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Tuesday Thoughts 10/12: Winning Over the Common Fan

In which we talk explosions, badgers, and minor league baseball.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Duke William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was...a football game. It wasn’t pretty, but I guess a win’s a win.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

Tech had a few explosive plays on offense but for the most part struggled mightily to sustain drives.

The defense seemed to be paying tribute to Ted Roof by not giving up a ton of points but still allowing Duke to gain nearly 500 yards.

Special Teams played a big role with Duke missing 2 FGs.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Adonicas Sanders. He’s been pretty quiet this season but he picked a great time to step up and make a big play on the go-ahead touchdown.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

I can’t keep picking on Vandy, so this week’s winner is Illinois. You might think losing 24-0 to Wisconsin doesn’t sound that bad but I’ve got some numbers for you:

  • 30 first downs for Wisconsin to 9 for Illinois
  • 491 total yards to 93
  • 1-of-12 on third down (8.3%)
  • 43 minutes of possession for Wisconsin
  • 47 total plays run by Illinois
  • 5.2 plays per drive
  • 9 total offensive drives: 7 punts and 2 turnovers-on-downs
  • Bonus insult to injury: Wisconsin gave up 2 turnovers and 100 penalty yards and Illinois still couldn’t do anything

Above The Line of the Week

  • Exciting plays. There were a few on Saturday that were just so fun to watch.
  • Lakes. WFH from a dock is pure bliss.
  • First half defense. Of Duke’s 8 first half drives, 6 of them ended in 3 or 4 plays.

Stat of the Week

38.7% success rate (as always, thanks to Robert for advanced stats!). I’ll talk about this in a bit but the way we won this game was with explosive plays, not efficiency. It’s maybe not the worst problem in the world to have, but I really want to see more offensive efficiency. We can’t rely on always being able to break a 70 yarder through busted coverage; we need to be able to more consistently move the ball downfield.

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

We beat Duke I guess
Sometimes wins can be empty
Let’s get more than three

Programming Notes and Quick Thoughts on Duke

That was a pretty bad game. Not a lot happened, and I quite honestly don’t feel like I can write a full column about it. Because of that, I’m going to change things up a bit and give y’all a column that’s not really related to the game at all. Here are my quick thoughts from the game though:

  • Yeah we won, but we should’ve won by 14+. Nothing in that game gave me any confidence.
  • We got very lucky that Duke didn’t convert our two turnovers into points. We have got to stop giving the ball away; better teams will burn us for it.
  • Explosive plays are nice, but we can’t rely on them as our main source of production; we need to be more consistent on offense. Half of our yardage came on five plays. Without them we averaged just 3.6 yards per play.
  • Missed tackles will be the death of us.
  • What’s the deal with all the injuries? Are we doing something wrong training-wise or are we just getting super unlucky?
  • It boggles my mind that it was called a touchback and not a safety.
  • I’m begging someone to please convert a third down.

Since this week is our perfectly-placed bye week I’ll be doing a First Half Season Recap next Tuesday so stay tuned for that.

Winning Over the Common Fan

Seeing Duke have about 1000 fans in attendance on Saturday got me thinking about our own struggles with filling out the stadium.

To me one of the biggest problems that Tech is not addressing right now is the lack of interest from Atlanta residents. We spend a lot of time and effort trying to get support from wealthy alumni but we’re completely ignoring a huge untapped market of literally just people who live in the area and can easily attend games. We aren’t doing hardly anything to bring people from the surrounding community into Bobby Dodd on gameday and that’s a big reason why our stadium continues to be unfilled. We talk and talk and talk about how we’re IN THE HEART OF ATLANTA yet we...don’t really do anything about it... and that puzzles me. There’s no reason why a Tech game couldn’t be one of the best social events in the area in the fall.

Our on-field product isn’t quite at a point where it’s going to draw casual observers in so we have to be creative in giving people an incentive to come. Luckily for y’all I’ve got a solution: Minor League Baseball style promotions. They’re super creative and always feel so fun and engaging. Why can’t we harness that energy to bring people into BDS? Make. Tech. Games. Fun. We should be doing everything we possibly can to get people from our city into the stands on Saturday afternoons and I think this is the perfect way to do it. To help illustrate this idea I’ve come up with a few ideas for promotions we could run.

Atlanta LEGENDS Day

This one is a real no-brainer: you wanna claim you’re Atlanta’s team? Be Atlanta’s team. Celebrate everything about Atlanta in a single gameday. History, culture, music, sports, all of it. Invite local celebrities and show them on the jumbotron. Have the band do an Atlanta music themed halftime show. Play music from only Atlanta artists between plays. Give away Atlanta themed stuff. Like come on y’all, this is so easy. Show the city that we want to embrace it and it will embrace us back. Atlanta United has done a really great job of this and there’s no reason we can’t replicate that.

Local Brewery Day

There are so many great local breweries in Atlanta and it’s a big part of the city culture so let’s partner with them. Let each one set up a stand in the concession areas. Give them space to set up turf with cornhole and yard games. Have them brew some Tech-themed ales for the occasion to go with their usual fare. Give people (21+) a free beer ticket with their price of admission. Raffle off swag. Split the profits. This could be an easy win-win for both us and the breweries.

Olympics Day

Atlanta loves to celebrate the fact that we hosted the Olympics; lean into that. Do a retro theme with Izzy everywhere. Host pseudo-Olympic-style competitions leading up to kickoff outside in the plaza. Invite and honor former American athletes who competed at the 1996 games. Do a 100 yard dash on the field at halftime (raffle off the opportunity to compete in this to get literally so much money).

DragonCon Day

Before you judge, hear me out: there are literally tens of thousands of people who come into the city for DragonCon. Offer them $5 tickets (or even free admission with their DragonCon pass or something) to dress up in costume and encourage the rest of the fanbase to dress up as well. Imagine 50k people all wearing costumes in the stands; it would be incredible to see and would get us a ton of national coverage. Do promotional material featuring the team and coaches inserted into content like Game of Thrones or Star Wars.

For The Kids Day

This one’s easy because we’re already affiliated with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Do another special uniform only worn for this game. Make it super easy for patrons to donate throughout the game. Have the program donate $X for every first down during the game or something and make it a PARTY when it happens. Let people buy special packages (go on the field, box seats, unlimited concessions, tour the locker room, etc.) where we donate most of the proceeds. Fill the stadium for a great cause.

I could go on for hours; there are literally so many possibilities. It doesn’t even have to be every home game, you could get away with just doing 2-3 per year. You just need to hook people and show them that a Georgia Tech game can be a really fun way to spend a few hours. Don’t want to do a full promotion event? Here’s a few other ways to drum up local interest:

  • Price tickets better. $10 or something. Heck, make it $4.04 if your area code is 404 for all I care. Make it so that money is not a barrier to attendance.
  • Engage with local big companies (Coke, Home Depot, etc.) and offer their employees discounts for tickets.
  • Free beer/drink voucher with every ticket.
  • Partner with Publix to give out tickets in the community.
  • Give discounted/free tickets to local high school students.
  • Make student tickets easier. If someone is willing to show up and fill a seat, let ‘em.
  • Find other ways to engage the student population. Make sure the student section is full for the entire game.
  • Give away tickets if you donate more than $10 or something to CHOA or other local charitable organizations.

[turns to look at GTAA] All of these literally only took me an hour to think of. Let’s see some energy over there huh?

Look Ahead

Up next is a welcomed bye week and then UVA (10/23, 7:30pm, ACCN). A couple weeks ago, I didn’t think the Cavaliers looked particularly great but they’re now coming off of two close wins in a row against Miami and Louisville. They get Duke this week, so I think it’s safe to say they’ll be riding a three-game win streak when we come to town. What scares me the most is their passing game; they are the sneaky second-best passing offense in the country at 413 yards/game. After holding our first three opposing QBs to under 150 yards each, we’re now averaging 332 passing yards allowed over our last three games. It’s a worrying trend that UVA may be adept at exploiting. On the positive side, their defense is giving up nearly 30 points per game. I’m expecting to see a lot of offense in this one. The key here in my mind is whether or not we can get a good enough pass rush to stymie their air attack. If we can do that and convert on offense then I think this could be a good win for us.