Talking Georgia Tech Football with Wes Durham

Georgia Tech started out a house of fire this year as they opened 6-0. Tech has struggled since their hot open as they have dropped consecutive games to Virginia and Miami. Clemson is next on the schedule and Reginald Eller of Unconquered Noles had the opportunity to talk with Georgia Tech (and Atlanta Falcons) play-by-play guy Wes Durham.

The Paul Johnson offense has sputtered the last two weeks.  What has been the major problem and what has the team done to correct the issue?

I think most of the work has been “mental”, since they have talked about lack of execution and unforced errors being the biggest issues in the last two-games. Since the 2nd half of the Maryland game, Tech has not played with a lot of confidence and been void of “big plays” (20+ yards). Easiest note to give you is that in their first 6-games, they had 45 “big plays”. In their last 2-games, they have had 3.

Losers of two consecutive road games – the Yellow Jackets come back home with their backs pushed against the wall.  How do you think the team will respond facing what appears to be a “must win”?  Is this a must win?

I’ll be very surprised if the Jackets don’t play well on Saturday night. With Clemson’s fire power on offense, playing “well” might still not be enough. The Tigers ability to score from anywhere cannot be overlooked. Tech is a team that saw its season crumble in the 2nd half of last year. With this being game #9, and coming off 2-straight losses, this team does not want to repeat some of the events of last year. A win Saturday night solves that and a lot more for them. Its easy I think  to call it a “must win”, but if the Jackets suffer a 3rd conference loss, it likely ruins any chance of getting to the title game in Charlotte for sure. After 8-games, I thought they would be in the neighborhood of, 7-1 or 6-2, but not with consecutive losses and a 6-0 start, which created some early excitement about this team.

Georgia Tech is going up against one of the most impressive offenses in the country Saturday.  What does the Al Groh defense have to do to at least slow down Clemson?

This will be the biggest test Al Groh’s defense has faced since his arrival 2-years ago. I think the biggest down in each series will be 1st down, and not 3rd down. If the Jackets can keep Clemson out of “2nd and short”, it might force Chad Morris to get “off schedule” with his offense and thus, the Tigers out of rhythm. The times Clemson has been tested, have been where they have to make stops on defense and the offense has responded (ie. Maryland).

Georgia Tech wins if ?

If they can hold onto to the ball (no turnovers) and limit the possessions that Clemson has in the game. The Jackets need to play the game even or in front most of the night, because that will keep the pressure on Clemson each time, and possibly force them into mistakes.

These next two weeks can swing the momentum of the overall program in either direction. What is ahead for Georgia Tech.

Somehow in each of the last 2-years, Georgia Tech has drawn Miami, Clemson and Virginia Tech in a 3-game stretch. Guess they made someone in the ACC office and/or schedule makers mad. Last year, they lost all 3-games and it was the foundation of the late season slide and 6-7 finish (first losing season since 1996). Since taking the job at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson has challenged his teams to make the most of their chances each season. Last year’s team did not do that in any fashion, and it created a hunger for this year’s team. Now, after consecutive losses, this year’s team, is eerily close to following the same pattern. Unlike last year’s team, this year’s squad isn’t splintered and has good leadership. That unity is being tested this week. A win would create a lot of momentum for the Jackets, not just because of the opponent, but also because of the struggles the last 2-weeks.

Bonus Question:  How’s Woody doing?

I’m not sure anyone has enjoyed the first 6-months of their retirement more than my Dad has. He has tailgated for the first time ever, and gotten to enjoy going to football games this fall in Chapel Hill as a fan. Play a lot of golf with friends. Last week, he and my Mom, traveled to Savannah with some of their friends for a fall golf trip.

A lot of people were surprised he didn’t come to Atlanta when Carolina played here, but after 40-years of doing the Heels, he’s not doing “road games” this fall. They did come watch my son play football earlier this month, so that counts a lot more.

They have been invited by Coach Williams to travel with the basketball team to San Diego for the “Carrier Classic” in a couple weeks, and they are very excited about that. I’d say that’s a pretty good start to retirement, huh?

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