Georgia Tech

Johnson wants fans to stay on Georgia Tech bandwagon

Georgia Tech running back Qua Searcy (1) and the Yellow Jackets host Georgia Southern on Saturday.
Georgia Tech running back Qua Searcy (1) and the Yellow Jackets host Georgia Southern on Saturday. AP

His team’s preseason goal of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division now seems improbable, but Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson discourages fans from jumping off the bandwagon right now.

“We won’t achieve the goals we set out to start with, but as crazy as our division is, who know?” Johnson said. “You keep playing and see what happens.”

Georgia Tech (3-3, 1-3 ACC) still has four conference games remaining — home against Duke and Virginia and on the road against North Carolina and Virginia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets were able to run the table, they would still have a chance to reach the ACC championship game — depending on how everything else shakes out.

It’s weird things have worked out for the Yellow Jackets in the past.

In 2012, the Yellow Jackets tied with Miami and North Carolina for first place at 5-3 but wound up representing the division in the title game because the other two teams were dealing with sanctions. In 2008, the Yellow Jackets tied for first with Virginia Tech at 5-3, but the Hokies won the head-to-head meeting and wound up in the conference championship game.

“I don’t know if anybody is any better than anybody else,” Johnson said. “Seems to be a lot of teams beating each other, I think.”

Georgia Tech steps away from ACC competition for a couple of weeks. The Yellow Jackets host Georgia Southern from the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium and don’t play Oct. 22. That offers a chance to push the restart button and reset the goals.

“Our goal is to win our fourth game this week,” Johnson said. “Try to get back on a winning streak, as opposed to the other way. There are still six games left. You’ve still got a chance to win nine games. If we did that, it would be only the ninth time that’s happened in 49 years.”

Revisiting the fourth-down call: Johnson again took responsibility for the failed fourth-and-1 call against Pittsburgh that set up the Panthers for the winning drive. Johnson opted to run the ball with B-back Dedrick Mills, who was stopped for no gain. Pittsburgh took the ball with 1:47 left and drove for the winning field goal.

“As much as it is physical execution, sometimes it’s not being smart,” Johnson said. “We weren’t very smart on that last play. We could have made it 100 times easier if we’d line up where we were supposed to, stepped where we were supposed to. There were 50 other plays in the game. It didn’t have to come down to that play.”

Johnson said the play wasn’t supposed to run directly at 300-pound Pitt tackle Tyrique Jarrett and said other things happened on the play that didn’t help, either.

“In that situation, if you don’t win the game, as a coach, you’re an idiot,” Johnson said.

He also explained that if the team punts and the other team scores the winning points or if the team decides to run the ball wide and fails, “You’re an idiot. That’s why you get paid.”

Johnson said he wants the players to take the loss personally.

“We should all take it personally,” he said. “I do. Hopefully the offensive line coaches do, the offensive line, the running backs … everybody should take it personally. That’s the only way to play the game.”

Bad luck besets Tech: Seven of the 12 losses suffered by Georgia Tech during the past two seasons have been by eight or fewer points.

“We’re due (for some good luck),” Johnson said. “We haven’t had very much luck. We haven’t had very much of it in a while.”