Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Wow - The Boys are Back in town!!!

Wow, what a performance. The Jackets absolutely dominate Big East co-champion Syracuse in a romp 51-14. And you know what - it wasn't even that close. Let's go through some points:

1. Orlando is such a beautiful place for the Jackets. We should send Clemson a Christmas present for getting into that little brawl with USC.

2. I am incredibly happy for our seniors, who get to go out on a high note. Major props to Tubugbo Anyansi, Omar Billy, Robby Brown, Nathan Burton, James Butler, Nate Curry, Jimmy Dixon, Andrew Economos, Johnathan Jackson, Kenton Johnson, Mark Logan, Leon Robinson, David Smith, Levon Thomas, Andy Thompson, Andy Tidwell-Neal, Kyle Wallace, Chirod Williams, Darius Williams...... Gentleman, you came to Georgia Tech boys and you leave men. You have represented us with class, integrity and dedication. Those of us who survived GT and only had to worry about academics only know part of your struggle. Thanks for the memories. Congrats and GREAT GAME!!! GO JACKETS!!!!!

3. Tonight's game coverage turned into a mini-love fest for Georgia Tech by ESPN. Lee Corso said this team should be competing for an ACC title next season. Although Herbstreet did say that he would take VaTech and Corso could have GT. I think Corso went a little overboard, but who cares. They hyped up a ton of the individual players. They talked about the 1990 National Championship team and the ghost-clipping call on Rocket Ismail. The gushed on J.Tenuta and how he should be a head coach or NFL defensive coordinator. It was great (well unless of course Tenuta leaves)............ There was an interesting look at former NFL head coaches who were now leading Div IA college teams. Of the 9-10 on the list only two of them had winning NFL records - Bobby Ross and Chan Gailey. Nice point by Corso.......... Make no mistake, this game tonight in Florida will help our recruiting efforts. The state of Florida is so important and there is so much talent - more than Miami / FSU / Florida can take. To be the 1st bowl of the season, the only game of the night, on ESPN......... this is a good thing.

4. A complete game...... That is what the team played tonight. Offense, Defense, Special teams...... All facets were on display. Don't talk to me about conservative offense. There was no holding back. But you know what - we haven't been overly conservative all year. Yeah, at times, you might question play-calling, but when you look at reverses, half-back passes (from PJ earlier in the season), deep balls, etc, we are not as conservative as people want to believe. There is a difference between conservative play-calling and play-execution........ Folks, this team had 514 yards of total offense tonight. That is impressive for sure. The offensive line deserves major props for dominating and creating holes all over the place for runners to go through. There was not one sack of our QB by the Orange. Nice. They controlled the game......... But the completeness of this game is what was impressive. The defense looked like it was bending but not breaking in the 1st half, but Tenuta made the right adjustments against the option and shut it down. Another quality outing by the D. The D had at least 5 sacks tonight, including a safety...... Special teams blocked its 5th punt of the season. Forget "Beamerball" - try "Gailey-ball"..... No doubt our best all-around game and it couldn't have come at a better time.

5. Scoring notes.... The Jackets were up 35-6 at the half. Wow. The most points we scored in a game this entire season was 30 against UConn. Alrighty then. In addition, GT becomes on the 2nd team to score 50+ points in 2 consecutive bowl games. The other - Colorado. The combined scores of our last two bowl games - 103-24. Pretty solid I would say.

6. Let's talk Reggie Ball. He was voted the Bowl MVP for his 12/19 - 207 yard, 2 TD (& 1 TD running), 1 INT. Good for him. Personally I thought Daniels was the MVP (17 rushes for 118 yards, 2 TD's), but that's ok. They were both worthy. Here is the problem. Reggie's performance tonight just solidifies one thing - he's inconsistent. It still is not likely to change things in the spring - the job is open. However, my own opinion - he'll be the starter in the fall, with Bennett pushing him every game. Many Tech fans will want someone else, but he may be the guy and he may earn it. The difference will be the speed in which he will get pulled if he starts making big mistakes....... All we can say is that tonight - he was the man. He controlled the game, passed well, ran well, and he can be proud. Coach Gailey said this after the game - "Reggie just played great. He's been through so much and he deserves something like this". Coach is right. Whatever happens in the spring, Reggie has ended the season on a high note. He can hold his head up high. If you look back at his performance in the Humaniatarian Bowl last season, it wasn't great at all, but Daniels running carried the day. Tonight was different........ Note to coaching staff - find some other exercise (not with a towel this time) for Reggie to work on in front of the mirror during the summer.

7. The freshman. Calvin Johnson is his usual self, grabbing two spectacular catches, one for a TD, then he runs another one in on a reverse for a TD. His sideline grab in double-coverage is an ESPN play-of-the-day nominee. Corso said after that catch that "he is doing things that even Randy Moss doesn't do"......Unfortunately he tweaked his knee of the reverse and sat out the 2nd half. In the post-game interview, Johnson said the trainer said it was a sprained ACL and that he would be fine in a couple of weeks. That left him about 17 yards short of the ACC freshman receiving yardage record. All I can say is - good move Coach. Anyone remember a guy named Tony Hollings?............ Daryl Richard gets his 3rd and 4th sack of the year, the last one being a safety, with very limited opportunities. He WILL be a player - count on it. Correction - Richard IIISSSS a player........... Darrell Robertson gets a sack as well..........Travis Bell hit all extra points, although he did miss a 48-yard field goal, his first miss since his first college attempt........... Matt Rhodes played well on the O-Line and will likely be a fixture for the next 3 years......... A lot of guys got gametime snaps in the 4th quarter as Coach put in the 2nd stringers. This will only strengthen them heading into the spring.

8. Let's look at 2005 issues and key losses. Folks, the defense is solid. James Butler will be the only starter moving on - we return 10 starters. And folks, there are some players we haven't seen much of that will be contributors. The talent in the wings is strong.......... The real losses are coming on the offensive side of the ball...... First, we lose 3 starters from the offensive line. THAT is priority #1. This is an issue that cannot be underestimated. Games are won and lost on the line. Give Daniels all the credit in the world, but the "big uglies" make the world go 'round and get little of the credit........... Second, we lose go-to wide receivers Nate Curry and Levon Thomas. Yes, Calvin Johnson is THE go-to guy, but we need someone else to step up and line-up opposite CJ and make plays. There are some guys on the team now that will compete for that job, but recruiting at that position will be critical as well. We just landed a talented kid that switched from Notre Dame and we have a soft committment from Carlos Thomas, Levon's brother (there are academic concerns that may prevent him from signing)......... And of course there are the ever-present questions about Reggie Ball.

9. Coach Chan Gailey..... No doubt the debate will not end on Coach Gailey. But here is the fact - Coach Gailey deserves to run out his contract.... Period. He deserves minimum one more year at the helm and really two years. If you believe otherwise than you are one of the contributors to the poor culture in sports that is growing across this country. The Notre Dame / Florida situations are driven by boosters who have no patience and no concern about the student-athlete. They are concerned about winning football games......AND THEY GIVE LOTS OF MONEY TO THE SCHOOL. Look, I'm not a blind-spot rah-rah Chan Gailey supporter, but I do like the guy. I like what he stands for. I like that he stands up for what he believes, he stands up for his religion, he stands up for his players. I see enough improvement in recruiting, enough development of players, enough improvement in graduating players to think they guy deserves more time. How much? I don't know - but 2 years minimum. That's my stance and I'm sticking to it....... How about we start supporting our team AND our coach and let's win some ballgames!!!

9. Have to make a comment about Syracuse. I feel for head coach Paul Pasqualoni. Yes, he did not have his team prepared. But his incoming new AD interviews with the ESPN crew at halftime and basically says a bunch of politically correct stuff, but reading between the lines - Coach P is gone. I checked out the Syracuse board and fans are already writing him off and discussing the odds of landing Norm Chow, whose daughter happened to graduate from that institution. The announcers started talking about how the Syracuse players just weren't as athletic as they used to be. Ouch. Not a good night to be a Syracuse player, coach or fan.

10. I do have one Syracuse jab to hand out. Hey Jim Boeheim, who's your daddy now? How is your Big East now? Care to make any ACC comments now? Didn't think so.

A great win tonight. Makes me proud to be a Jacket. The coaches and players made us proud tonight. The winningest college bowl team in history keeps on rolling. GO JACKETS!!!!

Note to players: The 24-hour rule is no longer in effect. Enjoy this one for the next few months. But come spring forget about it.