As of now the thought of an undefeated season is certainly over. With that reality we now have to see whether this Georgia Tech team can rebound and move forward, or let the promise of a very successful season go down the drain. As Coach Paul Johnson always reminds us; “good teams don’t lose two games in a row.” We will find out rather quickly if this 2011 team wants to be in that upper category of teams, or those that wallow in pity and permit a season to be wasted with poor play resulting in countless inexcusable losses.
With that backdrop and all of the post-mortems already performed regarding the UVA loss, it is probably better to look forward to the challenge that lies directly ahead as opposed to wallowing any further about this loss. Anytime a team loses they always could have played better unless they were just overmatched. Much like Alabama at Mississippi, who after falling behind 7 to 0 came back with a vengeance and obliterated the Rebels 52 to 7, and could have easily made it even worse. Had the Yellow Jackets been humiliated in that manner, then this season would be on the verge of ending before it ever started. Fortunately, the execution errors in a 24 to 21 loss are correctable, whereby a 52 to 7 beat down is a preview of the rest of the season. Good luck Ole Miss.
In their most recent trip to Miami a few seasons ago the Hurricanes put a serious whipping on Georgia Tech followed up with an equally humiliating loss at BDS last year. So after allowing UVA to prevail in a game they had no business winning, the Yellow Jackets have painted themselves into a corner with no margin for error in order to be a contender in the ACC Coastal Division. Nobody plays football games to lose, and no doubt this team has been told repeatedly by the coaching staff that unless they awoke from the ether and feel good attitude that has permeated the last two wins prior to UVA, that they were due for a wakeup call with a loss. Well now it has happened. The real challenge is going to be how they’re going to react down in Miami on Saturday.
This is when the Yellow Jackets find out not only what they are made of, but more importantly, how they will react as a team to this defeat. Frankly, I was mildly surprised that Georgia Tech was still even ranked after this loss. Hopefully, that will be a motivator for the squad into realizing they still have an opportunity to win the Coastal, but certainly cannot afford to lose another game to a division foe. This much is certain; while nobody was even thinking about a loss to UVA everyone was looking at the Miami road game as a probable stumbling block. Now that the Yellow Jackets have already used up a loss they could ill afford to have, this game at Miami is a must win for the Division as well as the fate of this 2011 team.
As was evident this past Saturday, Maryland has shown they were not a bad team and gave Clemson quite a game before eventually going down in defeat in a score fest. The Yellow Jackets need to display that type of fight for the first time this season as they have reached a turning point as to how they are going to react in the face of an unexpected loss. Miami is beatable so long as Georgia Tech doesn’t defeat themselves with poor execution and play. The Michigan State Spartans have bounced back nicely defeating Ohio State and undefeated Michigan after losing on the road to a Notre Dame team that was quickly written off after two losses to open the season.
The Spartans showed the type of team character and resolve necessary to keep a season from going into the drink and moving past a loss by immediately stepping up and winning a huge road game in front of 106,000+ in Columbus with a final score of 10 to 7, a tough win, but a win. That is exactly what Georgia Tech needs to do this Saturday and it probably will not be easy, but in conference play nothing is ever easy.
The “U” has been consistently inconsistent this season and the Yellow Jackets have enough talent to win this game if they play with some urgency and passion that has not been present since their win over North Carolina. Three undefeated teams lost last Saturday leaving only ten unblemished squads in the BCS. The real question is how will those three teams bounce back from their first loss of the season? Will they follow in the footsteps of Michigan State, or quickly lose two more games like Florida State did after suffering a home loss to the Oklahoma Sooners? We will find out soon enough.
One of the best quotes ever uttered in sports was by Michael Jordan who said after an early home loss in a best of seven series; “Now that we have lost home court it’s a series.” That is the attitude Georgia Tech needs to, or better have from this point moving forward. It’s a loss, get over it, realize why it happened, learn from it, and don’t let it happen again. Simply put, the leaders on this team have to assert themselves and maintain a higher level of play for the rest of the season and the Yellow Jackets will be fine. If not, then we will become as irrelevant as the Florida State Seminoles who squandered their opportunity after everyone already handed them the ACC Championship before ever playing a game.
Good teams don’t lose two games in a row! Be like Mike!