At some point, it can get a little tiring breaking down, explaining, and deciphering losses in one infuriating season as a Georgia Tech Football fan.
I believe we are definitely at that point.
After the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets stormed out of the gates with 14 first-quarter points and 130 total yards, things went downhill quickly.
Yet somehow, the Yellow Jackets had the ball past midfield late in the fourth quarter with the chance to pull out a victory against Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech Hokies. Instead of pulling out the win, we saw the Jackets do what -- besides the FSU win -- they have done all year: They let it get away.
Unlike last season's 11-win team, Georgia Tech has been unable to finish games when it has the chance in the fourth quarter. Other than the blowout loss to Clemson, the Jackets have found themselves in an opportunity late in the game to win every single game this season, but the team has just one conference win to show for it.
"I don’t know where to start," said coach Paul Johnson. "Again [we’re] disappointed. I don’t know how many times we fumbled the ball, like three or four in the second half alone. Penalties [on] third and short and then when we’re close to field goal range. Dropped balls. We’re not good enough to overcome any of that stuff. We’ve got to do a better job. Ultimately I’m responsible for it. It’s embarrassing."
With the ball close to field goal range, Georgia Tech needed just a few more yards to get Harrison Butker a chance for a game-winning field goal. Instead, the Jackets took over 40 seconds to run a play that resulted in a total of -19 yards ... -4 yards on the play ran and -15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on offensive lineman Errin Joe. That hole was too much to climb out of, and the game ended with a desperation throw from Justin Thomas to Ricky Jeune on 4th-and-forever.
After that hot first quarter, the Jackets were held to just 128 total yards and zero offensive points over the final three quarters ... two yards and two touchdowns less than they gained in the first. For the game, Georgia Tech was held to just 3.4 yards per carry.
"Well we just stopped executing," said Johnson. "I mean we just stopped executing. Again the way we play, especially in the first half, there’s not many possessions. When you go out and block the wrong guy or you turn a guy loose, it’s hard to overcome it. We did convert a couple of third downs there. We did convert on a third-and-long in the second half we got a little delay thing we put in, but you can’t keep converting. Then when you’re third-and-25 because of a personal foul or whatever it is, there’s not many teams that are going to make those."
The one positive to the game was the defense, which, once again, was able to limit the opposing offense despite being put into terrible situations time and time again in the second half. Freshman Brant Mitchell's pick-six in the third quarter accounted for the only Georgia Tech points after the first quarter. Their play has been encouraging, especially given how much depth has been lost on that side of the ball.
"I thought they gave us a chance in the second half," said Johnson, who is suffering through his most frustrating season ever as a head coach. "They went out and got some stops and made some plays. That was encouraging. It was good to see."
The challenge lies ahead now for the team to come together and finish the last two games strong despite knowing there's nothing to play for after the regular season. For seniors especially, it will be important for the program to fight and battle and at least let them leave on a respectful note. For Miami next week, that may be difficult, but nobody should have any problem getting motivated for when Georgia comes to town in two weeks.
"Just the chance to play another game," junior offensive lineman Freddie Burden said about what will keep him motivated. "It’s fun to just go out there and play. Our next game is at Miami so that’s always a good experience. We had a good time down there last year. So that will be fun getting back down there. Of course we are going to get up for our last game against Georgia here. I think there will plenty of motivation. We just have to execute like we have been doing all year. We just have to go back to practice and get better, essentially."