Three weeks into the season and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are already leading the Coastal Division after their 38 to 14 win over those pesky Blue Devils. Sure the season is early and there is a lot of football left to be played this year, however, a road win against a Coastal Division opponent is a nice way to start off league play. It was also nice to see a strong contingent of GT fans present at Wallace Wade Stadium and I personally wanted to thank two of the team’s best fans who rode up with me making it a successful trip to Durham to see the venue where the Grand Daddy of them all Rose Bowl was once played for the only time ever outside of Pasadena during WW II.
The perfect way to set up a successful road trip is to first pack up a cooler with beverages from the best drink company in the land that is conveniently headquartered in Atlanta nearby BDS. After that grab some chicken and biscuits along with a little dirty rice from a benchmark Charlotte poultry outfit and you have a recipe for success called; “It’s Bo Time!” Sprinkle in some conversation with other Yellow Jacket fans and that is the best way to start off the game day experience for an ACC road game.
After winning the coin toss to begin the game the Yellow Jackets elected to receive the second half kickoff so it was time to for the defense to show what they can do in a conference game under Ted Roof. After the first three and out that I can remember in quite some time against an ACC opponent, other than one last year at Maryland who were starting a linebacker at QB since all of their signal callers were injured, it was quite a sight for any GT fan.
The reason I say that is because when the Yellow Jackets moved the football nineteen (19) yards to the Duke 32 yard line and lined up for a 49 yard field goal by true freshman kicker Harrison Butker, I was no doubt still experiencing a form of irrational exuberance from the defense’s three and out as I actually clapped and acknowledge three (3) points from our kicker. In the past, okay my entire football playing and watching lifetime, I have never cheered a field goal other than to tell everyone; “relax, sit down, as it’s just a consolation prize.” My explanation here is that I was still catching up emotionally to witnessing an actual three and out and I must have experienced a delusional moment; just wanted everyone reading the blog to understand that I’m still kicker challenged.
Nevertheless, congratulations Mr. Butker as a 49 yard attempt on the road in your very first ACC Coastal Division game was quite a noteworthy accomplishment. Even more so that the writer seated in Row T Seat 14 of Section 1 was actually seen clapping at that very same moment. Although as explained in the foregoing paragraph there was a viable explanation. BTW, it looked like there was enough clearance on the kick for another seven (7) yards of distance.
After kicking off to the Blue Devils with our 3 to 0 lead, they posted a first down after a couple of plays then struck for a twenty (20) yard pass completion that included two DB’s leaving a WR wide open and a couple of missed tackles later my three and out moment had instantly faded away. Six plays later Duke struck pay dirt and GT had fallen behind 7 to 3. Now I was mumbling that Duke should have the three (3) points as they are a basketball school and quite used to cheering their student athletes who score from behind the arc.
Once relinquishing the lead GT went to work on the ground with Robbie Godhigh breaking free on a very impressive 44 yard scamper before being tackled at the Duke four (4) yard line. Next play Vad Lee ran it in for the score to go ahead 10 to 7 then GT started dominating on both sides of football. The Blue Devils were only able to generate 182 yards the rest of the game, and their other TD was the result of a short field much like OT when the ball is placed on the opponent’s twenty-five yard line after a short punt from the end zone followed by a twenty yard return.
While GT has many things to continue to work on in all three phases of the game, Vad Lee threw for four (4) TD’s in the game and as of now, our baseball player WR DeAndre Smelter is leading the nation in TD’s per reception as he caught two passes for scores and another catch for thirteen (13) yards and a first down on a drive that ended with Zach Laskey catching a pass out of the backfield on a wheel route for the Yellow Jackets final score and a 38 to 14 victory. Congratulations Mr. Smelter as everyone thought I was unhinged when I told them in the pre-season; “If he can catch a baseball then catching a football will be much easier as it’s much bigger and softer on the hands.” Thanks for making me look like a weatherman who is never wrong! BTW, game ball to Smelter and you can pick; baseball or football for your mantle.
Two other players that stood out in this contest were LB Quayshawn Nealy who stuffed Duke’s 210 Lbs. RB Jela Duncan on the 4th down and one for a one (1) yard loss when the Blue Devils were driving the football all the way down to the GT 20 yard line. That was a big play and momentum changer in the game for the defense as it energized the entire team and was a very nice thud on the form tackle.
Also playing extremely well the entire game was our DT Adam Gotsis who was double teamed on every snap and was still able to break through the line for two (2) tackles for a loss as well as a huge QB sack. This kid is a very tough player as they grow them that way down under in Australia. As impressive as that those tackles statistics are (he also had a few more) his effort on every play was 110% and fighting through double teams is exhausting. He is obviously in great shape and shows the type of determination that is a pleasure to watch from the coaching side of this game. Keep playing that way all year Adam as you are making everyone on two (2) continents extremely happy with your relentless play each and every down.
The defense other than a few missed tackles showed tremendous discipline as there was no confusion on the field and players were lined up in the correct spots. That is a reflection of the coaches on the defensive staff and this was good to see heading into the contest against North Carolina as they run a similar type of offense. Also, as a former O-lineman kudos to the goon squad for giving Vad Lee plenty of time to survey the field on his passing attempts.
On another note, GT did run for 344 yards but what was really odd is that they managed the time away from the ground game to throw for four (4) TD’s on 8 of 16 attempts. Now maybe I’m not fully recovered from that three and out experience, topped off by actually clapping after a field goal, but I’m quite certain from everything that I have read since Paul Johnson came to the Flats is that you can’t pass in this triple option offense. Ah, now I got it that must have been one of those fluke events that only occurred because the Yellow Jackets had a bye week going into this game. I apologize for getting overly excited about the passing TD’s. I’m certain that will never be seen again this season. Go Jackets!