Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said he hasn’t lost confidence in the defensive coaching staff, even though the team has allowed 1,195 yards the past two games.
“I hire guys to coach defense, and I’m going to treat them the way I want to be treated myself,” Johnson said. “Let me do what I do, and at the end of it, you evaluate what happens, just like you do with anything. I’m not going to micromanage everything they do or second-guess every call. … I’ve got enough confidence in our guys on defense to let them try to coach.”
Johnson said the defensive coaches are putting the players in a position to be successful, but they’re not getting it done. This is different from a few years ago when the defensive players were openly frustrated under a different defensive coordinator because they didn’t understand their assignments.
“When a game like that happens and you play poorly, you have to be able to look at the tape and say, ‘I know why this happened,’ ” Johnson said. “Where you run into problems is when you come out of it, and guys don’t know why it happened. We’re not having those problems. We’ve just got to play better.”
The Yellow Jackets have been particularly ineffective on defense in third-down situations. North Carolina converted 8-of-13 on third downs, and Georgia Tech’s opponents have converted 51.9 percent of third downs this season (66-for-127).
“The bottom line is you’ve got to make some plays on third down,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to get pressure, knock a ball down … you’ve got to do something to make plays.”
That wacky field goal play: Johnson took the blame for an unusual field goal play that opened the third quarter.
Georgia Tech faced fourth-and-3 at the North Carolina 20, and Johnson felt his team really needed a touchdown but would settle for a field goal to keep the margin within one score.
The Yellow Jackets unsuccessfully tried to draw North Carolina offside and called timeout. Afterwards the team lined up as if to run a play, then rushed en masse off the field so the field goal unit could run on and try for a field goal. The confusion led to a delay of game penalty, but Harrison Butker was still able to make the 42-yard field goal.
“We didn’t practice that. It was on me,” Johnson said. “I tried to tell them (what to do) on the side, and you can’t do that. I know better than that. Fortunately, he made the field goal.”
Johnson was hoping the North Carolina defense would line up in a specific formation, which would trigger the play call. It didn’t happen and the field goal run was late getting on the field.
“And I neglected to tell the offensive linemen not to get in their stance, so they all went up and got in their stance,” Johnson said. “It really should have been a penalty when they got up. That’s on me.”
A-back situation: An injury to J.J. Green and the departure of Lynn Griffin has taken the depth out of the pool at A-back. It could lead to some extra snaps for Nathan Cottrell or Austin McClellan. Johnson said Monday that Taquon Marshall could be moved back there, if needed. Marshall played A-back last season but has spent this year as the No. 3 quarterback.