Georgia Tech’s defensive problems: Is it players or coaching?

Georgia Tech's Ted Roof saw his defense take a beating again Saturday at North Carolina. (AJC file photo)

Georgia Tech’s Ted Roof saw his defense take a beating again Saturday at North Carolina. (AJC file photo)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It’s no revelation to declare that Georgia Tech’s defense is horrible. That was reaffirmed Saturday when North Carolina pounded the Jackets for 636 yards in offense in a 48-20 smothering at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill.

For my column on the game, click here.

North Carolina’s yardage total was the second highest of all-time for a Tech opponent. It’s behind only Notre Dame’s 667 yards in 1977. The Irish won 69-14 behind a quarterback named Joe Montana.

So congratulations, North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky: You’re that close to football immortality and the Hall of Fame.

But back to Tech’s miserable performance: Is it the players, the coaching or both?

Tech often gets hammered for perceptions it can’t recruit defensive players, particularly up front. But Ted Roof, as the defensive coordinator, should be overseeing a unit that has more success than one that allows yardage totals like 636, 559 (Duke) and 407 (Pittsburgh).

Asked if his team had a defensive philosophy, coach Paul Johnson said, “Yeah, I’m sure we’re trying to get a stop. We got them in some third-and-longs. First half alone it was third-and-9, third-and-7, third-and-7, third-and-9, third-and-12. We tried to blitz. We tried to play zone. They found ways to get first downs against all of it.”

Do the problems extend beyond talent?

“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I think you have to look at what you’re trying to do and make sure your guys can do what you’re asking them to do.”

Whatever they’re doing, it’s not working.

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FULL COLUMN: Georgia Tech’s defense is a trainwreck, and that’s on Johnson

Some recent ramblings

Reader Comments 0

96 comments
Dawgonnit
Dawgonnit

Two questions come to mind. Two years ago the defense was giving up yardage but turned the ball over. Where is that mindset now? If you can't stop them strip the ball from them. They then have to focus on ball control then you can stop them. Second, Johnson was talking about the Y-tackle elgible. That is the extra lineman who can double as a TE. That may have worked against the Tar Heels as we were churning yardage then you dump a short yard pass to a 6'5 290 lb. DL who is playing T on offense in certain situations. Also I would maybe go back to the 3-3-5 hybrid defense. Thinking Tech can recruit three good DL, Lb's ever year verse 4 and can focus on the Db's, Wr's, OL's.

jacket_fan
jacket_fan

The big issue that worries me most is the downward spiral this team has taken the past two years. It seems like CPJ peaked at Tech in 14 with that team and since has not been able to recover. The offense mostly still works well at least better than last year, but the D is horrible and seems to be getting worse. Is it CPJ or is it Roof who knows, but either way the fact that issues keep compounding this late in the season worries me that CPJ doesn't have a fix. Same excuses each press conference, poor execution, poor tackling, poor blocking and poor coaching. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@jacket_fan That's a sensible post. I read a comment (true of false, I don't know) that Roof is only allowed to recruit players PJ says he can recruit. PJ either needs to get out or hire an OC and let him run the offense. Malzahn at Auburn realized that he couldn't run the offense and he turned it over to his OC to call the offensive plays......Voila! Auburn has won 6 games since the change. I'm not a Tech fan, just an interested fan, but you hate to see players get mauled because of coaching. It's not Roof's fault.

YellowJacket7879
YellowJacket7879

We've had a couple make it to the league in the last decade (Adam Godsis being the last) so it's not like it's impossible to get the talent.  But a couple isn't enough.  The number was certainly greater prior to the Johnson era.


I'd say you can't omit the theory that if offensive players don't think they can get to the league in Johnson's offense, the talent base as a whole will find plenty of other SEC/ACC opportunities to be in winning programs. Winning programs have 3:30 (and later) kick-off times.


Ted Roof did ok at Auburn.  Granted Cam carried the load but their defense did their part against 'Bama.

GTroller
GTroller

@YellowJacket7879

Agree.  Talent certainly better before Johnson took over, particularly during O'Leary's tenure.

Johnson took us to the ACCCG and Orange Bowl.  But part of his success was with Gailey's talent, and I think the other part mostly luck (we won games with turnovers in 2014).

The really troubling thing about what is going on now is you have to go all the way back to Bill Lewis to find a lower point in Tech football.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTroller @YellowJacket7879 It would appear that PJ doesn't want anybody else to get credit for winning. He has to dictate everything that happens, then blame the defense. It's shameful that he keeps referring back to the year they won the ACC title. He's real big on yards gained and time of possession. Doesn't he know the score is what counts? Other teams in the ACC keep getting better....Tech does not. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

There's nothing wrong with Roof as a DC. I don't think there's enough talent there to coach up. Maybe he's getting the best out of what he has.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg You think being dead last in the country in 3rd down defense is the best we can do?

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @TideDawg That could be true.Somebody is always last. Tech could have a good defense and still be last. That big loss to North Carolina was a pretty even match early on. The problem was Tech's offense couldn't keep the ball long enough for the defense to rest. Tech is a little thin on talented defensive players and zero on depth. In the big games no depth means a worn out defense in the second half. If you think Tech has enough talented players and enough depth....blame Roof and show how little you know about the game.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@GTroller @GTBob @TideDawg Uh, sorry but Groh was a complete disaster from the moment he set foot on campus.  At least Roof has had a modicum of success.

Right now it looks like guys aren't sure of where to be and thus can't play aggressive.  if you are constantly "catching" on D you are getting killed.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Dawgphlem can't take the facts...GT has more NC, Conference ships, more recent, and more Football history than his pathetic, under achievers at the cesspool in Athens

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TOJacket  Oh I know Georgia Tech football so big time TO.  Everybody bow down.  Then when we wax that Techie arse for the umpteenth time since any of that freaking mattered its "waaaaaaah ... but our players have to take a survey of calculus.  I need my mommy.  UGA fans are so mean."  Thanks for confirming my point Captain Clueless.  Georgia Tech fans are the biggest effing joke in all of sports.   

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket 

"Pathetic underachievers" that beat you and yours down with relentless consistency. 

Doesn't say much for you and yours.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTroller 

Try talking facts, technology, past lies, dumb predictions, and serious football with him and he'll ignore you.

Claims to be a GT fan, but focuses primarily on exorcising his peni* envy demons by taking hypocritical potshots at UGA.

He's a pathetic embarrassment--even to GT followers.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@TOJacket History? Most bloggers post in regard to what's happening in the present not living on past achievements. You must be a very bitter person to speak that way about people you don't know. Judging you by what you write, I'd say you are very familiar with cesspools.

GTroller
GTroller

Really? I'm a GT fan but come on. You're talking about stuff that happened when Eisenhower was president. No Georgia fan is envious of Techs National Championships which were won before most of us were even alive. To pick at Georgia fans as aTech fan doesn't reflect a lot of insight and grasp of reality on your part.

Mulk
Mulk

@dawg fan I'm glad that UGAG got through that scary Saturday night match up in Kentucky. You know with all the weather factors and all. Not ALL UGAG fans are the biggest effing joke in all of sports.

Mulk
Mulk

@DawgNole @TOJacket It doesn't say much for Tech to get beat by UGAG as much as we do. It bothers me. I'm sure you feel the same way about Florida???

Dawgonnit
Dawgonnit

Maybe Womack was right the 3-2-5 defense was the best scheme at Tech...3 down lineman, 2 linebacker and 5 dbs/lbs types. At the same time Tech only threw the ball 10 times? The one drive I saw with Jordan moved the team until the fumble. I liked what I saw there, moving the chains, power football. That guy can throw too. Hope Thomas is o.k.

General Concern
General Concern

Personally, I'm hoping it is a curse, and that the school never experiences success again. I admit I might be something of a niche view. 

GTroller
GTroller

I still think Ted Roof is a good coach.  If I were him I'd pack my bags  wave goodbye to GT and leave for a program that is serious about football that would get me some 3 and 4 star recruits.

He won't do that of course out of respect for his alma mater.  He will stay committed to GT.

Mulk
Mulk

@GTroller Agreed. Recruiting has to get better especially on the defensive side of the ball.

swimfin2
swimfin2

After they lose to Vt, VA and Uga, 5-7 and another no bowl season. And gtdumbassbob will still be saying how great PJ is. The previous coach at least got gt to a bowl every year. This lousy coach has had 2 consecutive losing seasons coming. And he still wants him. That tells you he's either a family member or on pj's staff. Poor fellow doesn't want to move to some po dunk town again. LOL

GTBob
GTBob

@swimfin2 VT is probably a loss but UVA and UGA aren't very good. We should beat at least one of them. I agree that it would be disappointing if we don't.

GTroller
GTroller

@GTBob @swimfin2

UGA will move the ball at will on us running or throwing, but probably both.  Not close.  

Mulk
Mulk

@swimfin2 Coach Johnson is a good coach. I wish that he recruited better. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@D-Sheets

Yeah, D-S, but they almost beat one yesterday. Does almost count for anything?

Hmph.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Yea stupid... y'all " almost" lost to Nichols Statee. You're not very bright are you.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket 

"Nichols Statee"??? 

And you have the gall to question the intelligence of others?

The sheer stupidity and hypocrisy of your comments speaks for itself--loudly and clearly--every single day.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Paul Johnson is a Division 2 coach. He is probably a great Division 2 coach, but he's out of his league with his "Unstoppable Offense" in Power 5 football. I read this morning a quote from PJ, after saying they can't block anybody, cover anybody, etc. PJ said "I guess I'm ultimately responsible for all of it".......He GUESSES he's responsible? That sounds like a man that doesn't believe what he just said, but he is responsible. Coach up the players?? You can't coach up these kids after they've lost 4 games and PJ wants them to give their sweat and blood and fight for, what?.....maybe a trip to Shreveport? They will get up for the Georgia game....it's their season. They think they can win that game because they think Georgia is that bad......they're not, but not far from it. The difference is that Georgia will get better....Tech will not. Tech is trying to run an over powering offense without overpowering personnel. PJ is an ego driven coach that doesn't recognize his own failures.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg We must have the best program in college football if a coach that bad could make it to the ACC championship 3 times, have three 9+ win seasons, and win a major bowl game. We are one good coach away from becoming Alabama aren't we?

dawg fan
dawg fan

@GTBob LOL.  Excuse me but what was that you were saying about not trying to convince everyone you're a major program?  "Hey look at us everybody.  We've made it to the ACC Championship 3 times and have 3 9+ win seasons and have won a major bowl game.  But we don't care what you think about our football team because we're Tech fans and we're too cool and smart for that.  I was just throwing that out there."  Georgia Tech =JOKE. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @TideDawg Now, that's just a great attitude GT Bob. Living in the past. Why not bring up the Dodd glory days while you're at it? Or the National Championship year. OK, you're a PJ man....that explains your comments. PJ always brings that up. Like it is going to make everything better.

GTBob
GTBob

@dawg fan Tech fans are pretty realistic about who we are. We know we aren't Alabama and Ohio State and we know we never will be. We have our own limitations like a lot of other programs and we have to keep those in mind when evaluating and choosing coaches. Sorry if that bothers you.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @dawg fan But Tech won a National Championship a few years ago. How do you explain that? Good coach, good players, good support? You were still Georgia Tech back then,....weren't you?

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg Maybe we should hire a new coach after every loss huh? To avoid living in the past?

The truth is that CPJ has had success that few coaches since Dodd can come close to. Firing a guy who had us in the top 10 just two years ago and won us our first major bowl game in over 50 years just seems a little silly. If we fire him and become a 3-4 win program, we deserve it.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg If by a few you mean 26 then yes, we did. We followed that up with an 8-5 season. The kind that we are apparently too good for these days and we should fire any coach who cant do better.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTBob 

What if you don't fire him and still "become a 3-4 win program"?

Do you deserve that, too?

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgNole I would argue that there is a lot more evidence of CPJ keeping us at a competitive level with occasional great seasons than there is of a new unnamed coach turning us into something better.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @DawgNole There's more evidence of you being delusional. However "occasional great seasons" do bait the hook. Keep what you have, you deserve it.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@TideDawg @GTBob @dawg fan

Yeah, b/c college football in 1990 is virtually identical to what we're seeing in today's college football.  Especially from a TV coverage perspective. 

So many more programs are relevant now than were in 1990.   

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTBob

I wasn't arguing. I simply posed to you a hypothetical question, which you haven't answered.

swimfin2
swimfin2

@GTBob @TideDawg Gt is already a 3 win program idiot. Last year. You're def either a family member of PJ or on his payroll.  No one would support such utter failure as you do. 

GTBob
GTBob

@swimfin2 Last time I checked, we have already won 5 games this year.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgNole It didn't really need answering. There isn't much risk in us becoming a yearly 3 win program. We have some idea what we are going to have with CPJ. But yes, I guess if things really start going wrong it will be our fault for not firing him earlier. You could argue the same thing for pretty much any program.

GTBob
GTBob

@TideDawg So your opinion we should keep firing coaches until we have a consistent 11 win team?  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTBob

No, it didn't require an answer; no question on a blog does.

But you've answered it now--just as you could've done when I first asked it.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTBob @TideDawg My opinion is, if you represent the fan base, GT is going to be a non factor in the ACC for a long time. GT is destined to be a programmed loser. I'm acquainted with a number of GT Alum. Fortunately for GT they don't share your ideas of accepting mediocrity.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket 

To whom are you directing your comment?

Why post another of your silly insults when you don't have the guts to call out the person you're insulting?

Or is the problem that you're still too ignorant to figure out that complicated "Reply" function?

What a loser.

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg Coach Johnson has won at every level as a head coach. There is nothing wrong with the style of offense. There is nothing wrong with UGAG's style of offense. There is nothing wrong with Oregon's style of offense. Any style works better when people block better. There is something wrong with Tech's defense, however. A complete lack of athleticism. 


Tech has a better chance with this style offense because they can't recruit the mammoth offensive linemen that some of the football factories do. I think I've seen or read somewhere that this seems to be a complaint at UGAG? A bigger concern for a football factory with a coach that doesn't know anything but power football. Don't you think?

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg


I think that UGAG won a title way back when (a little farther back than even Tech's). Of course, that explanation was a very nice brand new Trans Am.