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Tuesday Thoughts 10/4: A Smile You Can’t Shake

In which we talk fundamentals, pumpkin beer, and grinning like a child

Georgia Tech v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

God this feels good.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

A defensive struggle until the last few minutes turned into a bit of a shootout, Tech held Pitt to just 106 rushing yards (their second fewest all year).

Hassan Hall led a ground attack that averaged 5.3 yards per carry against a Top 25 rushing defense.

Special teams absolutely shined as Gavin Stewart went 4/4 and there were no mistakes.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Charlie Thomas. The defense is clearly a different unit with him on the field. Two fumble recoveries and an interception is pure H A V O C and his presence is an instant boost. Let’s hope he can stay on the field for the rest of the season.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

App State has played a lot of heart attack games this season, but their 49-0 drubbing of The Citadel was no such game. They racked up 545 even though they went 0-5 on third down. Why could they get away with a 0% conversion rate on third down? The Bulldogs gave up 9.5 yards per rush.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Fundamentals. No special teams mistakes, 4/4 on field goals, and only four total penalties.
  • Pumpkin beer. It’s October in the Northeast and that chill in the air means one thing in my pint glass. Miss me with that cinnamon sugar rim though - insane behavior.
  • Hassan Hall. 157 yards is a helluva breakout game.

Stat of the Week

+1.8 points, our Special Teams EPA against Pitt. Compare that to our previous games this season:

Clemson: -8.7 points

WCU: -7.1 points

Ole Miss: -9.5 points

UCF: -8.2 points

I’d call that a strong turnaround. Thanks to Stephen for pulling these this week!

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

Brent Key take a bow
Scream the fight song, hoist the flag
Let’s win some more games

A Smile You Can’t Shake

Watching Coach Key tear up in his post-game interview, I found it hard to articulate what I felt. All I could do was smile.

It means the world to see a guy care that much. For a few minutes we got a glimpse at genuine emotional investment and care for the program. I can’t imagine what they’ve all been through over the last week and it’s incredibly heartwarming to see the team respond to the adversity and put together a fantastic performance. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom lately around the state of the program and the simple pleasure of a hard fought win goes a long way in making me feel better about where we are.

This is part of what makes college football great - a single win had all of us smiling like kids. No matter how cynical anyone might have become about Georgia Tech football all it takes is one fun win to get an instant flood of dopamine. It’s a reminder that the last few years don’t define us; the only thing that matters is where we can go from here.

I’m not gonna say we’ve turned the season around, but we just took a game that everyone had written off as a loss and turned it into a win. The rest of the Coastal isn’t exactly striking fear in my heart either: UVA and VT have looked pretty terrible, Duke is hard to take particularly seriously, UNC hasn’t looked very good against an easy schedule, and Miami is always hard to put faith in. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you could absolutely talk me into wins over any of them and that’s what I call progress. If we can maintain this renewed focus on fundamentals and clean some things up on offense then our chances are good.

It’s amazing how much I instantly feel better. I’m trying not to overreact to one game but it’s hard to see how much spirit the team and staff have and not feel inspired. Things can always change, so why not us and why not now? I’m shuffling off my dread and watching the rest of the season with renewed belief.

Cheers y’all, here’s to a few more smiles this year.

Look Ahead

Up next is Duke (4:00pm). Feels weird to say but…Duke might be kinda good? The Blue Devils sit at 4-1 with their only loss being to an also-kinda-good Kansas. Most of their success has come from a strong ground game and a sneaky good defense. Still, their schedule has been ridiculously easy; Kansas is the only team they’ve played that currently has a winning record. At the end of the day this is absolutely a winnable game for us - I’ve had this marked as a win since the beginning of the season and their record hasn’t swayed me from that.