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Tuesday Thoughts 10/5: Please Just Figure It Out

In which we talk journalism, jet skis, and face-planting.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Pitt at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Life ain’t fair and the world is mean.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

Two early turnovers put Tech in an immediate 14-point hole that they couldn’t climb out of.

Pitt was able to do anything they wanted on offense; they scored 42 of their points in the first half and 580 total yards.

Tech’s offense wound up with over 400 yards but turnovers and red zone stalls continue to prevent yards from turning into points.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Nate McCollum. Congrats to him on his first career touchdown!

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

Northwestern. Everyone’s favorite journalism school found themselves on the wrong end of a 49 point loss against Nebraska. The funniest part of this game is the rushing stats. Nebraska tallied 427 rushing yards on an incredible 8.1 yards per carry while Northwestern earned themselves just 37 rushing yards on an equally incredible 1.4 yards per carry. YIKES.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Passing success.
  • Jet skis.

Stat of the Week

20%. Yet again a game in which we have a miserable third and fourth down conversion rate. Racking up yardage is cool, but continuing drives and converting in the red zone is cooler. All the pieces are there in the offense but we just can’t seem to get over the hump.

5 Star (7 Star, 5 Star) Developmental Program Haiku of the Week

Nothing but sadness
A regression to the mean
Please just get better

Please Just Figure It Out

Honestly, I’m fine losing to Pitt; they’re a good football team. What I’m not fine with is getting absolutely embarrassed by Pitt. I’m not fine with completely falling on our face just one week after a really impressive game. There are three things in particular that I want to rant about a bit here:

1 - Something’s gotta change with the OL. There is absolutely no excuse for us having probably the worst OL play in the country right now. I don’t know what Key is doing in practice, but clearly it isn’t working and we need to try something else. We might have the most talented rushing attack in the conference between our top 3 RBs and Sims and they were able to gain a grand total of 73 rushing yards. Gibbs’s line was 10 rushes for -10 yards. There is not a universe where that should happen. Basically every run play involved the RB getting contact in the backfield from multiple defenders. Gibbs is insanely talented but we are setting him up for failure on nearly every play. On the passing side, Sims is facing pressure constantly; is two interceptions in this game are at least partially on the OL.

One of two things needs to happen here. Either something needs to change with how we’re handling the OL position or we need to scheme around them better. Stop sending a RB straight into the line of scrimmage just to be gang tackled by four DLs 1 yard deep. Stop passing plays that assume Sims will get 4+ seconds in the pocket. I’m certainly no scheme expert, but there absolutely has to be a better way to play around our weaknesses.

2 - The defense needs to do some soul searching. Pitt’s offense did as well against us as they did against UMASS. If you didn’t know, UMass has been quite literally one of the worst defenses in the country over the past few seasons (47 ppg this season, 40 ppg in 2020, 53 ppg in 2019); they are BAD. Pitt ran consistently over us and Kenny Pickett had himself a career day (a far too often occurrence for us). Figure it out y’all. The talent is there. There is no reason we should be giving up 360 yards per game. We are fully capable of being one of the best defenses in the conference and right now are falling far short of that.

3 - Everyone quite simply needs to figure out how to play games. We have not won two games in a row a single time under Collins. The game after a win is pretty much always one in which we fall flat:

  • 2019 over USF, next game was the OT loss to The Citadel
  • 2019 over Miami, next game was a 10 point loss to Pitt
  • 2019 over NC State, next game was a 45 point loss to UGA
  • 2020 over FSU, next game was a 28 point loss to UCF
  • 2020 over Louisville, next game was a 66 point loss to Clemson
  • 2020 over Duke, next game was a 10 point loss to NC State

That’s embarrassing. We should be plenty capable of stringing two games in a row at this point in the program’s development. We also should not be losing by 14+ to anyone in the ACC at this stage. No one is going to take us seriously if we have one good win and then immediately face-plant. Any goodwill and excitement you build after a great win like UNC is completely decimated after a bad loss like Pitt. Everyone has heard the adage that “trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets”; this is exactly the same. Be competitive in every game or stop telling me about how ELITE we are.

Look Ahead

Up next is Duke (10/9, 12:30pm, RSN). Honestly, Duke is a terrible team and this is a must-win in my mind. They’ve managed to get 3 wins but all of them have been against also-bad teams; they’ve also lost to Charlotte and were just destroyed by UNC. We have to beat them handily. A loss here would be the canary-in-a-coal-mine for another sub-4 win season. I want to see three things in this game: no turnovers, fewer than 300 yards of offense allowed, and consistent play across all four quarters.