ATLANTA-- Throughout the week, Johnson has been pleading with his players to turn up the intensity and to play with a more refined sense of urgency.
He has been desperate to see a more fiery, more passionate display from his 2-2, 1-1 (ACC) team. So anxious has he been to see such a performance, that during his weekly news conference Tuesday, he even said it felt like it was “time to panic.”
Following Wednesday’s practice, he was no closer to seeing if his team felt that those same emotions. They appeared to, he said, but isn’t sure that means anything this far away from gameday.
“Practice (Wednesday), the tempo was pretty good, but you’ve got to see it in a game. Practice wasn’t bad last week,” Johnson said.
He added that he’s ready for kickoff because of how sour losing leaves him.
“You always want to play because you feel like crap,” Johnson said. “I don’t know, I was embarrassed Saturday. I hope some of them were. I’m not used to that.”
Punt teams problematic
To say things have gone well in the punting portions of special teams this season could be considered a gross overstatement.
The Yellow Jackets have returned just seven punts, with blocking issues hemming returner Jerrard Tarrant. In their actual punting game, a lack of blocking and fast-paced play has hampered the way punts have been executed by punters Chandler Anderson and Sean Poole.
No moment drove the punting point home more than Anderson’s late-first-quarter boot against the Wolfpack, when he slowly caught an awkward snap and slammed the ball into the jailbreak rushing North Carolina State punt blocking team. With the ball blocked, Wolfpack special teamer Jarvis Williams picked it up and fell in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown return.
Still, Anderson’s miscue doesn’t mean that will be the last time he takes the field this year.
“I don’t think that precludes him from ever punting again,” Johnson said. “Everyone makes a mistake that you have to learn from.”
For Tarrant, the mistakes have been few and the opportunities at returns even fewer. Only seven times has he had an opportunity to run back a kick, and every time he has been stopped quickly because of poor blocking techniques from his coverage team.
“Once you have success early and later on down the road when you’re not having as much success, you do get frustrated,” Tarrant said. “But, patience is a virtue, so good things will come back soon.”
Last season, he returned two punts for touchdowns through two games.
Wake QB drama unfolding?
On the ACC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday, Wake Forest (2-2, 1-1) head coach Jim Grobe said he still was unsure who would be his starting quarterback against the Yellow Jackets.
Freshman starter Tanner Price was knocked out of last week’s game against Florida State and left with a concussion, allowing backup Ted Stachitas time to relieve him. Price remains day-to-day, Grobe said.
Stachitas’ time in the game Saturday didn’t really improve things. The Demon Deacons lost 31-0.
Both quarterbacks have played often this season, and Grobe said he’s ready to find one he can settle on.
“The disappointing thing is that both Tanner and Ted have been injured and haven’t been able to show us consistency,” Grobe said. “We’re looking for consistency, but we’re looking for someone to also give us durability.”
Each of this week’s ACC games feature cross-divisional matchups. The Yellow Jackets (of the Coastal Division) are playing their second Atlantic Division foe. Last week’s loss to North Carolina State was their first to an Atlantic team in Johnson’s three-year career.