ATLANTA -- The critics who were at the Georgia Tech gate a week ago have pulled back.
Theyve retreated -- at least a few steps -- after last weeks resounding 56-0 win against Syracuse. And now the critics are beating down the door at Virginia, which happens to be Georgia Techs opponent Saturday.
Well get their best shot, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. Im sure theyve got the wagons circled.
It has gotten ugly at Virginia. The Cavaliers have lost four straight games and dropped a 35-22 decision to Duke last week after running out to a 22-0 lead. As a result, Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage felt compelled to make a statement in support of head coach Mike London.
London, who is 18-25 in his fourth season, even spoke in his own defense.
I believe that Im the right man for the job, London said. I believe that the process thats going on here is one that, although painstakingly slow, is a process that will be successful.
And while Johnson might be sympathetic to the plight of his fellow coach, he understands that the seat in his office will likely warm up again in a hurry if Georgia Tech cant add to Virginias misery.
For whatever reason, Charlottesville has been a difficult venue for the Yellow Jackets; the all-time series is tied 17-17-1, with Virginia holding a 10-3-1 advantage at home. To complicate matters, this is homecoming week for the Cavaliers.
Two years ago, we were 6-0 and ranked and feeling pretty good about ourselves and went up there and got smacked in the mouth, Johnson said. Weve got to go up there and play a good football game, or we arent going to like the result.
A year ago, Georgia Tech ran away with a 56-20 victory. Georgia Tech scored on the first offensive play, held Virginia on downs and scored again on its third offensive play. Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in the romp.
But playing on the road is a different story -- especially when the opponent is backed into a corner.
We dont worry about some mystique, Johnson said. Were just worried about going up there and playing our game.
Georgia Techs game has rarely been better than it was last week. The Yellow Jackets ran the ball with authority and approached the 400-yard mark for the first time this season. Starting quarterback Vad Lee didnt even attempt a pass until the third quarter, and it went for an easy touchdown.
Georgia Tech didnt turn the ball over and didnt commit a penalty for the first time since 1968 against Navy.
Give the players credit, Johnson said. They were dialed in and focused.
The win last week pushed the Jackets above the .500 mark. A win this week would be helpful toward enabling the team to remain in the chase to stay bowl eligible and keep the programs 16-year bowl streak alive.
After the BYU game, we talked about getting ourselves in a hole and it was time to bow our backs, Johnson said. You talk about Virginia, its a huge difference between being 5-3 and 4-4. You just keep playing and playing, and all that (the bowl situation) will take care of itself. Itll work itself out one game at a time.