1. Through three games, the Georgia Tech defense had offered evidence that it had made clear progress from defensive coordinator Al Groh’s first two seasons.
Saturday was not so much a fly in the ointment as it was a pterodactyl. The final damage – the Yellow Jackets gave up 609 yards to Miami, which is 183 more than the Hurricanes were able to gain against FCS Bethune-Cookman a week ago. Tech has given up more yards in only two games, 667 to Notre Dame in a 69-14 loss in 1977 and 610 to Duke in a 41-38 win over Duke in 1997.
Said outside linebacker Brandon Watts, “I felt like we weren’t prepared.”
A stretch over the middle portion of the game suggested that the Tech defense had gained the upper hand. After scoring to take a 19-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, Miami’s next five possessions lasted a total of 16 plays, including a half-ending kneeldown. The other four possessions ended with a lost fumble, punt, interception and punt.
However, after Tech took its 36-19 lead, Miami then drove 74 yards for a field goal, 82 yards for a touchdown, 88 yards for a missed field goal and 91 yards for a game-tying touchdown at the end of regulation. The offense didn’t help, punting after possessions of five, five and eight plays to keep returning the ball to Miami.
Miami quarterback Stephen Morris finished with 436 passing yards on 31-of-52 passing with two touchdowns. In Miami’s history, which includes quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde, Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar, that’s the fifth-highest single-game total.
“We were expecting more of a run from watching film,” cornerback Jemea Thomas said. “We were going for the run but they came out and changed it to a passing game.”
As per team rules, Groh was not made available for interviews after the game. The team policy is to bring coach Paul Johnson and six players to the interview room.
2. Tech suffered a handful of injuries that forced backups into the game. Offensive lineman Will Jackson left the game with a leg injury and did not return. Jackson, who was playing tackle for the second game in a row after playing guard through his first two seasons, was replaced by Tyler Kidney. Cornerback Louis Young left the game in the second half with an injury to his right arm. Young fractured his thumb in the preseason and was still wearing protection over the injury. He did not return.
Punter Sean Poole also suffered what appeared to be a shoulder or arm injury making a tackle. He was replaced by true freshman Ryan Rodwell, meaning his redshirt has been burned.
3. A male fan at the game was treated and released from Grady Memorial Hospital Saturday after falling 25 feet from a staircase railing onto a service concourse in the northeast corner of the stadium. The only further information Tech spokesman Wayne Hogan could offer following the game was that the fan was not a student.
4. Coach Paul Johnson’s opening statemetn: “I don’t know what to say. I think I’m as disappointed as I’ve ever been. We made way too many errors in all three facets of the game. It was like two or three different games. It looked like we were going to get blown out of our own stadium then we got righted and it looked like we were going to blow them out of the stadium. To their credit, they came back. They made plays at the end of the game and we didn’t.”
5. Orwin Smith said a miscommunication played a factor in the safety he took on a first-quarter kickoff. With the lead 10-0, Smith took the ensuing kickoff from kicker Jake Wieclaw two or three yards deep in the end zone. He was about to return the kick, but slowed up. His momentum caused him to put his hand down past the goal line before trying to take a touchback. The NCAA rulebook states that a play becomes a touchback when “a kick becomes dead by rule behind the defending team’s goal line and the attacking team is responsible for the ball being there.”
6. The 17-point lead that Tech gave up was the largest since surrendering an 18-point lead against West Virginia in the 2007 Gator Bowl. Miami’s 30 first downs are the most by a Tech opponent under Johnson, passing the 27 gained by N.C. State in 2010. Tech gave up more than 500 yards for only the fourth time with Johnson as coach and the first time since 2010.
On the play, Smith said fellow returner Jamal Golden signaled for him to take the touchback. The “off” returner has the authority to make that call, Smith said.
7. For the fourth time in three different games, quarterback Tevin Washington’s helmet came off, requiring him to leave the game for one play, as required by a new rule. Offensive tackle Ray Beno’s helmet also came off once. … Attendance was 50,390. … Long snapper Tyler Morgan wore No. 40 in honor of former linebacker and team captain Julian Burnett, who suffered a career-ending injury in the Sun Bowl last season.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog