ATLANTA — Even after beginning the season with a last-minute victory in Ireland, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is not happy with his team.
Johnson delivered a harsh assessment of the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, warning there could be plenty of changes in the starting lineup for the home opener against FCS opponent Mercer.
He specifically mentioned A-back, punter and the offensive line as positions where new starters could win jobs in practice this week.
“It’s about who we want to be,” Johnson said. “If we want to be dead average, that’s the way we played last Saturday — at best. If we want to be good, we better get to work, play better and play harder. We’ve got to be more physical. We’ve got to have more accountability.”
The Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Boston College 17-14 in Dublin, but they hardly looked impressive doing it. The triple-option offense was held to 238 yards and the running game really struggled, managing only 2.7 yards per attempt — one of the worst showings of Johnson’s nine-year tenure.
While some linemen complained of communication problems on the offensive side, Johnson said that was just a weak excuse for the team’s poor play up front.
“Some of the stuff we did was just stupid,” the coach said. “I’m not giving them an out on that. I’ve heard enough about communication problems. I want to see somebody put their hand down and come off the damn ball.”
The A-backs accounted for only 3 yards rushing, though Que Searcy was the team’s top receiver with three catches for 60 yards. He will remain a starter this week, but the rest of the depth chart is up for grabs, according to Johnson.
J.J. Green, a transfer from Georgia who sat out last season, had a key block on Dedrick Mills’ winning touchdown run but managed just 5 yards on two carries. On several plays, he appeared unsure of where to line up. Clinton Lynch carried the ball only one time (for 2 yards), while Isiah Willis didn’t show up at all on the stat sheet.
“We’ve got one starter this week, and that’s Searcy,” Johnson said. “The rest of those guys, we’ll see. It could be any of those guys.”
Johnson was particularly perturbed about the punting situation.
Ryan Rodwell averaged just 37.4 yards on five punts, with a net average of 30.7, which prompted the coach to flatly declare “we have no punter right now.”
A fifth-year senior, Rodwell was one of the lowest-ranked punters in the country a year ago, averaging 39.3 yards, and his net average of 38.1 was worst in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He will be competing for the job with junior Grant Aasen, who has yet to play a college game.
“It’s wide open right now,” Johnson said. “We will be charting every kick this week. There’s a good chance somebody else be given an opportunity. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again with the same results. If we’re going to get the same results, we need to get them with somebody else.”
Overall, Johnson is simply looking for a team that plays with more toughness and doesn’t waver from its assignments.
“Just do your job,” he said. “Nobody’s ever perfect. But we’ve got a chance to be so much better if we just do what we’re supposed to do.”