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Tuesday Thoughts 9/28: Grab the Wheel

In which we talk Commodores, TacShaver, and destiny.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

WWWWWWWELCOME to successful Georgia Tech football! A signature win for the Collins era, this is our first victory over a ranked team since 2017. “Win” might even be underselling it; that was DOMINANCE for much of the night.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

After a tight first half of defense from both sides the Jacket offense really opened things up in the second half during a stretch of four TDs and a FG in five drives.

The defense was a mayhem-based coach’s dream with 8 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, and 13 total TFLs.

Jeff Sims made his return in glorious fashion going 10/13 for 112 yards and 1 TD while adding 128 rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

How can it not be Jeff Sims? THIS was the Sims we heard about all offseason, THIS was the Sims that we were all so excited about after last year. He ran for an easy touchdown on his first attempt and never looked back. We rattled off 39 points once he started taking snaps, including six from an electric 50-yard scamper he made in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

Vanderbilt. If I gave you the stats from their game against UGA without telling you who it was I guarantee that you would think UGA played a bottom feeder FCS team because there’s no way this is what a P5 game should look like. They lost by a score of 62-0; 35 of those points came in the first quarter alone. That is impressively difficult to do. They only managed to gain 77 total yards of offense on 4 first downs compared to UGA’s 532 yards and 28 first downs. Between two QBs the Commodores went 5/18 for 24 yards with 2 INTs. Their longest play of the game was a 13 yard rush. Fire Vandy football into the sun.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Jeff Sims AND Jordan Yates. We should consider ourselves lucky that we have both of these guys. Plenty of programs would have fallen apart playing multiple games without their starting QB but Yates went above and beyond. I think it has to be Sims’s job moving forward though; his ceiling is incredibly high and I think he gives us the best shot at breaking the season open.
  • TacShaver commercials on ACCN.
  • Mayhem defense. This unit was absolutely awesome Saturday, I can’t wait to see more.

Stat of the Week

I’ve got two this week.

313 second half yards of offense. We only had 81 yards at the half and I was preparing myself to emotionally handle another defensive struggle like Clemson. But after one meh drive to open the second half, Jeff Sims led five straight scoring drives. We were firing on all cylinders with him in the game. Credit to CDP, the play-calling was perfectly designed for his strengths. We didn’t ask too much of him in the passing game and let him ease into it while leaning on his insane running skills.

13 TFLs from the defense, our highest in an ACC game since 14 against Clemson in 2007. I can’t say enough great things about the defensive performance; it was exactly what we’ve all been waiting for since Geoff “Minister of Mayhem” Collins took over. UNC has an incredibly high-powered offense and they were stymied in the backfield all night.

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

Mayhem has arrived
Should have played in Bobby Dodd
Can win the Coastal

Grab the Wheel

What a game.

Remember the improvement we all expected at the beginning of this season? It hit like a truck in this game. The Jeff Sims we saw glimpses of in 2020 revealed himself again. The defense lived in the backfield and created havoc every few plays. AND WE MADE FIELD GOALS. The team that showed up on Saturday looked experienced and confident; in all honesty we looked like a top 25 contender. This is what I wanted out of 2021 - a well-rounded team that could challenge the best teams in the conference and be fun as [Heart] to watch. It nags me a bit that this version of us could’ve easily been 4-0 at this point, but if this is what we look like for the rest of the season then I’ll be overjoyed.

This feels like a turning point. For the first time in forever we’ve played 3 straight good games and I still feel like we haven’t reached the ceiling. The defense has been clicking, the RBs look strong, special teams has been rock solid, and with Sims back the sky’s the limit on offense. It finally feels like we’re putting it all together and finding our identity. If we can keep this up, then I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t win the Coastal. Coming into the season I felt like that was a long-shot and after NIU I threw out the idea entirely, but from the vantage point I’m at now I think that dismissal might have been premature. It’s time to grab the wheel.

The Coastal has long been known for being chaotic and seemingly random and 2021 is shaping up to be the absolute epitome of that reputation. Heading into the season, Miami and North Carolina were both ranked in the top 15 and everyone else looked like they would be fighting for the scraps. Now, it’s anyone’s division. No one has a losing record, but no one has looked particularly great either.

  • Miami has struggled heavily against non-FCS competition and D’Eriq King might be missing more games with a throwing-shoulder injury.
  • Virginia Tech just laid a stinker against Richmond and has looked pretty uninspiring so far.
  • Duke has managed to get 3 wins but has done so against a meh FCS team and two of the worst P5 teams in existence (Northwestern and Kansas). Oh and they also lost to Charlotte.
  • Pitt is maybe okay, but the only real team they’ve beaten has been Tennessee and I’m not sure that’s much to hang your hat on.
  • Virginia is predictably not great and I don’t think I have to justify that.
  • Aaaaand North Carolina just got handed their second conference loss in embarrassing fashion.

In short, the division is a mess right now and that represents an incredible opportunity for us. We now control our own destiny. If we win all of our remaining conference games then we win the division; it’s that simple. I think Miami, Pitt, and BC are probably our toughest remaining competition but if we play like we did Saturday night then we can without a doubt beat each of them (or at least get two out of three).

A Coastal crown aside, six wins and a bowl berth are right there for the taking. This is a weird season across the country and there’s plenty of room for us at the table. A bowl appearance at this point would be huge for the program; it would demonstrate real improvement across the board and be a boon for recruiting. Most of us here at FTRS expected/predicted somewhere around 5-7 wins and I don’t think anyone was including UNC in that total. In tennis terms we just broke serve and now have an opportunity to serve out the set.

It’s all right in front of us, we’ve just gotta take it.

Look Ahead

Up next is Pitt (10/2, noon, ACCN). They’re currently 3-1 but as previously said, Tennessee is the only P5 team they’ve played, and they lost to Western Michigan a few weeks ago. I think this year is pretty much like every year for them: a great defense but mediocre overall. They’re currently on a 3-game win streak against us (and 5-3 against us since they came into our division) but like I’ve said: if we play at our best then this should be a win for us. In particular we’re going to need the defense to keep playing at this level; Pitt has a strong defense themselves so I think this one will be a low scoring affair. This is a great opportunity for us to win two straight games for the first time in the Collins era.