Saturday showcased the 113th edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Georgia leads the all-time series 66-41-5 entering Saturday’s contest. The end result saw Georgia notch another commanding mark in the victory column. After the first half of play, this game was shaping up to be the most lop-sided game in the history of this rivalry. Would Georgia Tech come back to make it a respectable game?
Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech v. Georgia
So how did Georgia Tech perform in their 45-21 loss to Georgia? Let’s discuss in our final regular season edition of Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech 2018.
Well, the first half offense was as ugly as humanly possible. Georgia does boast one of the nation’s best defenses – top 15 in fact. But, it should mean something that Georgia Tech is the nation’s number one rushing offense. In the first half, Georgia decided that Georgia Tech’s number one rushing offense did not matter.
Georgia Tech’s four offensive possessions during the first half proceeded as follows:
- Six plays, 15 yards, PUNT
- Six plays, 19 yards, TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- Four plays, Negative six yards, PUNT
- 10 plays, 23 yards, TURNOVER ON DOWNS
Were it not for another Juanyeh Thomas special teams touchdown, Georgia Tech would be down by 38 points at the half. After the end of the first half, the Yellow Jackets had amassed 66 total yards of offense! That is not a typo. And all 66 yards have come on the ground, not surprisingly. TaQuon Marshall was running for his life this afternoon. Marshall was sacked three times during the first half – usually on third or fourth down pass plays.
Marshall led the team in rushing yards with 24 yards on 11 carries. That is an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Juxtapose Georgia Tech’s 66 total yards with Georgia’s leading rusher Elijah Holyfield, who had 67 rushing yards in the first half.
If Georgia Tech’s offense is not thinking about a major comeback for the ages, at least consider making this contest look somewhat respectful. Where is the pride that the Yellow Jackets have been playing with over the last four weeks? Hopefully, the second half tells a different story for the Georgia Tech offense.
Georgia Tech entered the half down 38-7.
Maybe the defense will pick up the offense? Wrong. Georgia moved the ball at will on Georgia Tech’s defense. The Bulldogs have scored on every single drive this afternoon in Athens. The only reason their sixth possession did not end in a touchdown was that the first half ended. And even then, they moved the ball down the field so quickly they were able to kick a field goal.
Jake Fromm has been dissecting Nate Woody’s defense all afternoon. Georgia had six offensive possessions that resulted in scores:
- Nine plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
- 11 plays, 88 yards, TOUCHDOWN
- Six plays, 63 yards, TOUCHDOWN
- One play, 44 yards, TOUCHDOWN
- Five plays, 33 yards, TOUCHDOWN
- Seven plays, 40 yards, FIELD GOAL TO CLOSE THE HALF
Georgia averaged a touchdown every 6.5 snaps during the first half on Saturday. Georgia Tech’s defense has struggled to apply pressure on third downs this season, but they have at least made up for that with a plethora of turnovers. But they struggled to force turnovers against Georgia because Georgia is running the ball almost every down.
Georgia amassed 343 yards of total offense during the first half. If that trend continues, Georgia is on track to finish this game with close to 700 yards of total offense! And to add insult to injury, the Yellow Jackets lost starting linebacker David Curry for the game to an upper-body injury during the first half.
The Yellow Jackets struggled to stop Virginia last week but made some outstanding halftime adjustments. Those adjustments gave the offense an opportunity to come back and win the game. Fans will be praying for similar results on Saturday.
There has been no opportunity for Wesley Wells, or Pressley Harvin III really, to make his mark on this football game. Not that field goals would stop the bleeding, but some PATs would feel really good for Georgia Tech fans.
Thomas worked his special teams magic for the second week in a row, but if fans are resting their hopes on special teams touchdowns, they have already lost the game.
That's 💯 yards on this kickoff return! pic.twitter.com/tBbsg5bJ1A
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 24, 2018
The offensive woes continued during the majority of the second half in Athens. It would be halfway through the fourth quarter before the Yellow Jackets offense saw the end zone on Saturday. But something has to be said about the grit the offense showed in the second half. It would have been easy to tuck tail and run home to Atlanta, but this offense decided to continue to grind it out.
The biggest takeaway from the second half is the amount of clock the Georgia Tech offense was able to take off. This gave the defense a much needed rest after facing off against a high-powered Bulldogs offense. The Yellow Jackets’ second drive of the second half took nine minutes off the clock! To put that in perspective, during the first half the offense had possession of the ball for 13 minutes and 30 seconds.
The scoring drives would not take much off the clock, but they were scoring drives. The first of the two Georgia Tech touchdowns came after a 44-yard drive saw Qua Searcy find the end zone. That score would be Searcy’s third rushing touchdown of the year.
The last touchdown drive would see senior wide receiver Brad Stewart come down with his last touchdown pass in Sanford Stadium. Stewart has made some big-time plays over the last few weeks. Stewart’s touchdown with 39 seconds left in the contest made the final score look a lot more respectful. That goes back to earlier statements made about the grit this team showed in the second half on Saturday. It was reminiscent of the grit the entire team has shown in the second half of the season.
Marshall –> Stewart for a 28-yd TD!
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) November 24, 2018
The Georgia Tech offense would finish the day with 219 yards of total offense. That is 218.4 yards shy of their season average of 437.4 yards per game. Georgia Tech finished 225.7 yards shy of the rushing season average. Kudos to Georgia’s defense for shutting down the nation’s number one rushing offense.
The Yellow Jackets defense received some much needed help from the offense in the form of clock management in the second half. It would also help that fans were privy to some second-team action by Georgia.
Nevertheless, the Georgia Tech defense only allowed one touchdown in the second half. What a drastic change that was from the first half that saw Georgia score on every drive. After the opening touchdown drive for Georgia, their offense would only accumulate 43 yards the rest of the game.
Georgia Tech won the second half in several categories. This author is aware that there are two halves in a football game, and that Georgia dominated the first; but the Yellow Jackets never gave up. That is something in which players and fans a like can take immense pride.
That being said, Georgia finished the day with 447 yards of total offense. Surprisingly, that is 36.9 yards shy of their season average. Yes, it was mostly the second team offense, but those are the stats at the end of the game. If Georgia Tech’s defense had given up it could have been much worse.
Job well done in the second half, boys.
Fans did not witness Thomas run another punt or kickoff back for a touchdown, but they did get an opportunity to see Wells continue his pursuit of excellence in the category of PATs.
It is also nice not to see Harvin III on the field as much. And not just because Georgia Tech was trailing so much that Paul Johnson went for it on every fourth down.
Georgia Tech’s special teams should win some type of trophy for the most improved unit after the month of September. If some college football community wants to make that happen, that would be great. This writer would be more than happy to recommend the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets special teams unit.
How Fans Are Feeling Now
Hurt. This was a tough one to swallow for the Georgia Tech faithful. Personally, this writer thought it would be a little more competitive in Athens this year. Maybe Georgia Tech fans were a little cocky coming off four wins in a row. Did the Georgia Tech faithful, somehow, underestimate the talent on the Georgia sideline? Maybe the former is true, but Georgia Tech fans and players walked away humbled on Saturday.
Georgia Tech will find out their bowl game selection next week. At 7-5, Georgia Tech is looking at a late December bowl game in a cold city. Time will tell soon enough, but Georgia Tech will have a month to rest, repair and ace all of their engineer finals. Georgia Tech still has an opportunity to finish with eight wins and enter 2019 with some momentum.