Observations from the 20: Georgia – Georgia Tech

You know, it seems like I write so often about Tech suffering painful losses in this series that it approaches cliché, but how else do you describe yesterday’s game?  Even my brother, the Tech fan (thanks again for the ticket, bro!), could say little more than that it really hurt to lose this one.

Blowing a 20-point lead at home with an offense that’s tailor-made for clock killing is brutal.  Really, if you’re a Georgia Tech fan, it’s reached the point that you sincerely have to wonder if Paul Johnson will ever beat Mark Richt again.

Not that I’m complaining.

One thing you’ve got to say about this team is that as crazy a season as it’s been, as frustrating as the coaching and the execution on the field has been at times, these players simply don’t quit.  Two of the last three games of the year have seen this bunch erase huge deficits on the road and but for the flukiest play of Georgia’s season would have seen these Dawgs win both.  They may make you shake your head, but they’re never boring.

And now, the bullet points.

  • Atmospherically speaking, this was the weirdest game at beautiful Bobby Dodd Stadium I’ve ever attended.  The pre-game crowd was almost mellow.  Inside the stadium there were no “Cesspool of the South” signs.  No Bulldog urinal cakes in the men’s bathrooms.  I sat in the Tech section and everyone around me was polite… no, downright pleasant.  Even when the Jackets got the big lead, nobody got in my face about it.  Even after the game, things were cool.  In fact, in thirty-plus years of seeing the series, this is the first time I left BDS and walked back to my car without being yelled at, spit at, gestured at or accosted by a drunk Tech student looking to start something.  C’mon, Techsters, where’s your school spirit?
  • It was a little strange watching two of Georgia’s captains walk out for the overtime coin toss not in uniform.
  • I didn’t think it was possible, but my mancrush on Todd Gurley continues to grow.
  • Leonard Floyd is going to be an incredible football player once he masters the art of consistency.  In the meantime, he’s the poster boy for the Georgia defense, capable of making the big play due to sheer talent, but just as capable of letting the other team make plays due to a steady lapse of fundamentals.  But, damn, that stop on Godhigh in the second overtime was huge.
  • It was definitely a game to forget for Sheldon Dawson.  Hard to believe that Shaq Wiggins would turn out to be the player Georgia missed most on defense.
  • Good game from Herrera.  He did well shooting the gap to blow up some running plays and did a nice job covering some gap misalignments I saw on the defensive line.
  • That’s two straight games Josh Harvey-Clemons has played well in after the devastating play at Auburn.  He’s a tough son-of-a-gun.
  • So how much did your heart leap in your throat when Wilson tipped that pass?  At least they didn’t screw around with the second touch.  Learning experience, for the win!
  • If there’s an unsung hero for Georgia this season, it’s Marshall Morgan.  He hasn’t missed a PAT all season and only missed a couple of field goal attempts.  He was totally clutch yesterday, and they needed every bit of it.
  • Did Georgia have a right offensive tackle yesterday?  I saw a couple of guys line up at that position, but neither of them seemed to play.  (Here’s hoping Theus has enough sense this week not to comment on being surprised by how well Attaochu played.)  Dallas Lee played terribly in the first half, too.
  • I’ll have to watch the replay, but how was that Bennett catch ruled an incompletion?
  • Tremendous, tremendous day for Chris Conley, who looked as smooth as I’ve ever seen him.
  • Mason’s day went about as expected.  He looked understandably edgy early on and tried to force a few things he shouldn’t have, like the interception.  He wasn’t getting much help from his offensive line, either.  And Bobo’s playcalling, much like what we saw in the first half of the Auburn game, played directly into what Roof was doing on defense.  But he started settling in nicely in that clutch two-minute drive that resulted in Georgia’s first score and turned in a solid second half performance.  He’s heady, and that’s good, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.  Believe it or not, the Tech secondary looked worse than Georgia’s in coverage.  It will be interesting to watch Mason in the bowl game against a presumably better defensive backfield after he’s had a month’s worth of practice with the receivers.
  • Did I mention my Gurley mancrush?
  • Funniest thing on the day was listening to Georgia Tech fans around me wondering why the officials weren’t calling offensive holding.
  • Mixed game from Bobo, again.  I thought he learned his lesson in the Kentucky game, but he reverted back to how he started out against Auburn, with similar results.  Roof sold out the early downs with run blitzes to slow Gurley down and went after Mason with lots of stunts when it looked like Georgia had to pass.  It wasn’t pretty.  But Bobo caught his second wind, got the last second quarter score on a lightning-fast drive – when he finally started calling screens to back off the Tech rush – and outcoached Roof in the second half.  (No doubt it helped that the offensive line play improved as the game went on.)  And, boy, did I love the four play calls of the overtime periods.  Sometimes the simple things are the best.
  • As for Grantham… well, if you’d have told me before the game that Paul Johnson’s game plan on offense would be to rely on Vad Lee’s arm instead of his feet, I’d have taken that gleefully.  I didn’t feel so good about it at the end of the first half, though.  It wasn’t just that Georgia’s secondary got beat deep on the play fake, as that’s gonna happen against the triple option.  It was watching the DBs fail to cover a single receiver play correctly that drove me nuts.  Plus, the usual issues with wheel routes and ILBs covering crossing routes reared their ugly heads.  But some credit is due, too.  There were halftime adjustments.  Tech was shut out in the third quarter and only managed one scoring drive in the fourth.  If that doesn’t happen, Georgia doesn’t come roaring back for the win.  In the end, Georgia Tech’s passing game burned Johnson.
  • It’s funny, but it felt like Tech lost for the basic reason we often chew out Richt and Bobo.  Paul Johnson took his foot off the gas after his team jumped out to the big lead.  The difference here was that Tech didn’t back off on offense as much as it did on defense.  Roof had been aggressive early on, but backed off on his blitzes and played very soft in the secondary after Tech went up by 20.  It was exactly the wrong thing to do with a quarterback getting his first start.  When he went back to blitzing late, he had some success, but it seemed like Georgia was better at handling it.  (Gurley’s last TD came off a run blitz from the side of the field the play went away from.)

I understand that Stingtalk shut down yesterday after the game.  That really is the cherry on top of the FIAR,B! sundae.

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78 Comments

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78 responses to “Observations from the 20: Georgia – Georgia Tech

  1. Merk

    Well next year we get to think about how Grantham and Friend will piss away another good QB with great Skill players all over. All we have to do is score 40 a game guys and we win. yay!

    • gastr1

      We’re not helped by Bobo’s slowness to adjust to the obvious defensive game plan going in…every team will be run-blitzing us at the start. Hopefully he will start adjusting before we’re down 20-0 in next season’s games.

  2. gastr1

    Senator, the Bennett catch was a brutally atrocious call. Bennett fumbled the ball on the way to the ground AFTER catching it securely, taking two steps to turn around, and taking another step before losing the ball and recovering it himself on the ground.

    It was a really terrible lack of cojones on the part of the replay official to overturn a painfully obvious missed call.

  3. Am I alone in thinking that Gurley is way less than 100%? He looks great at times (4th Quarter and OT) but then not so great (his pass protection). I think that he is playing at 60-70% which just makes me all the more appreciative of his efforts. Go Dawgs!

    • gastr1

      I think so too. And I think he still has a ways to go in pass blocking…cost us the winning TD yesterday by totally whiffing on one of those. But his desire when he gets the ball in space is remarkable. He may not be as quick, but the girth, it pains a defense.

      • Cojones

        Saw two sacks of Hutson that were Todd’s fault. Another one was partially his. The problem is: How do you find fault with the guy responsible for our winning? Agree that his blocking looked like he was playing sadly through injury from the start. He limped one time after a play and then turned on the juice!

        Gurly is tops and I can’t help but feel he has taken the fallen Murray’s mantle of Iron Man and played hurt out of respect. Knowing Aaron, if he could have been there he would have.

    • Physically speaking, you’re right. But when it comes to instincts and will to win, he hasn’t missed a beat.

  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    What is the deal with Rumph? Is he hurt? Gone? Fell off a scooter?

  5. Tronan

    This year’s team has been emotionally draining to watch, but I’ve grown to love them. They’ve taken an inordinate number of gut punches – often because their guard is down at the worst possible time – but keep on fighting. I hold out hope that their luck can’t be any worse next year and that the pass defense becomes competent. Richt is overdue for some lucky bounces, so maybe 2014 will be our year. Until then, I’ll be looking forward to the bowl and a positive end to a roller coaster of a season.

    • Ginny

      Agreed. This team will have a special place in my heart. They just don’t quit. I feel like that comes from believing in each other and the coaches. That kind of grit will take you pretty far poor luck notwithstanding.

      • Cojones

        They were following Murray’s example. You can’t overlook that as a big reason for all the close games won.

    • StuDawg

      I agree. After all we did beat Florida, Carolina, and Tech who are my most hated rivals.

  6. David

    First bullet point fail… Def accosted after the game, will gladly trade a ripped vest for a W… Apparently jubilation is frowned upon at trade schools.

  7. I just cannot help it folks. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. I WILL NOT STOP until next Thanksgiving weekend.

  8. Bulldog Joe

    Also, the 4th and 6 completion to Bennett from our own 39 and Grantham’s blitz on the INT were big.

    • Macallanlover

      Yes, very ballsy call by CMR, even though it seemed the right thing to do against a clock eating offense, you still had to put them on the table. It would have been easy to hide behind “let the defense get a three and out” and us using timeouts. Blitzing any QB, even a GT “passer” is mandatory until we get some clue about covering receivers. We are the world’s worst, the only reason we aren’t 120th is because some teams just didn’t throw enough against us, I promise you it would have been open.

      Need to make some defensive changes, make quicker adjustments in the 1st half on offense/defense, recruit/identify and train some reliable OL before next summer, work with Gurley on pass protection (show him what Knowshon has become because he is so reliable at it), and get those wounded knees heeled. That is my wish list for, what could be, a championship year for a team that has a lot skilled, experienced players coming back.

    • HVL Dawg

      I’m surprised The Senator didn’t mention CMR putting the game on the line by going for it on 4th and 6 inside Tech territory with 6 minutes on the clock. CMR decided with 6 minutes left that our defense couldn’t make a stop. I think that’s pretty telling.

  9. Mike Cooley

    It has been hard to watch at times this season but I will always love this team. So much adversity. So much bad, no, rotten, luck. But these guys never, ever quit. There have been seasons past when we would have loved for a Georgia team to have just a sliver of the heart this team has. The offense this year isn’t more talented as the 2008 offense overall. But they are tougher by miles. And I love that. I’m sure gonna miss Murray in a way that I never missed Stafford. These guys just seem like they care more than some that we’ve had in the past. I think the defense will be much better this year but the pass defense has to be addressed. As hard as the losses were to take this year, mostly because all three should have and easily could have been wins, I wouldn’t trade anything for having been in Sanford Stadium for the SC and LSU games. Some of the past Richt teams would not have been able to win those games even with more talent. A few years ago we lose that Tennessee game. It all would have been too much. That Florida game is exactly the kind of game we used to lose to them. But we didn’t. And last night, that took guts. The season didn’t go like we hoped. But think about all that this team went through. And if not for the biggest fluke play ever we beat all of our biggest rivals. It feels good to tear the nerds’ hearts out and stomp them. Ill always love this team. Tuck Fech.

    • I’m sure gonna miss Murray in a way that I never missed Stafford. These guys just seem like they care more than some that we’ve had in the past.

      No offense, but I’ve never understood this criticism of Matt. If anything, his problem was that he cared too much sometimes and forced some throws he shouldn’t have. But you should remember how he played his guts out in the Kentucky and Tech games at the end of ’08 when the defense was completely broken.

      • merk

        Everyone thinks someone does not care if they leave early, but how many would have the balls to turn down millions of dollars in guaranteed money just for leaving? Now if Stafford was projected 3-4th round and still left, then I could see saying that he left because he did not care.

      • hunkerdowndawg

        Also the way Stafford played in the second half against Bama trailing by 31. He was a gutsy, gunslinging warrior that night. That was when I realized he would be able to thrive in the NFL with all the throws he made when the nations best secondary knew he was gonna throw on every down and he still torched them.

      • Keese

        Or hungover from partying too hard the night before the Outback Bowl against MSU that year

  10. Mike Cooley

    All four losses. Sorry.

  11. Bright Idea

    I just don’t see how we can complain about Bobo any more. He’s not perfect but who is? If not for the QB and receiver play this season would have been dreadful. Bobo is like the rest of us, he can see that we need to run some clock and keep our secondary off the field whenever we can.

  12. Jim

    Anyone think Todd Grantham gets the ax?

    • gastr1

      No. The defense is too young. I do wonder if Lakatos will move along to “greener” pastures, though, because his troops have been the problem all season and have barely shown improvement.

  13. I think that has already been established.

  14. Mike Cooley

    I agree on Bobo. He’s done an outstanding job this year with a lot of adversity. When I hear people complain about him rather than the defense, I realize right then that they don’t know what they are talking about it and just talking out of their ass.

    I don’t see Grantham getting fired after this season. Now Lakatos? That might be a possibility.

    • WF dawg

      How close are CTG’s ties to Lakatos? I could see CMR asking CTG to outline a plan for how the D will improve. If CTG isn’t tied to Lakatos, I could see replacing him as part of the plan.

  15. Will Trane

    Todd Gurley. The running back who puts the “slam dunk” into scoring TDs.
    7 different rotations of players this season in the secondary. How do you coach and win that many. Think Gratham and the position coahces did a fantastic good. Josh Harv ey-Clemons could become the most feared safety in the SEC.

  16. Will Trane

    Macon scribe puts Vandy in top 25 but leaves out Dawgs. Seth Emerson and Jeff Schultz should hire on at some newspaper in Tennessee or Alabama. This is a very good Georgia team, and if they did not have the injuries that would easily be going to the Dome. Even the injuries and schedule could take away form them this year.

    • merk

      But but but, they beat us. Of course no one ever looks at how things really went. 2 crap targeting calls + missing #1 & 2 RB, + 2-3 WR, nope we should have steamrolled Vandy.

  17. Macallanlover

    I would favor it but everything I hear says no, he gets another chance. My guess is a couple of sacrificial position coaches take the hit. I don’t care what specifically is done but if the pass defense by our DBs and LBs doesn’t get better, there will always be 40-50 teams that can beat, or hang with, us regardless of the rest of the talent edge we may have. It is that bad. I have heard BC and Michigan mentioned as possible bowl opponents, we had better hope so because there are some real average teams that can dance us off the field with their passing game. We have a better chance of beating Stanford than we would Washington State, for instance, and there are many more teams that fling it all over the ball park that would love to play against our pass defense. What I am saying is, major upgrades are needed or we will not win anything significant regardless of the powerhouse offense we bring back.

  18. shane#1

    I consider this maybe the best win against Tech that I have ever seen, going back to the Dooley era. Tech held all the cards, no Murray, no Marshall, no deep threat and a banged up Gurley. There were two starters out of a D backfield that was young and not very impressive on a good day. Then you add a QB making his first start. Plus the Jackets were at home. You missed your chance Techies, looks like you may have to wait a few more years for your win of this decade.

  19. Mike Cooley

    The ru. Defense improved over the season but I think calling the job done by Grantham and Lakatos outstanding is being more than generous.

    • merk

      The LB and DB on pass coverage has been crap since Willie was here. We cannot stop the slant or anything short over the middle. Now we apparently cannot stop the deep ball by a QB with sub-50% completion rate.

  20. Cojones

    Gotta give it to you, Senator. You called Floyd’s play before the game, balanced your accolade of his play(off and on) and never mentioned your prediction. Thought of you when he took that 3-yd line play backwards in OT. Kudos to you both!

  21. SAtownDawg

    We won despite a terrible game once again from the O Line…our Right tackles are under performing and are suited for guard…we’re losing our LT who hasn’t exactly been all league but will probably find a place in the NFL at guard…two guards, one of which in lee who despite his play seems to be better than the resewves……there has been NO development from these guys and the OL coach probably needs to look for another job

  22. Rebar

    What a season! I know 8-4 wasn’t our desired destination, but these young men never quit. I take some solace in my belief that we could have won the game in 3 of our losses. Mizzou whipped us, everyone else had a little help. I hope we use the practice sessions for the bowl to get a little better timing between Mason and his receivers, and that the offensive line learns to play a complete game. My Christmas list also has discipline for the defense, as most of our mistakes on the D side come from youth and the segue from high school speed to SEC speed. I hope we win the recruiting wars and that everyone remembers the grit of Aaron Murray.

  23. Russ

    I had to listen on satellite as I was driving back from Atlanta to Houston. Unfortunately it was the Tech feed but I have to say they weren’t that bad. Fairly evenhanded and even managed to compliment the Dawgs during the game. They even admitted when the refs stole the reception from Bennett.

    Watched the game last night after I got home. Glad I knew the outcome or I probably would’ve stopped watching.