You might have to look long and hard to find a victory that disappointed Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson as much as Saturday’s 31-17 win over Virginia.
Johnson could say little nice about the win, which came on Senior Day on a chilly, windy afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Special teams? Adequate at best.
“I’m just disappointed in the way we played,” Johnson said. “I thought we turned a corner (after last week’s win at Virginia Tech). We’d been playing better offensively, and we got all of our guys back (Saturday).”
The offense managed 321 total yards, 199 of it on the ground, but struggled to put drives together. The defense allowed 409 yards.
“Defensively, while we did a decent job of not giving up points, they missed a couple field goals and we were better on third downs in the second half. But, just the time of possession …”
The Yellow Jackets (7-4, 4-4 ACC) trailed 10-7 at halftime before scoring on three straight possessions — a 54-yard pass from Justin Thomas to running back Clinton Lynch, a 60-yard run by Qua Searcy and a 41-yard field goal from Harrison Butker.
Three who mattered
Thomas: Georgia Tech’s quarterback only threw 10 passes and completed five for 122 yards and one touchdown. He lost another touchdown when Brad Stewart dropped a deep ball.
Marcus Marshall: The sophomore B-back carried 16 times for 127 yards and one touchdown, a 67-yarder.
P.J. Davis: The senior linebacker led Georgia Tech with 13 tackles, nine of them solo. It was the most tackles recorded by Davis this season.
Georgia Tech failed to convert a fourth-and-1 midway in the third quarter, giving Virginia the ball at the 25. The defense stiffened and forced Virginia to try a field goal, which it missed. Georgia Tech responded with the go-ahead touchdown.
Could Marshall keep the B-back job? Marshall might not willingly give up the starting B-back job. In the two weeks that he has replaced the suspended Dedrick Mills, Marshall has rushed for 270 yards.
The big-play Yellow Jackets: All three of Georgia Tech’s touchdowns were at least 50 yards in length. The Yellow Jackets have had 15 plays this season of 50-plus yards, and 11 have gone for a touchdown.
Yellow Jackets boost pick total: Georgia Tech came away with a season-high three interceptions — one each for Corey Griffin, Lamar County product Lance Austin and Brant Mitchell. It was the second interception for Griffin and Austin, the first for Mitchell.
Thomas rusty in the first half: Thomas, who missed last week’s game with a shoulder issue, looked a little out of sorts in the first half. Johnson said Thomas never got in a groove, partly because the Yellow Jackets were scoring on big plays and Thomas had limited opportunities.
The pressure is on: Georgia Tech was able to get pressure on Virginia quarterback Matt Johns. Pat Gamble, Kyle Cerge-Henderson and Francis Kallon all had sacks, and Antonio Simmons and Anree Saint-Amour also applied the heat.
Virginia played keep away: The Cavs dominated the time of possession, keeping the ball 38:37. That may help explain why Georgia Tech ran only 41 plays, the fewest in Johnson’s nine seasons and tied for second for the fewest in program history.
Stewart injures ankle: Wide receiver Brad Stewart left the game with an ankle injury when he was clobbered on a punt return. He walked gingerly off the field and had his ankle re-taped by the training staff.
Beating Bronco: Georgia Tech finally found a way to defeat Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall. He was 2-0 against the Yellow Jackets when he was at BYU before joining the Cavaliers this season.
They said it
Johnson on the performance: “I was disappointed in the way we played. Clearly, as coaches, we need to do a better job getting ready to play.”
Johnson on the defensive effort after the failure to convert on fourth down in the third quarter: “Maybe it woke everybody up, but the defense did a great job on that series. They’ve struggled all year with their field goal kicker.”
Mendenhall on slowing the option: “One of my passions is defending the option, and the kids did a really nice job. They did a nice job giving us a chance to have the ball longer, get out of third downs and give our offense opportunities to score enough points to win.”
Georgia Tech travels to Georgia on Saturday. Virginia finishes its season at Virginia Tech on Saturday.