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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
2012 report cards: Georgia Tech

By Heather Dinich

GEORGIA TECH

OFFENSE: The Yellow Jackets’ offense did what it always does under coach Paul Johnson -- executed one of the nation’s best ground games, this year ranking fourth in the country in rushing offense. Led by veteran quarterback Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech led the ACC with 311.2 rushing yards per game -- 105 yards more than the second-place team, Florida State. Georgia Tech also led the ACC in time of possession (32:58). Georgia Tech finished with 5,911 yards for the season, breaking the single-season school record. Grade: A

DEFENSE: This was the team’s Achilles’ Heel throughout the first half of the season, but the firing of Al Groh midseason turned out to be a good move, as the team made significant improvements in the second half of the season under interim coordinator Charles Kelly. Even more impressive was the fact that Georgia Tech played the USC game without its leading tackler -- junior safety Isaiah Johnson, who was injured -- and played the majority of the Sun Bowl without one of its top defenders – linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. In the first six games of the season, Tech allowed 13.3 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime, compared to just 3.9 points in the fourth quarter the final eight games of the season. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a fourth-quarter point in each of the final four games (vs. Duke, Georgia, FSU and USC). They shutout both FSU and USC in the second half of those games. Grade: C

OVERALL: What began as a disaster ended as something the team could both be proud of and build upon. Georgia Tech began the season a dreadful 2-4 heading into the bye week, but an improbable appearance in the ACC championship game and Sun Bowl win over USC helped distance the program from its miserable start. At the time, the decision to fire Al Groh midseason seemed questionable, but how the staff handled it internally was key to the team’s resurgence in the second half of the season. Instead of letting it snowball into a complete disaster, Georgia Tech pulled it together and won four of its final six regular-season games. The bowl win was Johnson’s first as head coach of the Jackets. Grade: C+

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