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Tuesday Thoughts 9/7: Mad Online

in which we discuss Grizzlies, wormholes, and UNBRIDLED RAGE

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 NIU at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ugh, welcome to another year I guess.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

After Jeff Sims went out with an injury, Jordan Yates stepped in at QB and had a solid outing that kept us in the game.

The game was sealed when the defense gave up a 9 play/80 yard NIU drive that ended with a TD and a controversial 2-point conversion with 38 seconds left on the clock.

The RBs continue to be the stars with both Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Mason having strong outings of 99 yards and 96 yards, respectively.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

Vanderbilt narrowly saved us from being the most embarrassing loss of the weekend by losing by 20 to FCS opponent East Tennessee State. It was a horrible game that saw Vandy give up 3 turnovers and only convert 33% of their third down attempts. As an added bonus, ranked Washington also lost a close one to FCS Montana.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 ETSU at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Above The Line of the Week

  • Our stable of strong RBs should never be taken for granted
  • There were a million bad losses this weekend so there won’t be much national focus on us
  • As weird as Collins is, at least he didn’t do this:

Stat of the Week

Whenever we lose winnable games like this one of my favorite stats to look at is Success Rate because it usually immediately confirms my suspicions. Sure enough, GT finished with a 47% rate compared to NIU’s 38% (national average is around 42%). That means a few things here:

  • GT’s offense was more consistently successful than NIU’s
  • We left points on the field by not being able to convert red zone opportunities
  • The defense was generally fine but gave us a few hugely important big plays. In particular they were able to go 80 yards in 9 plays on their final TD drive and then convert the winning 2-point conversion.

(Thanks to the amazing Robert for putting these advanced stats together, y’all make sure to check out his fantastic work!)

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

Existence is pain
How could it get any worse
Eleven more games

Mad Online

I think I slipped into a cosmic wormhole and watched some combination of 2019 and 2020 Tech football because there’s no way that is what we still look like in 2021, right? After an offseason of convincing ourselves that this was the year we should make a sizable jump in production, it is incredibly disheartening to watch probably the biggest stinker of a season opener I’ve ever witnessed. I’m sitting here trying to think of positives from that game and all I can come up with is that the RBs we thought were good are good and we seem to have cleaned up the penalties. Great. How about the lackluster defense, repeated missed offensive opportunities, pitiful special teams, actively harmful game management, and general lack of any substance? Still working on those? GREAT.

We just paid a MILLION DOLLARS to get roughed up by a MAC team that was WINLESS last season and 19 point underdogs in this game. This game was a perfect microcosm that featured all your favorite hallmarks of Georgia Tech football over the past few years:

  • Letting an inferior team dominate the line of scrimmage? check
  • Giving up a backbreaking final game-winning drive? check
  • Out-gaining our opponent but failing to do anything in the red zone? check
  • Missing wide open receivers in position to score? check
  • Letting the opposing RB have the best game of their career so far? check
  • A special teams performance that leaves you questioning what we do in practice? check
  • Putting ourselves in a position where one big play can lose the game? check

And let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: the 2-point conversion standing was absolutely the wrong call but that’s not important. What’s important is that we put ourselves in the position for it to happen in the first place. We played down to the level of an objectively inferior team and let them control the game. We should’ve gone up 14 points and never let them get closer. Instead, we messed around and let a bad call have huge implications.

So now we get to play my least favorite game: where does this latest embarrassing loss rank among our other recent embarrassing losses? I think the Citadel loss still reigns supreme, but this one is probably a close second. This is our THIRD YEAR. I could maybe excuse a sloppy loss to a MAC team in 2019, but not this year. I’ve said this a thousand times: you have to start winning the games that you’re supposed to win easily. You have to beat the team that you are favored by 19 points against. Maybe you don’t have to look good doing it (although you probably should at this point), but you better win by at least a score.

Using “massive rebuild” as an excuse/explanation only goes so far in my book. That was fine in 2019 and 2020, but things have to start changing now. You’ve had multiple years of recruiting and multiple years of consistent offensive and defensive philosophies in which to develop players. It’s not crazy to expect consistent and play at this point. This performance didn’t demonstrate a modicum of improvement in any facet of the game, and that’s both terrifying and sad. I don’t want to be an alarmist because it’s certainly possible that this was just an opening-game fluke and we’ll get it together, but good lord, if this is what we can expect for the rest of the season then I don’t see us exceeding three wins.

As far as I’m concerned, this season is now in put-up-or-shut-up mode. I’m not ready to call for Collins’ job at this point, but I am ready for people to start actually holding him accountable. We need to stop treating him like this great unique savior that’s going to bring us to the promised land and start treating him like what he is: a probably perfectly fine human football coach that is currently underperforming at his job. Be excited for what he can do in the future: I am. But don’t try to tell me that right now in the present he is meeting expectations. You are allowed to expect more out of people than what they give you.

Look Ahead

Up next is next door neighbors Kennesaw State (Saturday, noon). Honestly, this one has scared a lot of us since it was announced and the performance against NIU doesn’t help my confidence. The Owls have only existed since 2015 but they’ve been incredibly successful with Brian Bohannon at the helm; they have a 76.4% win rate all-time. They run a devastating option-style offense and also have a solid defense. Given what happened last time we played an option-based FCS team I’m honestly nervous for this one, but let’s hope the NIU result lights a fire under the team and we come out swinging. If that happens this should easily be a double-digit win.