Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson talks to quarterback Vad Lee (2) during the first half of a football game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium. BYU won 38-20. (Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports)
After starting the season 3-0 the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have slipped the last few weeks. They have lost three straight games including a 38-20 defeat to BYU last saturday. The combined record of all three of those teams is 15-3. While the Yellow Jackets have been in contention for the majority of all three games, mistakes and lack of execution in key moments have kept the Jackets out of the win column.
“We’ve played three really good teams,” Johnson said. “You can’t make mistakes and expect to win against those teams. The good news is we’ve been in all of those games without playing our best game.”
Self-imposed mistakes have been the Achilles heel of this team all season. The most obvious of which has been false start penalties, including five against BYU, something which has perplexed Johnson.
“In 35 years I have never had a problem with false starts like this,” Johnson said. “Against Virginia Tech I could at least attempt to explain it because we were changing the snap count a lot and trying to confuse the defense. But I have no explanation for why it was happening the other night.”
In addition to the offensive line woes the offense was also hindered by multiple drops from his receivers, including one which would have likely resulted in a touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee has drawn the ire of some fans, but Johnson continues to stand behind him and ensures that he is improving every day. Over the last two games Johnson has been particularly pleased with his play in the option attack and says that Lee has to have some more help.
“He is not the reason we have lost these games,” Johnson said. “Is he blameless? No. I’m not blameless either. But he is getting better and he is going to be a really good player.”
On the defensive side of the ball the Jackets have been plagued the last couple of games by big plays, giving up a 45 yard touchdown to BYU and touchdowns of 40 and 69 to Miami. Johnson insists, however, that those were not matchup issues where the opponent was exploiting a weakness, but rather just a lack of execution which led to the worst possible result.
One of the bright spots in the loss to BYU was the play of defensive tackle Adam Gostis, who tied a school record with four tackles for a loss. Johnson hopes that the play of the defensive line will improve with the return of Grayson grad Shawn Green, who has been battling injuries. Central Gwinnett grad Francis Kallon was also a player that Johnson singled out for coming along on the defensive front and said he might play more moving forward.
Despite the current losing streak, Johnson emphasized that the morale of the team remains high, saying that the fact that the loses have come largely as a result of self-inflicted mistakes give them hope that those issues can be corrected.
“Their attitude is good,” Johnson said. “They are disappointed. But they can see why. You get frustrated as a coach if look at the film and see your team just getting run over. Well that’s not the case.”
Georgia Tech will look to turn things around this weekend when they host Syracuse for the first time as a conference foe.