Saturday Morning Quarterback

Nov. 5, 2010

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

– I don’t have a lot more to say about Thursday night’s game beyond what I wrote that night, but I’m hoping you all have thoughts. Maybe we can make a Sting Daily story of sorts out of your musings for Sunday. See below.

It seems worth mentioning that while early reads on Georgia Tech message boards suggest that quite a few fans feel the Yellow Jackets may throw the ball more with Tevin Washington presumably at quarterback next Saturday against Miami, I’m not so sure.

Thursday night’s sample size (Washington completed 2 of 7 passes for 80 yards and a pick with one drop of a fairly long pass) was not large enough to make that leap. Seven passes in a half is a lot for Tech, but the Jackets were trying to rally late in the game and had to throw.

Plus, head coach Paul Johnson is not wired that way. Tech runs the ball. The Yellow Jackets ran the ball well at Virginia Tech, rushing 51 times for 346 yards and three touchdowns against a good defense.

Virginia Tech could not slow the Jackets at the beginning or the end; it was the middle that was problematic.

Georgia Tech rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on its first two possessions, and amassed 144 yards, a touchdown and an end zone interception on its two final possessions. On the seven other drives, the Jackets moved 109 yards (totals don’t add up to the total offense of 426 yards because of penalties).

Georgia Tech did not convert a third down in the second or third quarters. The Jackets converted both third downs in the first quarter, and was 3 for 5 in the fourth.

More ideas are percolating after all. Scatter shooting . . .

# Man, what a miserable deal for Joshua Nesbitt. I don’t know if it was irony or what that he broke his arm while trying to tackle Davon Morgan after the interception (which Nesbitt should’ve burned into the turf or thrown away). Minutes earlier, Nesbitt trucked Morgan on a run much like Jonathan Dwyer steam-rolled that Virginia DB last season.

Nesbitt is now the all-time leading rusher among ACC quarterbacks. Congratulations, Josh.

I have a strong hunch we’ll see you again, and maybe even before Tech’s bowl – if the Jackets go to one. Just a hunch; no inside information.

# As damaging as Nesbitt’s injury was, the Jackets were also hurt badly there by not seizing the opportunity shortly before halftime to take a two-score lead (it was 14-7 at the time, and stayed that way into intermission and through the third quarter).

# The only call that was questionable in my view (not debating whether the right play was called on each and every snap here), was Georgia Tech’s only failed fourth-down try. A Richard Watson run was stuffed late in the third quarter, with the Jackets at Virginia Tech’s 45-yard-line.

Georgia Tech was leading 14-7 at the time, the defense was playing largely lights out, and a decent punt pins the Hokies inside their 20, maybe worse.

Moments later, Virginia Tech converted on fourth-and-3, Georgia Tech was then called for a dubious pass interference penalty, and the Hokies soon tied the game on a 15-yard run by David Wilson.

# Wilson is very, very fast. Holy cow fast. Enough said.

# The perimeter blocking – and all blocking, for that matter – appeared to be as good or better than in any game this season (not even taking into consideration the South Carolina State game).

# Al Groh did a very, very nice job mixing up defensive calls, and his use of the “Mush rush” at times did quite well to contain VT quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who by the way is pretty darned good. I think Taylor had 11 seconds to throw during goal-to-go late in the first half, when the Jackets dropped eight defenders into coverage, and kept three up front to form a sort of fence that would make running difficult. Taylor threw an end zone interception to Rod Sweeting, who for some reason ran it out.

# Other than Wilson’s 90-yard kickoff return for the game winner, Georgia Tech won special teams. Embry Peeples’ 46-yard kickoff return to begin the game was the Jackets’ longest of the season. Sean Poole averaged 40-plus on his punts. Virginia Tech totaled 6 yards on two punt returns, and Julian Burnett forced a VT fumble on another punt, which the Jackets recovered.

Scott Blair did send one kickoff out of bounds, but on VT’s two non-TD kickoff returns, the Hokies averaged a modest 16 yards.

Alas, Wilson’s 90-yarder counted. Kickoff coverage was, entering the game, Georgia Tech’s top special teams performer. On that one, a gap opened to Wilson’s left, he shot through it as if fired out of a cannon, and Blair’s valiant attempt to tackle him was not enough.

# Burnett (13 combined tackles and assists), former Virginia Tech safety Mario Edwards (10) and safety Jerrard Tarrant (11) were everywhere on defense. Jason Peters may have played his best game. Jeremiah Attaochu is going to be a load in the near future.

# Washington’s poise grew as he played more. I can’t imagine there will be any real question as to whether he starts against the Hurricanes as opposed to David Sims, although I can envision Sims playing some.

# If the Jackets had played all season with the heart and passion they played with in Blacksburg, they would not be 5-4. They’d be 7-2 at worst.

Let me know whether you think I’m crazy, dead on, or somewhere in the middle. Send your protestations or adulation to stingdaily@gmail.com and if we get enough fodder, we’ll put something together for Sunday’s edition.

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