ATLANTA — In the minutes after Georgia Tech’s blowout victory over South Carolina State on Saturday, a seemingly even-tempered, level-headed Paul Johnson walked into the Edge Athletic Center conference room and sat at the head of its large boardroom-style table.
Giving his post-game thoughts to the media crammed into the space, the head coach knew there was plenty of celebratory comments he could offer about his Yellow Jackets’ big win. But he also believed there was enough about the way his team got to that win that upset him.
Choosing his words carefully, he acknowledged the significance of starting the season 1-0, but he also was ready to let the world know his team had a long way to go to achieve the perfection he desires for it.
“Hopefully you make the most improvement from Game 1 to Game 2, and that’s what we need to do right now,” Johnson said.
Game 2 is here.
With Saturday’s noon kickoff at Kansas looming, Johnson is anxious to see his team erase its slate and start the year anew. While this week’s practices will be dedicated to preparing for the Jayhawks’ (0-1) multiple-look offense, time will also be devoted to cleaning up the minor mishaps that made Georgia Tech’s 41-10 win feel more like a 14-10 one.
“We missed a lot of tackles,” Johnson said Sunday evening on his weekly teleconference. “Offensively, don’t think we played as fast as we can play. Certainly, we didn’t execute when we decided to throw the ball. We didn’t throw it much.
“It’s just a zillion things.”
The Yellow Jackets were 2-for-8 as a team passing. They amassed just 12 yards in the air.
“I’m probably not as worried about that as everybody else,” said Johnson, owner of a run-based spread option scheme.
Among the zillions of things the Yellow Jackets themselves want to work on this week, effort ranks high on the list.
“We were lackadaisical (Saturday). We can do better than that,” B-back Anthony Allen said. “We were walking to the line of scrimmage. We can do better than that. You expect people to go 100 percent, but I think some of us were looking past this first game a little bit.”
After going up two quick scores in the first half, Allen said there was a bit of a letdown.
“(Players) started to, you know, start backing down a little bit saving themselves,” Allen said.
If it could happen against South Carolina State — a program that had won its conference two years in a row — it could easily happen against Kansas. From a purely mental standpoint, there could be plenty to overlook about the Jayhawks.
On Saturday night, in their opener, the Jayhawks were upset by Division II North Dakota State in a defensive battle, 6-3.
If his players get caught looking at the scoreboard from last week, they’re way off, Johnson contends. Considering Kansas’ defense allowed just two field goals and less than 200 yards, the unit has to be “pretty good,” Johnson said.
In terms of their own defense, for Georgia Tech’s assistant coaches, missed tackles and missed assignments were an area of concern against South Carolina State.
There are tangible ways that can be addressed in this week’s workouts.
“We got to keep our heads up. A lot of the tackles we missed were because we put our heads down,” junior linebacker Kyle Jackson said. “That’s a mistake I’ll correct myself, and I know my teammates will come out and work on theirs, as well.
“Missed tackles are a matter of a lack of discipline, a matter of getting a solid base, getting space between you and the runner and getting your head up. So those are all things we’ve got to work on. It’s not necessarily that we’ve got a problem with that aspect of the game, but it’s something that we’ve got to be more acute with our discipline on.”