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2 struggling ACC teams look for much-needed wins

Associated Press Modified: October 19, 2012 at 11:02 am •  Published: October 19, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — Well, someone's got to win.

Georgia Tech has lost three straight games, a skid that prompted coach Paul Johnson to fire his defensive coordinator in the middle of the season. Boston College is mired in a four-game skid, a stretch that has really turned up the heat on already embattled coach Frank Spaziani.

Two struggling teams will be looking to turn things around when they meet Saturday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Plenty of good seats are still available.

The Yellow Jackets (2-4, 1-3 ACC) dumped defensive coordinator Al Groh last week after giving up more than 40 points for the third game in a row. The Eagles (1-5, 0-3) have yet to beat a top-level opponent and are coming off their worst loss of the season, a 51-7 blowout at Florida State.

"We're getting crushed right now," said Boston College offensive tackle Emmett Cleary, referring to all the negative publicity about his team. "We've just got to win."

The Yellow Jackets know how that feels. This was a team that expected to contend for an ACC title. Now, all they're looking for is enough wins to make sure they're bowl eligible.

An off week came along at just the right time for Georgia Tech, giving everyone a chance to regroup just a bit.

"It's very hard when you're 2-4," said right tackle Will Jackson. "You hear it everywhere you go. You're not happy about it. It's disappointing. But we've kind of been able to flush it. We're at the halfway point. We're looking at these next six games as a new season, what really matters for the success of our season as a whole."

Georgia Tech is putting up impressive numbers on offense, averaging 331 yards rushing and nearly 38 points per game. It's when the other team has the ball that the Yellow Jackets get into trouble.

That's why Groh no longer has a job.

After a 47-31 loss at Clemson, which marked the first time in school history that Georgia Tech had surrendered more than 40 points in a three-game stretch, Johnson fired his defensive coordinator, promoted Charles Kelly to the post on an interim basis and shook up the rest of his defensive staff, giving everyone else different responsibilities.

Now, it's time to see how the players respond to all the changes.

"I'm sure this has bothered a lot of them," Kelly said. "But I've always had a saying: coaches coach and players play. That's the way this business works. They better get used to it."

While Kelly is technically in charge of the defense, the offensive-minded Johnson has made it clear how he wants to do things on the opposite side of the line. He felt Groh's defense was too complicated, so he's ordered a more basic approach with little signaling once the call goes in and far fewer variations for the players to remember.

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