Dec. 7, 2009
by Simit Shah, Associate Editor
OSR Sting EXTRA
TAMPA — You can’t blame Scott Blair for being a bit uncomfortable.
Here he was, sitting with Paul Johnson on his right and Jonathan Dwyer and Derrick Morgan to his left on the dais as the media fired questions to the ACC champions following their dramatic 39-34 victory Saturday night over Clemson.
While his teammates were in uniform and his coach wore a Gatorade-soaked shirt, Blair sat in a Georgia Tech polo looking more like a shell-shocked sweepstakes winner than an Orange Bowl-bound conference champion.
When a question was finally directed at him, he stumbled and couldn’t quite find the words, showing his relative inexperience at being the center of attention.
He finally mustered, “It was a big game. I had a good day. I don’t know. We did a good job.” That of course drew laughter from everyone in the room, prompting Johnson to quip, “He doesn’t know how to act. I wasn’t yelling at him.”
Though joking, Johnson was certainly alluding to the roller coaster career that Blair has had in a Tech uniform. The junior came into the game with a relatively pedestrian 10-of-15 success rate this season after connecting on only 12 of 19 attempts last season while also handling punting duties.
But for whatever reason, the Calhoun native is a force when the Jackets face Clemson. In their meeting earlier this season, Blair had the game of his life, converting three field goals (including the game-winner with 57 seconds left) and executing a 34-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal.
However, he missed four of his next 10 field goal attempts the remainder of the regular season, drawing the ire of both his head coach and the Tech fan base. Given that track record, the expectations coming into Saturday evening weren’t high.
After Clemson scored a touchdown on its opening possession, the Jackets lined up for a 48-yard attempt after their subsequent drive stalled. With a career long of 45 yards, not many in the stadium or in front of their TV sets expected Blair to connect.
But he did. And then he drilled a 49-yarder in the second quarter. A 28-yarder to close the first half followed, and then a 40-yarder late in the third quarter sealed his perfect day.
“It was awesome,” said A-back Roddy Jones. “He won us the first Clemson game with the field goal at the end, so for him to have the career long (field goals) was exciting. I think it was a huge confidence boost for him, because he has had an up and down year.”