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GT Football @ Pittsburgh Superlatives

Fill out the form at the bottom to vote for this week's offensive and defensive players and plays of the game!

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Let me be the first to tell you that this week’s Superlatives were a lot more fun to compile than last week’s. The Jackets’ performance at Heinz Field can really only be described as a full team effort – players all over the field and all over the depth chart contributed in significant ways to help give Tech its dominant 56-28 win over Pittsburgh. I think we’ll see some very interesting results from this week’s poll.

Player of the Game (Offense)

The Jackets’ offense racked up 56 points on 612 yards of total offense, and boy, was it fun to watch. 465 of those yards came on the ground (Tech averaged a ridiculous 7.3 yards per rush), and six players on offense had at least 30 yards rushing. This was all without starting B-back Zach Laskey, too. The main takeaway here? Depth. This team has depth.

Justin Thomas – JT put forth another excellent game despite sitting out a few series, going 5-10 passing for 147 yards and 1 TD while adding 92 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Justin appeared to be playing a little bit slower than usual, perhaps due to an injury, but he was still by far one of the fastest and most agile players on the field. He also did a good job distributing the ball to his receivers and running backs.

Broderick Snoddy – The track star had a field day as he torched Pittsburgh’s defense with his blazing speed. The redshirt-junior broke a countless number of tackles on his way to 82 yards rushing and THREE touchdowns on just six carries. Snoddy looked like a human pinball with a jetpack on every time he got the ball, easily putting together his best game as a Jacket to date.

Synjyn Days – Synjyn also had one of the best games of his career, rushing for a bruising 110 yards on 22 carries. Many Tech fans were worried about Laskey being out for the day, but Synjyn reassured us all that he is more than capable of shouldering the load and producing. His 100+ yard performance at B-back is especially noteworthy, as his first two positions at Tech were quarterback and A-back. He is truly a versatile back.

Tony Zenon – Zenon only got three touches on the day, but he made them count. He iced any real chance that Pitt had of coming back by taking a misdirection up the middle for a 57-yard touchdown. We knew he was fast, but he was really flying on that one.

Play of the Game (Offense)

There were so many great plays in this game. Broken tackles, pure speed, great throws and catches, we’ve got it all.

Snoddy’s second TD (34 yards) – I initially had Snoddy’s two long runs lumped into one candidate, but I decided it would be unfair to both Broderick and the rest of this week’s candidates. His second TD of the day was a 34-yard back-breaker. He took the rocket toss to the outside, ran over a Pitt defender, and got two key blocks from Charles Perkins and DeAndre Smelter to make it 28-0 just five minutes into the game.

Snoddy’s third TD (28 yards) – This run also came on the rocket toss, but Snoddy did a lot more with the ball. Tony Zenon and Bryan Chamberlain both threw exceptional blocks on the outside, but Snoddy made one Pitt defender miss in a bad way with a nasty cut and spun off another before breaking a final tackle on the goal line for the score. I’m definitely one for comparisons, but I think most people will agree both of his long touchdown runs on the day were extremely reminiscent of the types of plays Jonathan Dwyer used to make.

Smelter’s 26-yard reception in coverage – This is just Smelter being Smelter. What more can I say? Tech needed to get in scoring range at the end of the half, so Justin tossed one up to Smelter in one-on-one coverage down the sideline and Smelter made another awe-inspiring catch. We’ve seen it before. We’ll see it again. Smelter’s got skills.

Zenon’s 57-yard TD run – This play was just flat out speed. Shortly afer a 9-minute Jackets drive ended in a fumble (and had us all feeling sick in a very nerve-wracking, very familiar way), the Jackets only led 35-21 in the third quarter. That is, until Zenon took a handoff up the middle 57-yards for the score. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen Zenon run. It was great.

Perkins’ 79-yard TD reception – Last but certainly not least, Justin’s longest pass of the day came on fairly simple misdirection pass play. The Jackets offense got the Pitt defense moving to the left (or, upon closer examination, playing a five-man zone inside the hashes), and Justin made them pay. He tossed a short pass out to Perkins, who secured the ball and flicked on the nitrous immediately, scoring from 79 yards out. That’ll boost your QBR.

Player of the Game (Defense)

The Tech defense forced seven fumbles and recovered six of them. I actually had to make a table in Word comparing everybody’s stats before I could narrow down the following list to just four players. This poll might be the closest of the day.

Adam Gotsis – Gotsis recorded his first two sacks of the season, and they couldn’t have come at better times in the game. A sack on first and ten late in the second quarter ultimately stymied a Pitt drive that threatened to make it a one-score game before halftime (read: catastrophic meltdown averted). He also sacked Pitt’s Voytik on 2nd and 8 midway through the third quarter to set up 3rd and 17. Pitt converted the long yard situation, but the DT made the biggest play of the drive in that situation.

Isaiah Johnson – The senior safety had an excellent game, one of his best of the season. Check out this stat line: 14 tackles, one forced fumble, and a fumble return for seven yards (on a different fumble, mind you). He played a big part in the Horror at Heinz that took place in the first quarter for the Panthers, and his stats show it.

Quayshawn Nealy – Quayshawn recorded a solid seven tackles and two fumble recoveries, one of which was a great heads up play. Literally, heads up – Pitt QB Voytik fumbled the ball up into the air and Nealy was able to snag it before it hit the ground and secure it before getting pummeled. It was the first fumble of the day for Pittsburgh, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Or the fifth-last, for that matter.

PJ Davis – Paul has by far the most diverse stat line from last week. He recorded six tackles, a sack, three tackles-for-loss for ten yards, and forced two fumbles ALL while playing with his head on fire. Need I add that he leads the team in tackles at 63 total and is also tied for the lead in sacks and fumble recoveries? The best part is that he’s only a sophomore.

Play of the Game (Defense)

So many great plays were made on defense. The first quarter was essentially a fumble-recovery drill, and the whole team passed with flying colors.

Quayshawn Nealy’s first fumble recovery – This could have almost been scored as an interception on the stat sheet. Pitt QB Voytik went down hard, and the ball popped up pretty high in the middle of a big group of players. Nealy made a great play in getting his head up, locating the ball, catching it, and securing it – all in the middle of traffic. It set up the Jackets’ first score.

DJ White’s Forced Fumble in the End Zone – Hustle. Persistence. Endurance. DJ exhibited them all when he ran down Pitt RB James Conner and stripped him of the ball on the goal line, forcing a touchback. This wasn’t a short run, either. This was a 74-yard touchdown run, negated by a player who never gave up. One of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen as a Tech fan, or a football fan for that matter – it even made the Sportscenter Top Ten.

Shawn Green’s Pass Deflection – In a game full of forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, I bet many of you have forgotten about the amazing play that DT Shawn Green made late in the second quarter when Pitt was threatening to make it a game again. Pitt was facing 3rd and short situation when Voytik spotted dangerous WR Tyler Boyd 10 yards downfield – wide open. He slung it, but Shawn Green jumped up and got a hand on it, forcing the incompletion and the punt.

Demond Smith’s Quick Fumble Recovery – Another play that seemed average at first glance, but really was a great play. Smith was lined up as LB, but spotted the bobbled center-QB exchange almost before it happened, and pounced on the loose ball immediately. It’s visible at the 1:37 second in the fumble montage video above.