After really well played back-to-back weeks for the Ramblin’ Wreck that included a convincing win over UNC and a near upset of Clemson, the Jackets came back down to earth against the Pitt Panthers on Saturday, October 2nd.
Pitt proved they can score big points against anyone, while GT reverted back to the Tech of the Week 1 Northern Illinois game. QB Jeff Sims threw two early interceptions that resulted in the Panthers taking a 14-0 lead before Kenny Pickett threw four TDs on Andrew Thacker’s defense.
On the dash
Where to begin... one data point no one wanted to see was the back-to-back interceptions to start the game. On the first INT, Jeff Sims’ RPO pass was tipped and picked off which resulted in a touchdown. On his second pick, Sims is hit as he throws and the pass results in an interception return for a TD.
What about 3rd and 4th down conversions? Tech finished a lowly 2-of-11 on 3rd and 1-of-4 on 4th downs. Tech did limit their penalties to five for 55 yards, but I saw another false start, and pre-snap penalties have plagued the Jackets since Geoff Collins took over the head job.
The Panthers offense converted 6-of-13 on 3rd down and 2-of-2 on 4th down to turn the money down into two cents worth a wooden nickel. A week after dominating UNC up front, the Jackets logged only one sack, two tackles for loss, two hurries, and not a single PBU or turnover against the Panthers.
Sims two early picks were his only turnovers on the day. After that, Sims averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt and threw two TDs. Five different receivers had an explosive play. The run game however was abysmal. Jahmyr Gibbs ran 10 times for -10 yards. The Jackets did manage a rushing TD. GT also allowed 3 sacks, 10 TFLs and three hurries.
Above- This seems to happen quite a bit with Sims. He stares down a receiver or read and lacks the pocket awareness to feel pressure or a defensive lineman jumping in mid air as he attempts a throw. It’s not like Sims is 5’10, and he throws a ton of batted down and tipped balls.
Above- You can see the center’s eyes on the MLB all the way, he misses the twist. You can see Sims staring right through the lineman that bats the ball. There’s a lack of visual-cognitive-motor connection on this roster.
Above- I didn’t like the play-action pass that resulted in the pick 6 at all. First, the RB doesn’t stay in to help chip that DE. Pitt is aggressive with their DEs in Narduzzi’s scheme and that means Sims won’t have 3-4 seconds to throw. Technically no one does. That ball has to be out before 2.8 but on my watch it took nearly four seconds from snap to release.
Sims’ internal clock being broken goes along with his pocket awareness. He rarely feels pressure on passing plays. For as good as he is at finding lanes on pass-run options like swing-draw, he’s bad on more traditional passes.
Above- The OG that’s pulling for the PAP look lunges and is off balance. The DE goes through his weak push to get to Sims before the ball is out. Was the receiver open? Yeah, but it took too long to develop and you have to know this before hand as GT hasn’t exactly been wizards at pass pro the past three seasons.
Above- This time Sims gets protection on a PAP and drops a beautiful dime into the end zone for a TD. This throw takes just under three seconds to come out rather than just under four. What’s a second worth? A pick 6 versus a TD.
The GT defense fell apart against a suddenly good Pitt offense. Mark Whipple and Kenny Pickett are still there- the difference? Brennan Marion joined the staff. Pickett averaged 10.8 yards per attempt while tossing four TDs and no interceptions.
Pitt had explosive plays from nine different receivers as Pickett threw for almost 400 yards on the afternoon. The Panthers also ran for 4.4 yards per carry and two TDs.
Above- The fullback (yes, a fullback!) fills up the ILB penetration, the back side guard pulls to find the most dangerous man. The back slow plays it and follows his FB to his guard. Then some ankle grab tackles are broken by physics and Pitt goes up 7-0.
Above- Tech beat Sam Howell with relentless pressure. So what does the game plan for Pickett call for? Apparently a weak three man rush and DBs that let a WR behind them even with eight dropped on 2nd and 10.
Above- 1st and 10 inside the red zone? Why not give Pickett all day with another 3-man rush. Picket dances around, steps up, and finds an open receiver to go up 42-14 before the half. I just don’t understand the lack of pressure in the red zone.
In the rearview
Let’s all just put this one behind us. Moving forward Georgia Tech hits the road and heads to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils. The game will kick off at 12:30 on RSN/ESPN3. If you’re coming to Durham, try Pizzeria Toro and Ponysaurus and Fullsteam, two awesome breweries, are nearby as well. Of course Moenuts is a great breakfast option for the morning after.
Duke took a butt whoopin’ from UNC on October 2nd but as we all know those transitive property wins (hey you guys are all math folks, not me) are meaningless, especially in the Coastal. I’ll be in attendance in Durham!
SP+ has Georgia Tech ranked 58th overall, while being 65th on offense, 45th on defense, and 100th in kicking. Bill Connelly’s same metric has Duke ranked 84th overall. The Devils are 71st on offense, 86th on defense, and 57th in kicking. ESPN has GT as a 67.3% win favorite.
Prediction: Georgia Tech by 10.