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Tuesday Thoughts 11/21: Welcome Back

In which we take a trip down memory lane.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Syracuse at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

My heart rate has only just barely started to go back down to normal levels.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

Syracuse threw every gadget option play in the book at the defense but they were able to tighten up and weather the storm.

The offense struggled for a while, but eventually the run game broke some big plays and Haynes King elevated his game at key moments.

Syracuse’s game plan required perfection but turnovers and penalties kept them just out of reach.

Above The Line of the Week

  1. Jamal Haynes scored twice to add to his impressive season stat line. Between next week and the bowl game (!!!) he’ll have a great shot at 1000 rushing yards and maybe even ten TDs.
  2. Haynes King on the ground. I’ve seen it many times at this point, but I’m still amazed every time I see him shake someone for 10+ yards.
  3. Backwards hat Key, the most elite persona on the planet.

Unformed Thought of the Week

Syracuse’s offensive strategy has me wondering: has anyone considered formalizing an offensive strategy centered around a QB with the option to run? The QB wouldn’t need to have an amazing arm or anything, he’d just need to be a generally good athlete that could make a few throws when we ask him to. We could give him a workhorse RB in the backfield but then have a lot of option and pitch plays to get the ball to the perimeter. Those option plays would also be great for gaining a numbers advantage that we could use to overcome a skill-position talent differential. Could something like that work at the P5 level? Has anyone looked into this?

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

Earning a bowl game
How sweet it feels, catharsis
Nothing else matters

Welcome Back

My first bowl game experience as a Tech fan was watching the 2012 Sun Bowl against USC while home on Christmas break from my freshman year. Lane Kiffin was the coach for the Trojans, it was windy as hell, Matt Barkley didn’t play, we won as 10 point underdogs, and Rod Sweeting said sh*t on live TV. It was an amazing way to end my freshman season and it felt both natural and exciting all at once. Watching the game with my family felt like I was showing them some new part of who I was.

I didn’t watch as much of the 2013 Music City Bowl against Ole Miss because I was at a family holiday party. It was on the tiny TV in my great aunt and uncle’s house, but I wasn’t allowed to just sit down and watch - I was supposed to be social. I did catch the very end though as a safety and then an interception ended a decent comeback attempt. Losing wasn’t great, but hey, at least it was to an SEC team (classic 2013-era mentality, I know). We were still in the midst of one of the nation’s longest bowl streaks and it wasn’t the end of the world.

The 2014 Orange Bowl against Mississippi State was the pinnacle. Some friends and I bought the student tickets as soon as they were released and road-tripped down to Miami (well, Miami Gardens). When we left my house, my parents said “enjoy the game” and my friend Alex responded “well we’re going to lose, but it’ll be fun I hope”. I wasn’t as pessimistic, but I was unsure of what to expect and brimming with anticipation; the game I ended up watching was miles beyond my wildest dreams. It was a Paul Johnson masterclass - we racked up a zillion rushing yards and were completely unstoppable. Justin Thomas and Synjyn Days scored three TDs each and it didn’t even matter that Dak Prescott threw for 450 yards. JT shaking a defender out of his soul in the third quarter is etched into my brain forever. It was the coming out party for the option offense and put us on the national stage; it felt like the sky was the limit for what we could accomplish. The game ended shortly before midnight and watching the team lift the trophy right before the NYE fireworks went off is one of my favorite memories of college and ever.

The 2016 Gator TaxSlayer Bowl was the triumphant return that we all desperately needed after 2015. I ended up missing PJ Davis’s opening scoop-and-score because my buddy mistimed his need to find a place to stash his cooler (we parked very far from the stadium) and how long it would take us to get inside. Paul Johnson stared down and yelled at Mark Stoops, and we beat up on another SEC team. It was a fitting end to Justin Thomas’s Tech career, and I felt like we were on our way back to what we were in 2014. I came into the game confident and it was validating to see that the program in fact wasn’t dead; we may have stumbled in 2015 but we could get back to the top. We drove home buzzing with excitement and confidence, took a nap, and then spent the evening wildly underdressed at a fancy NYE party.

Paul Johnson’s career ended with the 2018 QuickLane Bowl and it was a heartbreaking way to go. A mediocre Minnesota team shut our offense down and two late Gopher touchdowns turned a sort-of close game into a blowout. It was a quiet and sad send-off for the future Hall-of-Famer and it almost felt surreal to watch; it was one of those games that ends and you think “well that can’t be it, the real game must be tomorrow”. It took a while to process that a whole era of Georgia Tech football had just ended. Little did I know how painful the next era would be and how long I’d have to wait for another chance to watch a bowl.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this except to say: bowl games are important and not to be taken for granted. There’s something romantic about the way they can cap off a magical season or get everyone excited for next year. Regular season wins and losses come and go, but a bowl game is a chance to etch something in the history books and make a forever memory; it’s a privilege to call yourself a bowl team. I’m so excited for the current students to get this experience.

Welcome back.

Look Ahead

Up next is of course Georgia (11/25, 7:30pm). They haven’t looked completely dominant all season, but they’ve really put things together over the last few weeks. As always, this is a game in which I just want us to look competent. Have some offensive success, make a couple plays on defense, keep it moderately close for at least a while. It’s probably going to end in a 25 point loss, but that’s fine by me as long as we don’t get embarrassed.