ATLANTA -- After Georgia Tech's uninspiring win over Maryland revealed new reasons for concern, the Yellow Jackets got a reminder of how much has gone right for them this season.
With the program's first 6-0 start since 1966, Georgia Tech moved up one spot to No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll on Sunday.
The Yellow Jackets struggled but didn't collapse in the fourth quarter of their 21-16 win over Maryland on Saturday, and they are 3-0 and in first place in the ACC's Coastal Division.
Coach Paul Johnson says the ugly win provided clarity.
An increase in penalties on the offensive line, bad decisions on option plays and missed opportunities on passing plays showed Johnson what to emphasize in practice for this week's game at Virginia.
"It was like popcorn trying to get it fixed," Johnson said of the mistakes and missed opportunities which continued to pop up after Georgia Tech led 21-3.
Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing and ranked second in passing through five games.
Johnson said last week his players may have heard too many compliments. If so, then the season's first real setbacks on offense should serve as a reality check.
"Overall, offensively I think we came out flat in the second half," quarterback Tevin Washington said.
"I think we had a lot of penalties, more penalties than we have had all year. On my part I know I did a poor job in the reads this game when running the option.
"These are just some things we need to get better at this week. We need to stay focused and pay attention to the little things that gave us trouble this week."
Washington had 32 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson said the quarterback kept the ball too often on option plays.
Georgia Tech rushed for 272 yards, more than 100 yards below its average.
"We had trouble," said David Sims, who had 14 carries for 83 yards. "We moved the ball as efficiently as we could in the first half but in the second half we struggled. This is something we are going to have to correct on Monday and get better."
Washington completed only 6 of 19 passes for 114 yards and an interception. He just missed on chances for big plays with Stephen Hill and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
"When you have chances to make plays and the competition gets better and you got guys wide open, you better catch them because they won't get wide open over and over again," Johnson said. "So we didn't have very good execution today."
The Yellow Jackets also were slowed by a season-high eight penalties for 63 yards.
"There was just never any continuity," Johnson said. "The penalties were terrible.
"We will go back and go to work. I was upset with a lot of things, especially the execution of the offense. Not very good."
Washington, who has failed to complete at least 50 percent of his attempts in back-to-back games, said the passing game is "a work in progress."
"I think overall we had a miscommunication problem out there, but it is nothing to dwell on," Washington said. "I think next week we will come out ready to play."
The defense was without two injured starting linebackers, Jeremiah Attaochu and Daniel Drummond, but it held Maryland to a field goal through three quarters.
A 77-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback C.J. Brown helped the Terrapins rally in the final quarter.
Georgia Tech's last 6-0 start came in its final season under coach Bobby Dodd in 1966, when it won its first nine games and finished 9-2.
The Yellow Jackets had a 13-13 tie with North Carolina in the sixth game of their 11-0-1 season in 1990, when they finished second in the final AP poll and won the national championship in the coaches poll.