After one of the more thorough defeats of his tenure, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson would like to let the season play out a little bit more.
“You move on,” he said Monday. “It’s like every game. It’s like when you win – you make your error corrections, you watch the film, you become accountable. Just like I’m accountable for it, they’re accountable for it. The assistant coaches are accountable. Then you move on to next week. It’s not the end of the season.”
Tech fell 26-7 to No. 5 Clemson (No. 3 in the coaches poll) last Thursday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Tech’s offensive performance made a particular impression, as the Yellow Jackets averaged 2.4 yards per play, the lowest rate in Johnson’s tenure. Johnson used the phrase “people jumping off buildings” to capture what he has evidently sensed in the wake of the defeat.
“We’re 3-1, we just lost to the No. 3 team in the country who’s pretty good,” Johnson said. “We didn’t play particularly good, they played good, they beat us. It happens.”
Johnson noted that all six of Tech’s ACC Coastal Division games remain, starting with No. 14 Miami this Saturday.
“There’s so much football left to play,” he said. “We haven’t even started. I mean, we haven’t played a division game yet. North Carolina and Pitt – I think that’s been the only division game on our side. So nobody’s played a division game yet, so nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
Tech will have mistakes to clean up before facing the Hurricanes, particularly on the offensive side.
Video review of the defeat confirmed two diagnoses of the game for Johnson. Clemson is a very good team, and the Jackets played a mistake-filled game.
“There was a lot of errors,” Johnson said following the team’s first practice of the week. “They’re good, and we helped ’em a lot, and they didn’t need a lot of help. They’re pretty physical and pretty good. The combination wasn’t very good.”
Johnson said there were numerous missed assignments on offense, players trying to carry out the wrong assignment on a play.
“Clearly, they whipped blocks at times,” he said. “They’re pretty good. They’ve done that to a lot of folks, but we had too many (missed assignments).”
The Jackets sustained seven tackles for loss out of 52 plays, far too many for an offense that thrives on setting up 3rd-and-short situations. Often in 3rd-and-long, Tech was 2-for-12 on third down.
Defensively, Johnson said that the defense improved over the course of the game. Clemson averaged 6.2 yards per play in the first half but 3.7 in the second. The Tigers were 9-for-12 on third downs in the first half and 1-for-6 in the second. For the third game in a row, Tech’s opponent drove for a touchdown on its opening possession.
“We’ve got to find a way to start better,” Johnson said.
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