Nov. 16, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
– It’s just a little tricky trying to understand how Georgia Tech can still make it to the ACC Championship Game, but this part is easy: beat Duke today.
That would wrap up the Yellow Jackets’ ACC schedule with a 5-3 mark.
Today’s game is about winning to become bowl eligible, remain in the ACC hunt and honoring 12 seniors who will play their final game in Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3 ACC) will have a say in matters. They play host to Miami next week and should they win out, they’ll go to their first ACC title game.
So, there’s that. And, oh, the weather is supposed to be perfect.
“We haven’t played particularly well at home since the Virginia game early in the year. It’s our last chance, senior day, and there’s a lot at stake for both teams, so it should be a great afternoon,” said head coach Paul Johnson.
It’s been a wavy season for the Jackets. They drew a low card when the ACC jiggered the schedule and sent them to Virginia Tech to open the season on a Monday night, and the Jackets wound up playing three ACC games by September 22. Then came a trip to Clemson two weeks later.
Standing 1-3 in league play at that point, the Jackets were in sad shape.
They’ve won three of four games since, all of them ACC contests, and have benefited from playing the two bottom dwellers in the Coastal division – Boston College and Maryland.
So maybe that’s all evened out.
There’s clearly a transition in progress at quarterback. Senior Tevin Washington will start again today, and his next rushing touchdown will break his school and ACC record of 35 rushing scores in a career by a quarterback.
Redshirt freshman Vad Lee will play again, too, probably by the third series of the game. Who plays after that will be determined by Johnson and the effectiveness of each QB. Washington & Lee will ride again.
“He has some ability in that sometimes when he misses a read, he can follow it and still turn it into a positive play,” Johnson said of Lee. “The more he plays, the better he is going to get.”
Johnson has on a few occasions said that Lee brings energy.
The Jackets have played with more of it in recent weeks, or roughly since their head coach busted their chops for moping around on the sideline on game days.
That alone does not explain Tech’s increased intensity.
“I don’t know. Clearly, something happened. It has for the last two games,” Johnson said. “We’ll see if it can continue … you never know what it is. It may not be anything I said or did, it could be something someone else said or did, you just don’t know.
“If you knew you’d never have a problem; it’d be that way all the time.”
Say farewell to seniors.
“Any time you spend four or five years coaching guys you become close to them,” Johnson said. “In this group, a lot of them have graduated already . . . it’s kind of a bittersweet deal.”
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