Its a little ironic that I wrote a blog about Clemson memories and then spent the better part of this past week trying to forget the Clemson game.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip. The Clemson fans were awesome and the tailgating was top notch as well. Its one of the best ACC road trips around.
Actually, everything was perfect except for the horrific play of our football team…and horrific might be a polite term for what we witnessed.
When the Jackets weren’t running into kickers, blocking guys in the back, hitting guys out of bounds, and watching punts bounce at the one yard line on special teams they were dropping passes in the endzone, whiffing on blocks against the Clemson defensive line, or chasing Andre Ellington around the field as he ran for over 150 yards.
It was easily the worst Yellow Jackets special teams exhibition of the past several seasons.
And now we go on the road to face Virginia Tech…a team known for special teams.
And also a team that has placed a target on our back after we upset them last season.
Make no mistake, after all of their whining and crying and gnashing of teeth last year regarding “illegal blocks”, the Hokies want to beat us. They want to beat us really bad. They want to embarrass us the way we did Cam Chancellor.
So how do we stop that from happening?
Its got to start at the top…with Coach Johnson, who may be the real wild card on Thursday night.
Coach Johnson likely hasn’t forgotten Coach Beamer’s whine-n-cheese tantrum and how he went running to the league officials to complain about his players being blocked. Johnson has had a week to put together an offensive game plan and revisit the events from last season.
So how does Georgia Tech beat the Hokies?
First, we have to control the ball and eat clock like we did last season. That means we need to be getting at least 2-3 yards on first down so that we are on track towards third and short instead of third and long. Last season we ran for 300+ yards, converted 8 of 15 third down conversions, and held the ball for over 38 minutes.
If we are losing yards or getting penalties or dropping pitches early in a possession, we’re doomed.
Secondly, we have to put a spy on Tyrod Taylor and take our chances on someone else beating us. Taylor is not only the Hokies’ leading passer but also their leading rusher.
Like Nesbitt is for Georgia Tech, Taylor is the key to the Hokies’ success. Make someone else beat you.
And lastly, we have to play like we have a clue on special teams. We have to kick and cover and win the battle of field position. We cannot allow a blocked kick or a big return. If we get a chance to pin them deep, we must capitalize. And we cannot give them extra yards through stupid penalties and mental mistakes.
If we lose the special teams and field position battle with Virginia Tech, things will snowball quickly and we’ll get embarrassed.
With a little luck and solid execution we can gain a game on Virginia Tech and then sit back this weekend while an ailing Miami team faces Maryland and North Carolina travels to Florida State…games which could knock the Canes and Heels out of the Coastal race.
Granted, Virginia Tech would still need to lose another game…but at least we wouldn’t be looking over our shoulder anymore. We’d be able to look ahead with the knowledge that the Miami and Duke games could put us back in the ACC title game.
Beat the Hokies!