DUBLIN — Georgia Tech’s offense was rescued by its passing game again.
Quarterback Justin Thomas had a 22-yard completion on fourth-and-19 and a 26-yarder on third down to ignite a stunning touchdown drive in the final minutes, giving Georgia Tech a come-from-behind 17-14 win over Boston College in the season opener in Dublin, Ireland.
Below are my three short takes on the game.
1. OK, they won but: In coach Paul Johnson’s words, “We were fortunate we got out of here with a win.” Tech is 1-0 in the ACC. It was never close to being 1-0 last season (3-9 overall, 1-0 in conference). But after struggling offensively, primarily in the running game, last season, significant improvement was expected and that wasn’t evident in the first game. Quarterback Justin Thomas made several poor reads in the option and offensive linemen either missed blocks, blew assignments or were flat-out manhandled by Boston College’s defensive front. Tech had five three-and-outs in a stretch of seven possessions and finished with 121 yards rushing. That’s not good for an option offense. The Eagles had the nation’s best overall defense last season ranked No. 2 against the run, but Tech made them look like the ’85 Bears.
2. Some guys just have it: Thomas had a poor opening game running the option, and this follows a season in which he tried to do too much to make up for his team’s deficiencies. But whereas a number of players melt in tough situations, he seems to embrace those moments and frequently has shown an ability to pull out games in the final minutes. He did it against Boston College, completing a 22-yard pass to Qua Searcy on fourth-and-19 and a 26-yarder to Ricky Jeune on third-and-10 to set up the winning touchdown: a four-yard run by freshman Dedrick Mills. Boston College coach Steve Addazio on Thomas: “He took that game in his own hands at the end. He made unbelievable plays at the very end of the game that were critical, and that’s what great players do.”
3. Defense improved? One win over Boston College, which has been dreadful offensively, should not lead to grand proclamations about what this means for Georgia Tech’s defense moving forward. But that side of the ball kept the Jackets in the game when the offense was getting smacked in the face B.C. moved the ball well between the 20s but fizzled when it mattered most, and Tech deserves some credit for that. The Jackets forced three turnovers (two fumbles), escaped two Boston College red zone situations (fumble, blocked field goal) and saw the Eagles miss two field goals. The major breakdown was a 73-yard touchdown run by Jon Hillman in the third quarter. The Jackets aren’t Clemson-ready on defense, but they have Mercer and Vanderbilt before then.
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