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Column: Georgia Tech's Loss to Notre Dame a Setback for 2015, Not a Knockout Blow

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Yes, that game was rough. No, it didn't ruin this season.

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Being embarrassed is never fun. Being embarrassed after getting your hopes up is a lot worse.

Georgia Tech got embarrassed last Saturday in South Bend. We've talked all week about what went wrong -- both on-field and otherwise.

That said, it happened in Week 3. We've dealt with an awful lot of doom and gloom this week considering the team has at least nine more contests left to play this season. Let's talk about some of the reasons that you shouldn't be selling on this team coming out of the Notre Dame game.


Notre Dame's defense is likely the best unit Georgia Tech will face all season.

Not only that, but it's probably one of the best defenses that Georgia Tech has faced in the Paul Johnson era, right in line with LSU (2008), Iowa (2009), and Clemson (2014). Their front 7 is loaded with NFL-level talent. More specifically, Paul Johnson referred to MLB Jaylon Smith as "probably the single best defensive player" his teams have seen since he's been at Georgia Tech. All of the best defenses give this offense trouble -- all of the best defenses give any offense trouble. It gets better from here.

The communication issues experienced in South Bend won't carry through the rest of the season.

At the very least, it's highly unlikely. Coach Johnson's teams have regularly played games in some of college football's harshest environments through the years. They've regularly had to compete on the road against georgia, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and others. I can't remember a time when communication was anywhere near as much of a struggle as it was in South Bend. That alone might solve an awful lot of the offense's problems.

Justin Thomas will almost certainly be better moving forward.

If there's a silver lining to Thomas playing one of his worst games as a starter, it's that you should expect that there won't be any more quite like it through the rest of the season. It was a deviation from the norm, meaning that most of his games moving forward will be a lot better.

Georgia Tech is still ranked and receiving respect on the national level.

In about six weeks, people whose opinions matter more than mine will look back at Georgia Tech's resume and see an 8-point loss on the road to a top-5 team in the country. Does the score tell the story of the game? Maybe not, but there are much, much bigger indictments to a team's resume than that game.

There's not a game remaining on Georgia Tech's schedule that isn't winnable.

Let's get this much straight -- the schedule ahead is still extremely tough. (Even after a game against #9 Notre Dame, Georgia Tech's schedule is still #1 on ESPN's FPI in terms of remaining strength of schedule.) That said, nobody remaining on the schedule has looked like a total world-beater. Clemson won at Louisville by just a field goal and is struggling for a play maker on offense not named "Watson". Florida State scored 7 points on offense against Boston College last week, and Everett Golson has hardly been impressive. North Carolina was pitiful against a bad South Carolina team, and Pittsburgh is missing James Conner. Virginia Tech is currently missing its starting QB Michael Brewer, Miami is a grease fire about to terminate its head coach, and georgia looks a lot more one-dimensional than most are probably giving them credit for. Which of those sounds like an unmanageable challenge?

Georgia Tech can still accomplish every goal it possibly had.

(The only exception here being if a goal was to go undefeated, which is now mathematically impossible.)

In all seriousness though, the loss wasn't a conference loss -- Georgia Tech is still very much in position to win its division and get to Charlotte. They're still undefeated at home (which is typically a team goal). They're still ranked after a loss (which bodes well for a New Year's Six at-large bid, if it comes to that). Finally, you know the benefit to having a really tough schedule? One loss doesn't eliminate the team. (Right, SEC?) If it turns out that Georgia Tech is in that CFP discussion at the end of the season, this loss won't be what keeps them out of the field.


Now, all of this is not to say that there's nothing to worry about in the wake of that game. Any time the offense looks that disorganized, you're right to be concerned about what might happen moving forward. I know I am. At the same time, understand that the season isn't "over" after a week 3 loss on the road to one of the nation's best teams. This team can still reach its potential this season, without a doubt.

It all starts this weekend. Georgia Tech travels to Durham, NC looking for revenge on a pesky Duke team with a better defense than we're used to seeing, but offensively challenged thus far. If there were ever an opportunity to get the season back on the rails, it's this weekend. Here's to hoping it happens.