First of all congratulations to the Yellow Jackets for not only the win, but their outstanding effort on both sides of the ball for all sixty minutes on Saturday. After the recent road difficulties the prior two weeks, this was a much needed game to fuel this team for the remainder of the schedule. Now Georgia Tech has to take advantage of some home cooking the balance of the season.
Playing against the # 5 rated team in the BCS that many were already projecting as a national championship participant on January 9, 2012, this win was that much sweeter. The roar at BDS was constant for the entire game, and after holding the high octane tigers to a paltry field goal on their first possession of the game, the crowd noise grew into a crescendo that was unwavering the rest of the evening and fueled the Yellow Jackets to their best performance under Coach Paul Johnson. I remain optimistic that this will become the crowd standard for BDS heading into the rest of the home schedule. This team deserves that much!
In the aftermath of the Miami road loss last game that resulted in an unfortunate injury last week on the very first play from scrimmage to starting center Jay Finch, redshirt junior Nick McRae stepped in and played the entire game. The big concern heading into this game with Clemson was that Mr. McRae was presented with a very difficult challenge in his first start at center by having to go head up against the best defensive tackle in the nation and certain first round NFL pick; Brandon Thompson who goes about 6′ 4″, 320 Lbs. While I’m obviously not privy to the Georgia Tech play chart, based on the B-Back production in this contest from David Sims and Preston Lyons, Mr. McRae must have had an outstanding game blocking Brandon Thompson and providing running lanes in the A and B gaps given the significant yardage generated throughout the game.
Heading into this big contest it was a matchup that gave me great concern as Brandon Thompson is a stalwart performer who has the physical tools and experience to easily eclipse the 22 tackle performance set by Maryland’s standout DT Joe Vellano the last time the Yellow Jackets played at BDS. During the course of the evening I rarely saw or heard Brandon Thompson make a significant play and the one time that he did wallop B-Back David Sims on a nicely executed dive play in the A gap near the five yard line, he didn’t even have the football as Tevin Washington carried out the mesh point with textbook precision keeping the football himself and scoring from a few yards out and a 24 to 3 lead. Heck of a first game Nick!
What about the record performing night by QB Tevin Washington who ran for more yards than any other Georgia Tech quarterback?; The outstanding 44 yard catch by Stephen Hill on a post route that led to a touchdown? All of the foregoing were notable efforts however, my game ball goes to; Jemea Thomas who was a one man wrecking crew all evening. Two interceptions; several special team tackles; and handled the punt return duties flawlessly. This player has been a tackling machine all season long and now he is making his presence known on defense in the nickel package as the fifth defensive back for Coach Al Groh’s defense. Speaking of Coach Groh, he did a nice job of mixing coverage’s and blitzes on Clemson’s Taj Boyd all night long, and the defense was stellar.
One play that really stood out to me in particular was redshirt junior NT TJ Barnes chasing down Clemson’s QB Taj Boyd and forcing a 16 yard sack via an intentional grounding penalty that comes complete with an automatic loss of down. At 6′ 7″ 353 Lbs. he was right on the heels of Mr. Boyd who I imagine is a pretty quick fellow himself and certainly did not want to feel the wrath of TJ as he was quickly bearing down on him. That play alone wiped out an entire Clemson offensive scoring possession and led to a forced fumble a few plays later that gave GT a 7 to 3 lead. Keep up the hustle TJ as we will need more plays just like that to finish out this season.
With this win Georgia Tech heads into an off week for some much needed rest and more importantly with tremendous momentum. With that prepare yourself for the always present extra week scenario that just seems to ooze negativity for the Yellow Jackets as everyone is perpetually intoxicated from drinking the kool aid of; an extra week of preparation gives Georgia Tech’s the opponents the upper hand as they are able to figure out this triple option when provided additional time to get ready. Guess what? The Yellow Jackets also have an extra week of time to get ready, and given the success this triple option has had against Bud Foster and the Virginia Tech Hokies, with or without Kam Chancellor, I’m really looking forward to the Thursday Night game on November 10, 2011 at another sold out BDS.
While he will never admit it my sense is that Coach Paul Johnson really enjoys beating Frank Beamer, I do too. This game in my opinion will decide the champion of the ACC Coastal Division just as it has for the past three seasons; sorry UVA. After last night’s win and a game like this, an extended week off comes at a very opportune time for the Yellow Jackets. Here are my reasons for that statement; last week an unranked Texas Tech team pulled off a monumental upset of then # 3 ranked Oklahoma in Norman. This week those Red Raiders were dismantled at home by Iowa State 41 to 7.;Michigan State defeated # 4 ranked Wisconsin 37 to 31 with a “Hail Mary” pass for the ages, then goes into Lincoln, Nebraska and gets dominated by the Big Red 24 to 3. Are you seeing the trend that we are able to avoid by having this bye at the perfect time?
It is also interesting that the two teams who expended so much energy and time in preparation for their games with the Yellow Jackets that they promptly went out the following and lost; UVA at home to NC State; and Miami at home last Thursday to UVA. Go Figure!
While I’m not a golfer, one of the best clichés ever is associated with that activity; “you drive for show and putt for the dough.” This is the perfect analogy for college football as you set yourself up for success in September and October, and win championships in November! Right now Georgia Tech is perfectly aligned to have an opportunity to; “putt for the dough” in the ACC.
I say this with the reality that Coach Al Groh currently has this defense playing solid football ever since the loss at UVA. Let’s face it, after Clemson put up 59 points on the North Carolina Tar Heels last game with all of their future NFL talent nobody was giving Georgia Tech a puncher’s chance in this game at all. In fact the media was already designating us as road kill in this one. So imagine their collective shock watching Clemson go from 59 to 17 points in one week against a defense with no current first round NFL picks on the roster.
Georgia Tech held the most productive offense in the NCAA in check all night long. Al knows defense! So in golf lingo we have now successfully completed the 15th hole with an opportunity to finish out with a great round. Next up; the Virginia Tech Hokies on the 16th! Go Jackets!
By the way, I don’t golf!