ATLANTA (AP) — Charles Kelly sounded pleased when he said he has seen "fire and vinegar" from his players in his first week as Georgia Tech's interim defensive coordinator.
Fire and vinegar?
"Just a good bit of excitement from the players as far as, whatever you do, do it wide open," Kelly explained. "It's taking on blocks. We've talked about this before, being confrontational. You want to see that."
Coach Paul Johnson was looking for more of that confrontational spirit from his defense when he fired Al Groh as defensive coordinator on Monday. Johnson assigned Kelly, the secondary coach, control of the defense for the remainder of the season.
The midseason move was unusual, but Johnson believed dramatic action was necessary.
Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) has given up more than 40 points in three straight losses for the first time in school history. Last week's 47-31 loss to Clemson followed an embarrassing 49-28 home loss to Middle Tennessee.
Kelly has had an open week to focus on fundamentals before the Yellow Jackets visit Boston College next week.
It is unclear what changes will be possible, but clearly Johnson isn't looking for the status quo on the field with just a different coordinator on the sideline.
"We sat down as a group and we made some changes," Johnson said. "Everybody had some input. (Kelly) is a good coach and he'll get it organized. Everybody is on the same page about what we're doing."
Kelly, in his seventh year on the staff, has moved from special teams coach to cornerbacks coach to secondary coach.
Kelly's defensive backs applauded his chance to lead the full defense.
"I'm real excited for him," said defensive back Jemea Thomas. "Being under him since I came in Day 1, he knows what he's doing. He's looking at bringing the best out of us. I'm very excited to see what he can do."
Kelly's lead role in recruiting means he has close ties with more than just the defensive backs.