Georgia Tech looking for answers on defense

Associated Press Modified: October 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm •  Published: October 2, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — There is still pain and shock from a loss Paul Johnson describes as the worst of his five years at Georgia Tech.

There also is a big question for this week: How can Georgia Tech's defense hope to stop No. 15 Clemson's high-powered offense on Saturday after the Yellow Jackets were overwhelmed in last week's 49-28 loss to Middle Tennessee State?

There was a similar shortage of defensive stops in a 42-36 overtime loss to Miami two weeks ago.

Johnson said Tuesday he told his players he believes Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2 ACC) is better than it showed in the back-to-back home losses.

"It's like I told them yesterday, I know that we're a better football team than we've played, and I'm not going to give up on them," Johnson said. "I don't want think they're going to give up on themselves. We'll keep grinding and keep going. In my mind, nothing is over. You keep playing."

The losses have left the spotlight on third-year defensive coordinator Al Groh, the former Virginia coach.

Johnson says he's paying more attention to defense while giving Groh room to find a way to end a trend of missed tackles and big plays allowed.

Asked if he has seen Groh make necessary adjustments, Johnson's response made it clear more fixes are needed.

"Well at times, but I'm not going to sit here and try to defend how we've played the last couple of weeks," Johnson said. "It'd be stupid because we've played terrible.

"I don't think the man (Groh) forgot everything he knew in the last two weeks, but ultimately we're responsible. You've got to get it on the field. It doesn't matter what you know, it's what happens and so we've got to do a better job of getting it on the field."

Johnson said he tries to determine if players are being asked to do too much.

"The last couple games we haven't done it very well, but I don't think we have asked them to do anything out of the ordinary," he said. "There have been some communication issues. Having said that, the bottom line is we have to tackle better, quit giving up the big plays, take better angles and every time the ball breaks the line of scrimmage it doesn't have to be a touchdown. There are a lot of things we can get better on. There are things we can get better on everywhere."

Clemson (4-1, 1-1 ACC) is averaging 40.2 points and more than 500 yards per game.

The Tigers boast balance with the ACC's leading rusher, Andre Ellington, and quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has passed for 12 touchdowns and completed almost 70 percent of his attempts.

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