These articles are way more fun to write after this kind of game. I knew we had this game in us. I really did. I didn't know if we would see it, but I knew it was there. There is too much talent on this team. The Idaho and Southern Mississippi games, we simply didn't play well. But, this week, we played very well.
Was it the bye week? Was it the Homecomings crowd? Was it the conference opponent? Was it Al Groh on the opposing sideline? I don't know. I don't think anybody really knows. But, I think everybody enjoyed it. Well, everybody who wasn't rooting for Georgia Tech.
The Hoos went out and played a complete game for 60 minutes, and beat a quality opponent. That hasn't happened in a while. I guess you could say that about last year's Miami game, but this one seemed different. The offense clicked, the defense clicked, the special teams...well maybe not.
The last time Georgia Tech was outrushed in a game was the 2010 Orange Bowl against Iowa. That was 2 seasons ago and 20 games ago. The Hoos offensive line was great this weekend. They imposed their will on the Yellow Jackets defense, and allowed all 3 of our RBs to have strong games. Perry Jones led the team with 149 yards on just 18 carries. True freshman Clifton Richardson had just 5 carries for 33 yards, but one of those was a 22 yard TD that was the best run of the game. The offensive line gets the game MVP for that performance. Center Anthony Mihota was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the week, and he deserved it.
There were mistakes, of course. Obviously, the interception Michael Rocco threw was a mistake. It was a poor read and a poor decision. It was a throw that did not need to be made. Hopefully, it is something Rocco will learn from. He got greedy. The other big mistake was the 4th down playcall in the 4th quarter with David Watford in the game. It is 4th and 1. You have been dominating the line of scrimmage all game long. You have a big, strong, running QB in the game. Why throw it? It is mind-boggling. A QB sneak probably would've worked. A QB draw may have worked.
Mike London's explanation of this was that GT had 9 defenders in the box. This isn't really relevant on a 4th and 1, because they can't get all 9 players into one yard. Watford has proven, to me at least, that he does not have an accurate arm, and yet we keep asking him to make tough throws on 4th down.
The defense also did its job. It wasn't necessarily a dominating defensive performance, but they held the explosive Yellow Jackets offense to just 2 TDs, forced two turnovers, and kept the Jackets 220 yards below their season average. The defense was aided by some mistakes the Yellow Jackets made. The most notable was the 85 yard run by QB Tevin Washington that was called back before of a downfield block in the back.
One of the two interceptions was a very good play by Chase Minnifield on an underthrown back shoulder throw. Chase had blanket coverage on Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill, and made a good read and a good play. The second interception was on the last play of the first half, with Washington throwing the ball deep and Tra Nicholson really being the only player back there.
There were mistakes by the defense as well. I already mentioned the 85 yard run that was called back. There was a block in the back. Did the illegal block make the play? I don't think so. That was fortuitous from our perspective. We also struggled, again, with the WR end around. Stephen Hill picked up 24 yards on it, and after seeing Idaho and Southern Miss have success with it, I fear we will see it again.
Now for special teams. Ugh. Another FG blocked. Another muff on a kick return. I suppose there were highlights. We blocked a FG. Dominique Terrell had a nice return on a short punt that he picked up off the ground. Still, special teams remains a concern for this team.
As always, some observations:
- On several occasions, we left the center uncovered and Tevin Washington was able to pick up significant yards by simply taking the snap and following his center up the middle. This happened two times on 4th and short. There is simply no excuse for allowing this to happen. I realize that the defense was playing a very specific scheme to combat the triple option, but teams will notice if this becomes a pattern.
- The play for our second TD was a thing of beauty. Yes,
throw was a hair overthrown, but Smith was so open that it didn't matter. After having run the pitch play several times with great success, the fake pitch worked amazingly. Tim Smith simply ran right by his defender, and Rocco had an easy throw.
- In a weird way, it is a shame that we have so much talent at RB, because if Richardson were to get a majority of the carries for the rest of his career, he would likely break every rushing record we have.
- I'm glad we finally ran a play for Watford to run the ball. I have been harping on it all season long, but if Watford is going to play, we need to let him use his skills. Trying to run the Mike Rocco offense with David Watford is counter-productive. Let Watford use his legs, which is his greatest skill. Use the offseason is for Watford to learn how to throw the ball.
- Our defensive line has taken a lot of heat the past few weeks, but they played an outstanding game. One of the most important things in stopping the triple option is to cut off the B-back dive. Well, B-back David Sims had 11 carries for 35 yards. With that play not working, it makes the offense much less successful. The middle of the defense, namely Matt Conrath, Steve Greer and Nick Jenkins, all played outstanding. Will Hill saw less time on the field this week, probably because the matchup wasn't ideal for him.
- I can't say enough about that final drive. It was a thing of beauty. When you can run the ball right down the defense's throat to close out a close game, you're doing things correctly. Five consecutive first downs. Six minutes off the clock. Even a holding penalty couldn't stop the drive. This made me wonder where the heck it was the past two games. If we are capable of this against an ACC defense, we should've been capable against Idaho and USM. But we didn't even try.