Georgia Tech dropped a third-straight game over the weekend, falling by a final score of 37-34 to the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. The team lost just as it did last season, on a miraculous last-second field goal by Chris Blewitt to give the Panthers the edge; last time it was a school-record 56-yarder and this time it was a 31-yarder that bounced off the upright and went in. That may be nothing more than dumb luck for Pitt, but the Tech defense giving up north of 400 yards indicates something more substantial at play. It becomes more difficult by the day to defend the struggling defensive system of Ted Roof, but it’s also important to consider how bad defenses around the nation have been all season long. That’s not in defense of Roof or his methods, especially given that the Jackets currently give up 5.68 yards per play, but rather to point out that someone, somewhere, has it much worse.
Pittsburgh managed to pull off the win in large part due to the willingness of head coach Pat Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Matt Canada to “flip the script” and deviate from their traditional playcalling. The Panthers did just that all game long, executing on everything from constant jet sweeps to a trick play that resulted in a long touchdown for offensive lineman Brian O’Neill early in the game. Tech looked clueless when faced with these wrinkles, which leads me to believe that there was some “back to the basics” going on at practice following the fits that simpler plays like Clemson’s screen passes gave Tech a couple of weeks ago. Paul Johnson attempted to throw similar changes into his gameplan, running a reverse that ended up being a tackle for a loss on Brad Stewart after the play broke down and Stewart was forced to look downfield. Outside of the fake punt against Mercer, those plays haven’t gone well this year.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, someone thought it was a great idea to allow Notre Dame and NC State to play out their game despite some horrific hurricane-induced field conditions in Raleigh. Everything went as poorly as you’d expect, with NC State pulling out a hideous 10-3 win over the Irish. The game’s only touchdown came on a blocked punt that came off of the kicker’s foot on what was essentially a horizontal line, effectively ending the game with 12 minutes left simply because no one was going to score that quickly. Brian VanGorder may not be employed by Notre Dame any longer, but we now know of two things that make defenses trained by him look good: Paul Johnson and natural disasters. That was just water polo, honestly.
Have a great Monday!