Georgia Tech’s special season taking form

Georgia Tech players and fans celebrate after Saturday’s win. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Georgia Tech players and fans celebrate after Saturday's win. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Georgia Tech players and fans celebrate after Saturday’s win. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Thought Georgia Tech’s win at Virginia Tech was impressive two weeks ago? The Jackets did something even more impressive Saturday night, following up that performance with a 28-17 win over Miami.

Here’s a link to my column off the game.

And below are my three “Short Takes” on the game:

1. DEFENSE: This might be the first time Georgia Tech’s defense has ever been one of the short takes … well, at least in a positive way. The Jackets allowed Miami to drive for long touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, but gave up only three points the rest of the game. They forced two turnovers, nearly had two others (Miami twice had fumbles reversed on replay) and often pressured quarterback Brad Kaaya, sacking him twice. The Hurricanes also rushed for 107 yards, including 24 in the second half, after Tech’s defense had been allowing an ACC worst 194.2 per game through the first four games.

2. OFFENSE: You know what else helps a team’s defense? When a team’s offense keeps the opponent’s offense on the sideline. The  Jackets, who rush for 318 yards, had an incredible 40 minutes, 45 seconds in possession time — more than doubling Miami’s possession time (19:15). It helps that Tech, which had fumbling problems early in the season, did not turn the ball over, the offensive line has evolved into a strength and quarterback Justin Thomas continues to make the correct reads on the option. Zach Laskey led the Jackets with 133 yards rushing.

3. IT’S ALL SET UP: Coach Paul Johnson isn’t assuming anything. But he likes his team, believes it’s getting better and there’s no question things set up nicely for the Jackets the rest of the season. After beating Virginia Tech and Miami, the consensus two best teams in the ACC Coastal Division, Tech could be favored in its next five conference games: Duke, at North Carolina, at Pittsburgh, Virginia, at North Carolina State. The Jackets close their ACC schedule  Nov. 15 against Clemson. There certainly is a better feeling about this Tech team than any since the ACC title team of 2009.

Digital Jukebox
— AJC: Tech has chance to take charge in ACC Coastal
— AJC: Braves should’ve left Gonzalez decision to new GM
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech, UGA win, Falcons continue kindness
— AJC: Are Braves waiting for Dayton Moore?
— MyAJC: Hawks are still playing wrong game off the court
— MyAJC: Falcons’ losses like this are on Mike Smith
— AJC: Falcons: No defense, no line, no chance
— AJC: Live: Falcons face Vikings minus Peterson
— MyAJC: John Hart says Braves ‘lethargic,’ need changes
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Dogs win, Rocker loses
— AJC: Braves’ Hart says he would be open to mentoring role
— AJC: Would Braves be better off not going “Braves Way”?
— MyAJC: Georgia is 0-1 but SEC East is still there for taking
— MyAJC: Full column: Frank Wren did a lot right but big things hurt him
— AJC: Quick blog: Frank Wren failed at major decisions
— AJC: Terry McGuirk is on the clock (updated)
— MyAJC: Georgia’s next 7 games are what really counts
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s 66-0 win over Troy
— MyAJC: Falcons now realize they need to step on gas
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, Goodell cowers
— AJC: Braves see Nats celebrate, and Pirates may do same
— MyAJC: Fredi Gonzalez: ‘It’s my team, I take full responsibility’
— AJC: Braves’ opponents often celebrates here
— MyAJC: Falcons let everybody see their ugly side
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech has problems, but it also has Justin Thomas
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s narrow escape
— AJC: Ferry takes leave but Hawks won’t change with this ownership
— AJC: Hawks giving lessons on how not to contain a fire
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Goodell sees alibis, I see Dogs
— AJC:  Goodell was at Masters when Rice video arrived

Reader Comments 0

148 comments
MikeS777
MikeS777

Va Tech and Miami have been beatable for a while.  These are not the same teams that played in BCS ball games.  But a beatable team can keep beating you if your paying them at the wrong time.  That's the big difference this year over the last two years.  You play Miami and VT in the middle of a tough stretch with no bye weeks, and Tech loses.  Play them with a more rested team and Tech wins.  It also helps to play them early when both teams have new QBs that apparently haven't figured out their systems yet.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Point 3 is the big factor here.  Mark Bradley called it.  Tech's 2014 schedule really lines up perfectly for them.  I don't think this team is any better than the ones of the last few years.  They just had a very soft opening schedule that allowed them to make a lot of mistakes and not take a conference loss.  You look at the last two seasons, and they just had a murderous first half schedule. It wore them down.

2012 - the start @Va Tech, then their 3rd games started a stretch of Va, Miami, MTSU, @Clemson, BC, and BYU in consecutive weeks.

2013 - they start with Elon, but then hit @Duke, UNC, VT, @Miami, @BYU in consecutive weeks.

Va Tech had just played Ohio St. and East Carolina in consecutive weeks this year before Tech.  While Tech was resting on a bye for Miami, Miami was playing Duke right after a trip to Nebraska.  Miami also opened with Louisville.

The only ranked team on the schedule is UGA, although I expect Clemson will be ranked by the time Tech plays them.  @NC St. could be trouble with their new QB from Florida.  Duke might be a problem next week if Tech has a let down.  I supposed Va could be trouble, but I doubt it.  UNC is terrible.  Pitt is not looking good at all either.

Tech should be favored at least until NC St if not Clemson.

Pocaroba
Pocaroba

I did see that the last time this many top 5 teams lost on the same weekend was in 1990. Something to think about.

LifeLongJacket
LifeLongJacket

What you do not understand is the supreme significance of Saturday 10-4-14.


The 1998 Jackets w Joe Hamilton, Dez White and Coach O'Leary at 9-2 went to the Gator Bowl and beat MIGHTY Notre Dame 35-28. After the 1999 season, we played the Gator Bowl and got whipped 1-1-2000 by Miami 28-13. Joe Hamilton tried and failed with Coach O'Leary.


We have been Downhill ever since save that first season with CPJ and the recruits from before.


Now the Defense has learned HOW TO WIN. Can the Offense develop a KiIler Instinct?

If so, Recruiting Success will follow.


So it is fitting that Miami started our downfall and Miami starts our New Dynasty!


One more thing. The cheers we all were doing Saturday night in the cold were ridiculously Politically Correct. I ask you to remember that 1998 Gator bowl played 1-1-1999. 40,000 of 65,000 in the stadium Standing and Screaming at the top of their lungs repeatedly DEFENSE!, DEFENSE! That is what inspired our supposedly outclassed Defense to victory. It was the Offense that was Vaulted by those in the media. But the DEFENSE is what stopped the Mighty Irish that night. With the help of 40,000 12th MEN. Get that back and NO TEAM will win at OUR HOUSE! ever again. STAND and SCREAM DEFENSE! DEFENSE!

MikeS777
MikeS777

@LifeLongJacket Look man, recruiting is not going to get better under Johnson.  The simple fact is top recruits do not want to run the option.  If he can't recruit after winning the ACC in 2009, he's not going to be able to recruit any better 5 years later.  He had a good year in 2008 too.  So two years of success with some very good players left by Gailey produced no recruiting momentum.

Pocaroba
Pocaroba

This UGA alum will be very pleased to see the Jackets win their division of the ACC. Much more pleased if they could knock off FSU and win the conference title. Good team!

Jmonty
Jmonty

I like what I see from JT so far.  Yes... he's made some mistakes and needs to work on overthrowing the ball (when we pass)..  But, he is fearless and wants to run.  In order to be contenders for the ACC, our defense has to be able to keep doing what they did in this game (keep the opposing team under 20).   Go Jackets!!

GTAlum
GTAlum

I'm not sure VT and Miami are the best schools in the conference this season.  They were the vogue picks because they're the name teams and they're usually two of the better teams in the division, but I'm not sure about the best this season.  While Duke lost to Miami, they're not patsies anymore, and Pitt and UVA have looked pretty good this season.  It's hardly smooth sailing to a division championship at this point.


That said, if this team keeps improving, every game on our schedule looks winnable.  Who knows about a conference championship game or a bowl game, but let's worry about getting there first.

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

@GTAlum


Tech could have a nice season. I think your analysis is spot on on. GT is capable of winning the rest of their divisional games, but could just as easily lose them. 

GTBob
GTBob

@GTAlum UVA has looked pretty good. They may be our main competition for the division. Pitt has lost 3 in a row including a double digit loss to Akron. Can't say i'm all that worried about them.

GTAlum
GTAlum

@GTBob @GTAlum I missed the Akron loss.  I remember now being disappointed about the Iowa loss.  Not sure how bad of a loss that was.  And they played UVA tough this past week.  I'll say this much - Tech better not overlook them.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Congrats to GT for making the most of their schedule and opportunities so far. Trouble is their run option offense does not match up well with the pro style passing offenses of the top 25 teams. Without a top ranked defensive unit, the best they can expect on the season is to reach the ACC title game. Not being a basher but instead setting the bar at a realistic level given what we know about this team.

dublinmike
dublinmike

Congrats Tech fans, as a longtime UGA fan, good to see you guys coming back and playing well. Always a lot more fun game at the end of the year when both teams are doing well and the game means something. I'd even go so far to say that you guys could very well have a better record than us when that game is played.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

We didn’t have a defense that could tackle we do now."

----

Ummmm.  I don't think I'd go that far.  Our best "defense" is our offense---to keep our defense OFF THE FIELD!  

To this point, our D has been a little opportunistic and lucky, IMO.  But fundamentally in terms of pass rush, coverage and tackling, our defense this year is not going to win us any games against a top 25 offense.

Gurley will absolutely run wild in Athens this year.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@Birmingham__Jacket Tech jumped on UGA using both the option run and passing game last year.  It'll be interesting to see if CPJ calls more passing plays the entire game if it proves successful early or if he'll try to run on UGA.


UGA's defense makes every offense look better than it really is, specifically the passing game.  Does CPJ take the cookie or try to use his own bread and butter?



GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket Thank god we have a defense lucky enough to hold Miami to 3 points over the last 3 quarters of play. Our defense has given up one TD in the second half in the last two games and that was on a complete fluke of a play where a QB had to recover a fumble. Try to give them some credit. Of course we are going to have trouble stopping Gurley. So is everyone else.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgnIT A lot of our play calling last year was a result of what we thought Vad Lee could actually do to give us a chance. Don't expect the same with JT running things.

Peachs
Peachs

It also makes last year come into focus more, we didn’t have a quarterback who could think and have the athletic ability to follow up his thinking, and we do now. We didn’t have a defense that could tackle we do now. We dance on thin ice as the other teams see our film and readjust to the new us; we will really see what our coaching staff is all about the next few weeks. I like what we got.

96JB
96JB

For the Dawgs to beat Tech this year, we will need a healthy Gurley and Chubb and Mason and the defense must continue to get better. Tech appears to be getting better. The QB is the difference maker.

 Georgia may be a dejected team by the time we play. I don't know if there are enough light bulbs on our scoreboard for Auburn against our defense. Worst in Athens in a long time. Congrats on your year so far. Maybe your year to hang one on us in Athens. Gurley factor if healthy gives us hope.

Peachs
Peachs

@96JB I think yall will change quarterbacks just like we had to and be world beaters.  The defense is just a matter of adjusting but you have a offense that keeps them on the field too long with turnovers and quick scores.  I think given time you will like your DC, very similar to us and Roof, both coming off NCs.  Stay the course very similar to Tech, UGA will surprise people.  The Tech game is going to be a dosy, and yall will come to it in the top 10, mark my words.

96JB
96JB

@Peachs @96JB Thanks for the mature words. Richt will NOT change QB's. It's not his MO. If healthy, Richt will ride Mason to the ground. Stubborn? Who knows. As a college passed over  back up college QB himself, he's funny about QB's. I will say Dawgs lose to Mizzou and Arkansas, all bets are off.....And that's a real possibility.

GTAlum
GTAlum

@96JB @Peachs Yeah, you guys' schedule gets real interesting from next week to the Auburn game.  Most of those games are probably winnable, but all of them are probably potential losses, too, especially is Florida's found something with this new QB.

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

Congrats Jackets...You guy are looking good!

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

It's great to see a team of quality student-athletes with a better record than the state's SEC team filled with illiterate scofflaws. Yes indeed, it's very gratifying.


Go Yellow Jackets!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

What a pathetic outfit the U brought to atlanta yesterday.

Sean Taylor & Jerome Brown are rolling in their graves. :(

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@BigCrimson75 

I know.  Losing to Georgia Tech.  The horror!

GTLee
GTLee

What a pathetic outfit the Tide took to Oxford yesterday. The Bear is rolling over in his grave.

Peachs
Peachs

@GTLee that Mississippi team busted us a new one last year, not so sure they aren't for real, of course every SEC team in the West is real  Never seen a division so stacked.

Silly Bloggers
Silly Bloggers

Congratulations Tech.  Unlike many on here, I actually pull for your team except when playing the Dawgs.  You haven't been world beaters, but you are getting it done, looking better every week, and surpassing expectations.  That is all you can ask from your coach and your team.  It would be great if we are playing each other for a chance to wreck each others' seasons, but I'm thinking UGA will need to find a defense or a QB really quickly for that that game to be more than bragging rights for us (but I'm hoping).


I don't like the Duke match-up for y'all.  I'm not saying I expect Duke to win, but I think this is a tougher game than most people outside of the ACC believe it will be.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

If the little QB can keep improving his passing game then he gets a little easier for the offense. Single coverage on every play and that was what Coach Bryant liked best about the Bone. Other than not having to spend all his practice time on timing for the passing game he discarded.

FSUNole
FSUNole

GT will lose at least 4...a loss to UGA in athens is all but guaranteed and there is no way this GT team can hang with the National Champs...

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

@FSUNole  no guarantees here other than we will graduate more players than free shoes you.  you wont see any of out players jump on tables and disrespect women speaking of which..... doesnt your qb have issues with treating women with disrespect?

we have a better shot at our qb making it through the season than your adhd qb who cant seem to control his impulses.

personally if i were you?  i would be more concerned with the fsu qb remaining eligible and in school than how many wins our team has. 

gt-40
gt-40

@FSUNole 


Put your crab legs where your mouth is....meet me at Publix at high noon if this game comes off...

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@Seminoles3xchamps 

You apparently forget that even with a lesser QB, it worked fine against your defense 2 years ago in Charlotte.  Your DC has experience AT Tech, so he knows the offense, but knowing it doesn't mean he knows how to stop it.  Iowa is really the only team that has effectively stopped it in Johnson's time at Tech

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@DawgnIT 

Says a troll from a school who has active players accused of rape.  No school has control over what FORMER students do.  Unfortunately THUGa has no control over what CURRENT students do either.

GTLee
GTLee

Don't forget about cross-dressing prostitute tenured professors and professors who frequent prostitutes, as well as an AD who liked to smoke crack with his ho's red panties in his lap.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @DawgnIT But schools are supposed to turn out upstanding members of society.  What's the point is claiming Tech produces great men and women then stating that Tech has no influence over what those people do?



DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@GTLee Men can get weak with all the potential Athens offers.  The talent is unreal and if you're not in a good place with your marriage or general maturity as a man you can get caught up.  Not going to lie or pretend like some here...

GTBob
GTBob

@FSUNole Earlier in the season we were supposed to lose at least 7. Then it became 6. Then 5. Now apparently it is 4. I like the direction the predictions are going.