Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson acknowledged that it would sound like an excuse. But he was not satisfied with the condition of the field at Hard Rock Stadium during the Yellow Jackets’ 25-24 loss to Miami last Saturday. He recognized that “you’ve got to make plays” despite the conditions and that Miami was playing on the same field. But he deemed it a factor in the outcome.
“(Miami coach Mark Richt) apologized before the game for the field,” Johnson said Monday. “It wasn’t great to begin with and then when it started raining, it was really bad.”
The natural-grass field was last replaced and re-sodded Sept. 27. The Hard Rock Stadium field gets more use than most, as the Hurricanes share the field with the Miami Dolphins. On Thursday and Friday, in nearby Fort Lauderdale, Fla., .6 inches of rain fell, according to the website Weather Underground.
Johnson cited three specific plays on consecutive possessions when the footing gave way in costly fashion for Tech. On a third-and-6 near the end of the third quarter, before rain began to fall, quarterback TaQuon Marshall threw a pass to A-back Qua Searcy, who slipped making a cut and was unable to make the catch. Tech punted, and Miami scored a touchdown on the next drive to cut the lead to 24-22.
“It was an unfortunate situation, but we have to learn to deal with it,” Searcy said.
On Tech’s next possession, on a third-and-4, during the heaviest of the rain that fell in the second half. Left guard Parker Braun slipped and fell while pulling on a keeper for Marshall, whose run ended up short of the first-down marker without the lead block. After that, Tech and Miami traded punts.
Braun said that the rain made for a fun environment and gave the team energy, but said that the conditions were bad.
“I’d seen storms like that, but I’ve never played on a field that bad before,” he said.
On the next third down, a third-and-17, Johnson said that wide receiver Ricky Jeune slipped. Under heavy pressure, Marshall threw the ball away and Tech punted.
“It sounds like excuses, but three third downs in a row, we had guys slip,” Johnson said.
A-back Clinton Lynch said the field and rain affected the footing.
“It’s really no excuse, because we shared the field (with Miami),” he said. “But I’ve just got to do better blocking.”
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