Kelly seeking 'wide open' defense at Georgia Tech

BY CHARLES ODUM AP SPORTS WRITER ATLANTA (AP) – Charles Kelly sounded pleased when he said he has seen "fire and vinegar" from his players in his first week as Georgia Tech's interim defensive coordinator. Fire and vinegar?
"Just a good bit of excitement from the players as far as, whatever you do, do it wide open," Kelly explained. "It's taking on blocks. We've talked about this before, being confrontational. You want to see that." Coach Paul Johnson was looking for more of that confrontational spirit from his defense when he fired Al Groh as defensive coordinator on Monday. Johnson assigned Kelly, the secondary coach, control of the defense for the remainder of the season. The midseason move was unusual, but Johnson believed dramatic action was necessary. Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) has given up more than 40 points in three straight losses for the first time in school history. Last week's 47-31 loss to Clemson followed an embarrassing 49-28 home loss to Middle Tennessee. Kelly has had an open week to focus on fundamentals before the Yellow Jackets visit Boston College next week. It is unclear what changes will be possible, but clearly Johnson isn't looking for the status quo on the field with just a different coordinator on the sideline. "We sat down as a group and we made some changes," Johnson said. "Everybody had some input. (Kelly) is a good coach and he'll get it organized. Everybody is on the same page about what we're doing." Kelly, in his seventh year on the staff, has moved from special teams coach to cornerbacks coach to secondary coach. He said he was given no promises from Johnson about his possible candidacy to be more than an interim coordinator. "What I've tried to do is focus on Georgia Tech and its players," Kelly said when asked if he sees his interim status as an audition. "I think if you work and do your job and do everything you can, work as hard as you can, I can live with the results. "The main thing is coach is my boss, he's been very good to me and my family. He asked me to do a job. He made no promises. He just asked me to do a job." Kelly's defensive backs applauded his chance to lead the full defense. "I'm real excited for him," said defensive back Jemea Thomas. "Being under him since I came in Day 1, he knows what he's doing. He's looking at bringing the best out of us. I'm very excited to see what he can do." Other assistants also have new assignments on the defensive staff. Andy McCollum moves from the line to inside linebackers. Joe Speed will coach outside linebackers instead of inside linebackers. Specials teams coordinator David Walkosky takes over the line. "The first thing we want to be able to say is that everybody is lined up and knows where they're going, what to do, and then it comes down to you've got to win," Kelly said. "You can't play with 12 people, you can only play with 11, so somebody has got to win and that's what we try to emphasize." Kelly said Georgia Tech's defense has enough talent. "This game, it's not very complicated," he said. "There's no magical defense. If there was, everybody would be running the same thing. It comes down to players and first of all alignment, putting your eyes in the right place and being able to play fast on every snap. "Alignment, pursuit angles, tackling, beating blocks, that's how you play defense. All correctable things." Kelly insisted his focus is not on making this more than just an interim job. "What I've tried to do is focus on Georgia Tech and its players," Kelly said. "I think if you work and do your job and do everything you can, work as hard as you can, I can live with the results. "The main thing is coach is my boss, he's been very good to me and my family. He asked me to do a job. He made no promises. He just asked me to do a job." © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

High School Baseball

Cougars fall at Northside

Newnan followed up a late victory over Chapel Hill with an early morning trip to Columbus, and the results Saturday saw a sluggish Cougars t ... Read More


High School Baseball

Johnson sharp as Cougars shake off rust in win

Newnan may have needed three innings to shake off the rust in Friday’s 6-2 road win over Chapel Hill following a six-day layoff. But j ... Read More


Vikings rout Dutchtown; Indians fall to Starr’s Mill

Northgate improved its record to 2-2 Friday with a 12-1 victory over Dutchtown on the road Friday in McDonough in a game called after six in ... Read More


High School Spring Sports

Northgate drops tennis openers to Starr’s Mill

After having matches rained out twice earlier this week, Northgate tennis teams finally got their season under way Thursday, losing to tough ... Read More


GISA state basketball

Hawks, Lions bow out in first round

Heritage School and Trinity Christian boys teams had respective 2014-15 basketball seasons come to an end in the opening round of the GISA C ... Read More

High School Soccer

EC gets back on field in split with Houston Co.

Mother Nature hasn’t been a best friend to East Coweta soccer teams so far this season. Despite starting the year nearly three weeks a ... Read More