Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seven Ways Georgia Tech Lost Their Seventh Straight Bowl Game

The late Andy Rooney had a quote once about opportunities; he said opportunities are never lost, someone will be there to take the ones you miss. That quote would sum up how Georgia Tech lost its seventh straight bowl and fourth straight under Paul Johnson. More on how Georgia Tech lost their seventh straight bowl game and fourth under Paul Johnson.

1. Stats usually win football games...
The Yellow Jackets out gained the Utes 449 to 337. Tech also out gained Utah on a per play basis by a yard (6.3 to 5.3). Sometimes turnovers are the great equalized to a decided statistical advantage. However, both teams ended the game with just one turnover and the Jackets even scored a TD off that Utah miscue. Everything in the offensive and defensive stats favored the Jackets, except the scoreboard.

2. Better players will equal more wins

Georgia Tech had no problem moving the ball against the Pac 12's best defense and seventh best run defense nationally. But it is a convenient point when another bowl loss hits the record. I happen to think Tech's offense is just fine and would be even better with better players regardless of opponent prep time.

Defense and special teams is what is holding Georgia Tech back right now from winning ACC Championships or beating UGA or winning bowl games, not a scheme or prep time.

3. Special Teams were not special (again)...
The Yellow Jackets netted just 37.4 yards per punt including essentially zero gained on the Utes final return setting up the tying touchdown. Lack of punt distance has been a problem all season.

Utah gained 20 yards more per kickoff return than Georgia Tech. If you add in two first downs for each of Utah's returns then the Utes had 20 first downs on the game to 19 for Tech. Now you start to see where the stats did not tell the whole story of this game.

The place kicking game was awful again. Three misses including a potential game winner at the end of regulation. With the defense and special teams' Georgia Tech has you simply cannot afford to lose that many opportunities. And on that last kick, I have no idea why coaches insist on not lining the ball in the middle of the field. How are 95% of kicks missed? Because they go left or right, not because they are short.

4. Play calling doomed offense late...
Paul Johnson's bread and butter is grinding out drives with third down conversions. Tech was cruising along at their season average until the fourth quarter when four straight misses gave Utah a chance.

For the game, the Jackets finished 8 for 18 on third downs, below their season and nationally leading average 55%. Now, maybe some of those late third down conversions could have been easier if Johnson didn't put the offense into a turtle shell simply trying to run out the clock.

5. Line of Scrimmage not strong enough...
I have talked about this before and will say it again: Georgia Tech is simply not strong or athletic enough to win consistently at the line of scrimmage. This is especially noticeable on defense, but the offensive line also got run over in the fourth quarter.

You can recruit bigger, stronger players or you can develop them. The limits placed on Tech's recruiting by the school hamper signing a bunch of big, strong athletes so the Jackets need to develop them. That is not being done right now and changes need to be made or the fourth quarter will be the status quo.

6. Vad Lee would not have won this game...
Neither would Synjyn Days. I have no idea what Tevin Washington did to piss off the Georgia Tech fan base, but many love to bang on him. All Washington did in the Sun Bowl was go 11 for 15 for 137 yards and a touchdown. His 9.1 yards per attempt is better than 117 teams had for the season average. His 4.8 yards per rush would have placed better than 93 teams.

When Lee or Days can generate a pass rush without blitzing, kick the ball, or cover kicks I will believe they are the difference needed to win games.

7. Utah took advantage of opportunities...
The Utes scored both of their fourth quarter touchdowns on fourth down, including a 28 yard pass on 4th and 14 to tie the game. Utah scored on every drive where they gained more than two first downs. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech missed scoring chances on two, 11 play drives including the end of regulation.

Utah was that someone who took the opportunities Georgia Tech missed.

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