Some notes and observations from Durham and a brief look ahead to Saturday’s game.
1. It was one of Tevin Washington’s best games this season. He made plays both running and passing and got the ball pitched to the A-backs for a few big plays. He had that 39-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter in which he shook off a couple tackles to get to the end zone.
I haven’t asked Paul Johnson or Brian Bohannon about this, and perhaps I should, but he’s shown a knack for getting off pitches at the very last instant, as he’s going down, to free up the A-backs.
“I think it was really Tevin reading,” Embry Peeples said, explaining the alleys he had for his runs. “They were trying to slow play him (force him to keep the ball), but he could kind of get close enough to them where they had to attack and he could just kick it out.”
A great stat from Tech sports information guru Dean Buchan: Washington’s 321 yards of total offense were the most by a Tech player since a 367-yard game in 2005 by Reggie Ball.
2. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree had season highs for a Georgia Tech opponent with 26 completions on 42 attempts and four touchdowns. His 250 yards were shy of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd’s 295. Boyd was 23-for 40.
Tech did not sack Renfree, continuing a pattern of not getting consistent pass-rush pressure. Renfree made it hard by getting rid of the ball quickly, but there were instances when he took longer drops and had protection. He was hurried a few times and flushed from the pocket.
In the past four games, opponents have 121 pass attempts and have been sacked three times, a 40.3 pass-per-sack rate. In Tech’s first seven games, opponents threw 203 times and Tech had 16 sacks, or a sack for every 12.7 passes.
I realize the numbers don’t say everything. A quarterback pressure that leads to an interception is far more valuable than a sack, for instance. And Tech’s sack total through seven games is weighted with a seven-sack game against North Carolina. But, it says something.
3. Tech’s loss to Virginia looks a little better with the Cavaliers’ defeat of Florida State Saturday night in Tallahassee. Virginia will play for the Coastal title next Saturday against Virginia Tech. It’s funny; before the Tech-Virginia Tech game, everyone (and I include myself) basically said that the game was for the Coastal title, assuming Virginia was going to take a third conference loss at some point. It wouldn’t surprise me if Virginia were to win Saturday in Charlottesville. It’d be the first time the Coastal representative hasn’t been Tech or Virginia Tech in the game’s history, going back to 2006. Four schools (Boston College, Wake Forest, Florida State and Clemson) have come fro the Atlantic side.
Crazy ending to that game. After Virginia drove late to go up 17-16, Florida State got the ball back with a minute left. On the last possession, there was an injury to a Virginia player that required him to be taken off on a cart, a facemask penalty on fourth down that kept alive FSU’s drive, a pass completion that appeared to end the game but was judged an incompletion on replay, giving the Seminoles a chance to try a last-second field goal, a penalty on Virginia that moved the field-goal attempt five yards and then finally the field goal itself, which hooked left.
Mostly, I was thinking that I was glad I didn’t have to write that game story on deadline. That would have been brutal.
4. I think both Clemson and Florida State’s losses improve Tech’s chances of playing in either the Chick-fil-A or Champs Sports bowls. I think it goes without saying that any bowl wants to put the best game together that it can, because, among other things, it likely means better ratings and fan bases that are excited enough about their teams and their bowl game to buy tickets.
If the Tigers and Seminoles crash and burn next Saturday against South Carolina and Florida, respectively, and Tech pulls the upset of Georgia, I don’t know if it’d be probable that Tech would end up in one of those games, but I’d say at least their chances would be pretty good. If Clemson were to lose in the ACC title game, that’d be a three-game losing streak, the Tigers would be out of the polls and Tech would be the highest-ranked team of Tech, FSU and Clemson. It’s conceivable Virginia might be a more viable option for the bowls at that point.
A lot is still up in the air, though. Virginia is finishing strong. Virginia Tech, if it beats Virginia but then loses to Clemson in the title game, is always a popular choice for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
At this point, I’d think the Sun Bowl is still the most likely destination, but a lot can and will change things.
5. Except for the kickoff return unit, special teams was pretty good. The kickoff cover team kept Duke inside the 30 four out of six times and David Scully had his fourth touchback of the season.
Justin Moore made his fourth consecutive field goal and continued his PAT streak to 52.
6. An encouraging effort by B-back Charles Perkins in his stint filling in for Preston Lyons, save the fourth-quarter fumble Didn’t break any big plays, but he got four first-down runs and looked like he was running hard. I’m not sure how to tease out the numbers, but I’ll give the principal B-backs 905 yards (the 794 that Sims and Lyons had going into the game plus the 111 Sims and Perkins gained Saturday) for the season. (That wouldn’t count yards gained by Perkins and Richard Watson previously. It’s kind of nebulous, I realize.) With two games remaining, it would appear that they’ll be able to clear 1,000 yards to continue the B-back 1,000-yard streak, perhaps with ease.
7. Tech benefited from a holding penalty against Duke on the Blue Devils’ final drive of the game. It was just the fourth time this season that a Tech opponent’s offense has been called for a hold this season.
8. Two important objectives for Tech this week.
a) Find a way to stop Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. If the pass rush doesn’t improve, the onus will be on Louis Young, Jemea Thomas and their cadre to deliver. Georgia tight end Orson Charles looks like a matchup challenge.
b) Punch up the B-back production some more. The 111 yards and two touchdowns Sims and Perkins gained were a good start. (The 25 carries, the most this season for the position by one, helped.) Against the No. 2 run defense in the country – 81.3 yards per game, 2.8 yards per carry – Tech will need as many viable options as it can have.
9. Condolences to the family of Larry Munson. He is a legend in this state and in college football and is an indelible part of the Tech-Georgia rivalry.
10. Tech and Georgia fans – let’s be civil this week. Good-natured ribbing is fine, but if you want to be obscene, disrespectful and generally unpleasant, you aren’t welcome to post and I’ll do my best to make sure you can’t. No tolerance this week. I’ll be busy this week, so it might take me a few hours to get to it, but I’ll ban with pleasure those who can’t play nice. “He started it” and “I couldn’t let those remarks go without a response” are not legitimate excuses.
Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph reports on Georgia turning its attention to Tech.
An old story but a good one. A 2008 Jeff Schultz column about how Johnson nearly became Georgia’s offensive coordinator.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the week.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog