Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hindsight is 20/20: Recapping Georgia Tech's 2008 Season (Part 1)

I had originally planned to do the whole season at once, but I, uh, ran out of time. So here's half of it, with the other half coming next week.

I did this after the 2006 season, which at the time was the best that had occurred since I enrolled and subsequently became a Tech fan in 2003. (The last time Tech ended a season ranked? After the 2000 season.) I didn't do it after 2007 because, well, I was depressed and who wants to rehash a season that led to your coach getting fired? At any rate, here's a breakdown of Anno Johannes 1, known to everyone else as "2008".

Game 1: Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 14
Tech's shiny new offense got off a great start, though I missed most of it (due to being on an airplane). Tech turned the ball over twice, but it didn't really matter, as Jax State did the same 4 tiems and Dwyer averaged 10.2 yards a carry.

Game 2: Georgia Tech 19, Boston College 16
I was worried about this one beforehand, and it turns out my fears were well founded. Tech fumbled the ball three times, was out-gained on offense, and was 3 for 12 on third downs. Going into the fourth quarter, the outcome was certainly in doubt with Tech down 16-10. Then these things happened:

Afterwards, BC would get the ball back once and run out of downs, after which Tech held on to win.
While Tech did a good job taking the lead and securing the win, credit goes to the defense which picked off two passes and recovered a BC fumble. Tech missed two FGs at or near the 30, which looked originally like it would cause us to lose the game. I would also note the next week that "GT has been getting yards on big plays more than the methodical drive of the option."

Game 3: Virginia Tech 20, Georgia Tech 17
The actual impact of this game is the same as the predict impacts for this year's edition on October 17. Tech (and I say "Tech", I always mean Georgia Tech) would have benefitted greatly from this game being played in late October or early November, in my opinion. Tech turned the ball over 3 times, twice on fumbles, and so despite beating VPI in most other statisical categories lost the game. (The hivemind of the GT message boards also requires me to mention the the helmet-to-helmet call in the 4th quarter that led to eventual winning field goal. My own mind will mention the fact that there was another non-controversial personal foul on Tech on the same drive, and with 4:37 left on the clock, plenty of time left.) On of the fumbles Tech lost was in the first quarter, when the offense had actually driven into VPI territory.
When we weren't turning the ball over, Tech's drives were much more methodical, which wasa good sign heading into the next two games. Nonetheless, another recurring issue was noticed and noted:
Outside of just the fumbles, though, there is plenty of room of improvement for the Jackets. In what I suspect may be an issue all year, the middle of the offensive line has to get better blocks coming off the snap - with as often as VPI was in the backfield, it's surprising there weren't more fumbles lost. I say this because GT never established the first option in the triple option - the dive up the middle. B-back Dwyer had 10 carries for only 28 yards as VPI stacked the the middle-of-the-line. The other Tech then sold out on the 2nd option, the pitch-man on the outside. The result? A very banged up Josh Nesbitt, who ran 28 times for 151 yards. 5.4 yards per carry is nice, of course, but you don't really want your QB getting banged up like that, and he is also prone to fumbling the ball.

Game 4: Georgia Tech 38, Mississippi State 7
This game was a rout, in every sense of the word. Tech rushed for 438 yards and Dwyer had a field day: 141 yards on 9 carries for a 15.7 average. Yowza. The Crimson-and-white bulldogs also obliged by turning the ball over 4 times while Tech had its first turnover-free game of the season. Hopes were back up after this. Those 38 points? Unanswered. The backups even got to play, though they did manage to allow Miss State to score a touchdown, their first once since the 3rd quarter of their game before the infamous 3-2 game.
The downside? Josh Nesbitt strained his hamstring in this game.

Game 5: Georgia Tech 27, Duke 0
Nesbitt was out again, but didn't matter. This was another rout. 454 total yards, including a shocking 230 yards passing against an undermanned and under-everything Duke defense. Yet, somehow before the game I had managed to worry about this once somehow:
As mentioned above, Duke played Navy and may be somewhat more well-prepared than other opponents that will face Tech this year. Also, starting QB Josh Nesbitt will also miss the game due to a hamstring he strained against Miss State. While backup QB Jaybo Shaw is more than capable of running a proficient option offense (as demonstrated two weeks ago), he lacks the raw athleticism of Nesbitt, especially as a passer.

After the game, I was saying things like this:
As for Mr. Demaryius "BeBe" Thomas, he doesn't quite have Calvin's height (6'3" versus 6'5") but he still towers over many corners. Calvin also never had a 200 yard game at Tech, or an 88-yard reception. Is BeBe as good as Calvin? Of course not, but he's darn close which provides a huge asset in this offense. Most teams can't afford to leave him one-on-one, but because of the run game they will often have little choice.

So it was a pretty good game. Except that, rumor has it, Jaybo Shaw suffered a mild concussion. At any rate, he didn't start the next game.
Oh, and I made this. I'm still pretty proud of it.

Game 6: Georgia Tech 10, Gardner-Webb 7
My first mistake when I wrote the preview for this game: "Those actually attending the game will be in for a treat..."
Yeah, not so much. Senior Ex-Auburn QB Calvin Booker started the game, bless his heart. In fairness to him, he was never supposed to be an option QB, and transferred in the year before under the impression he'd get a chance in Chan Gailey's pro-style offense. Tech did all its socring in the 2nd quarter and held on for dear life as it proceeded to turn the ball over 2 twice (three times in total) and allow G-W a touchdown. Tech never got past the G-W 35 in the second half and had to block a very makeable field goal with 26 seconds left in the game. There was no TV coverage for this game, thankfully, so no one saw it, though I still remember being huddled over by my computer speakers hanging on the outcome of that last kick. Not fun.

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