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Georgia Tech Finds Disaster in Chapel Hill, Loses to UNC 48-20

This was embarrassing for the Yellow Jackets, and there’s no excuse for a performance like this.

Georgia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Georgia Tech played a football game today in Chapel Hill.

Given what we know now about how it went, a lot of us probably wish they hadn’t. It couldn’t have gone a whole lot worse.

The defense continued to be a total mess against a good UNC offense.

The offense continued its trend of poorly-timed critical mistakes.

Several of the team’s key players were injured, including senior starting QB Justin Thomas and senior starting C Freddie Burden.

This game was embarrassing for Georgia Tech and there’s no two ways about it.

I could wait for postgame press conference quotes to be sent out to publish this article, but I won’t. There’s nothing that any of the players or coaches can say that will make sense of what we saw on the field today, or make any of us feel better about it. Georgia Tech was embarrassed in this game from the opening whistle.

Let’s start with the defense:

  • UNC offensive possessions ended in 6 touchdowns, 2 field goals, a punt, and the end of each half. They scored 48 points on 9 true possessions. That’s well over 5 points per possession. That is embarrassing.
  • UNC converted 8 of 13 third downs in this game, and converted a fourth down by scoring a 36-yard rushing touchdown. The Georgia Tech defense forced 13 third downs, and 9 of them resulted in first downs for North Carolina. That’s almost 70%. That is beyond atrocious.
  • UNC ran 70 offensive plays and racked up 636 yards. That’s 9.09 yards per play. That is beyond atrocious.

Here’s the thing. North Carolina’s offense is good. They’ve beaten Florida State, Miami, and Pittsburgh, and are second in the Coastal Division to Virginia Tech right now after falling to the Hokies in a game played in heavy rain conditions. Still, what they did to the Yellow Jackets’ defense is inexcusable. Defenders looking lost and missing assignments was commonplace, hardly a change from recent outings for this unit. The defense may not be loaded with NFL-level talent, but that’s not where its issues fall. It’s a coaching issue at its core, and there really needs to be some accountability for those issues right now.

That’s not to suggest that the offense or special teams were perfect either. Consider:

  • Georgia Tech scored 3 points in the second half. They also had 3 turnovers in that time, including two fumbles by Dedrick Mills and a late turnover-on-downs.
  • The Jackets only managed 17 points in the first half, thanks to a pair of self-destructions in the red zone. With second-and-goal on the 1-yard line, a false start pushed the Jackets back 5 yards and resulted in a field goal. Another instance saw Justin Thomas carry the ball inside the 10-yard line and pitch to his A-Back, who took it across the first-down line...except the pitch was forward and the Jackets were flagged for an illegal forward pass, and the drive resulted in a blocked field goal. What could have been a 28-27 halftime lead was instead a 27-17 halftime deficit.
  • Aside from the blocked field goal, Georgia Tech’s special teams also ran a kickoff out of the end zone and failed to make it to the 20-yard line, and created a delay-of-game penalty out of a timeout by trying to substitute without a clear understanding of who was supposed to be on the field.
  • It should also be restated that Justin Thomas and Freddie Burden were injured during the second half and didn’t return, and their status is up in the air moving forward. That’s not anyone’s fault, but it’s awful fortune for a couple of seniors leading a team still fighting to achieve this year’s goals.

There were positives in this game, as you’d expect from a team that put up over 500 yards of offense. Dedrick Mills put up over 100 rushing yards for the first time in this game, and Clinton Lynch had 111 yards on 5 touches (including an awesome 83-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the first half). Justin Thomas had 266 yards of offense on 5-of-10 passing and 15 carries.

Still, this felt very similar to the Miami game, where the offense was good around 85% of the time, and the other 15% was primarily made up of the game’s most critical situations. This was a game where Georgia Tech easily could’ve been winning at halftime, and instead saw it totally get away from them in the second half on the way to a 4-touchdown loss.

Georgia Tech falls to 5-4 (2-4) on the year and is officially eliminated from the ACC Coastal division race with the loss. They have games remaining at Virginia Tech, at home against Virginia (for Senior Day), and at georgia. This team is nowhere near good enough to beat Virginia Tech right now, meaning they’re looking at a 7-win ceiling for the regular season.