Tag Archives: Paul Johnson

Duke will host Georgia Tech on November 19th for their final home game of 2011

Blue Devils will try to slow the Georgia Tech triple-option on November 19

Duke will host Georgia Tech on November 19th for their final home game of 2011

BDN has been previewing Duke football’s 2011 opponents all summer long. This week, we wrap things up as we prepare for Saturday’s season opener, but not before taking a look at a crucial stretch of games in November. Duke will play three tough road contests at Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina in November, meaning that the November 19th match-up with Georgia Tech will serve as Duke’s final home game of the season. The Blue Devils played the Yellow Jackets tough in Atlanta last season, but a late red zone turnover turned the tables on Duke’s upset bid.

To help us preview the 2011 Yellow Jackets, BDN is glad to welcome back Winfield Featherston of FromTheRumbleSeat.com. His candid insight is invaluable when analyzing the Georgia Tech program.

BDN: Georgia Tech was among the ACC programs involved in a recent NCAA investigation, receiving a four-year probation, among other penalties. Can you summarize your thoughts on the NCAA violations? Do you expect there to be any affect on the program in 2011 or beyond?

My initial thoughts on the issue came across as too passive and made me look like I just rolled over. And I kinda sorta did unfortunately. The NCAA’s penalties given to Georgia Tech are TOTAL BULLSH*T. They penalized us anything because they felt slighted when our AD didn’t want Paul Johnson looking like Al Golden when the news broke against Tech. Sadly, GT is just big enough for big sanctions to make it look like the NCAA has teeth and could – if they wanted to- go after the big programs but we all know that won’t happen.

Nothing will happen for the future. We vacated the 2009 ACCCG (BTW it still happened – Clemson’s record book says so) and we paid a fine. Recruiting visits and scholarships are not affected.

Head Coach Paul Johnson has led Georgia Tech to 3 bowl games in 3 seasons in Atlanta

BDN: When Head Coach Paul Johnson arrived in Atlanta, he inherited a talented team and took them to a 2009 ACC Championship, led by All-ACC players like Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt, Derrick Morgan, and Demaryius Thomas. After three years at the head of the Yellow Jackets, how would you assess the state of the program under Johnson? With only 12 starters returning in 2011, what are the expectations for this young group of Yellow Jackets?

The state of the program gets defined in 2012. This year it’s finally Johnson’s players in Johnson’s system. Wipe the slate clean from the previous years. Any success or failures we had with Gailey players was just some form or luck really. Expectations are set in typical Georgia Tech fan fashion – pretty high. Many fans expect about 8 wins to reach the “good season” level. With most major games at home, that goal should be attainable. 

BDN: The Blue Devils got a good look at Tevin Washington running the triple option last year in Atlanta. There has been significant competition this spring and summer for starting jobs at QB and B-back. How do you expect that competition to play out at those two spots? What are the other question marks for the 2011 Georgia Tech offense?

The schedule plays perfectly for a good ole September platooning effort. I’d expect to see a mix of Synjyn Days and Tevin Washington to play out most of the games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vad Lee either. The same goes for B-back with Charles Perkins, Preston Lyons and David Sims. By the time we hit October, we’ll have our depth chart in fine condition. 

BDN: Al Groh’s defense struggled in his first year in Atlanta a year ago, allowing almost 372 yards per game to opposing offenses. What changes or improvements need to be made for the Tech defense to be more successful in 2011?

Experience. We had to give the Groh-fense a year to sink in. Word on the street says that the defense has been improving tremendously and our young guys are all stepping up. 

BDN: Duke gave Georgia Tech a scare in Atlanta last November, throwing a crucial red zone interception and ultimately falling, 20-30. What do you think will be the keys to the matchup on November 19 in Durham? Can the Blue Devils give the Yellow Jackets another scare?

We’re talking November football already? Sure it’s possible. For all games this year, it will come down to the defense. History shows that over the season CPJ teams average the same offensive statistics per year. The defense will have to shut down Duke’s offensive attack and let our triple option offensive do it’s usual thing.  

BDN: Thanks for your help, Winfield! Good luck this season!

Previous week: November 12, Duke at Miami

Next week: November 26, Duke at North Carolina

Georgia Tech preview

[private]Duke heads to Atlanta this weekend for the first road game of the Coach Cutcliffe era. The 3-1 Blue Devils will face a solid 3-1 Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a bye week after defeating Mississippi State 38-7 on September 20th. Georgia Tech’s 306.8 yards per game on the ground leads the ACC. Coach Paul Johnson is considered the best coach around for the triple option spread offense. Duke’s defense must contain the Georgia Tech ground attack for the Blue Devils to have a chance to win.

Coach Paul Johnson has announced that freshman Jaybo Shaw will be the Yellow Jacket’s starting Quarterback against Duke due to regular starter Josh Nesbitt being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Nesbitt was injured in the game against Mississippi State resulting in Shaw playing the majority of the game. In this article, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Johnson states, “If Josh can come back now, he’ll be in a reserve [role], and Jaybo will be starting.”

In this Durham Herald Sun article, Coach Cutcliffe states, “This is certainly the best team we’ve played, far and away. We’ve got to play great in all areas – and I mean great – to have a chance to stay on the field.” Duke previously defeated Navy so they are experienced defending the triple option offense. Linebackers Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Rey are currently ranked first and second respectively in the ACC for tackles. They will need to have strong games against the Yellow Jackets.

This News & Observer article addresses the particular concern of Georgia Tech’s big play potential. The Yellow Jackets have had 27 plays go for more than 20 yards with nine producing touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets also go for it on fourth down more often than most teams.

On offense, Duke is fueled by Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and his favorite receiver Eron Riley. Lewis is second in the ACC with 218.5 passing yards per game. He has thrown seven touchdown passes with six of them going to Eron Riley. Lewis likes to spread the ball around and freshman Johnny Williams has 18 receptions on the season; sophomores Austin Kelly and Sheldon Bell have 10 each. Duke’s offensive line must provide protection so Lewis has time to pass the ball. Georgia Tech is second in the ACC with 11 sacks.

Duke must establish their running game for a couple of big reasons.  First, forcing Gerogia Tech to respect the run will prevent the Yellow Jacket defense from going after Thad Lewis with a big pass rush every play.  Second, Duke needs to maintain possession of the ball in order to keep their defense fresh and able to deal with Georgia Tech’s high powered running game.  Freshman Jay Hollingsworth came on strong in the Virginia game rushing for 59 yards on 15 carries.  A similar effort against the Yellow Jackets will be needed in order for the Duke offense to achieve success.

This game will turn on the normal events: controlling the line of scrimmage, turnovers, and big plays. If Duke can survive the first quarter without getting knocked out, the Blue Devils have a chance to still be in the game at the start of the fourth quarter. And if the game is still undecided at the start of the fourth quarter, anything can happen. Duke must start fast, especially on defense, take care of the ball on offense, and create more big plays than they give up to win.[/private]