The scenery for Georgia Tech is not what it once imagined it would be. The Yellow Jackets are in their open date at 3-4 with an ACC record of 1-3. A Coastal Division championship – a primary team goal every season – is highly unlikely.
Coach Paul Johnson communicated a message to the team that, with five games remaining, time is winding down. Tech resumes play Oct. 25 at Virginia Tech.
“Gotta get ready to play,” Johnson said Thursday. “You’ve still got five games left. Try and go on the road and win the game and make sure that we can get to a bowl game. That’s the goal.”
Simply to make any bowl, Tech will have to win three of the remaining five at Virginia Tech (35 percent chance of winning, according to ESPN’s Power Football Index), at North Carolina (73 percent), against Miami (38 percent), against Virginia (69 percent) and at Georgia (9 percent). Win only two of the five, and the Jackets will be at home for the third time in four seasons.
“It gets to the point where you’d better start maximizing on the (opportunities to win),” Johnson said. “You’re running out of games.”
A-back Clinton Lynch called it very important for the Jackets to get back to the postseason in his senior season.
“I’m not trying to be at home in December,” he said. “I need something. I want to go to something. That would be cool.”
To that end, the team is trying to put an end to its self-defeating habits – making incorrect calls at the line, fumbling, unforced penalties, being misaligned before the snap and other errors. In the 28-14 loss to Duke on Saturday, Tech lost the ball on fumbles on three consecutive plays in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils turned them into 21 points, taking the score from 7-7 to 28-7 in less than two minutes.
“That’s probably as poor as we’ve played on offense since I’ve been here,” said Johnson, now in his 11th season.
Lynch said that, at his position group, “we can all pay a little bit more attention to the snap counts and stuff like that and just don’t get any crazy penalties or things like that. Just got to play hard and do what we do.”
Linebacker Brant Mitchell said that the effort on the defense is good, but that mistakes such as getting caught watching the wrong player – i.e., the quarterback instead of a receiver – or not making a tackle have been costly.
“We’ve got a lot of energy still, and I don’t think anybody’s given up on the season,” he said. “But we’ve just got to try to eliminate some mistakes. We’re killing ourselves right now.”
Johnson said that, in spite of the team’s disappointing performance thus far, players’ attitudes have not been a problem.
“The first thing we’ve got to do is not beat ourselves,” he said. “And when you turn the damn ball over three times in a row, you’re not going to beat many people. That’s the big focus – we’ve been pretty good when we’ve played clean and we don’t turn the ball over and you don’t have the penalties. You’ve got to pay attention to detail, and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
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