The game that was
It wasn't pretty, but Georgia Tech showed a little bit of the magic on offense that carried it to the ACC championship last season. Of course, the magic wand in the win was Joshua Nesbitt's passing arm, and not his running legs. However, there are still numerous issues that the team must solve in October before the brutal stretch of games in November if it hopes to get a chance to win consecutive ACC championships.
What we learned
1. Mental mistakes are draining the potential of this team. Tech coach Paul Johnson emphasized the need for the coaches and players to reduce the mental errors and blown assignments that contributed to last week's loss to N.C. State. Instead, the team committed more personal fouls, dropped at least four passes (Nesbitt should have been 15-of-21 instead of 11-of-21), and fumbled the ball five times, losing two. This game should have been a blowout. Instead, Tech had to rally. Johnson said he will discuss the personal foul penalties in the team meeting Monday,which he attributed to a lack of discipline. "I'll address it, don't worry," he said.
2. Something is wrong with the offensive line. There were some plays on Saturday that looked like backyard football, with defenders either chasing Nesbitt around the pocket, or running him down on option plays. The middle of the line was blown up a few times by the Deacons, which is what many opponents have been doing this season. They are focusing on taking away the B-back and the plan is working in spots. Tech rushed for 209 yards against Wake, the second consecutive week it hasn't surpassed 250 yards on the ground.
3. The defense is finding some playmakers. Safety Jerrard Tarrant, outside linebacker Steven Sylvester and inside linebacker Julian Burnett were all over the field against the Deacons. Burnett and Sylvester had 10 tackles each, including four for loss, and Tarrant had four more and was consistently in the backfield creating problems. Granted, the Deacons were forced to play their fourth-string quarterback for the last three quarters, but this performance should build confidence for a unit that was having numerous issues. Johnson said Sylvester played his best game Saturday and that Tarrant has always had a play-making ability.
Guard Will Jackson left the game in the first quarter with an injured left leg. He sprained the knee and ankle in that leg during the first quarter of the season-opening win against South Carolina State. The injuries forced him to miss the second game at Kansas. Johnson said there was no update on Jackson's status.
Rushing yards on 26 carries for Nesbitt, including a 50-yard run. He actually gained 114 before the losses are counted. Nothing illustrates the problems the line is having than that stat. They allowed three sacks for 18 yards, and there were numerous busted plays.
"You hope maybe you can take that and build on it, but we'll see. You have to do it, you can't just talk about."
-- Johnson discussing the confidence that can be gained from the win
Johnson said Nesbitt played as well as he played in the win at North Carolina. ... Johnson said one the fumbles credited to Anthony Allen occurred because the Wake's nose tackle punched the ball out.
Al Groh vs. Virginia. There's obviously more to this game than Groh, now Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator, going against the team he coached for nine seasons. But that will be the storyline for a while, particularly considering the uneven play of Tech's defense and the struggles Virginia is experiencing this season. The Cavaliers were beaten soundly by Florida State, 34-14, on Saturday. The Seminoles held a 27-0 lead and outgained the Wahoos in yards 294-42 at halftime. Like Tech's defense, which is learning Groh's 3-4 system, Virginia is still learning new coach Mike London's schemes.
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