ATLANTA (AP) – Coach Paul Johnson has a long list of issues Georgia Tech must correct before this week’s game against FCS opponent Alabama A&M.
In a 55-31 loss at No. 8 Clemson last week, the Yellow Jackets’ offense blocking poorly on the perimeter, ran incorrect routes and often failed to cut off pursuit.
Defensively, the Jackets struggled against deep passes, created just one takeaway and allowed 556 total yards.
The kicking game was a disaster. Johnson said Georgia Tech lost 265 yards in field position from where it started possessions compared to where Clemson began its possessions.
Harrison Butker sent the opening kickoff sailing out of bounds. DeAndre Smelter made the mistake of picking up a bouncing ball on the ensuing kickoff, and Georgia Tech took possession at the 2-yard line.
It went downhill from there as long snapper Sean Tobin left the game with an injury and will likely miss the rest of the season.
Johnson was most irked, though, that the Jackets’ miscues were self-inflicted.
“Nobody makes you not line up (correctly) when you punt the ball and have to punt it again and it ends up being a 26-yard penalty,” he said Tuesday. “Just things like that – the concentration level and working to make sure we are dialed in on those types of issues.”
Johnson is insisting that Georgia Tech (6-4) work on fundamentals to get ready for Alabama A&M (4-7). He wants players in a good mindset when preparations begin next week for Georgia.
Even before the score was lopsided at Clemson, quarterback Vad Lee had almost no chance of being a ground threat in the triple-option attack, and he finished with 22 yards rushing on 12 carries. Blocks were getting blown up as soon as the ball was snapped.
The running game was held to 63 yards under its average, which ranked fifth in the nation. Robert Godhigh was a bright spot with two touchdowns and 229 combined yards rushing and receiving.
Against Alabama A&M, offensive tackle Ray Beno should be healthy enough to start for the first time since the Oct. 5 loss at Miami. Beno took 12 snaps last week. Having him back should help the line overcome an injury to offensive tackle Chase Roberts, who left the Clemson game with an apparent head injury.
The Jackets aren’t sure if linebacker Brandon Watts will be able to play against Alabama A&M because of an injury, but the team is likely more concerned with getting the fifth-year senior back next week for the Georgia game.
Watts, the team’s second-leading tackler, likely needs to be healthy if Georgia Tech is to have a good chance against Georgia’s offense.
One of Johnson’s biggest concerns defensively this season is the lack of takeaways. Georgia Tech ranks tied for 83rd nationally with just 15. He said that coordinator Ted Roof and the defensive staff have players work on technique and takeaway awareness each day in practice, but the results are lacking.
“If you look at the last four games, we’ve probably gotten one a game and a couple of them have been at the end of the game on the last possession,” Johnson said. “That’s an area that we talk about a lot, but we just haven’t gotten any turnovers, and that’s key.”