ATLANTA — Running back Anthony Allen is glad Georgia Tech doesn't play this weekend.
Allen includes himself among the experienced Yellow Jackets who should do some soul-searching after last week's 27-13 loss at Clemson.
"I think we needed the break more as far as getting back to the standpoint of fundamentals," Allen said. "We're out here at practice and basically practicing three plays just trying to get back to what we know. We need to face these mistakes and move on."
The abundant mistakes weren't reflected in turnovers or other tangible stats. Instead, it was a combination of blown assignments, poor blocking and missed tackles that ended a three-game winning streak.
To repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference champion, the Jackets (5-3, 3-2) must win Thursday at Virginia Tech (6-2, 4-0).
First, though, Allen believes Georgia Tech must concentrate on itself.
"Everything (opponents) are throwing at us this season we've seen in practice," said Allen, the ACC's fourth-leading rusher. "We've practiced it. We went over it in meetings. It's just a matter of us recognizing and executing when we get out there."
In three seasons under coach Paul Johnson, the Jackets' formula for victories is to dominate time of possession with a powerful rushing attack. The success of his triple-option offense, which ranks No. 2 nationally in rushing, is predicated on exhausting opponents by the end of the third quarter.
The Jackets are 20-0 under Johnson when entering the fourth quarter with a lead. They are 3-10 when trailing, including 1-3 this year.
Once the final period began at Clemson, Georgia Tech gave itself little chance to win. The offense took just six snaps, and the defense couldn't force Clemson off the field.
Cornerback Dominique Reese put the blame on himself and the Jackets' other defenders, particularly in allowing running back Andre Ellington to finish the game with 166 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Clemson's 236 yards on the ground dropped Georgia Tech's defense to No. 8 in ACC against the run.
"We want to give our offense the ball because we know they can control the clock, and when we get back on the field, we'll be well-rested," Reese said. "We might be out there for the whole fourth quarter. You never know. But we've got to be mentally prepared and physically prepared to go out and do our assignments."
Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt endured one of the worst games of his four-year career, managing just 85 yards of total offense. He needed only five yards to break the ACC career record for yards rushing by a quarterback, but managed to net just two yards on 15 carries.
After practice Thursday, Johnson was still lamenting the first drive of the third quarter, which ended with Scott Blair's 26-yard field goal but stalled at the Clemson 9 when Nesbitt ran toward the wrong space in Tech's blocking scheme and was stuffed for a 2-yard loss.
"The first drive of the second half was very important, and we had to kick a field goal," Johnson said. "We bust on third-and-four. That's how we don't make it. We have a missed assignment. Now I don't know if would we have blocked the guy if we went to the right spot but at least we've got a chance."