Live from Athens: Does anybody really think Tech can win?

It could be a long and gloomy night for the visiting Jackets. (Photo by M. Bradley)

A lovely day could become a long and gloomy night for the visiting Jackets. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens – The most intriguing part of what isn’t a very intriguing game — how riveting does it get when the teams have an aggregate record of 11-11? — is how few people are giving Georgia Tech a chance. And by people, I don’t just mean Georgia fans or Vegas neutrals. I mean Tech fans, too.

I haven’t yet met anybody who thinks the Jackets can keep this close, let alone win. Indeed, the consensus seems to be that the betting line — it’s at 14 points as I type — may actually flatter the visitors. And I wouldn’t disagree. I think this is at least a two-touchdown game.

Having said that, we must also note a couple of things. First, the Jackets enter as the team already bowl-eligible. Georgia, as we know, has to win tonight for the privilege, such as it is, of gracing a postseason game in either Memphis or (shudder) Birmingham. Which leads us to our second notation:

Georgia is, on the record, eminently beatable. Six teams have already done the deed. Every time Georgia has played a team that finished above .500, it has lost. (Kentucky lost to Tennessee on Saturday to fall to 6-6, and Kentucky represents Georgia’s best win.) That’s a pretty staggering statistic. But Tech, as we know, has been only slightly better in a demonstrably worse league.

Ergo, the team with the better record enters as a two-touchdown ‘dog. (Not to be confused with Dawg.)

The striking part of Tech’s season to date has been how almost nothing about it has struck you. There had been no rousing victory, unless you count winning in Chapel Hill over a North Carolina team missing 12 players due to investigations of some sort. There had been no blowout loss, unless you count the 34-10 defeat suffered against Miami in the Jackets’ first game without Joshua Nesbitt. The only real drama came in rallying against Wake Forest, and there should be no drama ascribed to any game involving Wake Forest.

Paul Johnson believed his stylized offense would keep on truckin’ without Jonathan Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas, and it has and hasn’t. Tech ranks first in the nation in rushing, next-to-last in passing. Anthony Allen hasn’t been quite as proficient as Dwyer, and all the Jackets’ receivers combined haven’t begun to match the departed Bay-Bay.

The defense was supposed to be better because of Al Groh and his 3-4, but it hasn’t been. It hasn’t gotten worse; it just hasn’t improved to any significant degree. Derrick Morgan, also gone to the NFL, had 12 1/2 sacks last season; through 11 games, Tech as a team has 16.

And here we pause to recall: This time a year ago, Tech was bound for the ACC championship game, which it would win, and then the Orange Bowl, where it would lose. If we cast our glance back 52 weeks, we see that the Jackets are 7-7 over their past 14 games. The upset loss to Georgia has sent the Jackets back to mediocrity.

Only that’s not quite true. It has been a long time since the Jackets had a six-loss regular season, which is what they’re facing if/when they lose tonight. The last time was in 2003, Chan Gailey’s second year. (Tech was also 7-6 in Gailey’s first and last season, but those involved bowl losses, and in 2007 Gailey had nothing to do with the sixth loss. He’d been fired.)

The promise inherent in Paul Johnson was that he, by force of both stylized offense and outsize personality, would prevent the Jackets from ever backsliding this far. But here Tech is, a middling 6-5 and facing a game in which it’s expected to get drubbed by a opponent carrying a losing record. Two years ago, when Johnson’s team stunned Georgia here, that wouldn’t have seemed possible. A year ago, when Tech entered this game ranked No. 7 in the land, it wouldn’t have seemed possible. But here the Jackets are, on a slippery slope that could get a lot more slippery before the night is through.

And with that, the floor is open for questions, comments and observations about the Jackets. (I’m not supposed to be discussing the Bulldogs, which I’m sure will make UGA backers shout, “Hallelujah!”) I welcome your figurative presence. And if you’d care to come up to the press box and sit beside me, please bring a space heater. Apparently the Sanford Stadium folks are conserving electrical energy. Brrr.

1,364 comments Add your comment

UGA Rap Sheet

November 27th, 2010
5:15 pm

I’m a Tech fan (obviously), but we have no chance… I’m not brave enough to go to Athens to watch the massacre and put up with the obnoxious fans. Godspeed to those who are.

Will

November 27th, 2010
5:16 pm

Mark the Dawgs should easily hang fifty on Buzz tonight !

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:18 pm

nobody in their right mind believes it.

Bob

November 27th, 2010
5:19 pm

Well…pack it up boys…Bradley says it’s over already.

YellowFuzz

November 27th, 2010
5:19 pm

Mark my words, we win this game. Coach Paul Johnson is undefeated in the cesspool of Athens and our offense if just now starting to click.

Our defense excels against the run and we will limit the production of UGAg’s two criminal running backs.

Our D-line will pummel Erin Murray and knock him out of the game, gonna have to bring in that Lassiter backup QB.

We will regain ownership of this state! THWG

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:19 pm

does that mean all dog fans are banned from the blog tonight?

Frank Lane

November 27th, 2010
5:20 pm

I don’t think it should be close. but stranger things happen. particularly to t his UGA team.

BTW, I have come into possession of a very interesting synopsis of what the FBI knows about the Scam Newton situation and why they are interested. Someone at the AJC should review it at least.

Frank Lane

Smart like a fox

November 27th, 2010
5:20 pm

crazier things have happened……you may not believe this but there have been games where the team that was suppose to win lost. Ask Bama or BSU. it is freash on their minds. Play the game! Last but not least before I sign off….Mark you are a hack!!

Frank Lane

November 27th, 2010
5:21 pm

YellowFuzz, it is Aaron Murry. Erin is a girl’s name, but you Tech men would not know that.

RamblinWreck

November 27th, 2010
5:22 pm

I refuse to go up to Athens,. my wife was treated ugly by those UGAg fans last time we were there during that 51-7 game the mutts still like to bark about.

I am looking for CPJ to pull the shocker tonight and turn the college football world on its ear.

Smart like a fox

November 27th, 2010
5:23 pm

Erin….lol…nice touch

btgt69

November 27th, 2010
5:24 pm

the spread is 14,,, what is the over and under on the number of red panties in the cesspool

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:25 pm

I’d like to see a good game. But honesty compels me to report that I don’t expect one. And I’ve seen both teams in person several times. And I think Georgia is no great shakes.

RamblinWreck84

November 27th, 2010
5:25 pm

Last year Mark people were saying the exact same things about UGAg, they had NO shot at winning against a 10-1 GT powerhouse. I still am sick to my stomach watching replays of King running untouched past Morgan Burnett on a 75-yard TD run and how many total rushing yards did they end up with? Something like 400.

This is setting up nicely for the new sheriff in town to put the prisoners back in jail.

GT 40, UGag 24

JacketFan

November 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

I don’t like our chances. I too was not brave or bold enough to go down to the cesspool, where I notably was 2 years ago. Of course 2 years ago, I, and all other Tech fans felt a lot better about our chances. My how times have changed. Gonna need quite a few breaks and some Murray mistakes to win this game. Gonna need a HUGE Game by Allen, Tevin, and the LITTLE mentioned Orwin Smith to make this a game/win. But I will cheer us on none-the-less!! GO JACKETS!! WHATS THE GOOD WORD???

Not Don Waddell

November 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

Yes, of course Gtu can win. Against a team as poorly coached and as mentally weak as UGA, anyone can win. I fully expect this to come down to the 4th quarter and for UGA to somehow wet their pants and lose the game.

My prediction is that UGA, down by 2, drives into position to kick the game winning field goal with 1:00 left, and then has a bad snap.

If UGA loses this game, Mark Richt will be fired by Christmas, and you can mark that down. There is only one unpardonable sin for a UGA coach, and that is losing to Gtu. If Richt loses to a terrible Gtu team to cap off a pathetic season, he will not make it to New Year’s Day.

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:27 pm

No, Coach Grantham. We’re not checking IDs at the door. But this is supposed to be a Tech-centric post.

We

November 27th, 2010
5:27 pm

CPJ is 1-1 in Athens there Tool Box! Soon to be 1-3 vs CMR who s the better coach!!!

BiggerFishtoFry

November 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

Listen dog, Georgia’s Georgia. We’ve got much bigger fish to fry as we look to win our first bowl win under Coach Paul Johnson.

Perfect Option 34, Rick’s Criminals 23

btgt69

November 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

the spread is 14??? Was there another thuga arrested to raise the the total to 14 ?

We

November 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

51-7 UGA
Over with by the half!!

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:29 pm

That’s true, RamblinWreck84. I didn’t think Georgia could win last season. Georgia had just lost at home to Kentucky. Being a Kentucky grad, I immediately discount anybody who loses to UK.

Smart like a fox

November 27th, 2010
5:29 pm

you could ask any dummy, the spread was made to incite betting….Vegas sets the spread to get dummies to bet. Thats how they paid for all those bright lights. (by losers betting)…Right Mark?

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:29 pm

that sounds like an un-invitation.

Not Don Waddell

November 27th, 2010
5:30 pm

How about Kentucky, that was pitiful loss today. Looks like their brief bowl streak is over with for another 30 years. That Rich Brooks was something. They may never, ever, ever, ever beat Tennessee.

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:30 pm

You’re always welcome here, Coach.

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:30 pm

Tech-centric for the ec-centric.

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:31 pm

That’s correct, Smart like a fox. The line isn’t so much a forecast as it is an estimate of how people are apt to bet. And some money has come in on Georgia Tech. The opening line was 15 points.

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:31 pm

Thanks. I’ll try to conduct myself with my usual calm demeanor.

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:32 pm

I’m nothing if not ec-centric. Certainly I’ve never been described as ex-cellent.

Not Don Waddell

November 27th, 2010
5:32 pm

Wonder what the over will be in the Oregon/Auburn game? Got to be close to 90, right?

FireAlGroh

November 27th, 2010
5:32 pm

Alls I will say is IF (and it’s a BIG if) GT loses this game then we must fire Al Groh prior to our bowl game in Shreveport. This team was a pre-season top 20 team with a bonafide Heisman candidate in Joshua Nesbitt and as GT alum I will not stand idly by and let the offensive brilliance that is Coach Paul Johnson be washed down the toilet by the lousy defense under Al Groh.

Yes I know we lost a buttload of players to the NFL but excuses are for losers, We Run the ACC and there is NO EXCUSE for losing to the mutts when we are clearly the superior team.

THWG!

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:33 pm

I’ve never known you to be ex-cessive. Except for that one moment in Jax.

Not Don Waddell

November 27th, 2010
5:34 pm

Fire AL Groh is smoking some of that post-Thanksgiving green. UGA is a much, much more talented team than Gtu, and Gtu is, at best, the 5th best team in the ACC.

Can Al Groh even be fired since he doesn’t even receive a paycheck?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Rena Ball. Rena Ball said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Chatting live From Sanford Stadium: Does anybody out there think #GaTech can beat #UGA? http://bit.ly/fxIUhD [...]

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:36 pm

And, at least on this blog i don’t think anyone will be calling for my job the whole game.

2BT

November 27th, 2010
5:36 pm

Curious what the defensive secondary adjustment on AJ will be. Are we going to see Tarrant ‘locked’ on him the entire game with another safety rolled over? How quick before they play action pass deep to test the waters? (Last year, they didn’t even attempt a pass on the first drive).

On offense, we haven’t run that tackle-eligible screen in the two years since the last time we played at Sanford. Has Paul put that back into the playbook this week?

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:38 pm

Excellent can be applied in many ways. Someone can be excellent at being a jerk.

FireAlGroh

November 27th, 2010
5:40 pm

At this point I would agree that Grantham is superior to Groh, even if UGag’s defense is worse than they were last year under that mexican coach they fired.

Dan

November 27th, 2010
5:41 pm

GO DAWGS SICE EM!!!!! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

85' Bears

November 27th, 2010
5:42 pm

Texas last year won 12 games and lost in the National Championship bowl. They lost key players to graduation and the NFL and now there 5-7. While I am dissapointed in Tech’s season as anyone else will be, it was kinda foolish to believe that Tech could lose 4 great players and just keep on trucking. Such things happen to programs, just look at Florida. Its a down year. Now, if there is 2-3 consecutive down years, then coaching must be addressed. I still think that in the future Tech can compete for ACC and national championships.

WhyCan'tPaulJohnsonWinaBowlGame

November 27th, 2010
5:43 pm

Have to admit, I dread heading to Shreveport but I’m a Jacket Backer come hell or high water.

What sucks is I made fun of my UGag co-workers all year for playing there last season.

UGA - a sorry excuse

November 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

Think about the football team THUGA puts on the field. 96% of the players are academically provisionally accepted, with Adams and his cronies knowing full well that they will use up all their coaching and tutors and elligibility and then have their asses kicked out on the street and soon be pushing grocery carts around Atlanta looking for a warm place to sleep. What a pitiful way to run the State’s flagship university.

I’ve never understood how anyone – even an alumnus – could support and take pride in UGA’s football team. When you look at their history for the past forty years, how can anyone ignore Jan Kemp and the “remedial studies” scam, the Jim Harrick fiasco, the DUIs in the athletic office, the DUIs and other arrests of players, the #1 party school tag (i.e., the most drunk students), the suspensions and outright dismissals, the Fulmer Cup, and on and on?

As disgraceful and humiliating as it is, I don’t see many alums and fans demanding an end to this sordid activity. It sets UGA apart as the kind of school most people abhor, and it’s become an embarrassment to the whole state of Georgia.

2BT

November 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

Remember the name …………………. Vad Lee

Mark Bradley

November 27th, 2010
5:45 pm

That is kind of weird, WhyCan’tPJ … Shreveport coming after Shreveport. But Tech might land in San Francisco.

Ole Ball Fan

November 27th, 2010
5:46 pm

FSU 31 : Gators 7

BiggerFishtoFry

November 27th, 2010
5:46 pm

I concur with 85′ Bears in that our program is on the level of Texas and there is no reason why we can’t be back in the National Championship game next season. I have seen the future in Tevin and the future is bright – he should be our next Heisman candidate and would love nothing more than for him to become the next Colt McCoy and win the Heisman and a National Championship.

It’s a down year but we will beat Georgia and we will be back as ACC and Nat’l Championships soon, hopefully next year!

todd grantham

November 27th, 2010
5:48 pm

Mark, my understanding is that Tech player Robert Hall was arrested earlier this year for taking items from a clothing store. heh, heh

Burma Shave

November 27th, 2010
5:48 pm

Don’t bet the farm

Or many bucks

We all know

That UGA sucks.

Burma Shave

WhyCan'tCPJWinaBowlGame

November 27th, 2010
5:48 pm

San Francisco? Again? Hell I went there when Reggie Ball played with us in the Emerald Bowl and we got pounded by Fresno State.

Best part will be I have MANY friends in San Francisco, left my heart there as a matter of fact.