Friday night in Louisville, Kentucky was nothing short of a good ol’ fashioned beatdown. Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech had something to say coming off of three straight losses, and a week where questions arising over Johnson’s future with the team were raised. No future is certain, but the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with on their best week.
Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Louisville
With Tech’s victory over Louisville they move to a .500 team (3-3) and keep their future in the ACC championship race alive. So how did Tech perform in their 66-31 victory over Louisville? Let’s discuss in our fifth edition of Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech 2018.
The first half of Georgia Tech’s contest with Louisville was the most complete half of football Tech has played going back to last season! To put the first half in perspective, Tech had five offensive possessions. Tech scored touchdowns on four of five drives and made a field goal to end their fourth possession. The offense scored on every drive!
Do not overlook the fact that Wesley Wells made a 41-yard field goal on the fourth drive. Tech and Brenton King have struggled this season – to say the least – converting field goal attempts.
TaQuon Marshall was dialed in Friday night. His play displayed the leadership and grit that Tech players, coaches and fans have looked for all season. Marshall ended the first half with 139 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He attempted two passes and completed one to Brad Stewart for 12 yards.
Everyone wanted a piece of the action on Friday night as Qua Searcy and Jordan Mason would add first half touchdowns to compliment Marshall. This was an exciting change from two weeks ago against Clemson. It seemed like no offensive player wanted to carry the ball against that vaunted Clemson defense. Tech offense had an attitude adjustment over the last two weeks.
Tech’s offense would enter halftime with a 31-17 lead while averaging eight yards per per play. Tech had all the momentum they wanted going in to the second half.
— Mike Flynn (@MFlynnGT) October 6, 2018
Nate Woody and his Georgia Tech came out of the gate strong against Louisville. Louisville’s first three drives would proceed as follows:
- Five plays, 31 yards, TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- Two plays, one yard, FUMBLE (Recovered by Georgia Tech)
- Three plays, nine yards, PUNT
The Cardinals did not score a single point in the first quarter Friday. This is not the first time this season that Tech’s defense has held their offensive counterparts scoreless in the first quarter. You can see the difference Woody’s 3-4 scheme has made already in Atlanta.
The second quarter would prove frustrating for the defensive unit. Louisville found a way to start moving the football and scored all 17 first half points in the second quarter.
Tech’s defense would allow 205 yards in the second quarter and allow the Louisville offense to average 7.4 yards per play. It is difficult to stymie a Bobby Petrino offense for four quarters, but if Tech wants to compete with the best the ACC has to offer, they will need more consistency on the defensive side of the ball.
Paul Johnson to @wiley_ballard: “Offensively, we played pretty good. The last three possessions on defense, we’ve got to find way to slow ’em down.”
— Ken Sugiura (@ksugiuraajc) October 6, 2018
Fans have experienced frustration early this season watching Brenton King attempt to convert successful field goal attempts, and failing. King had four field goal attempts entering Friday’s contest with the Cardinals. He had only converted one of those field goals.
Enter Wesley Wells to attempt field goals. Wells only attempted one field goal on Friday, mentioned above, and was able to complete the 41-yard attempt. If he can gain confidence moving forward and continue to successfully convert field goal attempts, that will prove huge for Tech.
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) October 6, 2018
OK, the first half has already been propped up as a half of near perfection for Tech’s offense. The second half….was basically the same! Georgia Tech’s offense had four complete offensive possessions in the second half (the fifth possession was at the end of the game). They would score touchdowns to finish all four complete drives.
7️⃣ possessions = 7️⃣ scores
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) October 6, 2018
TaQuon Marshall and company would march 79 yards down the field on the first drive of the second half and score. Tech would also take off six minutes and 58 seconds from the game clock on their way to the end zone. That is the beauty of the triple-option offense in action. When Tech is leading 38-17 and taking major chunks off the game clock, they make it near impossible for the opposition to stage a comeback. Fans were treated to this scenario Friday night in Louisville.
TaQuon Marshall would begin the next drive with the offense, but would not see the end of the drive due to injury – not serious. Marshall would finish the day with 12 yards passing, 175 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad day at the office.
Fan favorite Tobias Oliver would finish the game for the Yellow Jacket’s offense. Oliver would pick up right where Marshall left off. Oliver came in to the close the drive and would end up in the end zone adding six more points to Tech’s total score. Tobias Oliver would finish the day with 103 rushing yards and one touchdown. Tech would not attempt a pass in the second half.
Tech’s offense would finish the day with 542 offensive yards and 66 points. Tech’s production Friday night would put them in first place in the NCAA for rushing yards per game – 373 rushing yards per game. Paul Johnson and team will look to continue this success against ACC Coastal teams moving forward.
5️⃣4️⃣2️⃣ rushing yards
— Georgia Tech Sports (@GTAthletics) October 6, 2018
The Georgia Tech defense came out strong in the second half. Fans could compare the first half of the game to the second half – Tech’s defense did not give up a point in the first quarter of either half.
The 14 points scored by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter is not representative of Tech’s defense as none of the starters saw the field in the fourth quarter. So, for their part, the starting defense played a good game.
Paul Johnson and Nate Woody had to be upset that Tech’s backup defense gave up a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the game. In fact, the defense allowed the Cardinals to move 63 yards in under two minutes to score to close out the game.
Silver lining – Woody and his staff can use this as a learning experience and build on it for the future of the Yellow Jacket’s defense.
When it was all said and done, the Yellow Jacket’s defense gave up 483 yards (370 passing; 113 rushing). Petrino still has one of the greatest offensive minds in college football, but Tech’s defense must get better every week to compete for an ACC championship.
One of the most amazing stats of the day was how many punts Georgia Tech’s Pressley Harvin III attempted – ZERO! That makes for a boring day for the kicker, but an exciting day for fan’s of offense.
Wesley Wells made every extra point attempt during Friday’s contest. Fans should count this as a blessing and pray that Wells continues to be successful.
How Fans Are Feeling
Georgia Tech fans have had much to celebrate over the last two weeks. Tech’s offense has produced 1,086 yards of offense since losing to Clemson in September. The defense has seen its ups-and-downs, but shows serious promise for the future.
Fans are still murmuring on social media concerning whether or not Paul Johnson should finish the year as head coach. In this writer’s opinion, fans should be patient and see how the year plays out. When looking at the entire year, Tech has not played well enough thus far to warrant any discussions of post-season play. But if Tech can carry over the success of the last two weeks, ACC opponents should watch out.
The Yellow Jackets now sit at 3-3 (1-2 in ACC play). They will work this work in preparation to host Duke and David Cutcliffe. Duke is 4-1 and looking like a legit contender in the Coastal conference. Duke will be looking to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season to Virginia Tech and are coming off of a bye week. Tech will need to bring their best to come away with a victory.
October should be fun.
Qua Searcy #1 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets celebrates after a touchdown run by Jordan Mason #24 in the first quarter of the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Cardinal Stadium on October 05, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)