It has taken a few games to find the identity of this team, but the grit and determination have risen to the top just in time as the Yellow Jackets make their run at the Coastal Division Championship. Josh Nesbitt established his leadership a couple of weeks ago against North Carolina with his inside mid-line option running down the stretch. Then showed that he is a true dual threat quarterback who can also pass the football with a 266 yard effort through the air against Mississippi State by going 11 out of 14 against an SEC defense.
Against the Noles he showed that he also has the heart of a champion by once again taking control of the game down the stretch. His effort in tearing away the football from the grasp of that FSU defender after our A-Back fumbled the ball just showed that Tech’s quarterback will fight on every play to win a game. He is just an extension of Paul Johnson on the field. Too bad the officials in the replay booth failed to capture a similar effort by Correy Earls on the opening kickoff. Perhaps they were too busy to watch that effort since they were still over at the microwave melting Velveeta processed cheese on their nachos. But I did appreciate Paul Johnson’s response on the sideline when “the booth” chose to review Josh Nesbitt’s first touchdown run from 1 yard out.
Given all of the talk in the pre-season and the first few games this year by the experts; “The way to stop this offense is just take away Jonathan Dwyer on the runs up the middle and make their quarterback keep the ball.” It appears now that the magical elixir brewed by the masterminds is not producing the expected results. In fact, Josh Nesbitt has consistently shown that he is the most dangerous component of this very effective triple option offense. His passing efficiency has been off the charts the last 2 games and certainly has gotten the attention of Virginia Tech who is coming into town for a critical Coastal Division game at Bobby Dodd Stadium this Saturday night. He is making the proper reads on the option plays, and has shown that he is now very comfortable running this offense as a very dangerous and productive field manager.
After absorbing all that went on in this game, apart from the delay due to the lightning strikes in the area, the real electricity was being generated on the field by FSU’s Christian Ponder, and Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt. This game from the opening kickoff turned into a personal duel between two very gifted quarterbacks who were playing in sophisticated, yet polar opposite offenses, that each managed to showcase their very unique personal attributes and athletic gifts on the football field.
After watching the teams march up and down the field in the first half while simultaneously shredding both defenses to the bone, it suddenly dawned on me that I have seen this before. Not in a football game, but a basketball playoff game back in 1988 matching the Boston Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. It was Larry Bird against Dominique Wilkins in a game for the ages. Two leaders for their respective teams who through their sheer desire to win a game take it upon themselves to do whatever is necessary in order to will their team to a victory. Unfortunately, at the end of the game only one would be able to win the contest.
Georgia Tech’s triple option offense with Josh Nesbitt at the controls reminds me a lot of the old Boston Celtics team oriented based offense with Larry Bird leading the charge; Old fashioned but very effective. This game against Florida State with their high octane passing offense led by Christian Ponder, was similar to what Larry Bird and the Celtics faced in 1988 against the sleeker and more athletic Atlanta Hawks with Dominique “The Human Highlight Reel” Wilkins, leading the Hawks. Christain Ponder is the best quarterback I have seen at FSU in the last 2 decades. He throws a very accurate ball and much like Dominique he also has very good athletic ability when he moves outside of the pocket and elects to run for a first down.
Just as Dominique won his “personal scoring duel” with Larry Bird back in that memorable 1988 game 7 by scoring 47 points to Larry’s 34, he lost the game. Here too we have the same result. Christian Ponder threw for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns, while rushing for 17 yards. Tech’s Josh Nesbitt rushed for 140 yards and 3 scores, and added another 131 through the air with a beautiful 73 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. However his team won the game just like Larry Bird and the Celtics did back in 1988. But it was quite a game to watch. Now let’s get ready for Virginia Tech.