Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hindsight is 20/20: Georgia Tech's 2006 Season

Before we start proper back into the swing of things here on asimsports, I'd like to take you on a review of Georgia Tech's 2006 football season. Because hindsight is 20/20, not only will I recap the games, I will also highlight some of my colleagues and I's statements, and point out the predictions that were folly.

2006, like most of GT's seasons, saw the highest high (beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg) and the lowest of lows (losing to Georgia again, then blowing the games after that). Anyway, let us begin.

Game 1: Notre Dame 14, Georgia Tech 10
Oh, what an opener. We probably should have won. If you look at other Tech sites, you might see something about the officiating - namely, an unnecessary roughness call against us for a hit on Brady Quinn after he had run upfield. I had this to say about it:
In Tech circles, a lot was made a helmet-to-helmet call against us on Brady Quin. It was definitely a bad call, however, listening to some folks you'd think the refs walked over to Charlie Weis after the play to recieve their payoffs. The fact of the matter is that there was around 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and I have a hard time believing any call made with that much time left can seriously impact a game.
Looking back at the statistics, a few things jump out:
  • Tashard Choice was outrushed by Reggie Ball. Tashard, as you should know by now, led the ACC in rushing last year. This game did not help him all that much. He had 14 carries for 54 yards. Reggie had 11 for 55.
  • Tech was terrible on 3rd down, going 2 for 10.
  • Tech had only 259 yards of total offense and held the ball for 24 minutes.
  • Reggie was servicable, going 12-24. More importantly, he didn't throw any interceptions.
Essentially, Tech had yet to find itself on offense and couldn't stay on the field, which led to the critical lack of additional offense to back up the defense. I'll probably say something similar near the end of this article.

Game 2: Georgia Tech 38, Samford 6
Lots of guys got to play. Taylor Bennett went 7-13 in mop-up duty.

Game 3: Georgia Tech 35, Troy 20
Tashard got himself 78 yards rushing here, gradually working his way up to those nice games he had in the 2nd half.
Outside of that, my recap post featured me using the word "elocution". I was pretty proud of that when I was reading it again. Also there was this gem from Tito during his Auburn-LSU recap:
Anyway, one of the questions Tre' [Battle] answered in the [halftime video board] interview was what three things he would bring with him if he were trapped on an island. Tre''s [sic] response was, "A helicopter, some fuel...and a trillion dollars." Initially, I wondered, "What are you going to do with a trillion dollars on a deserted island?" Then, I realized the genius of it. You could fly the helicopter to land and spend the money on things! What kind of question is that, anyhow? If you were going to a deserted island with the knowledge that you would be stranded, of course you would bring things that would help you escape.
Anyway, let us hasten to GT's yearly Thursday night feature:


Game 4: Georgia Tech 24, Virginia 7
Man, UVA was terrible last year. I'll just copy and paste 2 paragraphs from my recap:
Poor Virginia, though. I don't think they're the best oppenent we've beaten this year - I think Troy could probably take them by a touchdown or two. Did you see their "passing offense"? That guy made Reggie look positively awesome (Reggie's never been as bad as that guy was). I think my brother summed it up best: "These guys couldn't score against air." The UVA QB threw everywhere but at his receivers, and in the off chance he actually got it to them, I think they were so surprised they just dropped it.

Our receivers are okay this year - we're lining up playmaker Rashaun Grant in the slot and have shown depth behind Calvin. Our running game could use some work, though - I like that we're trying to use the option, but Reggie pitches too soon and Choice seems to have trouble turning the corner and running upfield.
That last statement was prophetic, because once we did get that running game working, well, yeah. Tashard had 83 yards on 19 carries. Reggie had a pretty good game going 10-19 with 2 TDs and caught a pass from fullback Mike Cox. All-in-all, GT did everything they were supposed to do in this. And looking sharp doing it, as they wore their retro gold jerseys with white helmets.
Other highlights from the recaps that week include the premiere of the On Notice! feature and Tito wore an authentic sombrero to protest the scheduling of Buffalo. The only prophetic things we had to say was that the upcoming game at Virginia Tech probably wasn't going to be 51-7 again. Well, we were definitely correct.

Game 5: Georgia Tech 38, Virginia Tech 27
This was the most important victory Georgia Tech had all season.

Unfortunately, I missed most of the game. I knew something was up when I got this text message from my brother: "Omg 21-0 gt"

21 points indeed. VPI would not surpass that mark until their touchdown with 3:31 left in the 4th quarter. I was able to watch a recording of the game afterwards and it was easily the best start I've ever seen a GT team get off to when I was there. It featured excellent passes, especially to Calvin who had 2 touchdown catches by the time the first quarter ended. Tashard broke the 100-yard mark for the first time all season, netting 105 yards on 18 carries. Reggie was 9-16, but threw 2 picks. Tech even blocked a punt! Or as my brother noted in his recap:
"Beamerball" - If I told you that there was a blocked punt and a defensive TD in the VT-GT game, you'd assume that VT was the team to have done both. And you'd be wrong.
Basically, everything went right for GT in this game. I don't think we played nearly as complete a game the entire rest of the season.


Game 6: Georgia Tech 27, Maryland 23
One of these days, I'm going to post my frame-by-frame analysis of why Micheal Johnson is awesome.

This was a game that usually during the past few years GT would have easily lost. They were down 20-14 going into the half, and then 23-14 at the end of the 3rd quarter. It did not look good. Then the defense stepped up. After scoring at the beginning of the 4th, on the first play Maryland ran resulted in a fumble that GT recovered at the Maryland 17.

The downside was this was probably the last good game Reggie played. He got his legs hurt and we got away from the options and draws we ran early in the year. This was a crucial dimension for the offense - without his legs, Reggie went from a somewhat serviceable dual-threat QB to a very bad pocket passer. He wouldn't complete more than half the rest of the season (except against Duke).

After that, there was a bye. At this point, GT was 5-1 and 4-0 within the ACC. Things looked be going well. Until...

Game 7: Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 7
Tech pretty much just got owned here. Despite close games the past two seasons against Clemson, this one wasn't. To quote my brother, "Front 7 was completely dominated on defense. Offense couldn't do anything at all."

Indeed. Tech had a mere 205 yards of offense. Clemson had 321 yards of rushing offense (and 426 overall). Clemson scored so quickly on most of their drives that Tech actaully had a nearly 5 minute advantage in time of possession. Because Tech got down quickly, Tashard had 15 carries and only netted 48 yards rushing (the last time he'd be held under the century mark for the remainder of the season).

This game provides a blueprint for how to beat Jon Tenuta's defense. Tech's defense is fast, but is not very big or deep (though it's better this year, at least on the line). Our secondary is also shaky. We make up for this by throwing weird zone blitz packages at the QB, hopefully pressuing them into making bad decisions. Problem is, when you have 2 really good running backs (both of Clemson's backs rushed for over 100 yards - Davis got 216, Spiller got 116) you can just pound away at the defense it and it will eventually break. Since the safeties or linebackers are usually blitzing instead of staying back, one you get past the line of scrimmage you are home free. West Virginia would also exploit this. But as I said, you need good backs and some mountains on the offensive line or else the d-line will stop you, and those linebackers start tackling you in the backfield.

This, of course, made Clemson look like world beaters at the time, but then they got shellacked themsleves up in Blacksburg the next Thursday. Whoops. Anyway, let's move on.

Game 8: Georgia Tech 30, Miami (FL) 23
I am pretty sure this is the only game ever to inspire someone to upload a bunch of punts to YouTube, but hey, when you kick out of your own end zone and keep their return guy behind his own 40, well, that's highlight worthy punt. Also, Miami helped with 2 turnovers off punts.

Tech came from behind again, though in decidedly less dramatic fashion. They got it tied at the beginning of the 4th at 16, then scored 2 touchdowns to put it away. This pretty much sealed the division for Tech. But still, it seemed as though the offense was slowing down.

In the meantime, this sums up probably what most outside observers would think of the ACC in 2006:
Me: UMD's only conference loss is to us
Me: they win and they're right up there with WFU and BC
Him: RIGHT *UP THERE*
Him: With WAKE FOREST
Him: ACC FOOTBALL

Game 9: Georgia Tech 31, NC State 23
GT led at the half but allowed NCSU to climb back in the 3rd, but Travis Bell made a FG and put us ahead for good with 9:09 left in the 4th. Career days here for Tashard and Calvin, but Reggie was 13-35.

I wasn't able to watch this game, so I don't have anything terribly insightful to say about it. GT pretty much took care of business.


Game 10: Georgia Tech 7, North Carolina 0
I did, however, watch this game. And needless to say, this is when some eyebrows started to be raised about the offense - eyebrows that would eventually not miss the departure of Patrick Nix.
This game officially clinched Tech's division title. I don't remember much of it. It quite lackluster and with Duke ahead, all eyes were turning towards Game #12.

Game 11: Georgia Tech 49, Duke 21
Not much to say here, either. Calvin did his thing, Reggie threw 3 touchdowns and Taylor tacked on 2 more. The second teamers came in in the second half, with Taylor, Jamaal Evens, and Greg Smith putting on a show.

Reading back over the lead-up to the Georgia game is intensely depressing. We all felt we had an exceedingly good chance to win last year.


Game 12: Georgia 15, Georgia Tech 12
And this is where the wheels started to come off for Reggie Ball and Georgia Tech. I had no words, and I still don't, but I do have statistics:
Ball (Passing): 6/22 for 46 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Ball (Rushing): 11 carries, -10 yards, -0.9 ypc, 1 fumble
Johnson (Receiving): 2 catches, 18 yards
Team: 4/14 on 3rd down
Orson summed it up pretty well over at EDSBS, and well, hell, at least I can derive some humor now of the comparison of Reggie Ball to a minor bit character from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Game 13: Wake Forest 9, Georgia Tech 6
Mercifully, this was the last game of Reggie Ball's career. Tito summed many a Tech fan's frustration with what the offense had turned into:
Once again, Reggie Ball and the Tech offense he "leads" looked awful. The quarterback hit the Johnsons a few times, but most of his passes were not on target. I still can't figure out why the Yellow Jackets continually called deep shots downfield when Ball kept missing his receivers. Ball's scrambles seemed impulsive and didn't produce many yards. I was right about the close defensive struggle, but I should have said the two teams would score less than thirty points combined. This was probably the worst game of the day for those watching TV. Due to the drizzly weather, the fans in the stands probably didn't have much fun either.
Reggie even threw in 46 yards rushing, his most on a couple of months, but he was 9-29 on the day and didn't complete a pass to anyone not named "Johnson". Tashard put in his 100 but it wasn't enough. Also, Patrick Nix called a reverse on 3rd and 1. Did I mention no one misses him?

We got an invite to the Gator Bowl after that, and Reggie was declared academically ineligible. Unfortunately, so was our only good cornerback, Kenny Scott.

Game 14: West Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 35
This was a defense optional game. As discussed above in the Clemson game, WVU had the tools to exploit our defense. However, we were also able to exploit their terrible secondary to the tune of Taylor's 19-29, 326 yard, 3 TD performance. Calvin got 9 of those receptions and 2 of those touchdowns, and Tashard had 27 carries for 169 yards.

Tech was ahead 35-17 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter when the wheels started to come off to the tune of 21 unanswered WVU points. After the second of those touchdowns, a line drive kick off bounced off Tony Clark and was recovered by WVU, setting up Pat White's go-ahead touchdown. Tech would have opportunities in the 4th. One drive got to the WVU 17 before ending in an interception. Holding WVU, Tech regained good field position but was unable to get a first down and settled for a 54-yard field goal, which Travis Bell missed. Tech never got the ball back.

And that's it folks. I'd post some other stats from the year (such as the number of times we predictions OSU or Michigan would shred whoever they faced in the title game - whoops!), but it's late and I'm tired. Coming soon: a look at the future! Remember, it's less than two weeks away.

2 comments:

Tito said...

That first quote was about Tre' Smith, actually, not Tre' Battle. Thanks for the second quote, though. I'm looking forward to another season of your commentary!

asimperson said...

Sorry about that!

And same to you good sir!