Five things learned from Georgia Tech’s loss at No. 17 Ole Miss

Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King throws a pass against Mississippi during the second half an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King throws a pass against Mississippi during the second half an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

OXFORD, Miss. – Georgia Tech fell to 1-2 on the season after a 48-23 loss at No. 17 Ole Miss on Saturday, a loss in which the Yellow Jackets gave up 34 points in the second half.

Tech trailed 24-17 with 10:31 to play before getting outscored 24-6 the remainder of the way. The Rebels (3-0) totaled 550 yards of offense, rushed for 299 yards and averaged nearly 10 yards per play.

The Jackets now turn their attention to a trip to Wake Forest (3-0) next week. But before then, here are five things we learned from Tech’s tough night inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

There are still second half issues

For the second time this season, Tech let opportunity slip by the wayside while its defense faltered in the second half.

Ole Miss scored on 6 of 7 possessions over the final 30 minutes and five of those drives went for touchdowns. The Rebels had 341 yards of offense and gained 13.6 yards per play over 25 offensive snaps in the second half.

“They had a good game plan against what we had going on,” Tech safety LaMiles Brooks said. “They made plays when plays were needed. We’ll get back to the lab and try to prevent that next week.”

On Sept. 1, Tech opened the season with a 39-34 defeat to Louisville. The Cardinals outscored Tech 26-6 in the second half of that game.

Coach Brent Key’s team has now been outscored 64-26 in the second half and 24-7 in the third quarter in its two losses.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing game. Disappointing any time you don’t come out with the outcome that don’t you want, that you worked for,” Key said. “I thought we had a good plan. We had the opportunity to make some plays. When I say make plays, it’s everyone. Whether it’s make a block, make a tackle, make a catch, make a call, everyone’s involved when it comes to that.

“Everyone is involved when you win games, everyone is involved when you lose games. It’s plain and simple the way it is. We got to be able to sustain and continue to play four quarters regardless of what the scoreboard says.”

Singleton singled out

Tech came into the season featuring a deep group of veteran wide receivers. The likelihood of a freshmen rising toward the top of that group was, well, unlikely.

But Eric Singleton Jr. may be beginning to do that after three games. The Alexander High graduate now has 10 receptions for 200 yards and has hauled in three touchdowns for the Jackets. He had a 51-yard catch Saturday at Ole Miss and a 15-yard TD grab in the fourth quarter.

Nate McCollum and E.J Jenkins tied for Tech’s team lead in receiving touchdowns for the entire 2022 season. Each had three, a total Singleton has matched in the first three games of his young career.

King continues to get it done

Tech quarterback Haynes King continued to play at a very high level Saturday.

The sophomore threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 42 yards rushing and a score on the ground. King now has 913 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns this season while completing 66.6 percent of his throws.

A late touchdown pass to tight end Avery Boyd on Saturday was King’s sixth different connection for a touchdown throw already this season.

“We got an identity and you’ve got to keep moving forward,” King said about his play and the Jackets’ offense. “We’re explosive, we’re gonna keep calling our stuff, we’re gonna hit some tempo, we’re gonna change it up.

“Gotta run the football, gotta pass the football and move on to the next play. You gotta keep rockin’ and rollin’, you can’t flinch. Just don’t flinch, keep moving and react to what’s going on.”

There are no flags on the field

Key has harped all season on playing disciplined football, which to him means more than a lack of penalties. But Tech played extremely clean in the penalty department Saturday with a flag-free game at Ole Miss.

Tech hadn’t had a penalty-free game since Sept. 3, 2015, against Alcorn State and has now only had eight such games in program history. For the season, the Jackets have only committed five infractions for an average of 1.6 per game.

The team committed 5.8 penalties per game in 2022.

Third down success

Tech hasn’t been great on third downs in 2023, but it hasn’t been terrible, either. And Saturday the Jackets did something they hadn’t done in six years.

The team’s 11 third-down conversions were its most since going 13-for-18 against Tennessee to start the 2017 season. Tech has only had a game with at least 10 third-down conversions twice since that 2017 game.

For the year, the Jackets are 23-for-43 on third down for a conversation rate of 53.4 percent. That’s up nearly 23 percent from a season ago.