The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets put their foot on the gas and committed vehicular manslaughter on the UNC Tar Heels Saturday night to the tune of a 45-22 victory. The ACC Coastal is going to be its typical neck and neck race (man I’m on fire with puns this morning) in 2021, after the weird Notre Dame year of 2020.
Tech is 2-2, including 1-1 in the ACC, while UNC is also 2-2, but 1-2 in the conference. This was Geoff Collins’ first win over a ranked opponent as the head coach of the Jackets. Tech is now 1-6 under Collins against teams in the top 25.
On the dash
The GT defense put the pressure on UNC QB Sam Howell and never let up. The Jackets ended the game with eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and three hurries against a UNC offensive line that returned all five starters from a year ago. UNC offensive line coach Stacy Searles has to be on the hot seat after another performance that saw Howell getting battered, and where starting RB Ty Chandler rushed for only 2.8 yards per carry.
The Jackets were only 3-of-11 on 3rd down conversions while on offense but held UNC to 6-of-14 on their own third downs and only 1-of-3 on 4th down. GT has to clean up their 3rd downs if they want to win the Coastal Division in 2021.
GT did not turn the ball over against UNC. That’s a fantastic stat, and while there were a couple of false starts on the Jackets, they only committed five penalties on the evening.
Above- But there was another kicking game woe for GT. The Jackets really need to bring in a special teams... specialist... in order to clean these mistakes up. Someone that is dedicated to protection, coverage, and bring in a GA to work with the specialists (long snapper, holder, kicker, punter). However, Tech did finish 7-of-7 on kicks, including three field goals.
So Dr. Jeff is back for the Jackets. Jeff Sims, the former starting QB who was injured against Norther Illinois, came in off the bench and finished the night with 8.6 yards per pass attempt and a touchdown pass. Sims added another 128 yards rushing with three TDs to secure the victory for his Jackets squad in the upset win.
Above- Sims came in at QB after the turnover and OC Dave Patenaude immediately dialed up a pass-run option in swing-draw. The QB has a single read: the inside linebacker. If the linebacker blitzes or drops into the low hole (over the center around 5-7 yards deep) Sims throws the swing.
Above- Here, the LB runs to the swing so Sims keeps on the draw.
The entire Tech rushing attack averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns against UNC. GT didn’t have to throw the ball very often on Saturday night, tossing only 19 total passes. Their 13 completions went to six different receivers, including three for double-digit yards per catch.
Above- Speaking of a failure to align, assign and finish... UNC should’ve called a timeout here, but they let Sims walk in for a TD on inside zone read instead. That was a mistake from UNC’s head coach Mack Brown.
Above- GAP SCHEME. If you believe in GC5’s approach or not, Brent Key and Collins are going to pound you with gap scheme blocking, getting that extra blocker at the point of attack, and their receivers are going to block.
The Tech defense did a fantastic job against a UNC offense with a pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. Linebacker Charlie Thomas had an all-time performance on defense for GT, including 4.5 TFL’s and 2.5 sacks.
Above- However, on this early Howell TD, the Georgia Tech defense failed to get aligned, they were okay in assignment, but definitely failed to finish (pursue and tackle) on the play. You’re allowed one, because especially against UNC, that’s going to happen eventually, and it was good to see Tech tighten up after this run.
Above- The Jackets were ripping at the ball all night and recovered three fumbles that were game changers against the Tar Heels.
Above- Don’t be a juice wheezer, be a juice bringer. GT’s defense needs to play like this every week. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it at 100MPH. Tech is often caught up in the in between state of over-thinking and still being wrong. I love the fire here on the run blitz that gets to the back before the tackle trap can even get close to him.
Above- Some weird nuanced stuff from a Strength and Conditioning coach but man I love how Jeff Sims runs. On the left, you’re seeing a diagram from the speed guru of all speed gurus, Mr. Dale Baskett. On the right is Sims in the open field running beautifully.
Above- Enjoy the win!
In the rearview
OK team, the UNC game is now behind the Jackets. It’s time to turn the focus on to the Pitt Panthers. Pitt is currently 3-1 and has a 55.2% chance to win per ESPN. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has thrown 15 TDs with only one interception. That’s more TD passes for Pickett than he threw in all of 2018 in 14 games, or all of 2019 in 12 games. Pickett is also averaging 10.2 yards per attempt, and has scored twice on the ground.
It’s safe to say Brennan Marion has had an impact on the Panthers offense in ‘21.
Per Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics, GT is the 62nd overall team in FBS through four weeks. The Jackets are 77th on offense, 42nd on defense, and 91st in the kicking game. On the other side, Pitt is 21st overall, 23rd on offense, 29th on defense and 16th in the kicking game. Odds Shark has Pitt knocking off Tech 35.1 to 22.6.
The Panthers went from dismal offense under Pat Narduzzi to scoring 52.5 points per game, good for 2nd in all of FBS. Pitt is allowing 23 PPG, which puts their defense at 65th of 130 teams in FBS. The Jackets are scoring only 29.8 PPG (65th) but are also only allowing a paltry 18.8 PPG (37th).
This game will be played on Saturday, October 2nd at noon on the ACC Network.
Prediction: Pitt by 7.