Nov. 4, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
If you thought something looked different Saturday when Georgia Tech thumped Maryland, 33-13, you were right.
In short, the Jackets looked quite a bit like many expected them to before the season began. The Yellow Jackets played with greater purpose than in weeks, and from start to finish. That’s been a point of emphasis lately for head coach Paul Johnson and his staff.
Tech led 20-0 before the Terrapins registered a first down, and the defense allowed a modest 259 yards.
Tevin Washington scored a touchdown to move within one of the ACC career record for quarterbacks (35 by Josh Nesbitt), Vad Lee added two TDs, and 11 Jackets had at least one carry as Tech rushed for 370 yards against what had been the No. 4 rushing defense in the nation.
Most importantly, the Jackets moved to 3-3 in the ACC, and next will play two teams ahead of them in the Coastal division – at North Carolina and home against Duke. They’ve still got a shot.
“A number of times coach has said the [ACC] games that we’ve lost we’ve had a fourth quarter lead,” said Synjyn Days. “We’re 2-1 in the second half of our season, and trying to finish 5-1. Things will keep going up. We’ve got to finish.”
There is time to change opinions, and the Jackets took a big step in that direction at Maryland. They were more than the benefactors of a team playing an opponent without a real quarterback. They were almost a machine, and they finished their work.
The Jackets appeared to have more swagger, more juice, at Maryland. Senior A-back Orwin Smith said so. In his post-game TV interview, he said, “Right before the first quarter I saw guys really amping up.”
Two quarterbacks played for Tech, both of them well, and Days – a former quarterback – finally saw substantial playing time at his new position. He looked good at A-back, too.
Days was the Jackets’ second-leading rusher with 66 yards on six carries (Smith rushed for 89 yards and a score). He looked like he belonged, like he believed. He wasn’t alone.
Days has always been able to run the ball. Johnson has suggested, however, that he hasn’t seen more playing time because he hadn’t mastered the nuances of his new position, like blocking and carrying out fakes and so forth.
Apparently, he’s been more diligent about all of that. The Jackets all appeared more fastidious Saturday at Maryland.
“I feel like that’s why coach let me play more, and get the ball more,” Days said. “He saw my effort during practice, finishing blocks and plays.”
Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu had a career-high three sacks plus a fumble force/recovery and cornerback Louis Young added five tackles as they made their homecoming special. They’re both from metro Washington D.C. Inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy was all over the place, while racking up 12 combined tackles and assists.
Saturday was like a day that went as designed (other than when it came to PATs). It’s even possible that Tech fans were louder than Maryland fans. Watching on TV, it was impossible to miss the sound of, “Yellow . . . Jackets” in the second half.
It may have been mystifying for TV viewers watching on the ACC Network to see a pickup truck commercial that featured UGA LXVIII wearing a Georgia sweater, but that was nearly the only downside for the fan on the couch (other than the PATs).
“We came to Maryland, and this is the home of Louis and J [Attaochu],” Days said. “We wanted to send a message that Georgia Tech, despite our record, is a good team. We finished blocks on the perimeter with the A-backs. The coaches say just finish, finish, finish.”
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