Well it only took a postgame trip to grab a bite after the game before I had to endure the same comments that have been echoed after every Georgia Tech Bowl Loss under Coach Paul Johnson. So in the ten minutes it took for the restaurant to prepare my take out meal while I waited in the foyer some unknown, uninvited, and dimwitted ignoramus upon seeing my Yellow Jacket gear asked me; “so what was the score of the game?” I politely responded; “Utah won 30 to 27 in overtime.” Then right on cue he commented; “That offense doesn’t work in a bowl game since teams have extra time to prepare for it.”
Given that it was too late to cancel the jalapeno’s that were an integral part of my order since I was instantly hot under the collar upon hearing this ridiculous drivel, I thought it was a perfect opportunity for some cathartic venting on two fronts. First I gave him a rundown (pun absolutely intended) of how Tech ran for more than 300 yards on the ground against the Ute’s # 9 rated rush defense, and had about 450 yards of total offense on the afternoon. But the real bane behind the loss was the position responsible for more losses in the history of the sport than I or any coach, especially Bobby Bowden, would care to list; the kicking game!
Missing three (3) bunny field goals in regulation is what caused this loss, not extra time to prepare for the triple option as the Yellow Jackets did their part on offense. I expect three things from a kicker; make your extra points, the equivalent of a layup in basketball; put the football into the end zone at least 80% of the time on kickoffs as I understand nobody is perfect; and make 90% of your field goals inside of 45 yards. Any coach will be fine with those standards, even Nick Saban. Anything beyond 45 yards is realistically less than 50% and I would prefer to go for it on 4th down or play field position with a punt inside of the 20 yard line under those circumstances.
The first kick that was missed was not even close to the goalpost. It was about 30 yards to the left of the stanchion which is unacceptable in major college football. Talk about the kick never having a chance! Frankly it was embarrassing! It was closer to what I have seen at halftime at BDS when they trot out a fan to kick a 25 yard field for a year of free food from Papa John’s or Moe’s. The other 42 yard attempt barely made the lower left portion of the crossbar where it floated with the inertia of Nerf ball as it hit with a sound more reminiscent of a wet rag than a football. Perhaps we can get lucky in the upcoming recruiting class and entice somebody sitting on the bench for Real Madrid or AC Milan into becoming an engineer.
No doubt the entire team and staff feel the same level of frustration as does the fan base with this loss. That being said I cannot comment on the play calling in the 4th quarter when it appeared that we were just trying to jam the ball in the A and B gap without success as Utah was overloading the middle. If the openings were not there then the decision making component of the triple option lies in the hands of the quarterback to pull the football and find the correct mismatch based on what the defense is trying to take away. Given the record performance of B-Back Preston Lyons the blocking up front was tremendous throughout the game as Utah was focused on taking away the A-Backs to the edge. So while it appeared that the play calling was conservative, without having the play chart that in fact might not be the case at all.
However, let me add this caveat to those who are irate about the play calling; given the plain fact CPJ and the team wants to win every game, especially a bowl game, when points are left on the field you don’t want to risk a possible turnover by taking unnecessary chances and giving away the momentum and field position. The offense played very well in this game but given the totality of what transpired at the end of several drives with missed scoring opportunities, the course of the play calling in the game changes accordingly. You win as a team and lose as a team.
Despite all of that Tevin Washington took the offense about 50 yards with 49 seconds left to play to once again put the Yellow Jackets in position to kick a potential game winning field goal. Earlier this bowl season I watched Louisiana Lafayette accomplish that very same task and winning their bowl game on the last play when their kicker drilled a 50 yarder with room to spare to defeat San Diego State. I was impressed to see that CPJ trotted out David Scully to attempt this 48 yard kick. While it missed to the right by a few feet, he gave the team a chance to win with a solid effort.
It was a tough loss and now everyone will have to live with it until next bowl season, and hopefully it will provide extra motivation for the players to work that much harder in order to avoid these type of tough OT losses moving forward. So give Utah credit for coming back to win a game as they too played hard and I thought both teams put forth a tremendous effort. On a side note I was very impressed to see a nice turnout of Yellow Jackets fans at the game, was able to meet some very nice GT supporters, and had a very enjoyable time in El Paso despite this frusrating loss.