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CFN Sun Analysis - Georgia Tech 21, USC 7

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2012


CFN's thoughts and analysis on Georgia Tech's stunning win over USC.

- Hyundai Sun Georgia Tech 21, USC 7

Georgia Tech started running well early, but it was the defense that had control all game long allowing just one USC scoring drive in the second. The Trojans came up with a terrific score on a catch-and-run from nine yards out by Silas Redd, but that was it for the fun with the miserable O finishing with just 205 yards of total offense. David Sims started out the scoring for the Yellow Jackets on a three-yard run, and in the third, Tevin Washington punched it in from one-yard out after a big punt return. Orwin Smith extended the lead in the fourth on a 17-yard scoring grab, but it was Jamal Golden who put it away with a pick in the final seconds. The two teams combined for six turnovers and struggled at times in the windy conditions.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets had the ball for 36:25. … The offense ran for 294 yards. … RB David Sims led the team with 17 carries for 99 yards. … QB Tevin Washington completed 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards and a score, and he ran 16 times for 46 yards and a touchdown. … LB Jabari Hunt-Days led the team with ten tackles. … CB Rod Sweeting made three tackles and a pick with two broken up passes, but most of all, he and Louis Young kept the star USC receivers under wraps.

USC: QB Max Wittek completed 14-of-37 passes for 107 yards and a score with three picks. … WR Marqise Lee caught six passes for 41 yards. … RB Silas Red ran 17 times for 88 yards. … LB Hayes Pollard made 16 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. … S T.J. McDonald made 13 tackles.

Richard Cirminiello

At one point in the second half, I actually found myself waxing poetic about the good old days when USC was banned from the postseason. Trojans made West Virginia look downright feisty in Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl.

Lane Kiffin is perpetrating a heist at Troy. The Sun Bowl was yet another example that he’s completely out of his league at a major program. He led a team that was top-ranked in August, and was handed a gift by the return of QB Matt Barkley, to a 7-6 record. Kiffin was wise to be incognito on the sidelines in El Paso this afternoon; who’d want to be recognized after the job he did in 2012? It’s not too late to pull the trigger, AD Haden.

Ugly as it may have been, Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech really needed this victory in the worst way. Johnson had yet to win a postseason game on the Flats, and the Yellow Jackets had dropped seven bowl games in a row.

Sure, Max Wittek is young and inexperienced, but shouldn’t Trojans fans have expected slightly better play with a month to prepare … and against a star-deprived Georgia Tech defense? While the redshirt freshman has a great rifle and a high ceiling, again, someone on that coaching staff was asleep at the wheel during the month of December.

With the wind being such a problem in El Paso today, why did Silas Redd carry the ball only 17 times, and the Trojans run it just 21 times all game? Makes absolutely no sense, especially against an opponent that can be a little soft in the middle. It’s not as if USC was dragged out of its gameplan because of an early deficit. This game was knotted at halftime, and stood at 14-7 at the end of the third quarter.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

Here's all you need to know about the 2012 Sun Bowl, a game that will be significant not for the fact that Georgia Tech won it, but for the fact that USC so completely imploded in El Paso: Georgia Tech – yes, the same team that allowed fewer than 17 points to exactly ONE FBS OPPONENT in a 6-7 regular season – decided to punt on fourth and one in PLUS-TERRITORY against USC. Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jacket head coach who is noted for being a fourth-down risk taker, used a timeout to mull over a "go or punt" decision. He came out of that timeout saying to himself, "Well, I guess our best move right now is to trust our defense and give the ball back to USC."

What's really scary is that the decision worked perfectly.

Absorb the enormity of that reality: Georgia Tech, playing a mediocre offensive game, was still able to easily (yes, easily) subdue USC by dint of its defensive prowess. The Yellow Jackets were able to comfortably defeat the Trojans by relying on a conservative approach. This, against the preseason No. 1 team in the land. This, for a team that, at 6-7, needed a bowl waiver to make the Sun Bowl. This, for a team that conceded 49 points to Middle Tennessee (which was outrageously passed over for a bowl bid despite an 8-4 record).

The fact that USC is the first preseason No. 1 in the history of the Associated Press poll (in other words, since 1950) to lose six games is shattering enough in its own right. Yet, the fact that Georgia Tech – a terrible defensive team – disrespected USC's offense and THRIVED because of it is an even bigger indictment of where USC stands.

It still doesn't seem likely that USC Athletic Director Pat Haden would fire Lane Kiffin, but after a game like this, the notion that he could pull the trigger doesn't seem so far-fetched. On the merits, such a move would be reasonable. If USC can reel in a superstar, it should pounce. However, if Haden can't convince a five-star, all-world coach to come to Los Angeles, he should be prepared to eat the 2013 season, line up a deal, plan the transition, and act in late November so that the Trojans can start fresh under a new boss yet get a head start on recruiting at the same time.

All in all, though, the same malaise that has set in at Texas with Mack Brown also exists at USC with Kiffin. Sure, Brown is a far more accomplished coach, while Kiffin has no real accomplishments to speak of. Yet, Texas and USC find themselves in equivalent situations in this respect: It does not seem that the current head coach is in position to generate the turnaround each program needs… and deserves… and should expect of itself.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

While it seems easy to say that USC simply didn't show up for this game, give credit to Georgia Tech for sticking with what it does best. The Yellow Jackets simply out-executed a more talented Trojan team in all aspects of the game.

Today's win ought to squash any rumors about Paul Johnson's future in the Flats. After all, Tech played in the conference championship game, and capped off the season with a bowl win. That constitutes a successful season - regardless of the team's final record.

After gashing a USC defense loaded with future NFL players for 289 yards on the ground, it's safe to say that Johnson's option attack is no longer a gimmick.

Interim DC Charles Kelly should remain as the team's permanent defensive boss. The Tech defense played much better over the second half of the season, and held USC to a season-low 208 yards of total offense. It's hard to argue with those results.

It was nice to see Tevin Washington go out on a winning note. As the starting QB, Washington received the brunt of the criticism for Tech's struggles this season, and lost his job as the full-time starter late in the season. Rather than sulk about his demotion, he made the most of the snaps that he received, guiding the Jackets two TD drives today.

I don't care what Pat Haden said publicly, Lane Kiffin's job isn't safe. Despite having one of the most talented rosters in the country, USC dropped five of its final six contests. At every elite program not named Texas, that type of performance leads straight to the unemployment line.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn

And just like that, teams with losing records in bowl games are off the schneid. Thanks, Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets joined 2011 UCLA and 2001 North Texas as the only teams to limp into bowl season with more losses than wins. Sigh. College football in the BCS era.

But give the Jackets credit. A month ago, everyone was aghast that a 6-6 football team would get a chance to play for a BCS bid, and they certainly gave Florida State some chase. Then they came to the Sun Bowl with a completely disinterested dance partner in USC, and belted them accordingly. USC had the look of your wife when you tell her to get dressed, “I’m taking you out for a nice dinner, just you and me” and you pull into the White Castle parking lot.

Max Wittek was pure awful, and it seemed that his fellow all-world wide receivers in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods were frustrated at times. The game plan should have been fairly simple...get the ball to open space to those two guys...but it never materialized.

Typically, the rub on playing the triple option is that it’s hell to prepare against, but with time to look it over, it’s more tepid bath water than raging ocean. Paul Johnson’s tenure in Atlanta bears this out, as they lost their previous four bowl games under his system.

But the old adage is infallible, that sports is 90 percent above the shoulders, 10 percent everything else. Southern Cal clearly didn’t want to be there (hey, at least they showed up to the game on time) and it showed.

Sanctions, unfair ones if you ask me, clearly put them in a bit of a bind depth wise. It hurts more in the trenches than showing itself with skill players, but that’s all anyone wants to talk about.

But to let a Georgia Tech defense harass them so much? A defense who gave up less than 10 points only to Presbyterian this season? A defense ranked statistically near the back end of the nation? It’s more than just scheme right there.

Meanwhile, this is a fantastic springboard win for the Yellow Jackets as they move forward. Tevin Washington won’t be back, but David Sims, who came on nicely near the end of the year will, and Vad Lee has a little more promise throwing the ball, something they could use going forward. But remember this game the next time you go into anything thinking there’s no way you can lose. If there is complacency upstairs, there’s no way you can win.