Sunday, October 18, 2015

Halloween Fun With Paul Johnson.

Coming into the season, there was a decent and completely earned amount of hype surrounding the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  They finished last year on a high the program hadn't seen in a while, with only a loss to FSU blemishing a back half of 2014 in which they blew the doors off everyone save Georgia, whom they beat in overtime because of some very stupid special teams mistakes by the Dawgs.  Their final game of the year was a 49-34 Orange Bowl win over a Mississippi State team that had at one point in the not distant past been in the conversation of best team in the country. 

They picked up right where they left off this year, making that preseason #16 AP Poll ranking look extremely justified by absolutely destroying Alcorn State and Tulane by a combined 118 points.  The triple option looked as well-oiled and vicious as it ever had, and there was plenty of reason to think a win over Notre Dame in week three might catapult the Jackets into the top 10.  Then they went into South Bend and got stomped.  That 30-22 final score was thanks to some garbage time scoring; Tech looked utterly outgunned in every phase of the game.  The offense, traditionally their strongest suit in the Paul Johnson era, was a disheveled mess.  But hey, a loss to a top-ten ranked Notre Dame on the road ... not so terrible, right?  Here's what happened next:

  • Lost by 2 touchdowns to Duke.
  • Lost 38-31 to North Carolina.  At home.  
  • Got beat down by Clemson.  
  • Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt beats them with a 59-yard boomer of a field goal.  
Next week, they have to host a #9-ranked FSU team that is finding its feet.  Those feet are Dalvin Cook's, and they are averaging 8.7 yards per carry this year.  He's already racked up 955 yards and 10 TDs on the ground, with 131 receiving yards and another score through the air thrown in for funzies.  (In a related note: Georgia Tech is ranked 97th in run defense so far this season, so next Saturday probably will not go well for them.) 

Look, I have some public safety concerns here.  If they lose to the 'Noles, fine, but the week after that ... hooooooo boy.  They're gonna be on the road at Virginia.  The same Hoos that gave Notre Dame a much better fight than the Jackets did, and that currently lead them in the Coastal Division because Georgia Tech is dead-last and a garbage pile of a team right this minute.  Paul Johnson is a recalcitrant old crank even in the best of times.  These are not the best of times, and if Georgia Tech somehow manages the feats of incompetence necessary to lose to Virginia, this could be a real problem. 

That game is being played on Halloween, by the way.  A night when every TV station airs horror flicks and little kids dress up as all kinds of hideous and terrifying monsters in exchange for candy.  So just picture Paul Johnson, who has never said one civil word to a media member in his life, who is prickly and intolerant with beat writers even after a win, stepping to the podium after losing to a school whose best athletes play baseball and lacrosse.  A reporter, some kid fresh out of J school and covering his first college football season, asks a question.  It is not a good question.  Something like: "Coach, can you talk about your preparation this week, and what you could have done better to try and stop Matt Johns?"

Paul Johnson twitches.  He fixes the reporter with a stare.  That stare is cold, so very cold.  He opens his mouth as if to respond, but what comes out is an inhuman howl of fury and pain.

He then transmogrifies into some sort of scaly dragon-goat being, expectorating fire and locusts and just all manner of horror and killing everyone in the room. 

If you are a reporter covering that game, and the Yellow Jackets lose, I'm asking as a concerned friend that you stay away from the post-game presser.  Seriously, go do your write up somewhere far away from Scott Stadium.  You don't need a pull quote from scaly dragon-goat Paul Johnson.  Suffering for your art is noble and all, but it's not worth it.  You'll have trouble enough with Saban after 'Bama loses to LSU.  Trust me, you don't need this. 

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