1. It was impressive, maybe even astounding, to see the defense go toe to toe with Florida State in the second half, keeping the Seminoles off the board for the final 30 minutes. The pass rush was effective, the tackling and hitting was solid and plays were made. Before Florida State’s final kneeldown, the Seminoles’ five possessions in the second half ended in punt, fumble, punt, fumble, interception.
After gaining 211 yards on 29 plays in the first half, FSU ran 29 plays in the second half, also, but only produced 117 yards. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher explained the second half offensive lapse with “self-inflicted wounds.” Whatever the reason, it was remarkable.
It speaks well for whatever interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and his staff did at halftime – the same thing happened against North Carolina and Duke – but also causes you to wonder what the defense could do if it played like that more consistently.
2. Regarding Tevin Washington/Vad Lee, I thought I heard sideline reporter Heather Cox saying that Johnson told her that both would play in the second half. Obviously, Washington played the entire half. I confess I didn’t ask about it, but will.
Had the 2-by-2 rotation continued, Lee would have been due to go into the game on Tech’s second possession of the second half, the one that the Jackets started on the FSU 49-yard line after Jabari Hunt-Days’ forced fumble (which was an excellent play) and lasted one play (interception by A-back Synjyn Days).
I would surmise that Paul Johnson saw something and wanted to ride Washington out, certainly after leading the drive after the interception that ended in a field goal. Perhaps at that point, the game became “his” to win or lose.
3. They get beaten up a lot, so the special teams units should get some acknowledgement. Tech’s starting points off of FSU’s four kickoffs were the 23, 25, 35 (out of bounds) and 34. Basically, 1-for-2, as two were out of Tech’s control, against a very good kickoff cover team. Jamal Golden had a 34-yard return on FSU’s final kickoff.
For FSU, it was the 25, 10 (FSU penalty, would have been the 19), 25, 30 and 26, also pretty good.
Kickers David Scully and Chris Tanner hit all three of the field-goal tries, the first time Tech made three in a game all season, though the Jackets attempted three or more only twice (although that was partly because Johnson lost confidence in the unit).
Tanner, a walk-on senior, is now 5-for-6. It’s too bad he’s only now getting a shot.
Sean Poole shanked his first punt, a 20-yarder that gave the Seminoles the ball on the Tech 43 and led to the opening touchdown, but his three punts after were some of the best of the season. Jamal Golden didn’t return any of FSU’s three punts.
4. Talking to players and Johnson after the game, they were obviously disappointed with the loss, but not down.
Particularly given the catastrophe in Athens, how the season has gone and how much better a team FSU is, it was perhaps to be expected. They made some critical mistakes, but still played off their feet and emptied their bucket.
“Never happy when you lose, but I told our guys that I was proud of their effort, so we’ll take that and try to move forward,” Johnson said.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog