Reflections Following Week 11 vs. NC State
The dust has settled on Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium, with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-8, 2-6) holding off a furious comeback by the North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-7, 1-6) and coming out of top with a 28-26 win. There was plenty to take away from this game moving forward, especially since the Yellow Jackets were coming off a historic blowout loss the week prior. In my opinion, Tech put together a complete game for the first time since winning at Miami.
"Start fast and strike first"
Heading into this week, the odd were stacked against Georgia Tech. Not only were they coming off a game in which they were shut out for the first time in 12 years, but they were also heading into a short week. Throwing in the fact that they were sitting at 2-8 on the season prior to their matchup with the Wolfpack, most teams could have very easily not put their best foot forward given the circumstances.
But this team was not one of those. They were not lethargic or uninterested coming out of the gates, and instead came out attacking. James Graham helped orchestrate an offense that put up 185 total yards of offense in the first quarter alone, and 21 first half points for only the third time all season.
“We asked them to start fast and strike first, they did that," head coach Geoff Collins said. Having this kind of mindset despite having all the odds stacked against you is a great sign not only heading into to the game against Georgia, but moving forward as a program.
Bend But Not Break
Football is a game of attrition, where players on both sides of the ball tend to wear down as the physicality of the game progressively takes its toll. Georgia Tech has been no exception to this, with rampant injuries also playing a factor. As a result, many players who would normally still remain on the practice squad at this point in the season have been forced to see meaningful playing time.
Given this situation, even with their lack of true offensive playmakers, NC State could have very easily forced their will onto the Georgia Tech defense and make big play after big play. For the most part, this was actually not the case. Out of the 80 plays that NC State ran, only 15 of them went for 10 or more yards (18.75%) and 10 of them went for 15 of more (12.5%). Even on the Wolfpack drives that ended in points, all but one of them involved a double digit amount of plays. While Tech's defense will have their hands full with Georgia's offense next week, it's nice to see that the defensive players who have stepped up have a resilient mindset.
Return of Offensive Rhythm
Tech has gone up against some solid defenses this season, such as Clemson, Miami, Pitt and Virginia. While in the grand scheme of their season NC State was nothing to write home about, it was still good to see the offense get back on track after looking so flat the week prior.
"Dave Patenaude and our entire offensive staff deserve a lot of credit for the plan that they put together on a short week,' Coach Collins said."The way they had our guys prepared and locked in, hats off to our players to [be able to] learn it, apply it on a short week and then be able to go and execute it.”
James Graham's progress as a passer was certainly on display, as he set a career high in passing touchdowns with 3. Jordan Mason seemingly returned to form with a career-tying 141 yards on the ground. Ahmarean Brown continued to do Ahmarean Brown things and beat his man in a foot race, tying Megatron's freshman receiving touchdown record in the process. Malachi Carter also had himself a day, setting a career mark with 74 receiving yards.
Even after putting up 21 points in the first half, Tech marched right out of the locker room and drove down the field for another touchdown on their first drive of the second half. If the offense can continue to mesh together and feed off each other like they did last night, then the offense very well could hold their own against the Bulldogs and into 2020.
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