ATLANTA — For Georgia Tech football fans, the first four weeks of the 2010 season have been an emotional roller coaster, with perhaps the low point being Saturday’s 42-28 loss to No. 23 N.C. State at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Watching the video of that game brought even more emotion to head coach Paul Johnson, and it’s something he’d like to see more from his Yellow Jackets when they take on Wake Forest on Saturday night in Winston-Salem.
More to the point, what he’d really like to see from the Jackets (2-2, 1-1 in the ACC) is more of a “sense of urgency,” a theme he came back to repeatedly during his weekly press conference Tuesday.
It’s also a theme he’s been trying to hammer home with his players throughout the season.
“After watching the tape of last Saturday’s game, I was probably more disappointed than I was even after the game, if that’s possible,” Johnson said. “I was really frustrated. This is really probably the second or third time this year we’ve played with little emotion in the mental aspect. The physical effort was OK. I mean, it wasn’t great, but it was OK. The mental aspect was just out there.
“We’ve got guys who have played for two and three years who are just doing things that there’s no explanation for. It’s concentration, paying attention to detail, all those things. We’ve got to do a better job. ... Now we move on. We’ll see if we can come back and play with some enthusiasm.”
That will be important even against a Wake Forest (2-2, 1-1) team that has also struggled the past three weeks, especially defensively.
The Demon Deacons have allowed 147 points over the last three games, two of which were losses, including last week’s 31-0 setback at Florida State.
Compounding that problem is the current uncertainty of the Wake quarterback situation.
Freshman Tanner Price started the last two games for the Deacons, but was knocked out of last Saturday’s game with a concussion.
That leaves Ted Stachitas at the top of the depth chart, but the redshirt sophomore has his own injuries — a bruised non-throwing hand and sore ribs — to deal with, which could force either freshman Brandon Cross or redshirt junior Skylar Jones into action.
But if the Jackets think those problems make the Deacons an easy mark for them to fix their own problems, Johnson says they need to think again.
It’s not as if Tech doesn’t have its own problems right now — from an offense that has had flashes of brilliance behind quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, but has lacked the consistency of the last two seasons, to a defense that gave up 527 total yards and 45 points against N.C. State despite a strong effort from Brad Jefferson (11 combined tackles and assists, 2 sacks) and Jerrard Tarrant (33-yard interception return for TD).
“Florida State, they actually played pretty good,” Johnson said of Wake Forest. “The (final) score was not indicative of how the game actually went. They were in that game until late in the third quarter. I know that they always play well at home, and I’m sure that we’re going to get their best shot.
“We can’t (just) punch the clock. We’d better play with some urgency and play like we’re upset at somebody. That’s the only way I know how to play. ... You have to be hungry. There’s nothing easy in this game. There are no easy games. ... We played with that kind of urgency (two weeks ago) in Chapel Hill. We didn’t play perfect and we had some missed assignments, but we played with some urgency. And that’s what we’ve got to do is play with urgency.”