Sept. 11, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Not long Saturday night after Georgia Tech finished treating Middle Tennessee State the same ways the Grim Reaper treats all species, by heaping miseries both sudden and slow upon a victim, David Sims was awash in the joy of winning a “Jam Game.”
Some time before that, perhaps when the Yellow Jackets took a 42-7 lead on the way to their 49-21 win, a certain blogger employed by ESPN.com might have passed out. A few days earlier, she had predicted on-line that Tech would come home from Middle Tennessee State with a loss.
At that, some Jackets fans nearly seized, upchucking on keyboards far and wide.
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Tech jammed it up the pessimists’ wrong ends – big time.
“We were aware [of being picked by some as one of college football’s most likely upset victims this week]. Coach [Paul Johnson] mentioned it, and I’m always on the computer so I saw it a few days ago,” Sims said after rushing 12 times for 91 yards. “It lit a fire.”
Indeed, the Jackets torched MTSU.
For proof that a quick-strike passing game unveiled last week and to start Saturday’s game was not a fluke, Washington hit Stephen Hill for a 71-yard touchdown on the first play of the Jackets’ third possession. Then in the interest of maintaining balance, Tech went 90 yards on seven plays for a 28-0 lead.
Tech didn’t crush MTSU because a silly blogger picked the Jackets to lose. The Jackets went on the road and trounced a team that nearly won at Purdue a week earlier because Johnson’s team is a lot better this season than last.
For the first time since 2000, Tech has amassed more than 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games. The Jackets had 596 yards Saturday.
Tech’s offense is purring , helped last night by losing just one turnover.
It was a somewhat awkward situation to be in, playing a non-BCS team at their place, but probably not as uncomfortable as what Virginia Tech went through. The Hokies needed a late score to win at East Carolina.
The Jackets encountered drama of different sorts, stopping Friday on the drive north to eat BBQ and feed livestock by hand. Post-game interviews were done Saturday near buses that would take the team to the airport (they drove up and flew back).
Speaking of interviews and media matters, forget nonsense you hear or read about coaches and players ignoring what is said or written about them. I’ve been down that road many times only to have coaches whom I’ve covered rip me for something written about their team after they’d told me they don’t read or listen to any of it.
Half the time, I didn’t even write whatever hacked them off.
They know, and they care.
“Coach didn’t mention [ESPN.com] specifically, but he said a lot of people were expecting us to lose,” Sims said.
Graduate student defensive end Jason Peters concurred, but didn’t spend as much time as his younger teammate dwelling on the fuss. That’s seniority for you.
“We were aware that people were doubting us in this game,” Peters said. “That’s one thing that our coaches focused on: don’t get focused [on what others are saying or writing about the Jackets] . . . because talking has never won a game.
“I think the biggest thing for us is that we improved since last week, we didn’t make the silly errors. We still have a lot to improve on, though.”
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