This one hurts. A lot.
What's worse is this is the second time this season I've started an article that way.
For the second time this year (and the third time in 5 games), Georgia Tech has had a team on the ropes, simply needing to put a few more nails in the coffin, and yet gone out to lunch for long enough for the opponent to break out of said coffin and ambush us into it upon return. When it comes to this team, Bane (yes, the Batman villain) did a great job of summing up why these losses hurt so badly (you'll find out how as a reward for reading the rest of the article).
Here are a few of my takeaways from this game:
-Miami is really athletic.
Credit where credit is due. Those guys simply out-athleted us for a lot of the game, especially in the trenches. Our linemen (on defense, especially) struggled a lot to win the battle up front...again. It seems like the same old story -- Miami always has a way of beating us up front.
-The defense reverted to old ways in the worst way possible in the second half.
I don't like to play the blame game. A team doesn't lose because of a few players or any one unit. But I will point out that the defense really didn't do much in the fourth quarter in the way of holding up their end of the bargain. Tackles were missed. 3rd-and-longs were converted. Coverages were blown. There was generally a lot to be upset about and minimal to be proud of.
-The offense is not as consistent as we need it to be.
Let's go back to the "three battles" mentioned in the postgame report. In the first, the offense looked like it was moving in slow motion -- we got almost nothing going and accumulated a total of 39 yards on 12 plays. It was hard to watch, to say the least. From there, the lights came on and Georgia Tech was out of the gate like a bat out of Hell. Miami's defense looked confused at best and Georgia Tech was moving the ball at will. From there it slowed down again -- which wasn't such a big deal considering the 17 point lead they had accumulated. But at the end, when it counted, and a first down would have won the game, the offense again came up short. I don't really know what to think here. Honestly, if the offense scores 36 points, they played a really good game and can't be blamed in my eyes. But I also feel like they have to be able to execute when it counts.
-Georgia Tech cannot put a good team away when it should.
There's no better way of saying it. TBuzz pointed out in the comments of the postgame report that Tech's last 3 losses have all been games that were won -- games where a single defensive stand, with the offense playing against huge odds, would have ended the game with a W for the good guys. The Sun Bowl saw Tech up by a touchdown late, only to let Utah score on a long pass on fourth down. Our next game, against Virginia Tech, saw the Jackets score a touchdown to take a 3-point lead with less than a minute left, only for that to be squandered into a loss. Finally, up 17 and having scored 36 straight against Miami, Tech let the Hurricanes back into the game and couldn't get a stop when it counted. I hate having a poor attitude about a team that I'm a fan of, but it's hard to have confidence in a team with such potency for grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.
-Paul Johnson may seem crazy, but the decisions he makes are made with good reasoning.
I have a friend at Clemson who texted me after Tech went for it on 4th down in overtime and was denied, saying something to the effect of "You'd think CPJ would have learned from what happened at Virginia Tech." Sure, in hindsight it's easy to say that he should have kicked the field goal. But I won't blame him for a second for electing to go for it. First off, his philosophy of "we don't deserve to win if we can't get 3 feet" is one that I love. He's absolutely right. Any team who can't get a single yard has no business winning a game against an equally-matched opponent. But at the same time, electing to kick a field goal would have been a much worse decision. Doing so would show confidence in the defense to keep Miami from getting 25 yards and extend the game into a second overtime. Why on Earth would he have that confidence in a defense that had just allowed Miami to gain 91 yards without forcing so much as a third down? Why have that confidence in a defense that simply needed to make one more play against Virginia Tech to go home with the huge win, and failed? Why have that confidence in a defense that only needed to hold Utah to 3 points in order to extend the game, and failed? Whether you like it or not, you're probably seeing a pattern here -- a pattern you hoped you wouldn't ever see in a team that you were a fan of.
At the end of the day, this is probably the most painful kind of loss there is. A loss like Virginia suffered last week? Your team got straight up outplayed from the first whistle, and there was nothing they could do about it. A loss like we suffered to georgia last year? They were just better, and even if they're our rival it would have been a huge upset. But our last 3 losses have all come after the fans expected the team to pull away with a victory, and in the words of Bane (keep reading, this quote is surprisingly accurate and applicable),
"There can be no true despair without hope."
Here's to hoping the next time Tech fans have hope, it materializes into what they hope for.
How's everyone doing out there? Thoughts following the game? Do you still believe in Harvey Den....err....Georgia Tech? Should we start an e-riot, calling for everyone to be fired? Should we be reasonable in our disappointment?