Facing trip to Clemson, Ga. Tech reviews mistakes

ATLANTA - Coach Paul Johnson doesn't expect to answer many questions this week about Georgia Tech's perceived lack of respect in the polls.


Such was the theme heading into last week's supposedly easy game with Gardner-Webb, but the Yellow Jackets struggled so badly in a 10-7 victory, that Johnson sees too many weaknesses to entertain thoughts about the Top 25.

With a visit this weekend to Clemson, Johnson wants his players and assistants to focus on eliminating mistakes, particularly on offense.

"It wasn't very pretty," Johnson said. "Clearly, I did a very poor job of getting that football team ready to play because they did not show up. We were fortunate."

Clemson has dropped two straight following a 12-7 loss at Wake Forest last week. The Tigers (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will start Willy Korn at quarterback following another poor effort by Cullen Harper, a preseason pick for ACC player of the year.

When Tech (4-1, 2-1) returns to practice on Monday, Johnson will insist on renewed focus for an offense that rushed for just 79 yards, almost 210 below their season average, which ranked No. 5 in the nation.

The Jackets, who played without top two quarterbacks Josh Nesbitt (hamstring) and Jaybo Shaw (concussion), survived despite the struggles of third-stringer Calvin Booker, a senior making his first career start.

Johnson blamed himself, poor routes by receivers, a shoddy run game and poor protections more than Booker.

"There really wasn't an area where you could say, 'OK, these guys are playing pretty good. We'll work on this, but we can do this,'" Johnson said. "It was just kind of a scramble. We ran the option in the third quarter twice, and I told the guy (fourth-string QB Bryce Dykes) to hand the ball off, and he pulled it. He got tackled for a 2-yard loss. So I did a very poor job. Put that one on me."

At least Tech's defense stopped Gardner-Webb when the outcome was in doubt.

Left end Derrick Morgan tipped a potential game-tying, 43-yard field goal, making Ryan Gates' attempt sail wide left.

Morgan combined with right end Michael Johnson and defensive tackle Vance Walker for minus-38 yards on five sacks. The three-lineman tandem also had 29 total tackles, including an additional six for minus-13 yards.

Despite Gardner-Webb's persistence, Michael Johnson insisted that the Jackets never thought they could lose.

"No, that doesn't cross your mind," Michael Johnson said. "I don't think anyone in here had that mind-set today. You respect every opponent. They are athletes, too. They've been playing football since high school, middle school, for 10-11 years like we have. They are just like us. They keep fighting. We just had to stay with our game."

Paul Johnson has yet to announce if Nesbitt or Shaw will be ready for the Clemson game, but Tech had the former in uniform against Gardner-Webb, which could indicate that he would've played in an emergency.

Nesbitt and Shaw are both better suited to run the triple-option attack because both run faster and are more nimble than Booker, whose lack of speed made it easier for linebackers and safeties to close open space quicker and shut off running lanes for leading B-back Jonathan Dwyer.

"We came out prepared to play but we didn't do that," Booker said. "That's one me as the senior quarterback. I didn't do it. It's really embarrassing. We want respect but we didn't earn it today. That led to an embarrassing performance."

The Jackets received 25 votes in the AP poll that was released on Sunday.


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