Well, I think it’s safe to say that after Week 1, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, but before we get into those, let’s review from last week to see what we learned.
Has Georgia Tech figured out how to contain a quarterback who can run?
So, the short answer here is no, they didn’t. While NIU quarterback Rocky Lombardi didn’t have a terrific day on the ground, he also didn’t really need to because he certainly wasn’t worried about getting sacked; Georgia Tech only produced three QB pressures on Saturday. He finished with five carries for 23 yards and then also completed 11-of-17 through the air, because quite frankly, Lombardi didn’t need to move the offense. Running back Harrison Waylee did a perfectly good job of that, rushing for 144 yards.
Has the offensive line actually gotten better, or have we been all talk?
I will say that I think the offensive line did look a little bit better. Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Mason both rushed for more than 90 yards and averaged over 5.5 yards a rush between them. To steal a stat from Robert’s Advanced Stat review, Georgia Tech allowed a 20 percent pressure rate, which while not amazing is in line with the goal rate that Robert set. This is something I think we’ll get a better idea of over the next few games.
Who’s kicking this season? And are they any good?
Going 0-for-3 on field goals definitely isn’t a good look, but after this game, I am still willing to give Brent Cimaglia the benefit of the doubt for now. Taking a look at his two kicks, the first one is the only one that could even be considered bad, as Cimaglia completely slipped on the second one, causing it to fall short. On his first kick, a 43-yard attempt, the kick sailed just barely wide left. Of note, coming into the night, Cimaglia was 14-of-23 on kicks between 40 and 49 yards. That’s just 60.9 percent, which isn’t bad, but it’s also not great. I was encouraged to see that he was able to go 3-for-3 on PATs, so hopefully that won’t be an issue moving forward.
As for the punting, it was a pretty up-and-down night. Freshman punter David Shanahan handled punting duties and had three punts on the night: a 40-yarder, a 55-yarder, and a 63-yarder. Those last two numbers are pretty nice to see, but they both went back for touchbacks instead of pinning the Huskies deep. That is something I would love to see Shanahan fine tune, but I think Tech has a pretty good punter on board right now.
Lastly, let’s talk kickoffs! Gavin freaking Stewart. He had a 60-something-yard-pray-for-a-miracle field goal blocked in the closing seconds of the game, but he also boomed every kickoff he made for a touchback, with the majority going through the back of the endzone. That was certainly a welcome sight, and it means I’m much less worried about kickoff coverage moving forward, though I know I’ll probably still be worried about that at some point this season.
Looking forward to this week, I think it’s safe to say that Geoff Collins is slowly inching his way onto thin ice. Let’s take a look at what we can hopefully learn this week.
Is Jeff Sims still “the guy,” or can Jordan Yates unseat him?
Coming into the season for the first time since probably 2016, I didn’t have much of a question about who would be playing quarterback this season. Jeff Sims held onto the job all through last season and showed a ton of promise, so it made perfect sense in my head that he would come into this season improved and ready to compete.
Unfortunately, that’s not what we saw against Northern Illinois.
Instead, we saw a very timid, unconfident version of Jeff Sims that underthrew nearly every single pass he threw and couldn’t command the offense at all, leading them to stall outs on every single drive he led (once on downs, two missed field goals, and the fumble).
After Sims went down with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, Jordan Yates came in and mostly impressed, hitting receivers square in the chest, flipping over a couple defenders, and most importantly, scoring. Yates scored two touchdowns, one in the air and one on the ground and just seemed to command the offense better. It looked more alive and capable of doing something when he was in.
So that begs the question: Do you start Jordan Yates this week? The answer, seemingly, is no, you don’t.
There’s also some very telling quotes in there about Sims from Davey P. Apparently a lot of Sims’ issues are confidence-based, which tracks pretty well with his very up-and-down play through a season and a game. If you feel confident that the “elite” Sims you see in practice is what you’re going to get on the field, then yeah, I say start Sims. But at some point, if that “elite” Sims isn’t showing up to games, I think you need to have that conversation again.
Is this going to be a repeat of The Citadel?
I really don’t want to think about this as a possibility, but unfortunately, I think it’s a very real possibility. Not to alarm you too much, but there are Betting Odds websites who predict Tech to lose this game. Don’t believe me? Well...
That’s not good. Tech showed against NIU that the defense can get pushed around by a less talented offensive line and rush for a lot of yards. Also, Kennesaw State likes to rush. A lot.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Kennesaw State isn’t supposed to be good this year. They didn’t really impress against Reinhardt last week, only winning 35-25, but Bill Connelly currently has the Owls at 22nd overall in the FCS SP+ rankings (21st on offense, 35th on defense), so they are far from a middling FCS team. Even if they were, do you know who else was a middling FCS team? The Citadel in 2019. They finished the season 6-6.
What exactly would happen if Tech loses?
I really don’t want to think about this, but like I mentioned in the last section, it’s unfortunately a very real possibility. If Tech loses this game, I don’t think Geoff Collins will be fired immediately like many (myself included) would want. Quite frankly, unless some big donors are willing to write the check, I think Geoff Collins will continue to be the head coach for at least the remainder of this season and very likely next season.
What could happen instead? Well, I think it is probably pretty likely that there would be some kind of scapegoat firing, either after the game or at the end of the season. I think it would probably start with the coordinators with Geoff Collins taking over defensive playcalling and one of Tashard Choice or Brent Key taking over offensive playcalling. And then after the season is over, a full search would commence for Tech to replace whatever scapegoat was fired.
I will say this. If Tech loses this week, I don’t expect an immediate move. If there is one thing I have learned about Todd Stansbury, it’s that he’s not the type to make a gut reaction move when it’s the result of something bad. Look at Josh Pastner’s tenure. Up until the last couple seasons, it didn’t look like it was really going anywhere, so it would have made sense for Stansbury to axe him, but lately, Pastner and the men’s basketball team have improved dramatically. In that case, it seems to have worked out for him, but how it works out here remains to be seen.
What are you hoping to learn this week?