GREENSBORO, Ga. -- Georgia Tech's entire staff got an upgrade when Paul Johnson moved in, but the offense isn't the only one to benefit. Johnson hired defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who was linebackers coach at Southern Mississippi last season and from 1994-2000.
Former defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta obviously earned a reputation as an accomplished coach (hence his move to Notre Dame), but his defense was too predictable -- blitz, blitz, blitz, blah, blah blah.
Now, the game will dictate what the defense does more than the playbook.
"In Tenuta's scheme, everybody would have a set job," defensive tackle Vance Walker said. "One person would be dropping back, I would be taking out through the tackle or crossing the center's face. There was always something we had to do. This time around, we still have our responsibilities, but it's a little bit more freedom. I may be in a three-technique and just have to play a run or a pass rush, which gives me an option to go to the A gap or B gap. I believe we're playing to our strengths this year."
Speaking of option ... Walker said Johnson's offense will give the defense more time to breathe. (That is, of course, if they don't fumble it away like they did this spring). Georgia Tech was fourth in the ACC in time of possession last season, keeping the ball an average of 30:33. Not bad. Imagine how Duke's defense felt. The Blue Devils offense had the ball an average of 27:34, No. 115 in the NCAA in time of possession.
"Coach Johnson, the offense gives the whole team in general a lot more ball control towards the offense," Walker said. "We get more time to rest. I think that's a big thing. That will help us out. Last year, whether it be a turnover or it was our fault we were on the field a while, we didn't get that much time to rest. We were prepared for that, but knowing what we went through last year, if we don't have to play less than half the snaps we played last year, that makes a big difference."
It appears Johnson has made a huge difference already.
"The thing he said was the truth: A lot of people played for themselves last year, for the defense or the offense," Walker said. "He wanted to make us realize the scoreboard doesn't read Georgia Tech defense, Georgia Tech offense, Georgia Tech special teams. That's what he's trying to instill in us. That's the biggest thing he wanted to get rid of when he first got here."
It's addition by subtraction in Atlanta -- coaches, players and playbooks included.