ATLANTA — Paul Johnson said Tuesday it's too early to disregard Georgia Tech after its first loss.
Georgia Tech tumbled eight spots to No. 20 after last week's loss to Virginia. Johnson says he's heard others say his Yellow Jackets won't recover.
Not so fast, says Johnson. He said his players will bounce back from the 24-21 loss to the Cavaliers ended the team's six-game winning streak.
"Our guys are going to have a good attitude," Johnson said. "You know, we're disappointed we lost, but the sky is not falling. We're 6-1. Before you bury us, let's at least give us a chance to play another couple games.
"It's like everybody wants to end the season and bury the team. Maybe they're right, but let's at least go play and see what happens."
Georgia Tech, which plays at Miami on Saturday, is tied for first in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
The Yellow Jackets will play No. 8 Clemson on Oct. 29 to end a stretch of nine straight games without an off week. Then the toughest stretch of their schedule continues with a Nov. 10 game against Virginia Tech.
Johnson, who has criticized his players' lack of spark in a sluggish 21-16 win over Maryland and the loss to Virginia the last two weeks. He said he now realizes the schedule has drained his players.
He said he told his coaches in a staff meeting on Tuesday morning that the players have been pushed for 11 straight weeks, including preseason practice.
"I think that might explain a little bit where we've been the last couple of weeks," Johnson said. "As I look back and I search on it, I think our guys want to win and they want to play. I don't doubt that.
"We've just got to get a little more in the tank. This week we'll try to cut back some more and do less physical stuff and hopefully we can get to the gate a little fresher and play fast like we did early on."
Georgia Tech averaged almost 52 points in its first five wins. The Yellow Jackets boast the nation's No. 2 rushing offense.
Quarterback Tevin Washington was an early surprise when he passed for more than 200 yards with a combined five touchdowns in the first two wins over Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee State. Since the hot start, Washington has failed to complete 35 percent of his attempts in each of the last three games.
Washington was only 2 of 8 passing for 24 yards with two interceptions against Virginia, though Johnson noted one of the interceptions was a throwaway.
Georgia Tech ranks only 81st in the nation against the run after allowing Virginia to rush for 272 yards and hold the ball for the final 6 minutes.
Johnson said he expects teams to keep running on his defense.
Miami sophomore running back Lamar Miller had a streak of five straight 100-yard games end in last week's win over North Carolina. He is the second-leading rusher in the ACC.
"He might have been the most impressive guy in our league," said Johnson of Miller. "North Carolina held him down in check but he's very talented. They've got a big offensive line. We need to be able to stop or limit that."
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh said he's also worried about devising a plan to contain Miami senior quarterback Jacory Harris.
"He looks like he's playing the best that I've seen him play in the years that we've played against him," Groh said. "There seems to be a poise and a patience to his play that was maybe sometimes a reason for some negative plays that balanced out the very positive plays that he had."
The defense could receive a boost as outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu could return this week after missing two games with a leg injury.
Meanwhile, placekicker Justin Moore may be replaced after making only one of three field goal attempts last week. Johnson said Moore, 4 for 8 overall this season, has struggled to get his kicks past the line.
"The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over with the same results," said Johnson when asked about his plans at the position. "We've got to get the ball up. We've had some penetration on that team but when you kick it and they block it with their face mask you're not kicking it high enough.
"He's very capable, but there's a point where you've got to believe what you see."