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.