Hello and welcome back. If you’re looking for positives from Saturday afternoon’s homecoming matchup against the Hokies, you likely won’t find very many of them here. Hate to start the week off like that...
I did make my way over to The Flats on Saturday, and it was a lot of fun soaking in the tradition, live music, and tailgating now that the fall season has officially arrived in Georgia. However, what wasn’t a whole lot of fun was soaking in the constant 50-degree drizzle that covered Atlanta for nearly the entire weekend. And then what was even LESS fun was watching Georgia Tech lose another game that didn’t provide much hope for the rest of the season. The weather Saturday wasn’t great, but it wasn’t pouring. Regardless, there are truly no excuses for the way Georgia Tech played. We are moving further and further away from that emphatic win against UNC, and it’s looking more and more like the Yellow Jackets may not match that level of play again this season.
Time for some grading.
Jeff Sims finished 15/26 for 183 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 1 fumble - a much worse stat line than we’ve seen over the past few outings. The weather may have played a part, but again, that’s not a great excuse. The sack fumble wasn’t really Jeff’s fault. He was pressured on the blind side and got hit right as he pulled the read and started his release.
Jeff ran the ball pretty well, as usual, adding 60 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.
Running Backs: D
If you take away Jahmyr’s big 61-yard run in the second half that led to zero points, the RB group only ran for 62 yards on 18 attempts. Jordan Mason and Dontae Smith really struggled to get going, only notching 10 yards between the two of them. Jahmyr found some extra yardage through the air, as is custom, but the success was too limited to make much of an impact on the game. 100 of Gibbs’ 161 total offensive yards came on two plays.
Wide Receivers/TEs: D
Outside of Adonicas Sanders and Kyric McGowan, the WR corp was held in check for the entirety of the game. The biggest play through the air was to a running back, a 39-yard catch and run by Jahmyr Gibbs. McGowan was also called for OPI on a big play towards the end of the first half that could have led to points for Tech. Upon review, it was hard to argue with the call. If you’re running a screen/pick play like that, you’ve gotta sell the route a little harder across the middle.
Offensive Line: F
See RB stat breakdown above for reasoning. Despite the offense putting up 6.1 yards per carry, there wasn’t much of a push the entire game as the big men failed to establish the line of scrimmage. If you take away the explosive play by Jahmyr and Jeff’s yardage consisting of a read option/scramble mix, the team ran for less than 4 yards per carry. Add in the costly holding penalty against Ryan Johnson on the first drive of the second half and you have a recipe for failure offensively. You can’t take points off the board with penalties and expect to win.
There was also the big sack fumble on the next possession that led to points for VT. Devin Cochran, one of the more solid players on the OL, completely whiffed and let the end get a straight shot at Jeff’s blind side on the first play of the drive. I’ve talked about that play twice now in this review, it was bad.
Total Offense: F
Virginia Tech’s defense played better than Georgia Tech’s offensive counterparts for the majority of the game, but at the same time, the Yellow Jacket offense continually found ways to hinder progress, particularly in the second half. Two major penalties wiped what could have been 11 additional points off the scoreboard (one was a play that got GT down inside the VT 10-yard line right before halftime and the other was a TD that got called back; Tech had to settle for a FG), a sack fumble in the third quarter gave VT the ball inside the red zone (third time for anyone counting), and a failed 4th & 2 late in the game eliminated a chance for the Yellow Jackets to take the lead.
That failed 4th & 2 was a really bad play call in my opinion, but execution was also poor as the OL couldn’t get anything close to a push on the run up the middle.
It is frustrating for a fan to watch someone throw for 396 yards against your favorite team, but I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for the coaches and players. That was last week, however, and this week wasn’t too much better. The yardage wasn’t as bad as the team gave up 254 yards through the air, but the way in which is what done was equally frustrating. The blown assignment on VT’s second drive of the game gave the Hokies first half momentum and a lead that they would never surrender.
Most of the damage was done by one player, WR Tre Turner, as he caught 7 passes for 187 yards. One of them was that big play mentioned above, but even giving up 6 for 118 to one player shows struggles with coverage and an inability to eliminate his effectiveness.
Quez Jackson and Ace Eley both led the team with 16 tackles each, and they are currently two of the Top 5 ACC tackling leaders on the season. I felt like the 4-2 set in the second half gave these two a little more space to navigate the center of the field and make plays. They just looked a little more comfortable in that front this week.
Virginia Tech ran the ball twice as often as they threw it, so there were a lot of chances to figure things out, but until the second half, it felt like Virginia Tech was pretty much running at will. On their second touchdown drive, VT ran the ball 8 times and threw the ball once. Braxton Burmeister was also able to find a little bit of success as he ran for 46 yards on 11 carries.
Defensive Line: D+
Pressure and force up front were inconsistent yet again as Virginia Tech ran for 4.5 yards per carry. One of the team’s two sacks came from RS Sophomore Ja’Quon Griffin, and there were a few instances where Tech defensive linemen were able to make some plays in the backfield. The second half effort was far greater than the first, and it appeared Thacker went back to 4 defensive linemen for large portions of that frame.
Total Defense: D-
Virginia Tech’s 491 yards are the most they’ve gained in a single game so far this season, and two of the teams on their schedule are Middle Tennessee and Richmond. 336 of those yards came in the first half. The main reason(s) I’m holding off on the F is because the defense did limit the Hokies to 155 second half yards and kept them out of the end zone in that same time period. So although the overall performance was less than stellar, the defense played much harder in the second half and gave Tech a chance to climb back in the game.
Special Teams: C+
David Shanahan had a busy day punting the ball as GT only converted 3 out of 12 third downs. He stuck the Hokies inside their own 15 yard-line twice, which was good to see. VT punt returner Tayvion Robinson did gash the Jackets for 24 yards on one occasion, but fortunately no points came of it as they missed a FG a few minutes later.
Kickoffs are good, Cimaglia was perfect on his kicks, and punt returns remain safe. Jahmyr appears to be taking more chances on kick return as the season goes on, and I’m totally okay with it.
We’re all the way back to square one. At least it feels that way. Penalties, which haven’t been much of a problem this year, killed a few chances to score, and turnover margin, something that has been a bright spot on the year, is now negative once again in CGC’s tenure. Both teams had to deal with the wet conditions, so that isn’t an excuse. Virginia Tech’s secondary is a known threat, so GT worked to establish the run, but couldn’t find a regular push. Aside from two big run plays, one by Jahmyr and one by Jeff, the ground game was as limited as the pass attack. The coaching staff had all game to see that, and still decided to try and run it up the middle (OUT OF THE SHOTGUN) on a 4th & 2 late in the game. The play had zero chance. There was no read involved, which is what makes this offense difficult to defend.
Defensively, adjustments were made in the second half and it actually appeared to work. The team started lining back up in the 4-2 front more frequently and actually brought some different pressure that we’re not used to seeing. DB Zamari Walton made his way into the backfield for a sack in the third quarter. Regardless, missed assignments and blown coverages in the first half proved too difficult to overcome for the team as a whole. Consistency seems to be a foreign concept for this coaching staff.
Like I said, it’s not an excuse for how Tech played, but it was gross.
Time to move on. I feel like I say that every week. Miami is up next, and they appear to have figured something out last week as they became the first ACC team to knock Pitt off their pedestal. Maybe some warmer weather and a visit to Joe’s Stone Crab will get this Yellow Jacket football team ready to play. We need to bounce back in a big way.
See you all next week. Go Jackets!