ATLANTA -- It’s likely going to take more than one good half of football for Georgia Tech to be competitive in the ACC, starting this week when the Yellow Jackets travel to Virginia Tech.
In each of the three games to date, the Yellow Jackets have played either a good first half (Georgia Southern) or a good second half (Wofford and Tulane), with a less-than-satisfactory grade for the other half.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’re still 3-0,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “I think there’s 23 teams in the country that are 3-0, so we’re fortunate to be one of those. We’re going to continue to work, continue to get better and excited to open up conference play.”
Johnson didn’t completely blame the uneven performance in each half on a lack of focus. He had a reason in each game.
Game one vs. Wofford: Mediocre first half, good second half. Georgia Tech needed a late field goal to take a 10-9 halftime lead and scored four touchdowns in the second half to win 38-19.
“That first game I’m going to throw in the wash,” Johnson said. “That’s the first game for a lot of new guys, and sometimes that happens. And they’re a hard team to play.”
Game two vs. Tulane: Poor first half, good second half. Georgia Tech scored late to take a 24-21 halftime lead but blanked the Green Wave in the second half and won 38-21.
“I don’t know so much as if it was a lack of focus as much as it was the way things started with momentum,” Johnson said. “You turn the ball over on the first play. Their first possession they get a touchdown on a deflection that you thought you were going to get an interception.”
Johnson said the Yellow Jackets didn’t play that poorly overall on offense in the first half and played better on defense in the second half.
Game three vs. Georgia Southern: Excellent first half, poor second half. Georgia Tech scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and led 35-10 at halftime but needed a last-minute score to emerge with a 42-38 win.
“The last game you talk about at halftime, and you talk about before the game, but you can’t relax,” Johnson said. “The guys relaxed. The thing that was disappointing to me was the mistakes we made in the second half -- the unforced stuff. ... Sometimes with a young team that’s going to happen.”
The older players understand that the degree of difficulty increases once the conference schedule begins. And it probably didn’t help Georgia Tech’s cause when Virginia Tech suffered an embarrassing loss to East Carolina last week.
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting everybody up for the second half,” senior A-back Deon Hill said. “We need to get the intensity level up. If we do that, then I think we can be a lot better than we have the last two weeks.”
The Yellow Jackets might have to make the trip without A-back Charles Perkins in the lineup. The senior suffered a leg injury against Georgia Southern and is listed as day-to-day. He had a career-long 69-yard run on the first play of the game.