The second half of today’s game was (more) promising, but it wasn’t enough. The offensive struggles Tech experienced against Virginia continued, but of the two Zachs, Pyron looked far more impressive. If Sims still can’t go moving forward, I would imagine he gets the nod.
I have something to admit - I grew up a Florida State fan. My grandfather played football there, so did his brother. Countless family members of mine went to school there. I almost went there myself. Worry not - my heart remains in Midtown and my blood runs White and Gold. I say all of that because it explains why, along with the Jackets, I watch every FSU game as well, and they could have easily been 6-1 heading into this matchup. They’re a good team, but they’ve had a tendency to take their foot off the gas. Not today. I almost went to this game (I’m glad I didn’t). The 24-point spread was spot on... I know that I’m rambling, but that’s because the last thing I want to do is talk about what just transpired. I mean seriously... what is there to talk about? The fact that we had more first half penalty yards than we did first half offensive yards? The fact that we averaged one (1) yard per play in the first half? Or what about the fact that the reason we were only down by three touchdowns at halftime is because the defense found a way to force more turnovers in the first half than we had first downs? That’s a terrible sentence, but it fits the theme.
Now, I’m not one to make excuses, but Jeff Sims being injured certainly didn’t help. His presence very likely could have made this a more competitive game. The aggressive nature of Florida State’s defensive front could have been neutralized with Sims’ ability to escape the pocket and make plays. We just don’t have that without him. At the start of the second half, Tech caught FSU off guard with an onside kick and a very well-executed drive for a TD. Zach Pyron found EJ Jenkins for a 32-yard touchdown strike to give Tech a pulse. But we flatlined again shortly after. Another impressive drive by the Jackets ended in David Shanahan’s seventh punt of the game, then a hectic drive in the fourth quarter gave Tech some more points.
Defensively, Charlie Thomas and Company did all they could to keep the Jackets in the game early (sound familiar?). Two fumble recoveries, a fourth down stop, and a couple near-interceptions by the defense were overshadowed by FSU’s explosive offense, poor third down defense, and Tech’s inability to sustain a drive. The defense has done some spectacular things all season, all things considered. After Tech’s first TD of the game, we saw proof of FSU’s game ownership in the form of a 12-play, 91-yard, 5-minute TD drive to extend the lead back to 21. From there, a win was never in reach.
The climb was always going to be uphill, regardless of coach or starting quarterback. But after Coach Key’s first two wins, I truly felt like we could attain bowl eligibility. It’s still a possibility, but the outlook isn’t great. An end-of-year matchup against the bulldwags will leave Tech very little room for error the rest of the way. We’ll see how it goes. Even so, I optimistic about the future of Tech’s football program. Until next time. Go Jackets.