In the worst possible game imaginable, the Hoos fell 56-20 to a dominant Georgia Tech triple option offense. From the first three Yellow Jacket plays from scrimmage (150 yards, 14 points), it appeared the Wahoo defense hadn't brought its best effort; and somehow, it was all downhill from there. Virginia drops to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the ACC with the loss, while Georgia Tech improves to 2-1 (1-1 ACC).
The Yellow Jackets dominated this one from start to finish. Virginia scored to cut GT's early lead to 14-7, but didn't see the end zone again until the middle of the fourth quarter, to get the game to 49-14. Tech finished with a video game-like 461 rushing yards. Tevin Washington passed 6 of 8 for 125 yards, while running for 93 more.
The game was a disaster, and there isn't much more to say about it. Still, I will try to say a little more about it:
Perspective: Before we bother talking about the game, I want to try to head off any "SKY IS FALLING" comments, surely unsuccessfully. Coaches always stress having "high highs and low lows." Thankfully, we haven't had to worry about those highs this year. However, this game doesn't change my opinion of this year's team - it isn't great, but it is good and will win plenty of games this year. We're playing an inexperienced team, which was bound to put up a stinker somewhere. I don't mean to minimize how colossally terrible this game was; I just don't think we can project this performance on the rest of the season.
How did Georgia Tech score 56 points?!: The defense put on a clinic on how not to play against the triple option. Doing so requires staying focused, sticking with individual assignments, getting to one's man, and tackling the ball. From the first play from scrimmage, the Hoos did none of this. Players left assignments after mis-direction and couldn't find the ball. And, most disappointingly after a strong first two weeks in this department, they couldn't tackle. The regression is tough to explain, but I would say it boiled down to playing tentatively against the option. Instead of being aggressive, getting to the ballcarrier, and bringing him down, the young defense had eight other messages running through their minds as well. That's why the option succeeds, and it killed us today.
QB Update: Mike Rocco didn't have his best outing of the season. (In fact, it was his worst). He completed 16 of 26 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown but threw 2 interceptions. After Phillip Sims bizarrely replaced Mike Rocco in the 3rd quarter of a nail-biter against Penn State, I was surprised that London waited until the fourth quarter to bring in the backup QB this time. Sims played well and passed for his first 2 career touchdowns, though both came against the GT second-stringers. My opinion on the QB controversy (if we are calling it a controversy) remains the same; both Rocco and Sims are capable of playing quarterback for the Hoos, and I hope London picks one and sticks with him. I will note that Sims's superior arm strength is undeniable.
Did anything go right?: Sims look good and notched his first 2 TDs. We scored 3 touchdowns. There weren't serious injuries. KP Parks and the running backs played hard to the final whistle, busting through tackles and fighting for extra yards. That's all I got.
Funny and applicable mid-game tweets of the week:
Either GT is punting or this beer is stronger than I thought— Wahoo Metrics (@WahooMetrics) September 15, 2012
Georgia Tech once beat Cumberland University 222-0. #PERSPECTIVE— UVA Football (@HoosFootball) September 15, 2012
For the record, my team only gave up 38 to Georgia Tech last season.— Phony Bennett (@IfTonyTweeted) September 15, 2012