Fumbles aside, Georgia Tech has loud response for Pitt and Narduzzi

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall runs for a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Pitt at Bobby Dodd Stadium. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

Pat Narduzzi was right. Georgia Tech plays “dangerous” football. Just not the way he thinks.

Five touchdowns and 484 yards of offense: dangerous.

Five fumbles and four turnovers that could’ve easily turned into six if one fumble hadn’t been retrieved and an interception wasn’t nullified by a defensive penalty: dangerous.

Projecting anything about the future when it comes to Tech: still dangerous.

But put this one in the “good” category. The Yellow Jackets won their ACC opener 35-17 over Pittsburgh, at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and they also got the last laugh against the verbal-grenade-throwing Narduzzi, Pitt’s head coach. (More on that shortly.)

Coach Paul Johnson said his offense played “sloppy,” and when a team loses four fumbles, including one four yards from the opponent’s end zone, and commits four false-start penalties that’s hard to dispute.

The Jackets netted close to 500 yards of offense, but, “If we don’t turn the ball over we might have had 700 yards,” Johnson said. “Against a good team, we won’t be able to survive.” (These comments are usually reserved for FCS opponents, not other ACC teams. Probably not by accident.)

But we saw the Jackets’ upside in this one. They ran at will against the Panthers (436 yards).

Johnson: “There was no reason to throw. If we ran the ball three times we were going to get a first down most of the time.”

Tech also looked as stout on defense as it has in years, limiting Pitt to one of 13 third-down conversion attempts, holding the Panthers scoreless after all of the offense’s four lost fumbles — one missed field-goal attempt and three three-and-outs with a net of one yard combined – and holding them to three points after a game-opening, 78-yard touchdown drive. Pitt’s other touchdown came on a punt return.

This was important for Tech because wins against the lesser ACC teams (Pitt, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke) are needed, given uncertainty against Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech. If Saturday’s defensive performance wasn’t an aberration and the offense continues to produce with a new quarterback and B-back, the Jackets have a chance to surprise some folks.

At the very least, they’re 1-0 and they gave a loud response to Narduzzi on the field.

Earlier in the week, the Pitt coach said Tech plays “dangerous football,” charging the Jackets go “high-low” on blocks, where one blocker going high, one going low, which is an illegal move called a chop block. Those often are confused by some with cut blocks. Cut-blocking — below the waist — is legal as long as it doesn’t come from behind. Yes, Tech cut blocks. Legally.

“What do they say about excuses?” Johnson said when asked about Narduzzi’s comments after the game. “Come on. We’ve played 10 years (at Tech), and I can’t ever remember somebody getting hurt. That’s just trying to (influence) the officials to call something that ain’t there.”

He wasn’t done.

“You want to know what’s dangerous? Dangerous is teaching your defensive lineman to grab onto the offensive linemen when they’re trying to get to the second level and then they get cut off. That’s dangerous. If that was my kid, I’d be upset if somebody told him to do that.”

Asked later if he was accusing Pitt of that, he said, “It’s what teams do when they whine, and they’re trying to get around cut blocks.”

Did he say anything to Narduzzi after the game?

“I just said good luck.”

Pause.

“I’ll take the high road.”

That may or may not have been a reference to Narduzzi’s comeback to Penn State coach James Franklin, who two weeks ago said beating Pitt was “just like beating Akron.” Narduzzi’s response: “They went low, we went high.”

So much for going high.

Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall and B-back KirVonte Benton were more amused than bothered by Narduzzi’s comments. But then nothing seemed to bother them Saturday. Benson rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, Marshall rushed for 112 and two scores.

Neither ran from Tech’s strategy of cut blocking (which, again, is legal).

“That’s the way our offense is ran,” Benson said. “You’ve got to watch out for cut blocks. They can come from anywhere. It can come from a receiver, it can come from a lineman, it can come from a B-back. If you can’t prepare for this offense, you’re not going to be very good at it.”

It really didn’t matter Saturday. Pitt looked defenseless against Tech’s ground game. Benson, who became the team’s primary ballcarrier when Dedrick Mills was dismissed from the program just before the season, broke free for a 47-yard touchdown and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Marshall was a walking highlight film: a 32-yard score that saw him tight-rope the sideline in the first quarter, and an 18-yard run in which he spun around a defender and ran to the 1-yard line (before going into the end zone on the next play).

“I really didn’t anticipate spinning, but it just kind of happened,” he said. “He baited inside, and I just rolled off of him. I just was having fun playing football.”

The Jackets had fun Saturday. They looked dangerous. Both ways.

EARLIER: It’s Trump vs. NFL/Warriors/sports world! Can’t #StickToSports

EARLIER: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Falcons winners, James Franklin a loser

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30 comments
peyaxeb
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dawg fan
dawg fan

Once again Coach Punch 'Em in the Face is Mr. Tough Guy at the press conference but doesn't say any of it to Narduzzi's face. A chump coach for a chump football program. If Georgia's coach conducted himself like this clown we'd never hear the end of it from Schultz.

Can't wait to stomp a mud hole in these Techie punks.

Mulk
Mulk

@dawg fan I doubt that Narduzzi made his "dangerous" statements to Coach Johnson's face, either. How does UGAG ever lose to a chump program or a clown for a coach? I am sure that you made these same rants this time last season.


There is a guy on here that could search his archives if you two weren't such big buddies.

OldBlindDawg
OldBlindDawg

LOL the SWARM is BACK - never mind that Pitt is not very good. Keep fumbling TEK and you will reap the rewards.  

GTroller
GTroller

Pitt would probably beat any team you guys have played this year with the exception of ND which isn't very good either.

We won't put the ball on the ground 4 times when we play you this Nov and make it 3 W out of 4. We will run all over that big "tough" Georgia defense.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTroller: "We won't put the ball on the ground 4 times when we play you this Nov and make it 3 W out of 4."

_____________

Yeah, right. And you have loads of credibility on here after brain-dead slop like this:

_________

GTroller August 2, 2017

Appy St. 27 UGA 24

GTroller January 20, 2017

This will be an easy game--- for Green Bay:  GB 38 ATL 17.  

Mulk
Mulk

@DawgNole @GTroller Do you really think that your credibility is increasing with this constant muckraking? At least you didn't call him out for being on a UGAG blog. I guess that only applies to Tech fans. Aren't you the one that constantly calls other people hypocrites......

Mulk
Mulk

@OldBlindDawg You are correct. Pitt is not very good (Jax St. was better)  and Tech needs to take care of the ball.

_.Ashley..
_.Ashley..

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khd713
khd713

Hey, Tech fans, in case you haven't noticed your team is pretty effing good. Of all the quarterbacks I've seen under Johnson, from Nesbitt to Thomas, this kid Marshall might be the best of them all. He may not have Nesbitt's strength, or Thomas's arm, but he has more moves and more outright quickness than any of them. Best of all, he just seems to relish running this offense – I mean you can tell from watching him that he just loves it! That spin move yesterday was sick, and l loved his comment about how he was just having fun. That's what it's all about!

Mulk
Mulk

@khd713 Get back to me when he beats UGAG 2 out 3 like Thomas did.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Put aside the "illegal block", if there were that many it would be called more often. Tech's offense is a fumble prone offense......Tech's offense is also hard to defend. So, winning is the name of the game and it doesn't always have to be pretty.

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg Tech doesn't teach illegal blocking. That is why they don't get called for many. They also don't teach targeting which the NCAA rules makers have determined is a lot more dangerous. But, Coach Johnson is very sensitive about the blocking topic, for sure.


I have always heard that, but I'm not really sure if the offense is more prone to fumble than others. If they were occurring on the mesh or the pitches, I could see your point. But, they continue to fumble as they run down the field. Regardless, Tech has to hold onto the ball (for long periods) so they can keep their sorry a$$ed defense off the field. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Mulk @TideDawg  Of course Tech doesn't teach illegal blocking!! But it happens in the heat of battle. Blocking is the key to their game. They don't block, they don't move the ball. It's a triple option offense, yes, there's more opportunity to fumble. They handle it well against most teams on their schedule. I'd really like to see how Alabama would defend it. I think stopping it depends on the caliber of players on defense at every position. Not many of the teams they play have that combination. I'm not defending Tech, I'm defending the system. PJ doesn't put much emphasis on passing. In my opinion that's the only reason they are going to lose 3-4 games a year. I don't like PJ's brand of football but if it suits the fan base....so be it. One last word....if you run your QB a lot, more than likely he will have a short season.

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg @Mulk Nesbit is the only one I remember losing in 9 seasons? Broke his hand tackling during an interception (a pass) return.

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg in 2016, Tech fumbled .8 times per game. UGAG fumbled .8 times per game. UGAG had .7 interceptions per game while Tech had .3.


Tech had a good season in 2016. There may be a negative correlation when Tech has a poor season like 2015.

GT71
GT71

Dumb shite Schultz, who is  'KirVonte Benton'?  You can't tell the players without a program, Schultz.  And even with one, you don't know the guy's name.  Yeah, it was correctly spelled later, but first use was this 'Benton' guy and I'll bet he ain't as good as GT's Kirvonte Benson.

Does ANYONE proofread this crap? Lillie?  Mrs. Hummer?

Answer?  Probably not.

Alyssa....
Alyssa....

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SouthofAthens
SouthofAthens

Hopefully we can start taking care of the ball, because you're right, so far this year our offense has been dangerously turnover prone. Lots of yards are great but putting it in the end zone and not giving teams a short field are what win games.

No reason to believe duke can't be better than va tech or Miami. Cutcliffe didn't forget how to coach last year. Coastal will be interesting.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

@SouthofAthens How many points did PItt score on turnovers??  The defense  was  one of the best  GT has played in a while. Pitt went like 2 of 11 on third down tries...  Special teams need

work.

OH:IO
OH:IO

dogs going down



DawgNole
DawgNole

@YouLibs

Sooners struggled with Baylor.

Shows how pathetic ohio st is.