NASHVILLE — Welcome to Vanderbilt, where the major college football team from Georgia that isn’t so preoccupied with the color of their helmets and uniforms will play a game tonight.
Georgia Tech has won five straight since its only loss of the season in Miami and has a good chance to win out in the final four regular season games (although I say that without yet knowing what scary color pants and helmets – ooooh – Georgia will wear Nov. 28). The rest of the schedule: Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia. If the Jackets win out, they’ll be 11-1 overall (8-1 in conference) going into the ACC championship game.
And seriously, how can Tech lose tonight? Granted, weird things happen sometimes at Vanderbilt. Opponents seemingly get lulled to sleep. It has happened to Georgia. But this is a bad Vandy team. The Commodores are 2-6 and the wins have come over Western Carolina and Rice. In the last four games (all losses), they have scored only 7, 13, 10 and 10 points. Their offense is last in the SEC in average time of possession (26.41). They’re going against a Georgia Tech team that’s first in the ACC in TOP (35.31).
Ever hear of that game called, “Keep-away?”
Really, the only way I see Tech losing this game is if their heads are somewhere else. But focus hasn’t been an issue since the Miami game. When coach Paul Johnson was asked about the potential of a letdown earlier this week, he said: “I’m not worried about that. I hope our guys are mature enough to realize that Vanderbilt is a good football team. We’re playing against the SEC, we’re not supposed to be able to compete. It’s a chance for our guys to match up with [an SEC team] again.”
Funny Johnson should harp on the SEC thing. Anybody who has been here knows it’s the most un-SEC-like atmosphere you’re going to find. The football team almost seems like an afterthought on campus — not quite Duke-like but pretty close.
One more thing, and I’ll expand on this when I rewrite this blog before halftime. This is a close Georgia Tech team. The players like each other, they’re confident and they’re following their coach, which is why I have a hard time seeing them cracking.
The team bussed up to Nashville Friday. Part of it is economics: The one-way trip with four buses saved the athletic department about $25,000, compared to if the team had chartered a flight. But because it’s a relatively short drive from Atlanta, the drive to the airport, and time involved in loading an unloading the plane, travel time is not that big of a difference. Tech did the same thing in the Florida State game: bussed there and flew back.
The Jackets stopped in Chattanooga on the way to Nashville and ate a barbecue place called, “Sugar’s.” Is that bonding, or what?
According to associate athletic director Wayne Hogan, “There were goats grazing outside the restaurant. Some of the payers had their pictures taken with goats.”
It’s the only goats we should expect on this trip.
That’s it for now. I’ll check back in here shortly. But let me ask you: Do you have any concern about a letdown tonight?