Last week, I said things were really bad for Georgia Tech.
Things are still really bad.
Unlike last week, where the Jackets got out to an early lead with a solid performance in the first half, this game was extremely ugly from the third play of the game on.
"It seems like whenever we go on the road, we self-destruct right from the very start," said Paul Johnson when asked about the slow start. "The last two road games, really, the last three road games. I mean, this was just like the Duke game. We get behind 19-3 and we self-destruct right out of the box."
That slow start began with a 66-yard touchdown run by Wayne Gallman on the third play of the game, which continued the frightening trend of the Tech defense allowing explosive runs. Gallman would go on to run for his third straight 100-yard game.
For as bad as the defense may have looked at times, the offense looked way worse. Clemson defenders lived in the backfield in this one. The offensive line wasn't blocking. The perimeter wasn't blocking. Almost every pitch Justin Thomas made in the game was followed by the A-Back getting plummeted by a Tiger as soon as the ball was secured. It wasn't until a wide open 46-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Ricky Jeune that the Jackets surpassed 200 total yards for the game. When the clock hit zero, Georgia Tech had accumulated 71 yards rushing on 42 carries, a career low for a Paul Johnson led Tech team.
Some more ugly stats:
Total Yards: Clemson 537, Tech 230
First Downs: Clemson 24, Tech 12
Third Downs: Clemson 10-16, Tech 1-12
"I've never experienced anything like this in my coaching career, being as inept as we are on offense," said Johnson. "I was disappointed with the effort today. We looked like a very poorly coached team. That starts with me. Right from the very opening series offensively. We can't even take the play call into the huddle without screwing it up."
Other than the two wide open touchdown passes from Thomas, the offense was as stagnant as you could imagine. The perimeter running game was completely nonexistent, and Thomas spent most of the day trying to dance around Clemson defenders just to get out of the backfield. Marcus Marshall was the only player to muster any sort of success running, and even he only managed just over four yards a carry.
The failure of the offensive line to get a push and not allow defensive players to get in the backfield continues to be the biggest problem for the Tech offense. After being one of the best lines in the country last season, just about everything has gone wrong for the unit so far.
"They did a good job blitzing us and kind of keeping us out of our game," said Freddie Burden. "We got pretty confused out there. It was obvious. We didn't do a very good job on offense at all. Credit to them. They did a really good job. We just didn't what we had to do."
It's never a good sign when a veteran offensive lineman admits that a unit is getting confused.
Despite the awful stretch by the Jackets, the team has to make sure to keep focus and not try too hard to get things back on track, which is something multiple players and Paul Johnson alluded to in the post game interviews.
"At a point, we want effort, but there's got to be a point where you're doing your job with effort and you're not just running around like a headless chicken trying to make a play thinking, ‘I've got to just make every play, run with effort-type thing. You've got to take care of your job and then take care of everything else."
At 2-4 for the season, Tech's preseason goals are all but gone. Even a bowl game seems almost unfathomable at this point. With a Pittsburgh team looming next week that suddenly looks like a much improved group, it's hard to see any game on the schedule that's a sure-win for the Jackets. If they play like they did on Saturday, it could be another long weekend in Atlanta.
"Clemson is a good football team. I give them credit. They've got some really good players. And it just kind of compounded. At least the kids fought. I thought they came back and fought in the second half. It would have been easy to quit and they fought, but we've got a ways to go."