#TGW: Miami in Rearview Mirror, All Eyes on Wake

Oct. 18, 2017

Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

It will be another day or so before the playing status of a couple of key Yellow Jackets is known for Saturday night’s homecoming game against Wake Forest but it’s not too early to wonder as well about Georgia Tech’s state of mind.

Much like B-back KirVonte Benson, linebacker Brant Mitchell and place kicker Shawn Davis, who all left last Saturday’s game versus Miami (Fla.) due to injuries, the Jackets are all undergoing treatment.

Days removed from a difficult 25-24 loss to 11th-ranked Miami, where the Hurricanes took their only lead of the game on a field goal with four seconds remaining, Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1 ACC) is preparing for Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2 ACC), both between the lines and between the ears.

The game is not all about X’s and O’s or Jimmies and Joes; sometimes, thought process matters as much as anything. With counsel coming from head coach Paul Johnson, quarterback TaQuon Marshall said, “We’re just going to have to flush that one and get ready for Wake. They’re 4-2, just coming off a bye week.”

Keep it simple, keep it current, be where your feet are . . . these are the plans.

Johnson told his players, “You’ve still got most of the goals in front of you and you don’t control them, but as I told them, this is my 10th year and I think there’s been [three years] that somebody went undefeated in the Coastal [Division] and won it with an 8-0 record.

“Who knows what’s going to happen? You win the rest of your games and Virginia Tech beats Miami, or Virginia beats Miami, or two teams beat Miami and all of the sudden . . . We’ve won the division with a 5-3 record before, so you don’t know. You just keep playing.”

Tech has led or been tied in 279:17 of a possible 300 minutes of regulation in five games (including all but four seconds after halftime), yet stands at 3-2 and outside of the national rankings after a season-opening 42-41 double-overtime loss to Tennessee and Saturday’s game in the rain in South Florida.

Does that lead to players feeling angry or bitter that their team is two plays away from being undefeated (and there were a few unusual plays in each loss that could be chosen as the swing plays)?

Or does the fact that the Jackets have come so close to being undefeated serve as proof that Tech is a really good team and serve as incentive for the rest of the season?

“I think they’re both equally attachable,” said sophomore left guard Parker Braun. “Obviously, we’re frustrated that we lost in the ways we did but, at the same time, we did compete well with two Top 25 teams . . . So we look forward to seeing what we can do in the future when we play another ranked opponent.

“I think [Johnson] feels the same dichotomy of frustration and hopefulness for the rest of the year.”

It’s past time to look into the past.

Wake Forest is good.

Quarterback John Wolford has been impressive, completing 63.2 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and one interception while rushing for 332 yards and four touchdowns.

The Demon Deacons gave Florida State all kinds of grief before losing, 26-19, and played defending ACC and national champion Clemson tough in a 28-14 loss in Death Valley.

“We’ve got to just flush the Miami loss . . . continue to stay positive,” said A-back Clinton Lynch. “Just got to block it out of your mind and have tunnel vision like Coach Johnson said. Just continue to know why you’re here.

“You’re not here for just one game; it’s a whole season. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

Fellow A-back Qua Searcy feels the same way.

“I definitely feel like everyone has a chip on their shoulder, and you’ve just got to build on what we did last week and focus on us . . . ” he said. “I feel like everyone’s letting the past be the past.”

Braun’s hopeful that fans will embrace Tech’s first Saturday night home game in two years. The last one, in 2015, went well. The Jackets beat Florida State in the famous “Miracle on Techwood Drive” game.

“Hopefully,” Braun said, “our fans will be out there and we’ll get a full stadium.”

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