Back on stage, Georgia Tech freezes in Orange Bowl

This fairly well summed up things for the Georgia Tech offense most of Tuesday night -- Josh Nesbitt buried by a swarm of Iowa defenders.

This fairly well summed up things for the Georgia Tech offense most of Tuesday night -- Josh Nesbitt buried by a swarm of Iowa defenders.

MIAMI –It was the coldest Orange Bowl ever at kickoff: 49 degrees. Maybe the option’s freezing point is below 50.

The offense that averaged over 300 yards rushing per game this season, the offense that scored 57 touchdowns in 13 games and fried the braincells of defensive coordinators from Virginia Tech to Florida State — that offense didn’t show up Tuesday night for a football program’s biggest bowl game in 43 years.

Fact is, the Yellow Jackets brought a Humanitarian Bowl performance to the Orange Bowl.

Tech lost to Iowa 24-14. The Hawkeyes were smarter, disciplined, tougher, more physical and, in this game, better prepared and better coached. The score would’ve been more lopsided but the defense held the Jackets in it, even equaling the offense in touchdowns.

Sure. Might as well turn everything upside down.

This makes two consecutive years Tech has fallen off a cliff in its final game. Does that qualify as a trend? Maybe a strong hint?

In Season 1 under Paul Johnson, the Jackets started out 9-3, only to get boat-raced by LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl 38-3. In Season 2, Tech went 11-2 the way to an ACC championship, and one month later got smacked in the face by Iowa.

Is it a matter of the Jackets simply getting dominated by physically superior teams? Or does a month of preparation for the triple-option offense make that significant of a difference for an opponent?

“Last year we just self-destructed,” Johnson said. “We had possessions [this game]. We just couldn’t get anything going.”

Iowa outgained Tech 403-155. The Jackets had 32 yards in offense at halftime. They normally have plays bigger than that.

Maybe it was the moment. Maybe it was the Big Ten weather. Maybe it was just an identity crisis. (Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz inadvertently referred to Tech as “Wake Forest” in his post-game news conference.)

For this, they waited 43 years?

The Jackets hadn’t been to a game this big since their last Orange Bowl in the 1966 season. Back on stage, their knees buckled. They had a false start on their first offensive snap. They’ve excelled at wrecking end-of-year parties.

Whatever Paul Johnson told his players, it wasn't working.

Whatever Paul Johnson told his players, it wasn't working.

It was five possessions before the offense managed a first down. It was nine before they scored. Tech punted its first six possessions. This is a team that totaled only 30 punts in 13 previous games (2.3 per game). It hadn’t so much as punted twice in one quarter since the Vanderbilt game on Halloween.

In the Johnson era, the Jackets have had only one start even remotely close to this. That came last season against Gardner-Webb.  They had three punts and an interception on their first four possessions. That was with their third-string quarterback. This was Year 2, Game 27. And in a BCS bowl.

Iowa, like LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, seemed to benefit from a month to prepare for Johnson’s offense. But it went beyond that. The Hawkeyes have the nation’s 10th-ranked defense. It showed. Their front seven dominated Tech’s offensive line throughout the first half.  Their linemen were disciplined and didn’t miss tackles. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt seldom had room to operate.

The only thing more surprising than the early domination was the fact the Jackets trailed only 14-7 at halftime despite being outgained 257-32. Why? Because the defense was keeping the Jackets in the game with two turnovers. It doesn’t get weirder than that for Tech. Johnson: faceplant. Dave Wommack: visionary.

The Hawkeyes’ offense wasn’t smothered nearly to the degree of Tech’s. But they fumbled on their first possession and quarterback Ricky Stanzi was intercepted late in the first quarter by Jerrard Tarrant, who returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. (Tech summary: defense 7, offense 0.) Tarrant needed something to clear his conscience. He was burned on both of Iowa’s touchdowns in the first quarter.

The Jackets’ offense didn’t look nearly as anemic in the second half. They moved the ball 59 yards on their first possession, only to have kicker Scott Blair miss a 41-yard field-goal attempt. When Iowa followed with a field goal, making it a two-score game at 17-7, the Jackets appeared cooked. But suddenly, linemen were hitting their blocks and running backs were finding holes. Tech drove 71 yards to a touchdown, with Anthony Allen going in from the 1.

But 17-14 is as close as they got. A late Josh Nesbitt interception set up an Iowa score that iced it. After 11-2, you expected better. Credit Iowa’s defense for playing well. But the extent of this flop suggests it wasn’t just Iowa’s doing.  And when something happens two years in a row, maybe it’s not an accident.

797 comments Add your comment

Melissa

January 6th, 2010
12:07 am

We always have next year! I have faith!

DogGoneGaDawg

January 6th, 2010
12:08 am

First? Amazing.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:09 am

When was the last time Iowa won anything?

DogGoneGaDawg

January 6th, 2010
12:09 am

Hey Melissa: This is next year and it hasn’t started out to well for you.

Frank Wren

January 6th, 2010
12:09 am

Jeff Jr.

January 6th, 2010
12:09 am

So are we on track for our BCS NC next year or not. I mean, we lose Dwyer, Bennet, Morgan and Thomas, so we should not miss them at all right?

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:09 am

If an Iowa fan says anything punch him in the face.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:10 am

We play for bigger things.

The Watergirl

January 6th, 2010
12:10 am

Haha just not a goodnight for the Techies, got to love it their high school offense can only score 7 points and then their basketball team loses to the Dawgs!!!!!!

Melissa

January 6th, 2010
12:10 am

Hey DogGoneGaDawg… You’re just mad because I beat you to the coveted ‘First’ position. I will never give up on Tech. And by next year, I meant next season.

I still believe!

jms

January 6th, 2010
12:10 am

Maybe throwing to your all american WR might help

Frank Wren

January 6th, 2010
12:10 am

We play for bigger things.

I was thinking the same thing. Will Tech say after this game that it wasnt that important?

Buzz off...

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

Second rate team from a third rate conference.

It should be clear now that his high school offense does not work against college teams.

Know your place, bugs, know your place.

DogGoneGaDawg

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

Oh where, Oh where have you gone 14 Million? I forgot. The public library is closed at this hour.

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH STINKS, STINKS STINKS STINKS HAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHHAHHAHAH

Rob

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

Yep the O stunk it up

The Watergirl

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

St. Simons, 14 Mil., Fuzz and the rest of you nerds come out and play!!!!

Johnny Test

January 6th, 2010
12:11 am

If I said it once I said it a dozen times… GT was the most over rated team in the country…. They won 11 games beccause they played 5 patsies… Jax St., Duke, Wake Forrest, Vanderbilt and Miss. St.

They are now 0 and 2 in bowl games under the Genius coach Paul “man boobs” Johnson and have lost 5 bowl games in a row.

The would be a second tier team in the SEC, the Big ten and the big 12…. The ACC has a losing record vs the SEC and a losing record in bowl games…..again

Trifecta for the Dawgs… 30 to 24, 73 to 66 and 24 to 14…. How sweet it is

Glad it hurts so bad maggots.

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:12 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH ARE DISAPPOINTING, DISAPPOINTING, DISAPPOINTING.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:12 am

I dare anyone to question putting 9 in the box with 2 minutes left in the game at the Tech 40 on 2nd and 14.
Come on….we couldn’t give up 5 yards. They would have punted.
Now if our strategy had worked, we would have stopped them in the backfield, and they most-likely would have had to punt.

Wait…..damnit!
Same best possible outcome without risking the long touchdown.
Somebody should punch me in the face.

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:12 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH HA EGG IN THE BOWL, EGG IN THE BOWL, EGG IN THE BOWL

Impartial Observer

January 6th, 2010
12:13 am

What is Tech’s record under Paul Johnson against teams that have more than a few days of practice to prepare for that offense? He had nice success in the playoffs at the I-AA level but those games – I think – are played on consective weeks. No long layoffs like bowls in the big boy league. LSU last year; Iowa this year; UGA with an open week. Just curious . . . . .

DogGoneGaDawg

January 6th, 2010
12:13 am

Oh Melissa: Open mouth insert foot. We got the last word darling.

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:13 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH FREEZES, FREEZES FREEZES, FREEZES

The Watergirl

January 6th, 2010
12:14 am

I have a simple survey question for everyone WHO RUNS THIS STATE???? everyone join in

FFF

January 6th, 2010
12:14 am

UGA dominates TECH in series 60-39-5

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:14 am

I’m a genius.

Tampa Wreck

January 6th, 2010
12:15 am

UGLY Game. We had opportunities in the 4th Congratulations to the Hawkeyes.

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:15 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH LOST BECAUSE THEY ARE A GENUINE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM TRYING TO PLAY IN THE COLLOGE LEVEL. HIGH SCHOOL TEAM. HIGH SCHOOL TEAM FOREVER AND EVER.

Melissa

January 6th, 2010
12:15 am

I’m going to bed before it gets any uglier. Thanks for making me laugh tonight, guys..

George

January 6th, 2010
12:15 am

Iowa did everything they could to keep Tech in the game…….woeful performance by the offense.

Robert

January 6th, 2010
12:16 am

UGA RUNS THIS STATE! Always has, always will.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:16 am

When was the last time Georgia won anything? Obviously I mean besides the last 8 out of 9 and 19 of the last 25 against us.

CP Jaded

January 6th, 2010
12:16 am

Jeff, was I my typical smarmy self???

The Watergirl

January 6th, 2010
12:16 am

I have a simple survey question for everyone WHO RUNS THIS STATE???everyone join in

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:17 am

JELLOW JOCKITCH SO YOU NOW KNOW YOUR PLACE IN THIS UNIVERSE. AT THE END OF YOUR STREAM IN THOSE WATERLESS URINALS OF THE CALLAWAY GARDENS. HAHHAHAHHHAHHHAHAHHAHAHHA FOREVER AND EVER.

Woof Woof

January 6th, 2010
12:17 am

2 complete passes and one interception in a bcs game. When was the last time a qb completed only 2 passes in a bcs game?Or has it never happened before.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:18 am

Did you see my gutsy call against Wake? I’m a genius…damnit.

Paul Johnson

January 6th, 2010
12:18 am

@Watergirl
Tom Murphy?

THE BIGGER FISH FRYER

January 6th, 2010
12:19 am

Guess those boys from the Big 10 and the SEC have got my 70’s offense figured out. Thank goodness Womack bailed my a$$ out tonight.(thinking out loud) DId I really just say tthat???

bjohndawg

January 6th, 2010
12:19 am

Lets see….Georgia wins two of last three and beats Tech 30-24. Oh yeah has won 8 of last 9 and also wins in basketball tonight.

Tech…loses 2 of last three, loses to Georgia, and has lost 8 of the last nine to Georgia
Sorry, Tech is NOT a team on the rise.

Sadly, they seem to have bowl game problems. last year LSU, this year Iowa. Next year, who knows. Trouble is, if you cannot run the ball, and you cannot throw the ball, and if you defense is as bad as it gets, and you cannot kick field goals, well boys, you dont have to do robot math to figure out you are going to lose.You right it is no accident. If you have time to practice more than 7 days for the wing nut offense, it can be stopped.

And then Yech makes it an o for night by losing in basketball as well.

So to highlight
Georgia’s worse basketball team since last year beats the tech basketball team that was suppose to be world beaters. And your best football team in a decade loses to Georgia’s worse football team in a decade.

I see a pattern here. Georgia winning that is!
Oh and Go you Hairy Hawkeyes! Chirp, Chirp!

jarvis

January 6th, 2010
12:19 am

What opportunity did you have in the 4th? The closest you came to scoring in the last twelve minutes was a safety.

REALIST

January 6th, 2010
12:19 am

Iowa coach just said in his post game interview on ESPN News that it was a good win against Wake Forest…ha ha ..we are GT..but we own Dook!

What

January 6th, 2010
12:19 am

First significant bowl win for Iowa since 59. I thought Hayden did some good things while there.

gadawgs

January 6th, 2010
12:20 am

Uh oh…………………………………………………

GT STILL IS A 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 6th, 2010
12:21 am

I TOLD YOU SO, JELLOW JOCKITCH ARE THE CHUMPS OF ACC — ASS OF CUP CAKES, IT SHOWED IN THIS FOOTBALL GAME AND EVEN AGAINST UGA IN BASKETBALL HAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. LOSING THE UNRANKED UGA TEAMS (FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL) WHAT A SAME. STINKS, DISAPPOINTING. HAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHA

Whopper Dawg

January 6th, 2010
12:21 am

1) Saint Simons – where are ye?

2) Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of folks and coach.

3) Richt, please take a look at the Iowa DC.

coach smith

January 6th, 2010
12:21 am

it’s Tech! what do you expect?

Play the big boys, UGA, LSU, MIAMI, and even…Iowa and the truth of what you are shines through

North Avenue Pest

January 6th, 2010
12:21 am

Schultz, Bradley and Fisher promised me a Paul Johnson Orange Bowl ring. I’m telling mommy just as soon as I quit playing warcraft.

Impartial Observer

January 6th, 2010
12:21 am

Jeff, you wrote: For this they waited 43 years? The Jackets hadn’t been to a game this big since their last trip to the Orange Bowl after the 1966 season.

Didn’t Tech beat Nebraska in a big bowl in 1990 when they shared the national championship with Colorado?