Reviewing Georgia Tech’s 27-13 loss at Clemson on Saturday:
The game that was
Georgia Tech had many things go right on its way to the Orange Bowl last season. This season, things aren’t going their way with as much regularity and the result is losses. The odd thing is in each of the three losses there has been a single moment when, if one play is made, the result could have been different. On Saturday it was the failure to recover a fumble on a kickoff return. Against N.C. State and Kansas, it was allowing third-and-long conversions after Tech had just scored to take the momentum.
What we learned
1. The team needs to get mean. Paul Johnson said afterward that his team got whacked around. Brad Jefferson said the defense had trouble beating blocks (not the first time this season that has been said), and Johnson later said the offensive line needs to put its hand on the ground and blow somebody off the ball. That’s not all technique, some of that is just wanting to be meaner than the man in front of you.
2. Special teams need special attention. Tech isn’t good enough to overcome too many mistakes. It had a season’s worth of errors on special teams in the loss to Clemson, with six errors made. The punt-return unit, which has had issues throughout the season, had a penalty for roughing the kicker, and the punt coverage unit was called for a late hit. It also failed to down a punt at the 1-yard line.
3. The offense needs a game-changer. With the exception of Orwin Smith, Tech has nobody on the edge that can be consistently counted on to either catch the ball or take the option and turn upfield for a big play. Smith has become Tech’s most dependable receiver with two catches for 37 yards on Saturday in a group that had more drops. Smith also had four rushes for 54 yards. Anthony Allen was a game-changer on the edge in the rushing game last season at A-back. Because teams are focusing on taking out Joshua Nesbitt and Allen, who is now a B-back, one of the A-backs needs to step up … and the offensive line and wide receivers need to help by sealing the edge.
There appeared to be no significant injuries.
Rushing yards per carry on 38 carries allowed by Georgia Tech on Saturday. The 236 yards allowed was a season high. Tech was susceptible to cut-back runs last season, and that hasn’t changed this year.
“We’re going to have to go back, watch the tape and get this thing worked out quick because we’ve got a couple more big games coming up.” — Allen said, referencing games at Virginia Tech and at home against Miami.
Nesbitt needed 44 yards to become the ACC’s most prolific rushing quarterback. He now needs 42 yards after netting just 2 yards on 15 carries against the Tigers. It was his worst rushing performance since Johnson took over as coach and an example of the offensive line’s issues. … Twice this season Tech has been held to a touchdown or less in the first half. … Tech didn’t force a turnover for the fifth game this season.
Georgia Tech gets more than a week off to regroup before heading to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. Tech’s chances of making it back to the ACC championship game are very slim, but they include needing a win over the Hokies.