Funny the difference a week makes and some kudos to BigTimeTechFan, who last Monday predicted “Yellow Jackets in a blowout.” He was a little more on the ball than Dawgfan, who prophesied that “CLAMPSUN WILL DESTROY THAT STUPID YOUTH FOOTBALL OFFENSE.”
A couple thoughts and I’ve got to get moving.
1. After taking a lot of heat, special teams gets a pretty big assist for its role in Saturday’s win. Clemson’s starting field position on its seven kickoff returns – the 28, 26, 50, 28, 30 and 11. Considering Sammy Watkins had been averaging 28.9 yards per return (24.6 if you factor out his 89-yard return) and Tech’s kickoffs were landing around the 10, that’s pretty good work. Jemea Thomas had one good stop and I think wasn’t credited for another. Watkins also ran into one of his own players and was downed on another. When that happened, it made me kind of think it was going to be Tech’s night.
Sean Poole and the punt team netted 44.0 yards on three punts. Tech had to, at least, play Clemson’s special teams to a draw, and the Jackets did at least that. (Clemson’s initial kickoff went out of bounds and Chandler Catanzaro missed a field goal from 40 yards in the second quarter.)
If Poole can develop consistency, he can be a valuable weapon.
2. I’m not a fan of repeating cliches – I am, however, a fan of Sushi Yoko, a Japanese restaurant in Doraville – but I’m going to go with “You’re never as good as you think after a win and you’re never as bad as you think after a loss,” if that’s the proper phrasing. Please don’t read this as “Georgia Tech got lucky,” because the Yellow Jackets were clearly the better team Saturday.
I think running back Andre Ellington being out was a pretty big break for Tech. I’m not saying it made the difference, but he would have given Clemson more of a chance. I’m sure if you go to a Clemson message board, you can find more “if only’s,” but that was a pretty big one.
It’s the same line of thinking, mind you, that the Tech-Miami game could have turned out differently had Roddy Jones not gotten the facemask call and Zach Laskey had avoided the punt inside the 10-yard line. Tech played pretty poorly, but the Jackets weren’t as bad as they showed that day. The result made it easy to think that Tech couldn’t beat Clemson (unless you’re BigTimeTechFan). Likewise, beating Clemson doesn’t mean the Jackets will beat Virginia Tech. Or Duke, for that matter (which could have easily beaten the Hokies Saturday).
I can think of plenty of reasons why both may happen, but I also had a lot of reasons why they would beat Virginia and Miami. I’m not saying it won’t happen – I’d say chances are more favorable it will – but banking on it is probably not wise.
Saturday was just a reminder of how much this game rests on the emotion and intensity of post-adolescents. A week after beating Oklahoma, Texas Tech lost at home to Iowa State 41-7. The Cyclones had lost their first four Big 12 games by an average of 24.3 points. I’m going to guess that the Texas Tech players’ (and maybe coaches’) heads were in the clouds all week. Same with Michigan State, which got drummed by Nebraska a week after upsetting Wisconsin in about the most euphoric manner imaginable.
“It’s hard to explain why we weren’t on top of our game, knowing we’re going to get their best shot,” Tommy Tuberville told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “But we weren’t. We just had no emotion — coaching or playing.
“It was kind of like, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen. We beat somebody last week. It’s going to happen.’ But no matter who you’re playing, they also have a football team. They also play hard, and they’ve got good players, and they’ve got good coaches.”
Paul Johnson, last week: “I expect to win every game, I want to win every game. But the reality is the other teams have 85 other scholarship players and they pay their coaches and they try to win, too. That’s why you play the games.”
Stories putting Clemson loss in perspective Anderson Independent Mail. The first has a funny detail. Writer Greg Wallace tweeted awhile ago that an Orange Bowl berth would be a great accomplishment for Clemson, and some fans responded that that statement was insulting. A whole bunch of more posts from the game.
No practice today, so this should be it for Monday. Thanks for reading. Happy Halloween!
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog