Georgia Tech and Clemson Reminded Me of a Famous Horse Race

Before it is all said and done, we might be seeing both of these teams lining it up in Tampa for the ACC Championship Game.  As is usually the case when these two teams play, it is always a game that has lots of drama and goes down to the wire.  As much as I wanted to see the knockout blow, this win might go a long way in helping the yellow jackets quickly mature into an ACC title contender.  Clemson certainly has the talent to win the Atlantic Division, and we all know what Tech can do on the field.  So after we get past the hysteria of blowing a big lead to a very talented football team, let’s look at this situation a little closer to understand the psychology of developing a winning edge.

Do you remember the strategy session Red Pollard had with George Wolf the night before the big race?  “Give up the lead on the back stretch and let him pull even with Biscuit.  Once he sees that he is even with the admiral just turn him loose and let him go.”  Much like the great, albeit very small and scrawny Seabiscuit in his historic match race against War Admiral, Georgia Tech too showed that they had another gear after giving up the lead and letting Clemson back into the game in the 4th quarter on national television.  The Tigers, much like War Admiral, are a team of better breeding (5 stars galore), yet the Biscuit, I mean yellow jackets, showed the same type of character, grit, and determination in coming back and retaking the lead for good in the 4th quarter.

This was a gut check game that was needed to shock the team into playing with the type of intensity required for 60 minutes and not only put a team away, but crush their will.  Frankly, now that they are heading onto the road to play against a very talented Miami team, this game came at the absolute best time to get this team focused for a run at the ACC conference crown.  As is the case with most games, Clemson has too much talent to be crushed like they were last year by Bama.  But remember, that was under a different coaching staff.  Now that we have analyzed the mental approach that we can take from this game, Seabiscuit, sorry, I mean Georgia Tech, have now shown us that they have the mettle to compete and execute efficiently to win a football game.  Especially against better personnel.

The team played very well despite the defense giving up 2 big scoring strikes to probably the 2 fastest players in college football; C.J. Spiller, and Jacoby Ford.  But it appears that Georgia Tech has the best punt returner in the country in Jerrard Tarrant who this time returned a pooch punt back for another touchdown.  He also played outstanding on defense knocking down a long pass to Jacoby Ford on Clemson’s last drive.

The interior defensive tackles, Ben Anderson and Jason Peters, while giving away at least 40 lbs., came up with big tackles when the team needed it the most.  Anderson’s stop of Spiller on the 4 yard line not only prevented a touchdown, but allowed Tech to win the game with a Scott Blair field goal later in the 4th quarter.  Jason Peters had a couple of nice tackles on Spiller preventing big gains on cutback runs. 

What can you say about defensive end Derrick Morgan who was a one man wrecking crew with 3 sacks on Kyle Parker and 10 tackles.  All of this was done against a huge offensive line outweighing him by 40+ lbs.  Remember, all the experts said that he was only good last year because he was playing alongside NFL prospects.  Go back and read the season preview of the defensive linemen for more information on Mr. Morgan.

After the first quarter, the offense was held in check by the Clemson defense that did a very good job against the option.  But just like the little Dutch boy holding back the water in the leaking dyke, Tech’s offense has plenty of other options, and several weapons to find another way to win the game.  Josh looked great, although quite tired on those quarterback leads after faking a handoff of Dwyer.  Another great effort was put forth by the offensive line in protecting Josh when he passed the football.  No sacks.  He didn’t have a great night passing the football, but when we needed a completion down the stretch with the game on the line, he made 2 perfect throws to Anthony Allen and Demaryius Thomas.  This was a real gut check performance from everyone on the team that led to the 30 to 27 victory over the Tigers.

Also let me add a tremendous thank you to the thousands of fans who were loud and smart in their cheering for the game.  Clemson had an offensive tackle jump twice before the snap count for some penalty yardage, and their quarterback was having a very tough time changing plays that led to Clemson burning a few timeouts early in the game.  Let’s keep up that effective cheering for the next home game against the Tar Heels.

So now we head off to Miami for another national Thursday night game against the Canes.  Tech will be ready to go and I’m looking forward to another great game.  By the way, did you know that Georgia Tech now has the nation leader in passing efficiency in Scott Blair, who was not only outstanding in kicking 3 field goals, but also threw a very nice 34 yard touchdown pass to Mr. Thomas in the first quarter.  Not bad for a run oriented team.  Go Jackets!