August 4, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson watches over the first the first day of Georgia Tech football practice at Rose Bowl Field in Georgia Tech campus on Friday, August 4, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/Hyosub Shin/AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/Hyosub Shin/AJC

Paul Johnson: ‘No idea’ if he anticipates Ted Roof’s return

Asked to address the future of defensive coordinator Ted Roof, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson gave statements that were less than enthusiastic endorsements.

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference to address the Yellow Jackets’ signings on the first day of the early signing period, Johnson was asked if he anticipated Roof returning next season for his sixth season in his second stint in charge of the Tech defense.

“Do I anticipate it?” Johnson asked. “I have no idea. You’d have to ask Coach Roof that.”

It was noted that Johnson also had influence over the decision.

“I don’t have an announcement for you today,” Johnson said. “Is that what you’re asking?”

It was the second time that Johnson passed on making a firm statement on Roof’s status with the team. After the season-ending loss to Georgia in November, he was asked about his confidence in Roof’s ability to lead the defense.

“I think Ted Roof’s coached a long time,” Johnson said. “He’s a good football coach. He’s coached at places that have won a lot of games. Just like everything else, we’ll look at it all and evaluate it. We didn’t exactly set the woods on fire on offense in the second half, and I’m pretty confident in myself.”

This season, Tech’s defense improved in certain areas, particularly in its third-down efficiency, as the Jackets finished their season 11th in defensive third-down conversion rate (30.9 percent) after ranking 126th last season (49.2 percent). Tech was 43rd in 2015 (36.1 percent).

But Johnson was repeatedly frustrated by Tech’s repeated failings to stop opponents on the final possessions of the first and second halves, notably in the 25-24 loss to Miami. In the game, Tech allowed Miami to drive for a touchdown to end the first half and the game-winning goal in the final minutes of the game. The Jackets gave up 15 points on the Hurricanes’ 10 other drives.

Johnson also often mentioned Tech’s inability to create negative-yardage plays. Tech was 119th in tackles for loss per game this season (4.27), 120th last year (4.39) and 128th in 2015 (3.92).

A move to dismiss Roof might not happen until the new year. Asked if he anticipated any staff changes in general, Johnson said, “We’ll just have to see in January.”

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