Georgia Tech comes out flat, gets flattened by Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Though no one could say why it happened, Georgia Tech once again came out flatter than the Kansas plains that surround the beautiful college town of Lawrence.

As a result, the Jayhawks, which couldn't beat an FCS (formerly I-AA) team last week as part of an eight-game losing streak, knocked off the No. 15 Yellow Jackets 28-25 on Saturday.

Many of the issues that worried Tech coach Paul Johnson after last week's lethargic win against South Carolina State appeared again on the sun-baked Memorial Stadium field: missed tackles, poor play by both lines, and special-teams miscues. Except now can be added inopportune penalties and dropped passes as the team prepares to open ACC play at North Carolina next Saturday.

"We've got to go back, and I've got to do a better job of getting our guys ready to play," Johnson said. "Clearly, they think it's a walk in the park sometimes."

Nothing epitomized the issues than subsequent drives in the fourth quarter.

With Kansas leading 20-17, Tech's defense forced third-and-16 at the 43-yard line. Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb was flushed out of the pocket to his left. With middle linebacker Brad Jefferson closing in, Webb completed a 10-yard pass, forcing fourth down and giving Tech a chance to take the lead.

But Jefferson came in late and knocked down Webb, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty and an automatic first down.

On the next play, the Jayhawks called a simple screen pass to Daymond Patterson. Five missed tackles later, something that plagued Tech last season, Patterson dove into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown reception that gave the Jayhawks a 28-17 lead with 14 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.

Instead of answering the score, as it did so many times in winning in the ACC championship last season, Tech went four-and-out on its next possession. That series featured two incomplete passes to Stephen Hill, a 5-yard run by Anthony Allen and an option play for quarterback Joshua Nesbitt that resulted in zero yards. After leading the team in carries, yards and touchdowns last week, Nesbitt finished with 42 yards on 15 carries. He did, however, score two touchdowns.

After the game, Nesbitt, a senior and captain, said he had no idea why the team played so flat.

"We can say this and that, but overall we just never showed up to play," said Nesbitt, who passed for 116 yards and a touchdown. He was the victim of four dropped passes, including one by Hill in the second quarter that would have been a touchdown. Instead, Tech settled for a field goal and 17-14 lead.

But, despite its myriad issues, Tech still had a chance to win. After pulling to within three, 28-25, on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Nesbitt to Hill, and 2-point conversion, Tech took over on its 34-yard line with 4:22 remaining.

After two rushes by Nesbitt resulted in 9 yards, Kansas returned the penalties favor by committing pass interference on third down on a ball that seemed uncatchable.

Given new life, Tech moved to the Jayhawks' 34-yard line, needing only a field goal to tie.

But a third-and-2 option resulted in a lost yard for Allen, and a false start -- another inopportune penalty -- on fourth down put Tech in a fourth-and-8 at the 40.

Nesbitt dropped back, but his pass was badly off target to Hill, who was open on the left sideline.

Tech was forced to come from behind because its defense was giving up too many rushing yards – 141, including 101 by freshman James Sims, and giving up too many third downs (six of 15).

Saying they were surprised by the Jayhawks' use of the no-huddle, the Jackets gave up touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the first half. On the second drive, Kansas converted third downs of 5 and 9 yards, before rushing for 30 of the drive's final 38 yards to take a 14-7 lead.

"There were a lot of missed tackles," Johnson said. "We didn't have a lot of guys getting off blocks. You know we should have scored more than 29 anyway. Nobody played good enough to win."

About the Author

Editors' Picks