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Tuesday Thoughts 11/8: Pyronmania

In which we talk special teams, sweater weather, and FIREY FLAMES

Georgia Tech v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

To hell with the ACC for not protecting a yearly Techmo Bowl, these games are always awesome.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

Zach Pyron was awesome in his debut as a starter, throwing for 253 yards and accounting for two TDs (including the game winner).

A missed FG and PAT by VT turned out to be the difference in a game where special teams played a huge role.

The defense held when it mattered and only gave up 13 offensive points.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

For the second week in a row it’s Zach Pyron. I yelped when he dove headfirst into the endzone from the two and got his helmet cracked off on the go-ahead TD.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

Charlotte got absolutely blasted by Western Kentucky, 59-7. The 49ers amassed nearly 400 yards but somehow translated that into just a single touchdown in the third quarter. Coughing up three turnovers certainly didn’t help, nor did only forcing a single Hilltopper punt.

Bonus shoutout to Oklahoma State who is now 0-2 against the state of Kansas in two straight weeks after starting 6-1.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Dontae Smith has continued to be quietly awesome. He broke off an incredible 29 yarder for the first TD of the game and finished with 85 yards on 9 carries, raising his average to 5.7 ypc for the season.
  • Not sweating to death when I walk to work.
  • Gavin Stewart is now 11/11 for the season. Given how feeble our redzone offense can be, knowing that we can now at least come away with 3 points is a comfort I haven’t felt since Butker.

Stat of the Week

+15, our turnover margin this season, is good for second in the country. The defense has done a great job forcing 22 turnovers (almost 2.5 per game!) and the offense’s lack of turnovers given up has been one big area of improvement over years past.

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

Feels good to win close
Love a good heart attack game
Four wins, how ‘bout that


I’m all in on this kid.

Right now he’s the QB that gives us the best chance to win. I say we start him again against Miami and then let Sims finish out the season against UNC and UGA so we don’t burn his redshirt. After an offseason of development I then expect him to be the clear starter in 2023. Sims has done some good things but I think the staff has completely failed to help him develop past what he was in 2020. I would prefer to reinvest in Pyron and give him the resources he needs to be the full time guy in 2023. There’s a few really good signs for me:

  1. He slings the ball well. We’ve asked him to make several mid to long range throws and he’s delivered. Against VT I thought he made quite a few throws that no other QB on the roster would’ve made.
  2. He runs hard. It’s definitely not his strength, but he’s effective when using his legs. He’s not afraid of contact and he seems to have a good feel for where the line to gain is.
  3. He’s got a lot of fire. I absolutely want to see him slide wayyyy more, but man does this dude want to compete. He’s shown an outwardly fiery and competitive spirit that’s fun to watch and a good influence on the team.

With almost two full games under his belt, Pyron currently has the highest QB rating on the roster at 132.5 (Sims is at 113.9 and Gibson is at 72.5). He’s made a couple mistakes (in particular I’d like to see him work on pocket awareness so as to not take as many sacks), but by and large I think he’s been quite solid. His one interception was pretty unlucky, and it’s hard to place a ton of the sack blame on him given how porous the offensive line is. With experience and good coaching I think he can clean up a lot of the little things and be a strong QB in 2023.

Look Ahead

Up next is Miami (11/12, 3:30pm, ESPN3). After debuting at #16 in the preseason AP poll, the Canes have had something of an awful season. They’ve gotten blown out by Middle Tennessee, Duke, and now FSU, and a close loss to then-ranked Texas A&M looks worse and worse as time goes on. I feel like games against Miami are always weird. The last few have been close nail-biters and there’s always a weird sequence or two. Given the way the Canes have imploded recently, I think this is a great opportunity to steal another win if we play to potential. As is usually the case, it’s all going to hinge on our abilities to contain a mobile QB and score offensive points.