More Jane than Tarzan, paralysis by analysis, and; can we ever get a stop on third and long are just a few comments that have been mentioned in describing Georgia Tech’s defense the past several seasons. Yet for all of the complaining that has been going on by the fan base it’s quite ironic that all of that would have evaporated had the Yellow Jackets been able to preserve a 17 to 14 lead last Labor Day in Blacksburg with 44 seconds left in the game against those Hokies.
Ditto the same scenario with the Miami Hurricanes game after the Yellow Jackets made an incredible comeback to take a two touchdown lead in that contest before the defense failed to get a few stops in the fourth quarter to preserve another potential win. While we can all speculate as to what would have happened in the 2012 season with a positive start, at least the necessary changes were finally implemented to fix the perennial shortcomings on that side of the football from a schematic stand point.
My contention is that the player talent has always been in place but the coaching schemes have just been too complicated and confusing to allow them to effectively play; seek and destroy defense. What I’m hoping to see from that side of the football this year is some truth to the phrase; the third time is a charm when it comes to hiring the right DC. Just as a house is built by first laying the foundation, followed by framing and roughing, the final step in the outer construction is to put on the Roof. The choice for the Yellow Jackets being; asphalt, metal, or in this case Ted.
While it’s true that football is a team game first, foremost, and you win or lose as a team, but inside the locker room players are not happy at all when their efforts are being shortchanged by what they see as an abysmal failure on the part of their teammates not doing their job on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Don’t get me started on special teams as my lack of love for kickers is deeply imbedded and far reaching to the point that it will never rise anywhere near the level of; warm and fuzzy. However, I’m always open to any kicker that can somehow show enough on the gridiron to change my outlook. But I’m still waiting.
So it was imperative that Coach Paul Johnson finally bring in a DC to get it done on that side of the line of scrimmage. Nothing is more frustrating for a coach or fan than to watch an outstanding effort wasted in the fourth quarter because of a blown coverage or botched check-off on defense, or blunders by the offense such as missed blocking assignments, incorrect reads, and turnovers. Compounding that mixture is one side of the line of scrimmage flat out not getting it done weekly, then the dissension and animosity that is created amongst the players can result in a total destruction of the team. Once that begins to occur it is all on the shoulders of the Head Coach to get it fixed.
When Coach Paul Johnson took the steps necessary to correct this ticking time bomb midyear heading into an open date during the schedule immediately after another defensive melt down at Clemson, it was the right call to make pure and simple. Throughout the remainder of the season the players on defense were actually performing better as a whole. Apart from the 50 point performance against the Tar Heels on the road and the total whipping in COFH, they were much better as a unit once allowed to; play fast and get to the football. That has always been the fundamental blueprint for playing defense at any level of football. Find the football.
What was lost throughout this defensive malaise the past several seasons was the undue pressure placed upon the backs of the offense to constantly have to score every possession in order to make up for these ongoing deficiencies by the defense. Just as in baseball when a team’s pitchers are getting shelled and giving up runs faster than click and point, once those three outs are generated and the team on the short end of that score comes to bat everybody is swinging for the fences as they need runs and lots of them. So unless you are the 1927 Yankess with their Murderers Row of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri coming to the plate, it isn’t going to happen.
That pretty much sums up the problems on the defensive side of the football for Georgia Tech ever since Coach Paul Johnson was hired and Jon Tenuta left. From what I have seen the past several seasons that has not worked out very well for Coach Tenuta who I understand left in order to become a head coach, hopefully some day in the future that will happen as he did an outstanding job in that DC role on the Flats.
In an effort to ward off any nonsense that has been passed along like the flu is this misguided notion that the defense is spending too much time practicing against the option as the reason for their substandard efforts during games. Anyone who has played football in college will tell you that the scout teams run the opposing teams schemes every week throughout the season as the first team offense and defense rarely if ever go against each other during the season. I can’t begin to tell you how idiotic that concept has become to read as the source of the GT defensive woes. What a joke! Once or twice a season the first team defense faced off against the first team offense in a goal line drill with the loser having to run extra sprints. It was done as a morale booster and the players really enjoyed it; at least those on the winning end of the drill.
Any time a coach has an opportunity to come back home to his alma mater it just adds to the equation. With Ted Roof returning after winning a BCS National Championship at Auburn the overall credibility of the program is also raised. Despite the individual heroics of the Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton it still takes a defense to win a Championship in the SEC. Just ask any SEC fan and they will be the first to tell you; that nobody plays defense like they do in the SEC, and last I checked Auburn was still a member.
After another winning season at his last stop in not so Happy Valley with the mess taking place there, he was able to once again put together a darn good defense that helped them to an 8 and 4 record after starting out 0 and 2. The second loss courtesy of their kicker missing four (4) bunny field goals and an extra point in a one point loss on the road at Virginia.
Say what you want but the talent pool at Georgia Tech is much better than it was at Penn State after losing about a dozen players who defected to other schools just days before the opening of summer camp. Winning games after that type of turmoil speaks volumes about what Coach Roof was able to do in coordinating an effective defense under very challenging and unique circumstances.
I don’t ever remember players being given an opportunity to become a free agent without any loss of eligibility by bolting to another school at the last minute. That no doubt was quite a challenge for Coach Roof to deal with so I would think that figuring out a way to hold an opponent scoreless with 44 seconds left in a game or preserving a two touchdown lead heading into the fourth quarter will be much easier to accomplish.