Saturday, October 04, 2008

Jackets Smother Duke

It was a fun game yesterday as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets crushed the Duke Bluedevils by a final score of 27-0. The defense pitched a shutout and the offense showed that they're not one-dimensional with the run.

I ended up taking my 4 & 6 year old girls by myself while Mama stayed home with the sick baby. It was a beautiful day, sun shining and fans cheering.

Well, Paul Johnson said that until we pitched a shutout he would never say there weren't things to improve on. Well, the D stepped up with the goose eggs and Johnson pretty much gave them their due. He did mention that they let a couple of receiver slip past them in the secondary, but that was reaching a little since none of those passes were completed.

The defense really stepped up.
- Duke had 132 yards of total offense. Wow. Game ball to the D.
- 132 yards is the 3rd fewest given up by GT, ever.
- Duke punted the 1st eight times they had the ball
- Duke was only 2-12 on 3rd down conversions
- Duke had -1 yard of total offense in the 3rd quarter
- The D-Line dominated the action in the trenches

The 3-0 halftime score was really deceiving. The Jackets controlled the first half. Unfortunately, they just couldn't close the deal. They had drives of 12 plays, 11 plays, 11 plays, 8 plays and 8 plays. I missed the first drive getting to the game, but a Shaw / Dwyer fumble during a handoff doomed that drive. Two others stalled on downs as we were unsuccessful on 4th down. The offense chewed up yardage all game long but just struggled in the redzone. They racked up 454 yards of total offense, 230 on the ground and 224 on the ground.

The big play capability of this offense is really setup by the masterful playcalling of Johnson. You just always feel like it's "when" and never "if". You just know it's going to happen. Duke sells out to stop the run and the pitch, which obviously left BeBe open.... a lot. He got his chance and he came through numerous times.


Jaybo Shaw completes 9 balls for 230 yards today. BeBe Thomas catches 9 balls for 230 yards. I would say you can call that a "go to guy". He runs right by his incredibly overmatched defender for an eye-opening 88 yard bomb and takes it to the house. BeBe was just a warrior today. Between the blocking and the "baby Calvin" type catches, he clearly was the standout. He got a nice ovation when he came out at the end of the game, and it was well deserved.

For all the hard work he puts in and for keeping his chin up, and for blocking like a mad man, he was rewarded. Today was a reward for being a leader. Oh yeah, did you notice Thomas line up at OT on a few plays? He did.

For a true freshman getting his first start, you have to say that Jaybo Shaw handled himself well. He played a steady game. He was a little choppy early, and fumbled a couple of times (lost one). He was evidently nervous too:

“Well,” said coach Paul Johson, “I’m sure you couldn’t have driven a straight pin up his tail with a sledgehammer.”

Another classic line from the coach. It's possible Shaw will start again against Gardner-Webb, but make no mistake - Josh Nesbitt is the #1 guy when his hamstring is back. Overall, Shaw had a nice game, made easier by the play-calling........... give to Dwyer......... pass to BeBe........... give to Dwyer............. pass to BeBe............ sensing a pattern?

We are blessed to have someone who is a capable QB in the 2nd string slot. The QB is so critical in all offenses, but in this one particularly. I can't wait until Nesbitt gets back, and it's nice to know we're in good hands regardless.

Jon Dwyer is the best running back in the ACC. Let's just say this - I wouldn't want any of the other ones. His combination of size and speed is just devastating. He is fun to watch. He finished today with 23 carries and 159 yards, both career highs. He had a couple of speed plays he broke and he also had some bull-rushes, where he just dragged guys. Just another day in the office I guess.

Once again, you'd have to say that our interior offensive line was a bit exposed today. Strong penetration from Duke. After the game, Coach Johnson said that they were keeping their pads too high again and that you can bet they'll be working on getting low in practice this week.

All we heard about was Duke's fantastic conditioning. I have no doubt they are in better shape than last season, but they weren't the only ones putting in the sweat equity. Conditioning is the cornerstone of Paul Johnson's teams as well, and it was the Jackets who went the distance today while the Duke players were sucking wind on the sidelines. Having said that, when you almost double your opponents time of possession, the opposing defense is going to wear down. It's just a matter of time.

In this "run dominated" offense, something interesting happened. BeBe Thomas went for 230 yards in the air. If memory serves me, Calvin Johnson NEVER went for more than 200 yards in a game. Go figure. Oh yeah - 230 yards receiving was only 15 yards shy of the all-time GT record, held by Dez White, who happened to be at the game........ from a run dominated offense. Go figure.

Someone needs to confirm another strange stat - what are the most yards receiving by a guy when no other receiver catches a ball?

Not a good day in my book on turnovers. We fumbled 4 times today and were fortunate enough only to lose one of those. That one was costly as it occurred in the redzone.

Already mentioned turnovers. Still #1. Need to work on procedure penalties on 4th down. We had another two of those this week. Not the first time either. Interior of the offensive line needs to get their pad level down. Special teams was ok, but still needs more focus in my opinion. I want to see Greg Smith stop trying to stretch every pitch out wide and sometimes duck in earlier and get some tougher yards.


Well, we are among the national leaders in some very interesting stats:

#5 rushing yards per game
#19 passing efficiency

#5 pass efficiency defense
#4 scoring defense
#3 pass defense (yards)
#16 sacks
#4 tackles-for-loss

In the ACC we lead in rushing offense, offensive passing efficiency, scoring defense (tied w/BC), pass defense and tackles-for-a-loss.

Individually, J.Dwyer now leads the ACC in rushing at 110 yards/game. BeBe Thomas is now 2nd in the ACC in receiving yards at 79.5 / game. Wow on that one. Derrick Morgan is 4th in sacks.

Bottom-line is this - this game was so lopsided defensively that it put us on the national map statistically. Of course the "W" in the win column is the most important stat of all.

Looks like it's going to take more wins before the "expert" voters take notice. The Jackets didn't crack the top 25 in either the AP or Coaches poll. However, they sure as heck will in my poll. In the AP poll, we are effectively #32 while the Coaches have us #31. Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina are ahead of us in both polls.

Here's the real travesty - Auburn, with 2 losses and no offense, is still ranked in the top 25 in both polls. Talk about SEC bias. Even Auburn fans are flabbergasted.

Here's how Georgia Tech stacks up in various polls:

Voter Rank
Sagarin Top 50 11
Colley Matrix Top 50 26
Harris Interactive 29
USA Today Coaches' Poll 31
AP Poll 32
Billingsley Top 50 N/A
Massey Ratings Top 50 N/A

Here is the breakdown of who ranks us and who doesn't in the AP poll. Some notables giving us love in the top 25 are Adam Van Brimmer, Kirk Herbstreit, Steward Mandel and Chris Fowler.

So here are the standings:

(As Of October 4)
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Wake Forest 1-0 1.000 3-1 .750
Maryland 1-1 .500 4-2 .667
Clemson 1-1 .500 3-2 .600
Boston College 1-1 .500 4-1 .800
Florida State 1-1 .500 4-1 .800
NC State 0-2 .000 2-4 .333
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Virginia Tech 2-0 1.000 5-1 .833
Georgia Tech 2-1 .667 4-1 .800
Duke 1-1 .500 3-2 .600
Virginia 1-1 .500 2-3 .400
North Carolina 1-1 .500 4-1 .800
Miami 0-2 .000 2-3 .400

We do not control our fate. Virginia Tech is in the driver seat with a 2-0 conference record and tie-breakers over GT and UNC. We need them to get knocked off twice in the coming weeks and we need to keep winning. Tall order on both counts. It's entirely possible to go 11-1 and not play for the ACC championship, although let's not jump that far ahead yet (ya hear my #93?).