 ½ minutes and by double figures over the final 47 ½ minutes — 13. He completed four passes. One was for no yards. Another was for minus-7.

With 10:58 remaining and the Jackets within 16 points – two touchdowns and two 2-point PATs and we’re in overtime! – Johnson ordered up one of those newfangled forward passes but didn’t entrust Thomas to deliver it. He deputized Dedrick Mills, a freshman B-back, to cast the ball downfield. The pass, such as it was, was intercepted. Clemson banked the clinching field goal. Johnson claimed Qua Searcy was open but drifted into coverage. Whatever.

Here was Tech’s final series of the night, which started with 4:12 to play: Incomplete pass (by Thomas), Mills rush for 5, Mills rush for 3, Mills rush for 1, turnover on downs. No wonder people left early.

Asked how a team trying to fashion a comeback throws only 14 passes, Johnson said: “Couldn’t protect.” (Indeed, Thomas was sacked three times.) But how many 55-yard runs was Tech apt to break? (Its longest rush netted 18 yards.)

We stipulate that Clemson is superb on defense. We concede that the Tigers’ defensive front overwhelmed Tech’s O-line. “We were outmanned up there,” Johnson allowed, and he told the truth. That said, the juxtaposition was stunning: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson threw 48 passes, an average of 12 per quarter; Tech hoisted 14 in the game.

“To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” Johnson said, but could he say he was surprised? (A year ago, Clemson held Tech to 71 yards rushing – also a nadir for Johnson’s time here.) He blamed missed assignments. He said, “It’s hard to explain something like that, but they come to the sideline and it’s, ‘I know.’ ”

Clemson should be the best team on Tech’s schedule: If there’s a flicker of light on this dreary night, that’s it. But the defense cannot be the better of Tech’s units if this team is to do anything of consequence. This is Johnson’s program, built on Johnson’s offense. “It comes back to me,” he said. “I’ll take credit for some of it”

Some? Lest we forget, Tech was held to 238 yards by Boston College in Ireland. Now this. If the offense doesn’t perk up, Stansbury might soon be asking his football coach: “Why exactly are you using this?”

Further reading from Thursday:

Tech’s offense throws a clunker against Clemson.

Todd Stansbury: He’s a Tech man, and he’s the right man.

Tech hires Stansbury, who’s both an alum and a football man.

Reader Comments 0

133 comments
Dawgonnit
Dawgonnit

Tech and Johnson are better than this...It's amazing the score wasn't worse. it's the same problem as last  year against top team...too much time to get the ball off, timing and execution and higher completion percentage. In 1984 I remember Ross and Maryland being behind 31 - 0 at halftime to come back and win 42-41 basically. It's a mindset it is not over till it's over...4-2-O...4 downs , two point conversions...onside kicks.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

thought the dogs were playing today?

MrDavis
MrDavis

Hey Bradley, let's see if you have the guts to write a similar article about the dwags debacle. I bet you don't because you value your job. You are worse than a Hillary apologist in your hatred of Paul Johnson. Little Kirby is a Saban wanna be with you media hacks and not one word about it. Did Pj hurt ur little feelings at some point by exposing your stupidity? Cmon, Bradley, show some guts.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

@MrDavis Don't hold your breath Davis!! He is a dawg man through and through and will probably suggest

the dawgs move back into the top 10...

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

All is not lost Bradley! Your dawgs are handling Ole Miss.

They are earning that #12 ranking!! LOL

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

What a brilliant piece of journalism by our own Tech man Mark Bradley. Tremendous insight! 


SMDH

PBOrr
PBOrr

Non football comment - this website is a complete catastrophe. Fire the Indians who are making it.

MyMourningJacket
MyMourningJacket

What will call a 6 and 6 season with 20 plus point losses to V Tech, Miami and Georgia,  a 100% improvement?

GTBob
GTBob

@MyMourningJacket We didn't lose by 20 to Clemson but we are going to lose by 20+ to teams worse than them? Seems logical.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTBob

So you already know that V Tech, Miami, and UGA will be worse than Clemson when GT plays them?

If that's actually the case, whatever line of work you're in, it's the wrong line.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I don't see any posts on here from OH:IO. I think his momma must have put him down for his nap.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TideDawg He is on Schultz's blog.  He figured it would blow his Tech cover too much if he were to spend too much time over here.  He's in a bad mood though.  Taking the Tech butt whopping last night pretty bad.

TOJacket
TOJacket

You stupid enough to think Tech fans are "shell shocked"?

Big Wally
Big Wally

Two years ago, you folks were ready to rename the stadium after Johnson (he beat two SEC teams and thus walked on water), now you are ready to chase him off.  My how times have changes.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Big Wally I think PJ's offense is on a 5 year plan. Good team every 5 years so in a 2 more years he should beat somebody again just in time to get a new 5 year contract.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg If he wins a major bowl game every 5 years then I think most Tech fans will be fine with him sticking around.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@GTBob @TideDawg  As long as most 'tech fans' you are talking about are not on this blog, most want to chase him off.

GTBob
GTBob

@Big Wally Most of the Tech fans on this blog aren't actually Tech fans.

khd713
khd713

@Big Wally @GTBob @TideDawg  I just want him to recruit better. The whole reason D-Rad hired him in the first place is because he knew Tech could never consistently land top-tier recruits, and certainly not a sideline full of them like many SEC teams. PJ's system is a way around that because it doesn't require a ton of top-tier recruits to be successful. But it does require a higher overall level of talent than what we've got to compete with the big boys. The system itself is unique enough that he should be able to win six or seven games every year with sub-par talent. But in order for Tech to make any noise at a national level, he's got to start getting better players. Again, it doesn't have to be a two-deep squad of five-stars on both sides of the ball, but I still believe that if he could just bring in a handful more four-stars, and a five-star every now and then, he would be in playoff contention every year. Games like last night's certainly don't help that cause.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgNole Why would my opinion of the UGA/GT game exclude me from being a fan?

GTBob
GTBob

@Big Wally He had three recruiting classes that were in the top 25 of any recruiting source. None in the top 15. The rest were unranked. He also was given pretty good leeway on academic exceptions which he abused, and we eventually got burned by it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTBob

Anyone who believes the UGA-GT game is "meaningless" isn't "actually a Tech fan" to use your words.

Now, if you're lying about it, which could very well be the case--given your history on these blogs--then yes, you may be a Tech fan.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @TideDawg You may be right, but with Louisville, Clemson, FSU and maybe NC Tech would be the 4th pick from the ACC for a bowl. I don't know what bowl that would be but I doubt if it will be a major bowl.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@khd713 @Big Wally @GTBob @TideDawg I think they can attract top talent, but top talent won't sign with a program that runs the ball. These kids that are OL know that to move to the next level they have to know how to pass block. Further no  good QB is going to go there to run the ball. To win 6-7 games they are going to need a schedule with 6-7 weak teams. In my opinion 3 star players are only 1 season away from being 4-5 star talent. A new coach coming in is going to really be handicapped for 2-3 yrs with PJ's recruited talent. All of that said.....Tech may as well keep PJ

TOJacket
TOJacket

Sounds a little like UGA? ......lol

TideDawg
TideDawg

Make Techs offense work???? You don't wonder why pro teams don't use that offense? You don't wonder why no teams copy that offense except division II teams. Clemson had a short week to work on stopping that offense and still shut them down. I realize Tech does not like to pass, but it's so predicable when they do. No QB can find a receiver when the QB is running for his life. Clemson did not play a good game and that does not speak well of Tech's effort. The D held their own against a powerful team.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg Short week? Clemson played an FCS team last week and spent time in the spring just on our offense. They had plenty of preparation time.

khd713
khd713

That game was a total embarrassment for Tech fans. The defense turned in its usual "OK" performance, but the offense, and especially the offensive line, was a disgrace. Incredible to see Devine, who is supposed to be our best or second-best O lineman, leave the game with an injury and he looked so fat and out of shape he could barely get off the field. How can that be? Meanwhile, both sides of Clemson's lines were stacked with athletes who were big, strong, and could run all day, and they just beat the $&!# out of our guys.


The worst part of this debacle is that it aired on ESPN to a national audience. I've always said that when PJ's offense is working it is the most beautiful thing to watch in sports, but when it's not it's the most dreadful thing imaginable. Last night was beyond dreadful, and Tech's offensive coaching staff, especially PJ, should be utterly ashamed of what happened out there. Any potential recruits among the millions who watched that game certainly crossed Georgia Tech off their lists. Who would want to play for a team like that?


PJ certainly didn't get off to a good start with the new AD. With Mark Bradley's columns the last couple of days, I sense that there's a new tone in the air, and it's coming from Tech's higher-ups. Bradley wouldn't be writing this stuff if he didn't know something is up. I suspect PJ is sitting on a pretty hot seat right now.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@khd713 And this was after PJ said this offense is probably as good as whatever year it was that they won the ACC.

Hank Kimball
Hank Kimball

Tech needs a new coach to revive the program. It was once a dominating football team now it is a wreck (no pun intended). With Georgia State and Kennesaw now with football programs the competition for local recruits will be even tougher. The new AD needs to get this program back on course to be a national contender. Plus, most kids today want to go to a school that prepares them for the NFL. Fish Fry' offense doesn't do that.

GTVan
GTVan

"Outmanned" should never be an excuse for a college coach as they are responsible for hand-picking their players.  If you are a coach and have a problem with "how good" the other team's players are, then you are the problem. 

The offense is lethargic and has a distinct lack of athleticism.  The defense feels like it is missing something - a lack of explosiveness.  Also, as a Tech graduate, it amazes me that the players (who have to at least skew on the more intelligent end of the athletic-aptitude spectrum) constantly make horrible decisions.  How many times in PJ's tenure have we taken a safety on kick-offs (or following an interception) or made all-around unfathomable decisions.  Not saying that did not happen under previous regimes, but at least 80% of those were committed by Reggie Ball (yes, a Reggie Ball reference).

Bottom line, our players are not good enough to compete one-on-one and our coaching is not good enough to compensate.  PJ is not setting these kids up to succeed.

JustDaFactsMam
JustDaFactsMam

This is Johnson’s program, built on Johnson’s offense. “It comes back to me,” he said. “I’ll take credit for some of it”


Who is JP going to blame?  He throws players under the bus all the time.  Too funny.

TexGT
TexGT

I pray we finally have a smart AD--its time for 'ole Fish Fry to go.  That was utterly pathetic.  But the biggest problem is Johnson's arrogance and refusal to look in the mirror and recognize he is the problem.

10Dawgs
10Dawgs

I hope he signs an extension. Long Live Fish Fry!

10Dawgs
10Dawgs

“It comes back to me,” he said. “I’ll take credit for some of it”. SOME ????? of it? Way to throw your players under the bus. Why would anybody with other offers play for this A--hole?

TOJacket
TOJacket

Do you feel the players were not at fault?

10Dawgs
10Dawgs

@TOJacket  Even if execution is a problem you don't go public with it. You address it in practice.


10Dawgs
10Dawgs

@TOJacket  AND... there's a reason they stopped running the triple option offense in the 50's. Fish Fry just spread it out a little but it the same old offense. People have trouble with it because nobody else runs it.