College Football Preview: Clemson at Georgia Tech

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2011

Associated Press
ATLANTA ó A special teams player doesn’t get a lot of time on the field, so he has to make the most of it.
By contrast, when something goes wrong, everyone notices.
At Georgia Tech, the special teamers are getting a lot more attention than they want.
Shanked punts, missed field goals, fumbled returns ó the Yellow Jackets have endured all sorts of mishaps when the offense and defense are off the field.
“You’re just doing one thing,” kicker Justin Moore said. “When you go out there, you need to perform.”
The problems have been there throughout the season, but they’re more noticeable than ever with Georgia Tech mired in a two-game losing streak. The most recent defeat was a special teams debacle: the Yellow Jackets surrendered a touchdown on a fumbled punt return and gave up a 48-yard kickoff return that set up another score in a 24-7 setback to Miami.
That certainly won’t do with No. 6 Clemson coming to town tonight.
“It definitely has a big impact,” running back Roddy Jones said. “Coach always says that field possession changes the most on special teams. If we can’t flip the field on special teams, it hurts us.”
The woes have been so pronounced that coach Paul Johnson has found himself defending the makeup of his staff, which doesn’t include an assistant dedicated solely to special teams. Secondary coach Charles Kelly runs the meetings, most other assistants have some duties, and Johnson has the final say on schemes and personnel.
Johnson notes that plenty of schools use a similar arrangement, and he’s not willing to concede that having one assistant just to handle special teams would make things better.