Georgia Tech’s game against UNC over the weekend went about as well as you’d expect given the apparent lack of attention the Jackets gave Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and added another 44 yards plus an additional touchdown on the ground. I can forgive overlooking the quarterback if you at least give some of the other key players on that dynamic offense some attention, but Tech looked lost, unprepared, and almost unwilling to stop anyone. Running back Elijah Hood added 168 yards on the ground, and tight end Bug Howard caught 6 balls for 120 yards. In all, eleven different Tar Heels caught passes, five had at least one carry, and three threw passes. Tech was completely unprepared for every single one of them and UNC was able to put up 636 yards in what may have been the saddest effort by a Tech defense since Paul Johnson took over.
Statistically, the story is just as ugly. Tech’s odds of winning the Coastal Division, the team’s ultimate goal from season to season, now rest at a permanent zero. It would have been blind luck for the Jackets to make the trip to Orlando prior to this weekend, but all hopes of that miracle occurring are dead now. There are a number of atrocious numbers that Ken Sugiura points out in that article, but the third-down statistic has to be the worst of all: Tech is allowing teams to convert 52% of the time. You couldn’t pay me to believe that that’s a personnel problem; given the opposition Tech has faced this season and the talent level of the defense, that number should be significantly lower. Instead, the Jackets are dead last in the country. The closest ACC team is Virginia, which allows a 44% conversion rate to opposing teams -- 8% better than Tech.
I have no issue with blaming the team’s defensive struggles on the man who is quite literally in charge of fielding a competent defense. We lose that ability, however, when even his boss refuses to make any type of change that will benefit the team. Tech’s defensive issues are all on Paul Johnson now, and there’s no other way to put it. We are looking at a team that has given up at least 300 yards in six straight games, including two 400-yard games, a 500-yard game, and now a 600-yard game, while forcing almost no turnovers. The offense is Johnson’s baby, and everyone has been content to let him keep it while the defense remained at least serviceable. Now that we have a unit which may actually be the worst in the country, it’s time for Paul Johnson to step in and do something to warrant his $2.8 million salary. It doesn’t even matter if that “something” is just firing a scapegoat. Just do something to prove that you’re actively perceiving and trying to correct the issue like everyone else is. Coming out after a big loss with the same “we need to get stops” and “we did everything horribly” talk is not accomplishing a single thing.