Paul Johnson calls for special teams improvement

Georgia Tech put heavy emphasis on special-teams play last week.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson hasn’t been pleased with what he has seen from his special teams thus far and has endeavored to get a fix going into a crucial matchup with No. 11 Miami on Saturday.

“We worked the fool out of it last week, a lot,” Johnson said after Monday’s practice. “Hopefully, we’ll see improvement. If not, I have no idea what to do with it.”

Tech ranks 91st nationally in opponent kickoff return average at 22.1 yards per return and is tied for 128th in kickoff return average at 13.7 yards per return. Tech is 104th in punt return average (3.9 yards per return) and 128th in opponent punt return average (20.6 yards per return). The last average is inflated by having allowed only five returned punts and one of them having gone for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson said that Tech went “live” on special teams in practice last week, meaning full-speed reps.

“We worked on all of it – kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kickoff return, punt return, all of it,” Johnson said.

Tech has also not blocked a punt or kick, which has been a strength for the Jackets in recent years. Starting with the 2013 season, Tech has blocked 18 punts or placement kicks.

“We probably need to go after more,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been very good at returning (punts).”

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