Tech secures a bowl but doesn’t exactly leave UGA cowering

Mario Edwards takes Tech from behind to ahead. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

With this swoop, Mario Butler takes Tech from behind to ahead. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The goal, cornerback Mario Butler said, was to keep from becoming the first Georgia Tech team since 1996 to be bowl-ineligible, and that mission was accomplished. And if the Jackets entered Saturday’s game with the ancillary aim of rendering Georgia overconfident for next week’s collision … well, they managed that, too.

Upcoming in Athens: The most impressive 5-6 team in the land — that’d be Georgia — will face the least imposing 6-5 aggregation. Tech won Saturday for the first time since Oct. 16 and needed all the aid and comfort Duke could supply, which was a lot. Some will point to this tepid regular season as a massive comedown from the high of the 2009 ACC championship, and in its way it has been. But this comedown could well have been a nosedive.

The Jackets didn’t have much except Joshua Nesbitt when this season commenced, and now that the indomitable quarterback has been lost they have next to nothing. Their offense mustered but two touchdowns — one of them coming on a pass completion, of which Tech likewise had two — against Duke, which ranked last in the ACC in total defense. The Tech defense, meanwhile, yielded 443 yards to an opponent conspicuously lacking a talent on the order of, say, A.J. Green.

The first half was vintage Tech 2010: A touchdown run overridden on a penalty; a fumbled Duke kickoff uncovered; a fumble lost inside the Duke 10;  a failed fourth-down bid that led to a Duke field goal three seconds before halftime. “We had a chance to bury them early one,” said Paul Johnson, the Tech coach, “but we couldn’t get out of our own way.”

Tech trailed 13-6 at the half. It drove smartly enough on its first possession of the third quarter but was held to a field goal, whereupon Duke drove smartly and was within 14 yards of establishing an 11-point lead, whereupon Butler made two plays. The first resulted in a 6-yard loss. The second netted seven points. Butler broke on the only pass thrown by Brandon Connette, who is Duke’s running quarterback for a reason, and took it 85 yards to score.

“I just jumped it,” Butler said, speaking of the pass route. Then: “When I cut across [the field on his lung-bursting return], my hamstrings were about gone.”

Tech would build a 10-point lead. Being Tech, it came close to handing it back. Duke missed a tying field goal with 9:20 left. Three snaps later, Stephen Hill outfought a defender to snatch a Tevin Washington pass from the air. The 79-yard touchdown was the sort play of the departed Demaryius Thomas authored weekly last season but that Hill, considered the heir apparent, has seldom made.

“Coach Johnson wants playmaking receivers,” Hill said. “[I've] had a bad little year. But the year’s not over with.”

Said Johnson: “We didn’t accomplish a lot of the goals we set as a team, but our players know they’re going to play two more games.”

Tech’s next game will be of great local interest, and it’s hard to imagine a team that needed 3 1/2 quarters to put away Duke at Bobby Dodd Stadium going to Athens and actually winning. But say this about these Jackets: They’ve somehow won more than they’ve lost, the key word being “somehow.”

Jonathan Dwyer gained 1,395 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns in 2009; Anthony Allen, the new feature back, surpassed 1,000 yards with Saturday’s grinding performance but has scored only five times. Derrick Morgan had 12 1/2 sacks in 2009; the 2010 Tech team has 16. The aforementioned Thomas caught 46 passes for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009; Hill’s numbers this season — 13 catches, 244 yards and three touchdowns.

When Nesbitt suffered a broken arm against Virginia Tech 2 1/2 weeks ago, the fear among Tech fans was that their team wouldn’t win again. On Saturday it won, if haltingly, and now the Jackets will play in a bowl, albeit an off-brand one. That’s actually pretty good value for a team almost devoid of playmakers, and you Jacket backers should try to hold that thought. Because what happens in Sanford Stadium might not be pleasant for the ol’ White and Gold.

497 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

November 20th, 2010
6:46 pm

no cowering here!

todd grantham

November 20th, 2010
6:48 pm

LSU or Ole Miss? SEC football has ebbed terribly this year. No team stands head and shoulders above the rest.

todd grantham

November 20th, 2010
6:49 pm

As for coaches, UGA-Tech is much more important to Mark Richt than Paul Johnson as far as job security.

Mark Bradley

November 20th, 2010
6:52 pm

First, second and third for the ol’ coach. Kudo, kudo, kudo.

aaron

November 20th, 2010
6:56 pm

ha! we never cower with tech, maybe florida, but not the nerds.

pathetic

November 20th, 2010
6:57 pm

Mark,

Tech may be tepid and uninspiring but how pathetic is it that you were at the game and you cant tell 2 (butler) has dreds from 8 edwards… I guess with shoddy writing like this you would know shoddy when you see it..

WOLLEY STEKCAJ

November 20th, 2010
6:58 pm

You nailed it again, truth does hurt, GT fan all the way through, but Georgia will crush GT.

Just wait, you have not even seen this 2010 year how bad it is about to be at Tech. Johnson is stubborn, arrogant, and will not adjust, next year 2-10 if we are remotely lucky. He will be fired in three years. Can’t do it now, I understand, but no more money from me to Tech will happen until he is gone. Just being honest, like you are.

middleGeorgia

November 20th, 2010
6:59 pm

Well one team does…. they ARE undefeated and #2 in the country.

MattyB

November 20th, 2010
7:02 pm

You know, Tech usually has one big upset every year-and thus far North Carolina is as big as it gets in 2010- so how fitting (and fun) would it be to play inspired football for once and beat up on the pups next weekend rendering them bowl-ineligible?

Go Tech

November 20th, 2010
7:03 pm

fortunately for Tech the game will be won or lost on the field and not in the AJC. What is going to be ugly Sat night is Ga being sent home without a bowl.

Mark Bradley

November 20th, 2010
7:04 pm

I realized as I was packing to leave my egregious error: Mario Butler made the interception, not Mario Edwards. I’ve corrected it now. Sorry for my earlier stupidity.

gtne80

November 20th, 2010
7:05 pm

The two plays that made the difference were the two things that this team has lacked all year. One was a big play on defense that resulted in a score. The other was a receiver actually going up and MAKING a catch when he wasn’t wide open.

Kurdt Kobain

November 20th, 2010
7:06 pm

Because everything Tech does should be measured by how UGA feels about it… right.

Don’t care about UGA. Just glad Tech is bowl eligible and hopefully this means we’ll get to see Joshua Nesbitt under center for us one more time.

Mike

November 20th, 2010
7:08 pm

Tech will win by 60. Georgia has a Freshman QB, and the new 3-4 defense is in its’ first year. Georgia Tech’s leagues better than Georgia.

Tech 70, Georgia 10

Little Bee

November 20th, 2010
7:08 pm

UGA may not be cowering but I assure you, GT isn’t cowering from the “most impressive 5-6 team in the land.” I am still trying not to laugh at that statment Mark.

DawgPoo

November 20th, 2010
7:09 pm

Wolley, we don’t want yo’ stinkin’ money. Mark, since GT is so bad, how many points will you give me against the the dogs? I mean, I’ll bet some serious money if you give the requisite points to a team that is so bad. But seriously, Mark…..I’ve always wondered why you encourage the Middle-School habit of people writing “First!” (And thank you, todd, for not doing that here). Eh, Mark ?

techbuzzer

November 20th, 2010
7:09 pm

So we go to Shreveport for the bowl and UGA goes to the toilet bowl if they lose- same difference. Maybe if UGA is lucky they will get invited to San Francisco for the Pelosi Bowl.

Yellow Fuzz

November 20th, 2010
7:09 pm

Glad you have to play the game between the hedges and not on these blogs. Like last year, this WILL be georgia’s “signature” win if they win. I just don’t think they will. Even though they are a better team, I just think they will panic and make 2-4 turnovers that cost them the game at the final horn. You heard it hear first- Tech 45 georgia 42.

Drake

November 20th, 2010
7:09 pm

HUGE WIN OVER THE POWERHOUSE DUKE TEAM. WOW, GREAT JOB PJ.

CHUCKLE.

Go Tech

November 20th, 2010
7:09 pm

Ga is a 5-6 team period. They lost to Colorado and will lose to Tech. Upsets do happen and it is usually when one team is over confident, so keep feeding Ga’s ego Mark

Rene the 3rd

November 20th, 2010
7:10 pm

Me thinks Tech can no pass, Georgia can no run, and neither can no play defense.

Yellow Fuzz

November 20th, 2010
7:11 pm

N
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Bad Dawg, Bad Dawg

November 20th, 2010
7:11 pm

Well let’s see. Tech at 6-5 and UGA at 5-6 fighting to become bowl eligible. Oh I know they play in the SEC. Please, they are still 5-6!

Arno

November 20th, 2010
7:12 pm

Stay tuned for the Anti-climax Bowl 2010, Athens, Ga. Will either team deserve bragging rights this year?

Eric

November 20th, 2010
7:12 pm

If Coach J can’t beat georgia this year, he needs to be fired. Georgia lost to Colorado. COLORADO! Is GTeorgia Tech worst than Colorado??

Yellow Fuzz

November 20th, 2010
7:13 pm

TECH WILL WIN THIS GAME OR I WILL NOT POST AGAIN FOR 3 MONTHS LIKE LAST YEAR

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jackets

November 20th, 2010
7:13 pm

Mario Butler….not Edwards. Georgia is 5-6 for a reason… but hey keep acting like you guys are good and dont have major problems either. Both teams are not good…I dont see either team crushing the other.

todd grantham

November 20th, 2010
7:13 pm

yes, 3 kudos but as General Patton said “all glory is fleeting”

JJ

November 20th, 2010
7:13 pm

Dang, Tech gave up 20 points to Duke? That’s horrible.

The Cooler

November 20th, 2010
7:14 pm

Coach PJ finaly got that signature win–he beat the Duke team.

Conan

November 20th, 2010
7:15 pm

Tech just needs to come out dressed like Florida–guaranteed win!

RAMBLINWRECK

November 20th, 2010
7:22 pm

Mark, i do agree with about everything you say about this GT team and i think UGA should beat us by 2 td at least and they stink! That just tells you how sorry we are this year to be honest. This team never comes out and really hits anyone in the mouth and if they do, it goes right back to the same ol penalties and fumbles that have buried them all year. There is no leadership on this squad and the coaching has been suspect at best. How do you continue to make the same stupid penalties week after week? The same stupid fumbles and blunders week after week? The offense did end up putting 30 on the board but that isn’t saying much considering who we played. Any decent defense has slowed the TO option down this season and the defense is actually WORSE this season than last 9 (NOW RANKED 59TH VS LAST SEASON 54TH IN DEFENSE)!! Georgia will play with pride at home and they are playing for their coach and a bowl is at stake. I would love to keep them out of a bowl game but it will not happen. Murray will throw for 275 plus and uga will run wild just like last season and i doubt we force a punt. If uga can slow down the GT offense which actually they don’t have to because GT will do that to it’s self….thus a woodshed beating. GT is to me a bottom feeder in a weak conference this season and this will show again when we play an SEC team and again in the bowl game. This team isn’t worth the toilet paper you wipe your a** crack with and i would tell PJ that right to his face! QUIT GOING FOR IT AT MIDFIELD YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!!! When we become something more than one dimensional, i will be more impressed. Hike and pitch left and right is more boring than gailey’s offense! Can somebody hire Al Groh away please?

mb

November 20th, 2010
7:23 pm

and richt’s signature win is kentucky? lol

Technocrat

November 20th, 2010
7:25 pm

No Conan they need to come out dressed like probation officers- guaranteed win.

mcg dawg

November 20th, 2010
7:27 pm

Yellow Fuzz…Dawgs will shut you up again!

Go Tech

November 20th, 2010
7:29 pm

chan gailey? how many times did his teams beat Ga. How many ACC championships did he win? Yes, this has been a disappointing year, but we did lose our starting QB ( really feel bad for Josh, this being his senior year)

Dawgmess

November 20th, 2010
7:29 pm

Good grief! This is like a couple of midgets fighting over who’s taller.

Doug the Jacket

November 20th, 2010
7:32 pm

Another typical GT Duke game that never means anything. What looks like a push-over to UGA, often is not – you have no way of knowing what will happen when these two teams play.

jimmy

November 20th, 2010
7:32 pm

Bark Madley writes a crappy column but doesn’t leave the Podunk Daily Herald cowering.

mcg dawg

November 20th, 2010
7:34 pm

RAMBLINWRECK….hATS OFF TO YOU….WELL SAID!

BankerDawg

November 20th, 2010
7:35 pm

“The most impressive 5-6 team in the land.”

Seriously?

As a graduate and fan of UGA, I don’t have the words to fully explain how stupid that sounds, Mark.

I have no idea what to expect from next week’s game. We may pass for 500 yards, and they may run for 500 yards, who knows. I just hope we have more points on the board at the end of the day.

But really, Mark, 86 the whole impressive 5-6 thing. Please.

GO Dawgs!

Sammy Dawg

November 20th, 2010
7:37 pm

UGA 52, techies 14

Hotlanta

November 20th, 2010
7:40 pm

“the most impressive 5-6 team in the land” – is that something like the most impressive writer at the AJC? best of the worst?

tdawg

November 20th, 2010
7:40 pm

I’m already looking to next year against Boise State in 9 months or whatever it is. These last two games will be relatively meaningless to both teams.

Who Cares?

November 20th, 2010
7:41 pm

Next week the little state of jawya will celebrate the Yawn Bowl between two middle school teams in Athens. Check out the Iron Bowl if you fans want to experience a real football game between state rivals. Both Georgia teams this year are duds. Face it. Admit it. $TFU and watch other states show you how it’s done.

Alabama Jack

November 20th, 2010
7:42 pm

GEORGIA SUCKS AND THEIR FANS ARE WORSE – THEY BLOW.

Oh how the mighty ave fallen

November 20th, 2010
7:43 pm

from talking about winning SEC and MNC championships to being the most impressive 5-6 team in the whole USofA

Hotlanta

November 20th, 2010
7:44 pm

the iron bowl, two teams that alternate probations from cheating. yeah, that game matters. the “winner” will simply vacate in a few weeks after.

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