It's always something. In a game in which the offense showed flashes of its former self, the defense collapsed completely to seal the Jackets' fate once again. After the game, Coach Johnson admitted to being flustered by this season's outcome to this point. He cited the fact that a record number of Freshmen were playing in this game, but said that the coaching needs to be a lot better.
In another close game, there were again several big plays that turned the tide against the Jackets, and Johnson recalled each of them in his post game presser. The blocked kick at the end of the first half, the offensive pass interference that cost the team a drive, the fumble, the list could go on. Johnson noted that Georgia Tech has been in each game outside of the Clemson game, but simply isn't making the plays when it needs to.
On offense, the team finally began to resemble itself again, getting chunk yardage on the edge, catching jump balls for big plays, and breaking runs up the middle. The team was able to rush for 376 yards at a clip of 9.4(!) yards per carry. Including the passing game, Tech totaled 482 yards to Pitt's 391, and was able to get 8.8 yards per play to Pitt's 6. But in the end it was Pitt who made the plays that mattered, connecting on their 56 yard field goal to win the game.
On defense, it was a disaster. Pitt wasn't breaking big gains, but they were efficient, driving down the field slowly, and scoring on most of their possessions. Missed tackles were a major problem, allowing Pitt to add 5-10 yards to plays with alarming frequency. The Pitt offense was balanced, rushing for 200 yards and passing for 191. Quarterback Nick Peterman was efficient, completing 66% of his passes for 3 TDs, mostly to All-American Tyler Boyd. Coach Johnson said after the game that the defense had planned to double-team Boyd, but was unable to get it done. He snagged 8 receptions for 68 yards and 2 TDs on the day, as well as rushing for 26 yards on 5 carries. Ultimately, the slow, methodical final drive from the Pitt offense bled the clock dry, along with Georgia Tech's hopes.
If there was one bright spot to be had, it was the youth of the team stepping up big in big situations. Marcus Marshall had a huge game with 159 yards on 10 carries. That's 15.9 yards per carry. Fifteen Point Nine Yards per Carry. He's a special one. The young A-backs were much improved in their blocks on the edge, and the offense was able to hit the outside run all afternoon. Ricky Jeune was winning jump balls outside. On the line, Will Bryan held up well in his first start, which was remarkable for a true freshman. With all the struggles of the Offensive Line, the fact that a true freshman could come in and hold his own as well as a 5th year senior is telling.
This team isn't good right now and Tech fans know it, but it has been brutal to lose so many close, winnable games. This team needs to learn how to make plays in the right moments to win, which was a strength of last year's team. It hasn't been an easy season for Tech fans. With Florida State coming next week, things don't look like it'll be getting any easier.