0

Jackets’ option stalls in loss to Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech’s running game has to get on track against Miami if they hope to contend for the ACC Coastal Division championship. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 129 yards in their triple-option rushing attack against Virginia Tech. Miami has not allowed more than 139 rushing yards this season. (USA TODAY Sports: Daniel Shirey)

Georgia Tech’s running game has to get on track against Miami if they hope to contend for the ACC Coastal Division championship. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 129 yards in their triple-option rushing attack against Virginia Tech. Miami has not allowed more than 139 rushing yards this season. (USA TODAY Sports: Daniel Shirey)

The Georgia Tech offense had been scoring points by the bushel, but coach Paul Johnson cautioned that the team’s vaunted offense was still not clicking and that there were still big improvements that needed to be made.

It all sounded like coach-speak — until last Thursday. That’s when Virginia Tech pulled the mask off Superman’s cape in a 17-10 win and exposed those weaknesses that Johnson has been sounding off about.

Turns out the coach-speak was coach-truth.

“We haven’t been good on offense,” Johnson said during his Monday-night live show. “It’s hard to convince them when you’re scoring a lot of points and winning games. I think we’ve got their attention now.”

How they address those issues will say a lot about how this week’s game against Miami will turn out.

The ability to run the offense has been partially masked by the play of quarterback Vad Lee’s athletic ability. But Virginia Tech had some good athletes and negated that advantage. Miami’s athletes are just as good, if not better.

“We’ve got to go out there and play fast,” Johnson said.

Playing faster and sharper would enable Tech to get to the corner, something it never really did against the Hokies.

Playing smarter will be an issue, too. Tech can’t afford to make the same mistakes it made against Virginia Tech. Johnson said his team failed to pick up the blitz on six of seven instances, even though the blitz was the same. He was even more aggravated about the false-start penalties.

“I don’t know what’s so hard about going on ‘two?’ You go on ‘two,’” Johnson said.

Tech had nine penalties for 66 yards. Most were encroachment calls.

“And one of those was on a player who just came in from the sideline,” Johnson said. “I told him that somebody was going to have to surgically remove my foot if somebody jumped.”

Now that the Virginia Tech game is in the rearview, Johnson said his guys can’t wait to get back on the field. Even if the field is in Miami Gardens, Fla., and the opponent is No. 14-ranked Miami.

“When you play poorly, the players want to play again faster,” Johnson said. “It just so happens we’re playing a team that’s undefeated and ranked, so we might play better and you might not be able to tell it. Our guys are excited to embrace the challenge because they believe they’re better than they played on Thursday night.”