Georgia Tech’s first ACC matchup of the season was a thing of beauty, winning 38-14 on Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium. Vad Lee, the Durham native, threw for a career-high 4 touchdowns in his homecoming, and completing 8 of 16 passes for 125 yards. To top it off, he also rushed for a TD in front of family and friends in the upset. It appears that Georgia Tech used their time off very wisely and prepared properly for the competition.
The Yellow Jackets put up 469 total yards on Duke, which would directly explain their time of possession of 38:32. The ground game was in full swing, with 10 players rushing for a total of 344 yards. Robert Godhigh had an impressive game, rushing for 79 yards, as well as posting 59 yards receiving and a TD on the day. David Sims had 14 carries for 65 yards, keeping the Duke defense on their toes. Georgia Tech’s 28 first downs compared to Duke’s 13 tell the story of two teams and their abilities, or lack thereof, to move the ball effectively.
On the receiving side of the ball, DeAndre Smelter, the former Georgia Tech baseball player, had 3 receptions for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ win. Smelter, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2010, made the move from baseball to the football team and is on a football scholarship for the fall. He played football in high school as well, playing the QB, RB, WR and safety positions. Vad Lee, for the second week, stood in the pocket comfortably and delivered passes. Much credit is given to his offensive line, creating time for him to get the ball to his receivers, as well as holes for him and other ball carriers to run through.
Duke QB Brandon Connette had a decent day completing 15/28 passes for 122 yards. RB Jela Duncan had 16 carries for 89 yards and a TD. Not much happened for the Blue Devils offensively despite not having any turnovers. The most excitement came when Ross Cockrell intercepted Vad Lee in the 2nd quarter. Duke visibly struggled to get anything going and was outcoached the entire game.
Georgia Tech’s intensity on offense and defense apparently carried over from their first game against Elon. Through two games, Georgia Tech has outscored their opponents 108 to 14, converted 73% of 3rd downs and has an 80% success rate in the redzone. Defensively, the Jackets are managing to keep their opponents from effectively running the ball. Very few plays make their way into the second level, and the front four are aggressive, putting pressure on QB’s. Although there were no interceptions in the Duke game, three different players had interceptions in the first game, two of which were returned for TDs. However, they haven’t faced a team that challenges their secondary through the air just yet, which means there is still another aspect of the revamped Georgia Tech defense that we haven’t seen.
Again, I don’t want to jump the gun, but this Georgia Tech team looks as if it’s able to make a solid run for the ACC championship. After Saturday’s game against Duke, I’m certainly convinced that Vad Lee can lead this team, and that the defense has certainly improved. The secondary will be tested against UNC, whose QB is 49/77 for 571 yards this season.