I’ve got no comforting words, no suggestions on how to improve next season. I've got no ideas or thoughts on some mythical "wonder-coach" who will ride into Athens between now and G-Day, keep a spectacular 2015 recruiting class intact and suddenly make us a lock for the National Championship. Just a few brief thoughts and if I'm fortunate I can finish this piece without smashing my keyboard. On with it...
1. I was feeling pretty good after our initial drive when we scored. Actually, real good.
We are going to score a lot today.
what a flippin' idiot...
There was much to love, at least early on: Creative wildcat play calling out of the box, great run blocking. Get Tech down early, and wait for them to counter...
2. I was still feeling fairly frisky after we stoned Tech for the entire first quarter. If the crowd wasn't initially "up" for another sub-human noon start and the TV audience could withstand the monotonous and obviously obvious analysis of Andre Ware, at least the team seemed to be ready to play.
3. I was more than a little bit disturbed when Nick Chubb fumbled away our next touchdown on Tech's one yard line. At that point in the game, we were moving the ball effectively and the defense still was fresh and largely on the bench because we were moving the ball effectively. Should'a been 14-0. Get Tech down early and they have to do things they normally don't like to do in any given game. That's the blueprint for success against the Triple Option.
4. Then, Sony Michel fumbled and discomfort turned into a 4-alarm, Zantac induced panic. Poof! What should have been an insurmountable 3-touchdown lead is now gone. Get Tech down 21 points, and they have to throw the ball and take more risks on defense. Nope. We just injected instant life into a Tech team still had not scored. At that moment, I knew that we were going to lose. You cannot leave points on the field against this type of offense. Eating and controller clock is it's life-blood.
5. We could not block anyone for the entire 2nd half. What went wrong? Surely there is an antidote for run blitzes?
6. I really hated our playcalling for the entire 2nd half. Poor blocking notwithstanding, it was watching us bang our head against the wall to try and prove a point. We couldn't block the edge or the middle, and I don't know if even having Todd Gurley back there would've made that much of a difference.
7. If we had won, I think a statue of Ray Drew should have been constructed somewhere in the vicinity of the main gate. He did it all yesterday, personally negating 4 Tech points which should have been the difference.
8. In a play that might've been texted in by Les Miles, the fake field goal was simply the best call of the day when Marshall Morgan scooted for a 28 yard gain down to the Tech 3...
9. ...sitting pretty on Tech's 3 yard line pretty much summed up our second half ineptitude when we couldn't punch it in for 6. We actually have 5 cracks at a touchdown because on 2nd and goal, Jeb Blazevich was held (and dropped a touchdown pass), and we got a fresh set of downs on the 1 1/2. This was South Carolina all over again, in a sense. For a team that has been prolific in red zone opportunities, not scoring a touchdown here was inexcusable.
10. Tech eventually took the inevitable 21-17 lead as they ate clock and hopes. They still left too much time, assuming we could even move the ball, when they pooched-kicked to a piece of real-estate that had only just seconds been occupied by Quayvon Hicks. When the lonely football took a perfect bounce to the closest man, who was wearing gold and white, all was lost. If I never see Quayvon on kickoff receiving coverage again, it'll be too soon. By all rights, the game should have been lost at this point. This game was too weird for anything but a bizarre ending, which would play out.
11. So, Justin Thomas inexplicably fumbles and gives us hope. We then did what this offense has done so often this season: Run and pass mix with some up-tempo calls designed to eat up the rest of the clock and get down inside the Tech 5 where it took a great throw by Hutson Mason and an equally great catch by Malcolm Mitchell to literally pull victory from the Jaws of Defeat.
We had no business winning, but we
won because when you only leave :18 seconds on the clock against a team that would have to throw and who also lost their best receiver in DeAndre Smelter THE ONLY THING YOU NEED TO DO IS KICK THE BALL OUT OF THE BACK OF THE END ZONE AND WATCH 'EM HAIL MARY ONCE OR TWICE.
When Justin Thomas fumbled, we took over with 2:41 in the game. It took us 2:23 to take the lead. You should never, ever lose a game when a run-first team that is handicapped only has :18 seconds to work with. Ever.
12. This was Mark Richt's worst call since he's been at Georgia in 2001. As brilliant as the fake field goal was, this subtracted all bonus points away from that. This was our version of Reggie Ball throwing it away on 4th down in 2004. Special teams have been very, very good this season. This gaffe at this point of the season is simply disturbing.
13. Credit goes to Georgia Tech. Credit goes to their kicker. A 53-yard field goal is certainly no gimme - not under those conditions. Anyway, they physically whipped both of our lines in the 2nd half. There was all kinds of luck in this game - for both sides. This game had it all: fumbles, blocked field goals, blocked extra points that, in an alternate universe, would've have simply been a sign from Excessivus - God of Football - that this was ultimately going to be our day. Had we won, I truly believe Tech would've disbanded football.
14. I feel bad for Hutson Mason. His last pass in Sanford Stadium should have been his greatest glory. Pity.
15. No matter how long I live, I will never figure out this sport that we love so much. College football is truly chaos theory.
This season was never going to result in a Championship. Perhaps an SEC-East Championship, but the bottom line was our defense was too flawed to carry the season. I predicted 10-2 prior to the beginning of the year with a trip to Atlanta, correctly assuming that the SEC-East was down enough for us to prevail. I was 18 seconds from being half-correct.
We beat ourselves twice this season. We simply didn't show up once. There is much to work on going forward. There is always reason for optimism for 2015, but at this particular hour I do not have the energy to look too deeply. This one...well, it stings.
As always, Go Dawgs!