Georgia Tech focusing on defense in preseason

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ATLANTA — Scoring has rarely been a problem since Paul Johnson became Georgia Tech’s coach four years ago. Keeping the opponents from scoring has often been another story for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson

After Georgia Tech’s first preseason scrimmage Saturday, defensive coordinator Al Groh said he believes the Yellow Jackets will be better on that side of the ball.

Georgia Tech allowed 26.1 points per game last season to rank No. 60 nationally during an 8-5 season.

Senior nose tackle T.J. Barnes (6-feet-7, 340 pounds), along with ends Izaan Cross (6-4, 300) and Emannuel Dieke anchor Groh’s 3-4 defense and give the Yellow Jackets more size than they have had in Groh’s first two seasons.

In 52 games since Johnson was hired, the Jackets have scored 21 or more points 40 times. Yet in that same span, Tech has allowed 21 or more points on 35 occasions. In their final four games last season, the Jackets surrendered 37, 31, 31 and 30 points. Their only win was 38-31 at Duke.

GEORGIA: The top three cornerbacks expected to be available for the first two games of the season – including Malcolm Mitchell – are now on the injury list.

The good news is that all three practiced when the Bulldogs held a pair of workouts on Saturday and the Sept. 1 season-opener against Buffalo is still three weekends away.

Mitchell, who moved to the secondary in the spring after playing receiver last season as a freshman, has a left shoulder contusion that he appeared to be favoring some in Saturday’s afternoon practice.

Mitchell, still expected to get some receiver snaps early this season, went through early drills in the portion open to the media in the afternoon. So did senior Branden Smith (left shoulder contusion) and sophomore Damian Swann (sprained neck), who continue to be limited.

MCNEESE STATE: Coach Matt Viator says he has met with Tyrann Mathieu, but the former Louisiana State University All-American has not decided whether he will transfer to the school. LSU kicked Mathieu off the team Friday for a violation of athletic department rules.

McNeese State competes in FCS. Mathieu can play this season if he transfers down a level from FBS to FCS.

FALCONS: Must temporarily replace second-year linebacker Akeem Dent, a former Georgia star who sustained a concussion in the 31-17 loss to Baltimore on Friday and will miss this week’s exhibition against Cincinnati.

JOHNSON ARRESTED: Police say Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson has been arrested on a domestic violence charge, accused of head-butting his newlywed wife during an argument in front of their home in Davie, Fla.

Davie police Capt. Dale Engle says Johnson and his wife were at dinner Saturday night and she confronted him about a receipt she had found for a box of condoms. His wife, Evelyn Lozada, is on the reality show, Basketball Wives, and the couple married in July.

TEXANS 26, PANTHERS 13

In Charlotte, N.C., Matt Schaub led one scoring drive and threw an interception in his first action since breaking his right foot last season, and Houston beat Carolina in the preseason opener for both teams.

Cam Newton’s night also was short and not productive for Carolina. He finished 2 of 6 for 17 yards.

Jonathan Stewart, who signed a five-year contract extension worth $36.5 million with Carolina before the game, didn’t carry the ball and caught one pass for 13 yards.

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