CFN Take: Georgia Tech Runs Wild In ACC Loss

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 6, 2014


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2014 ... Head Coach: Paul Johnson

2014 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2014 Schedule
Record: 10-3

Aug. 30 Wofford W 38-19
Sep. 6 at Tulane  W 38-21
Sep. 13 Ga Southern W 42-38
Sep. 20 at Virginia Tech W 27-24
Sep. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Miami W 24-17
Oct. 11 Duke L 31-25
Oct. 18 at North Carolina L 48-43
Oct. 25 at Pitt W 56-28
Nov. 1 Virginia W 35-10
Nov. 8 at NC State W 56-23
Nov. 15 Clemson W 28-6
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 29 at Georgia W 30-24 OT
ACC Championship
Dec. 6 Florida State 37-35
Dec. 6 ACC Championship
Florida State 37, Georgia Tech 35

And You Care Because … In a fun back-and-forth game, Florida State took the lead in the second half on three Roberto Aguayo field goals for a 37-28 lead, but the offense couldn’t put the game away. Georgia Tech rallied with a 97-yard drive and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller, but couldn’t recover the onside kick. Rashad Greene caught two second quarter touchdown passes for the Seminoles from 44 and nine yards out, but Georgia Tech’s running game kept rolling with Synjn Smith running for three one-yard scores. Nick O’Leary caught a 46-yard touchdown pass for the Noles.
What Else? Florida State QB Jameis Winston completed 21-of-30 passes for 309 yards and three scores
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 8-of-14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and ran 11 times for a team-high 104 yards
- Florida State RB Dalvin Cook ran 31 times for 177 yards and a touchdown, and Rashad Greene caught seven passes for 123 yards and two scores
- Time of possession: Georgia Tech 34:55 – Florida State 25:05
Game Rating: A-

Nov. 29 Georgia Tech 30, at Georgia 24 OT
And You Care Because … Georgia Tech forced overtime on a 53-yard bomb of a field goal from Harrison Butker as time ran out, and Zach Laskey came up with a two-yard touchdown run in the extra frame for the lead. However, the extra point was blocked, giving Georgia the chance for the win, but Hutson Mason was intercepted and the Yellow Jackets came away with the win. The two teams traded scores all game long, but Georgia helped the cause with two early fumbles inside the five. Georgia Tech returned the favor, losing a fumble returned by Damian Swann for a 99-yard score, but the offense answered with a four-yard Laskey scoring run – he ran for three on the day. Georgia took the lead late on a three-yard Malcolm Mitchell catch with 18 seconds to play, but the Yellow Jackets were able to get 21 yards in three plays to set up Butker’s kick.
What Else? Georgia Tech RB Zach Laskey ran 26 times for 140 yards and three scores
- Georgia LBs Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera each made 19 tackles
- Time of possession: Georgia Tech 36:23 – Georgia 23:37
- Georgia RB Nick Chubb ran 25 times for 129 yards and a score
Game Rating: A

Nov. 15 at Georgia Tech 28, Clemson 6
And You Care Because … Clemson lost QB Deshaun Watson to a knee injury, and the Georgia Tech defense took advantage picking off Cole Stoudt three times with Jamal Golden returning one interception 85 yards for a first quarter touchdown, and Chris Milton took one 62 yards for a score late in the third. Harrison Butker added field goals from 25, 32 and 41 yards out, and DeAndre Smelter caught a five-yard touchdown pass as the Yellow Jackets rolled. Clemson’s offense could only manage two Ammon Lakip field goals.
What Else? Clemson QB Deshaun Watson completed 5-of-7 passes for 27 yards and ran seven time for 40 yards. Cole Stoudt completed 3-of-11 passes for 19 yards and three interceptions, and ran three times for 11 yards
- Total yards: Georgia Tech 353 – Clemson 190
- Time of possession: Georgia Tech 35:08 – Clemson 24:52
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 8-of-11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, and ran 11 times for 46 yards
Game Rating: D+

Nov. 8 Georgia Tech 56, at NC State 23
And You Care Because … The Georgia Tech offense ran wild controlling the game after getting down 13-7 after NC State came up with a 15-yard Jacoby Brissett touchdown run and a 17-yard Matt Dayes dash. Helped by three takeaways from the NC State defense – including a 38-yard pick six from D.J. White and a 43-yard Quayshawn Nealy fumble return for a touchdown in the second quarter – the Yellow Jackets pulled away. Tim Byerly ran for two short touchdown runs and threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Antonio Messick, and Synjyn Days ran for a 53-yard touchdown as part of a 49-10 Tech scoring run.
What Else? Rushing yards: Georgia Tech 479 – NC State 155
- Georgia Tech QBs Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly combined to completed 7-of-8 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown and ran 19 times for 147 yards and three scores
- NC State QB Jacoby Brissett completed 18-of-35 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran nine times for team-leading 77 yards and a touchdown
- Third down conversions: Georgia Tech 8-of-10 – NC State 6-of-12
Game Rating: C+

Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 10
And You Care Because … The Georgia Tech running game controlled the game, but it was the passing of Justin Thomas that put it away with three touchdown passes starting with an 18-yard touchdown catch to DeAndre Smelter for a 14-0 lead and all the points they would need. Synjyn Davis took over in the second half for the Yellow Jackets with touchdowns from four and 17 yards for 14 unanswered points. Virginia’s offense didn’t get too many chances, coming up with its only touchdown on a 13-yard Zachary Swanson catch in the first.
What Else? Time of possession: Georgia Tech 38:55 – Virginia 21:05
- Georgia Tech RB Synjyn Davis ran 24 times for 147 yards and a score
- Virginia ran 16 times for 22 yards
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 7-of-13 passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, and ran 13 times for four yards
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 25 Georgia Tech 56, at Pitt 28
And You Care Because … Pitt lost five fumbles in the first quarter, six in all, and Georgia Tech took advantage on the way to a 28-0 lead with Justin Thomas running for a 14-yard score and finding Charles Perkins for a 79-yard touchdown pass, and Broderick Snoddy scoring from four and 34 yards out. Pitt started to come back in the second with two short touchdown runs, but Snoddy was at it again in the second half with a 28-yard scoring dash. Conner added a third score on a 16-yard run, and Isaac Bennett caught a 35-yard scoring pass, but it was all Georgia Tech in the fourth as Tony Zenon ripped off a 57-yard touchdown run and Deon Hill and Matt Connors each running for scores.
What Else? Turnovers: Pitt 6 – Georgia Tech 1
- Rushing yards: Georgia Tech 465 – Pitt 198
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 5-of-10 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, and ran 15 times for 92 yards and a score
- Pitt RB James Conner ran ten times for 120 yards and three scores
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 18 at North Carolina 48, Georgia Tech 43
And You Care Because … T.J. Logan ran for a two-yard touchdown with 11 seconds to play to overcome a late Georgia Tech charge to pull off the wild win. Marquise Williams threw four touchdown passes and ran for a 13-yard touchdown, but Georgia Tech’s offense cranked it up in the fourth quarter with DeAndre Smelter taking a pass 46 yards for a touchdown and running 75 yards for a score to go along with a 14-yard Zach Laskey touchdown run for a 43-42 lead, but the defense couldn’t hold on as Williams drove the Tar Heels 75 yards in 12 plays for the win.
What Else? Total yards: Georgia Tech 611 – North Carolina 579
- North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 38-of-47 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, and ran 16 times for 73 yards and a touchdown
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 8-of-18 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 15 times for 36 yards
- North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer caught nine passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: A

Oct. 11 Duke 31, at Georgia Tech 25
And You Care Because … Duke tow two short touchdown runs from Thomas Sirk and a four-yard scoring dash from Josh Snead on the way to a 31-12 lead, but Georgia Tech fought its way back with two scoring runs from Tim Byerly to make it a six-point game late. Duke recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to close out a sloppy day from the Yellow Jackets, who turned it over three times and committed eight penalties.
What Else? Duke RB Anthony Boone ran 14 times for 102 yards and a touchdown
- Georgia Tech QB Tim Byerly completed 7-of-10 passes for 125 yards, and ran six times for 30 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Thomas suffered an injured ankle, but completed 6-of-15 passes for 61 yards and two interceptions, and ran 15 times for a team-high 119 yards
- Rushing yards: Georgia Tech 282 – Duke 250
- Third down conversions: Georgia Tech 7-of-11 – Duke 6-of 13
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 4 at Georgia Tech 28, Miami 17
And You Care Because … Georgia Tech got short touchdown runs from Justin Thomas, Tony Zenon, B.J. Bostic and Deon Hill, with the eight-yard run from Hill putting the game away. Miami almost never had the ball, and couldn’t do much after taking a 14-7 lead on a 24-yard touchdown run from Duke Johnson – the Canes only managed a Michael Badgley field goal the rest of the way.
What Else? Time of possession: Georgia Tech 40:45 – Miami 19:15
- Georgia Tech RB Zach Laskey ran 29 times for 133 yards
- Miami RB Duke Johnson ran 14 times for 100 yards and a score
- Miami QB Brad Kaaya completed 16-of-25 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 20 Georgia Tech 27, at Virginia Tech 24
And You Care Because … Georgia Tech rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a last-second Harrison Butker field goal. The Hokies went ahead with eight minutes left in the final quarter on a fluky Michael Brewer touchdown run, but the Yellow Jackets tied it on a Justin Thomas to DeAndre Smelter touchdown pass six minutes later. Butker’s game-winning kick was set up by the third of Brewer’s three interceptions on the day.
What Else? Brewer struggled for the second straight week, raising concerns about his ability to lead the Hokie offense. He was 28-of-39 for 297 yards, but had no touchdown passes to offset those three costly interceptions.
- Yellow Jacket QB Justin Thomas, on the other hand, continues to evolve as the leader of the offense in Atlanta. He not only rushed for 165 yards and a score, but also threw for 125 yards and the game-tying touchdowns to Smelter.
- LB Chase Williams was a monster on defense for the Hokies. He had a game-high 17 tackles, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and a couple of quarterback hurries.
- Rookie Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford was again one of the bright spots in a loss. In just his first year out of high school, he continued to school older defensive backs, catching eight passes for 114 yards.
Game Rating: A

Sept. 13 Georgia Tech 42, Georgia Southern 38
And You Care Because … The Yellow Jackets blew a 35-10 halftime lead, but rallied for the win on a Justin Thomas to Deon Hill touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in the game. The teams, which run a similar style of offense, combined for more than 600 yards on the ground. It was a must-win for oft-criticized Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who could ill-afford a loss at home to a Sun Belt team.
What Else? Thomas was not the problem on this day. He led the Yellow Jackets with 137 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while adding an un-Tech-like four touchdown passes.
- The Georgia Tech defense was a disaster in the second half, but credit Eagle QB Kevin Ellison with the rally. He not only rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown, but also completed 7-of-10 for 164 yards and a touchdown operating Willie Fritz’s new spread attack.
- Coordinator Ted Roof must fix a defense that got whipped at the point of attack over the final 30 minutes. The Yellow Jackets’ tackling and instincts were awful today.
- Georgia Southern needs to get the ball in the hands of sophomore RB Matt Breida more often. He’s averaging almost 10 yards a carry this season, including 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 11 touches Saturday.
Game Rating: A

Sept. 6 Georgia Tech 38, at Tulane 21
And You Care Because … Down 21-14 in the second quarter, Georgia Tech scored 24 unanswered points with Tony Zenon running for two scores and Tim Byerly adding another. Mistakes killed Tulane with three turnovers – with a pick six - and ten penalties, but the offense was successful early with two Tanner Lee touchdown passes including a 61-yarder to Xavier Rush. The Yellow Jackets ran for 344 yards and converted 10-of-12 third down plays.
Game Rating: C+

Aug. 30 at Georgia Tech 38, Wofford 19
And You Care Because … It took a little while to warm up, but Georgia Tech overcame a 9-7 deficit and a dogfight deep into the fourth quarter with touchdown runs from Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days in the final nine minutes to put the game away. Georgia Tech got two touchdown passes from Justin Thomas to DeAndre Smelter including a 72-yarder, but Wofford’s ground game gave the Yellow Jackets a taste of their own medicine, staying alive with 271 yards and two scores highlighted by a 92-yard Ray Smith scoring dash.
What Else? Georgia Tech used the game to tune up its passing game. Justin Thomas led the team with 71 yards on 13 carries, but he was at his best through the air completing 11-of-15 passes for 282 yards and two scores. Smeltzer caught five passes for 132 yards and two scores.
- Wofford couldn’t do anything in the backfield all game long, finishing with one tackle for loss. Georgia Tech came up with six.
- The big plays on the ground weren’t there. Tech averaged 5.3 yards per pop, but had a hard time busting loose.
- Average yards per pass: Georgia Tech 17.6 – Wofford 4.2.
Game Rating: B

2014 Preview 

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the Yellow Jackets just might have peaked after all in 2009.

Georgia Tech won 11 games and the Atlantic Coast Conference five years ago, helping make head coach Paul Johnson the toast of Atlanta for a brief time. Since then, the school has gone 23-25 versus FBS opponents, making Johnson’s seat, well, toasty. The Jackets are clearly stuck in neutral, with no end to the mediocrity in plain sight. In a decision that was both symbolic and immediately impactful to the current squad, starting QB Vad Lee voluntarily decided in January that his career would benefit from a transfer to FCS James Madison.

The buzz has naturally died down at Georgia Tech. And the losing streak to rival Georgia has reached five games. Maybe seven-win seasons that end at a second-rate bowl game is as good as it gets on the Flats. Hey, the Yellow Jackets have won 10 games just three times over the last half-century, so it’s not as if this is a perennial powerhouse that demands national respect and notoriety.

If Tech is going is going to flip its usual script, it doesn’t appear likely to happen this season. Lee’s successor at quarterback, Justin Thomas, has upside potential, yet he’s also young and green. Last season’s top two rushers were seniors, and both lines are being forced to replace three starters from a year ago. Undisputed stars, the kinds who can take over games, are scarce. In fact, an argument can be made that the program’s top performers are interior linemen, OG Shaquille Mason and NT Adam Gotsis.

Yellow Jacket fans have a nasty case of mediocrity fatigue, with Johnson and his 20th century offense falling squarely in their crosshairs. The coach, who’s signed through the 2016 season, is none too pleased either. He has a relatively new boss, second-year AD Mike Bobinski, and a personal quest to ratchet up the sense of urgency within the program.

Georgia Tech has been to 17 consecutive bowl games. One of them, the 2010 Orange Bowl, was a marquee postseason event. That’s the Yellow Jackets in a nutshell, consistent almost to a fault. They’re pining to break through by nabbing a wide-open Coastal Division that’s available for any school that gets hot in October and November. The program—and its leader—need to buck the odds for the first time in five years.

What to look for on offense: QB insurance. Just because Justin Thomas is firmly entrenched as the starter behind center doesn’t mean Tim Byerly has put up the white flag. In fact, the Middle Tennessee transfer has narrowed the divide with his play in the offseason. Byerly, who head coach Paul Johnson admits should have been recruited by the Yellow Jackets three years ago, will earn a scholarship at Tech this summer. He capped a strong spring effort by displaying his toughness as a runner, along with his retention of the coach’s offense. At worst, Byerly will keep Thomas honest this summer.

What to look for on defense: A greater reliance on nickel packages. After using the nickel as a sub package in 2013, coordinator Ted Roof is contemplating making it his base defense. Translated? The Yellow Jacket would add an additional defensive back at the expense of a linebacker to combat offenses that go three-wide. No one would have been impacted by the shift more than LB Jabari Hunt-Days. He was pulled in 2013 when Tech employed the nickel, so the staff auditioned him at rush end in the spring. But Hunt-Days has been lost for the year to academics, potentially opening the door for early-enrollee KeShun Freeman.

The team will be much better if … it closes some of the holes in pass defense. The Yellow Jackets finished 12th in ACC pass defense a year ago, which must be rectified. If Tech is going to improve on last year’s porous results against the pass, it’ll have to do so without the services of starting cornerbacks Jemea Thomas and Louis Young. The safeties will be bolstered by the healthy return of Isaiah Johnson, while rising CB D.J. White played plenty in 2013. Still, depth needs to be built, and everyone has to do a better job of sealing off throwing lanes.

The Schedule: The schedule is perfect to gear it all up. The Yellow Jackets get three tune-ups, including a fun all-ground game battle against Georgia Southern, before kicking off the ACC schedule at Virginia Tech. There's no Florida State to face from the Atlantic, but Clemson is on the slate - at least that's at home. Considering Miami and Duke are at home, two of the toughest games are in Atlanta. There's a rough stretch of three road games in four weeks, starting out at North Carolina and with trips to Pitt and NC State to deal with. If the non-conference slate against Wofford, Tulane and Georgia Southern seems easy, the payoff comes at the end at Georgia - and that comes after dealing with Clemson.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OG Shaquille Mason. The Yellow Jackets have been home to a First Team All-ACC blocker in each of the last seven years. Mason is the latest honoree, picking up the nod following a breakout 2013 season. He’s a vital—and often overlooked—cog in Paul Johnson’s ground game, especially in a year when three starting offensive linemen must be replaced. Mason believes his best at Tech has yet to come after he played much of his junior season at less than full strength.

Best Defensive Player: Junior NT Adam Gotsis. Georgia Tech rose to No. 2 in ACC run defense last year, while yielding just 3.6 yards per carry. The presence of Gotsis in the middle of the line had a lot to do with the improvement. He’s a hard-working, agile interior lineman, with the quickness to blow up plays in the opposing backfield. And he’s a long way from reaching his ceiling. Gotsis is a native of Melbourne, Australia, who spent much of his youth playing sports other than American football.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Justin Thomas. Whether it’s called the triple-option or the flexbone, the offense’s success will be dictated by the play of the quarterback. In this case, Thomas, an electrifying athlete, with minimal experience to call upon. Paul Johnson’s system heaps considerable responsibility on the quarterback to dish and distribute like a point guard at McCamish Pavilion. When the passer isn’t making sound decisions, offensive success is next to impossible to achieve. Thomas has potential. Tech is hoping to witness it this fall.

The season will be a success if ... the Yellow Jackets win eight games for the first time since 2011. The best way for Georgia Tech to fight through the malaise is to get beyond the back-to-back seven-win seasons that have plagued the program of late. Florida State isn’t on the schedule, but Clemson is, and there are no free rides in the Coastal Division. At least the Jackets open with Wofford, Tulane and Georgia Southern, which should provide for a fast 3-0 start to 2014.

Key game: Nov. 29 at Georgia. You want to help your job security, Coach Johnson? Beat Georgia for the first time since 2008. Better yet, do it Between the Hedges. The Yellow Jackets need a reason to feel pride within the state borders. Winning this year’s edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate would be a decidedly important step in the right direction. Some pre-postseason momentum would do a heap of good for everyone on the Flats.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Georgia Tech 299.3 – Opponents 115.8
- Yards per catch: Georgia Tech 18.4 – Opponents 11.9
- Red-zone touchdown%: Georgia Tech 82% - Opponents 62%

- 2014 Georgia Tech Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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