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What Did We Learn: Panthers Hold Off Yellow Jackets 24-19

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It was a long game, but not an unwinnable one.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In lieu of a traditional recap, we have decided to get a jump start on the analysis of the previous game each week. So following the end of the game, we’ll be posting these “What Did We Learn” posts to break down a handful of the things that we saw in the game today. And then later into next week, we’ll dive in with much more depth.

Kicking is still a problem

Brenton King did not play well today. He missed his only field goal try of the day—a 53-yard attempt—and bounced a PAT off the upright. There were certainly some questionable calls on special teams, like that fake punt, but Tech needs to find someone who can hit field goals. Tech also needs to put the kicker in a position to succeed, because I’m fairly certain nobody felt good about King’s attempt. If it were further in 10 yards, maybe, but it was too much.

One are that did look good in special teams was the kickoff. Shawn Davis did a good job today hitting all of his kickoffs for touchbacks, outside of the onside attempt.

KirVonte Benson is missed

Don’t get me wrong, I thought Jordan Mason and Jerry Howard did a good job today. They combined for 18 carries and 176 yards, but neither of them is the blocker that Benson is. That proved to be an issue throughout the game when TaQuon Marshall would rollout to pass.

Tariq Carpenter is very good at football

Out of everybody on defense, Carpenter might have played the best game. It seemed like every time the defense made a play, Carpenter was a large part of it. For instance, he had two deep passes that he defended perfectly, one of which resulted in the Malik Rivera interception.

The Defense is probably going to continue being a work-in-progress all year long

I know this is frustrating, but it’s true. With the personnel that was in place, there was no way that a magic flip would be switched and Tech’s defense would be fixed. It is going to take a little while to really show the progress, and next week is going to be tough.

In addition, the future of Tech’s defensive line is not bright right now, with all three starters graduating. Anree Saint-Amour was one of the few bright spots of the defense. He was about the only thing Tech had going in terms of a run defense. He will be missed next year.

The Offense needs to learn to play with urgency

To quote one of the writers in our Slack channel during the game, “3:30 to go 99.5 is impressive, but situationally, it’s stupid.” All throughout that drive, Tech was consistently slow to get back to the line, and ultimately, Tech was put into a no-win scenario. You can’t waste the timeouts there, because if you score and don’t get the onside kick, you’ll need them. Tech needed to play that drive faster, and it didn’t. Instead, they scored with less than 40 seconds on the clock. The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, Pitt ran three plays to get a first down, and that was game.

Conclusion

It was a long game, and there’s a lot to unpack here. Pitt came ready to play this game and they played really well for the majority of this game. Tech didn’t, and that was the difference. We did see some improvements on both sides of the ball in the second half, outscoring Pitt 19-3. Tech needs to play a full game, though. It looks like it’s going to be a long season, but here’s to hoping things start to look up.