Just like the certain devastating loss and substandard performance that follows any team or player that appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Georgia Tech has become the shooting gallery fodder of a certain ACC correspondent who has yet to hit the bulls eye of accuracy in her football predictions as it involves the Yellow Jackets. In fact, based on my recollection of her predicting a GT loss just about every week in 2009 including the ACC Championship Game, her historic winning percentage in this endeavor makes the short end of the stick look like a redwood tree. So in her weekly overview of the upcoming ACC games this week she not only boldly put the Yellow Jackets in the category of a certain and unequivocal defeat, but made this a; bet the house and stock portfolio on a certain Georgia Tech loss on the road at MTSU 28 to 27! So grab a flight, car, or hitchhike to Las Vegas and take the Blue Raiders and the unnecessary underdog 11 points as this was an upset Lock certain to invoke a capital gains profit in less than 2 1/2 hours of viewing at the casino lounge.
So imagine the smirk on my face once the game opened with a Tevin Washington pass completion to redshirt freshman A-Back Tony Zenon for a 73 yard touchdown strike quicker than I could say; “but the quarterback in the triple option offense can’t throw the football and it’s a terrible come from behind scheme!” So now that the Yellow Jackets were already leading 7 to 0, none of that really mattered. How about that Lady Heather! Any CSI fans out there in the Yellow Jacket nation? I’m going to take away the weekly drama and predict that this upcoming week our very own Lady Heather will be railing about how the Jayhawks will repeat their 2010 victory in Lawrence Kansas only this time reenact it up close and personal at Grant Field in BDS. My crystal ball is quite clear as to the expected continued fortune telling prowess of the ACC’s very own; Lady Heather.
For those who have followed Coach Paul Johnson and this offense before his hiring at Georgia Tech, Tony Zenon is the prototypical A-Back for this scheme and he reminds me very much of Reggie Campbell who also played in this high school offense, excuse me, I meant to say system at the Naval Academy. Tony Zenon is the type of player who after putting up impressive yardage numbers his senior season in high school, wasn’t highly recruited (or at all) by the BCS schools solely as a consequence of his non five stars physical stature. But he was the perfect fit for Georgia Tech and the Coach Paul Johnson system. This player and his family moved to the Atlanta area as a consequence of Hurricane Katrina after being forced to relocate from their family home in the New Orleans area. Just a great story and very happy to see that Tony Zenon is contributing this season as his playing time has increased due to some injuries to more experienced players at the A-Back position.
So after all of this feel good play to start the game, we have the infamous kick out of bounds for a penalty and now shrink the field for the MTSU offense by gift wrapping them a first down on their own 40 yard line. CPJ expressed my same joy with this effort from the sidelines. Fortunately, the defense forced a Blue Raiders punt and after a very successful bounce and roll, the ball was downed on the 2 yard line where the next Georgia Tech offensive possession would begin. So now we start running the football while the blocking in the interior A and B gaps is very solid as David Sims is running well and Tevin Washington is making nice reads on this drive. Then after chewing up a big chunk of time off the clock, Tevin takes it him himself on the midline option for a 2 yard touchdown. The Yellow Jackets marched 98 yards in 17 plays all on the ground and a 14 to 0 lead. Or should I say a very tenuous and shaky 14 to 11 lead according to the slam dunk lock upset prediction from Lady Heather! So all in all we are up by a measly field goal.
So now comes kick off # 2 and this one also squirts out of bounds for another penalty putting the Blue Raiders offense on the field at their 40 yard line without even breaking a sweat, let alone actually return the kickoff. I was watching to see if anyone was near the kicker as he came off the field as I cannot imagine the reaction from CPJ as to seeing this happen for yet a second time this game. I can only envision the wrath for such an avoidable error.
Fortunately, the defense played pretty well and forced a field goal that was missed by the MTSU kicker. There was a rumor floating around after the game that it was actually ”Our” kicker who was so afraid to come off the field after that second kickoff out of bounds that he remained on the MTSU sideline and then donned a blue jersey and went out and missed the field goal in an effort to calm down CPJ before he went back over to the Yellow Jacket sideline for the remainder of the game. I’m still trying to confirm the accuracy of this event.
Now the Yellow Jackets had the football on their 29 yard line to begin their third drive of the game. Instead of another long drive with the triple option, Tevin Washington dropped back and hit Stephen Hill for a 71 yard touchdown and a 21 to 11 lead. For those folks not in Las Vegas looking to move into another tax bracket, it was 21 to nothing Georgia Tech at that point. After the next kickoff, in bounds for a change, the defense played very well and linebacker Julian Burnett dropped a receiver for 2 yard loss on third down forcing a punt. Give MTSU credit for running a fake punt on 4th down that had the Yellow Jackets unprepared. Another special teams learning lesson early in the season. Hopefully we have exhausted special teams blunders after these first two games.
Then safety Isaiah Johnson picked off a pass at the ten yard line thwarting the MTSU fake punt resulting drive. Now Tevin Washington airs it out once again to Stephen Hill for a very pedestrian and meager 43 yard pass completion. It was a very nice catch by Stephen who has really stepped his level of play this season. Keep up the oustanding effort Stephen! After some more hard running by David Sims up the middle, Tevin takes it in himself on a nice option keep for another touchdown and a 28 to you pick; 11 or 0 lead. I haven’t looked at the totals from last season as it is generally just too painful, but I would say that after two games we have probably passed for more yards than we did all of last season. See what a difference a year can make?
Then on this kickoff Jemea Thomas has a great open field tackle forcing MTSU to start around the 20 yard line. After a few pass completions, Rashaad Reid strips the football from a WR for another turnover and gives the football back to the offense. Unfortunately, we give it right back on a fumble and the Blue Raiders take the opportunity to score a touchdown on a very nice effort by their running back and a subsequent push into the end zone from the 2 yard line by half of their offensive linemen that hustled downfield to assist. Now the lead was trimmed to 28 to 7, all in all not a bad half of football despite 3 special team gaffes.
The second half starts with a nice 3 and out by the defense, followed by an 80 yard triple option drive for another touchdown with Orwin Smith going around the right end on a toss sweep and a 35 to 7 lead all done by running the football. Best of all, Synjyn Days was at quarterback and getting some much needed game experience which is necessary in any offense as you always have to keep two quarterbacks ready to play at any time. Jemea Thomas had another excellent tackle covering the kickoff. This kid really has a nose for the football and is an outstanding performer who will be seeing plenty of playing time in the defensive backfield as the season moves along.
With Synjyn Days still at the helm, he took the Yellow Jackets on another long scoring drive taking it in the final 5 yards himself for the touchdown and a 42 to 7 lead. Synjyn also had another scoring drive and finished it off himself by taking it into the end zone from a yard out making the score 49 to 14 before MTSU scored against a smattering of backups to make the final score 49 to 21.
Mixed into the second half was Nick McRae playing the majority at center, along with true freshman Shaq Mason and redshirt freshman Catlin Alford seeing extensive playing time at the guard spots. Ray Beno, also a redshirt freshman has been starting and playing both of these games at tackle as starting tackle Phil Smith was suspended the first two games for violation of a team rule. This experience will greatly benefit this team moving forward as this was the first year we have had an opportunity to play some of the backup kids and gain some much needed game experience, and give the starters some much needed rest for the remainder of the schedule.
Next up is the much awaited rematch with the Kansas Jayhawks who derailed the Yellow Jackets season last year and started the tail spin that resulted in a very dismal record. By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that two teams Lady Heather just adores managed to escape with narrow wins against their opponents this weekend. The Hokies eked out a 17 to 10 win at East Carolina, and Clemson managed to defeat Wofford 35 to 27 at Death Valley. Just for those folks really interested, Va Tech was a 17 point favorite and the Clemson game didn’t even have an actual line as they were expected to win by more than 42 points. It looks like the preferred darlings were much closer to actual upsets than that team that uses a; “high school offense”, which by the way managed to put up 49 points and 596 yards in total offense this week. Go Jackets!