It was the day the state of Georgia had waited for all-season; the annual rivalry known as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.” A raucous, sell-out crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium set the tone for the age-old rivalry. For Georgia, a win means bragging rights for a year, an improved record to 11-1, more support for their College Football Playoff argument, and they would roll into the SEC Championship game with precious momentum.
On the other hand, Georgia Tech was hoping to not only end the regular season on a positive note, but a win would put them at 6-5 and bowl eligible. But as always in Atlanta sports, things never go exactly as planned. An early sign that it was going to be a long afternoon was Tech fumbling the opening kickoff.
The biggest issue for Georgia Tech today was defense. While in the press box you could overhear TV announcers calling the game. One of them said, “Georgia Tech doesn’t have a single player over 300 pounds and that could prove problematic.” On a normal basis, that shouldn’t matter. But even from afar, you could see the drastic contrast in size between the lineman and the aforementioned comments started to sound like gospel.
Georgia’s offense was out to prove they were the real deal and quarterback Jake Fromm was not taking the task lightly. He threw a mere 4 incompletions (completing 12 of 16) and threw for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was efficient, he was accurate, he was comfortable, and the biggest insult of them all was his clean jersey. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t register a sack today and hurried Fromm only once.
When the Buzz did score in the second quarter it was fluid. They took their time, they stuck to their ground game, and only when absolutely necessary did they go to the air. But like I said earlier this season, Tech’s offense relies heavily on TaQuon Marshall. If he’s on, the team does well, but if he’s off, they suffer without too many options. While he led the team in rushing yards with 72, he fell short at his actual position going 2 of 9 for 38 yards, throwing a touchdown and an interception.
Georgia’s defense did a good job of stopping our running game. Between KirVonte Benson, Clinton Lynch, and Qua Searcy, the triple-option backs totaled 66 yards for the game. But their lack of production provided an opportunity for a new face on the field, Sophomore running back Nathan Cottrell. He’s averaged 8.6 yards per carry on the season and managed an 8.1 ypc average against Georgia.
One thing the Jackets will have to work on this season is closing. There were so many games they should’ve won that would’ve made this a completely different scenario. If you take the four games they should’ve won and chalk them up as W’s, they would’ve gone into today’s matchup with a 9-1 record. Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee were examples of not closing out games this season. Each of those losses were comeback losses and each loss was by less than six points.
Don’t fret Yellow Jacket fans. They’ll be back in 2014 position soon enough…
Photo: Hakim Wright