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At the very bottom of this document, you can find evidence of a Tech fan presuming a ten-point victory over a team led by the conference’s best quarterback. Isn’t that funny?
This was, for me at least, the most discouraging Yellow Jacket loss since the 9-6 ACC Championship Game in 2006. Everything we feared would be bad about this team was made to look really, really bad. It would be foolish to say State employed an option-stopping blueprint, and the secret’s out, and we’re doomed.
But a trend is emerging — in Tech’s two losses, omnipresent linebacker play (State’s middle linebacker, Nate Irving, finished with 16 tackles, a handful of tackles for loss, and a sack) supplemented solid line fundamentals, frustrating Joshua Nesbitt into bad decisions, hesitant pitches, and high throws. Not that his line, led by a lime-green center, was any help, or that Anthony Allen’s pair of fumbles or Stephen Hill’s horrible route-running didn’t muddle things.
On defense, a young secondary that’s still learning a new defense was julienned by a great all-around quarterback. Russell Wilson only got more comfortable as the day wore on.
Hey, at least Texas had a worse day.
Wow. I need some time to collect my thoughts because the only thing running through my head right now is JOY JOY JOY JOY JOY JOY POINTS WIN JOY JOY JOY 4-0 WINNING YAY JOY.
Tech travels to Wake Forest next week. The Demon Deacons have given up 147 points in their past three games (including 48 to Duke) and were shut out by Florida freaking State’s defense today, so Paul Johnson’s maxim about never losing back-to-back games should remain unironically quoteable. But something else is now unlikely to happen consecutively for Tech — ACC championships, is what I’m referring to. #forced
The worst loss of Paul Johnson’s time in Atlanta*, and Tech’s worst home loss since November 1, 2007.
Outgained by 163 yards, out T.O.P.’d by almost seven minutes, and outcoached by Tom O'Brien. Tech got its ass whooped at home by a better team.
More to come.
Russell Wilson bounced back unfazed after throwing a pick, and Tech’s defense is just flailing out there.
Yet another long drive, ending with a third-and-11 lob to T.J. Graham. Wilson has 359 yards, already a career high.
Somehow, Tech is only down by ten and has eight minutes left. What they lack is some sort of cage in which to stuff Wilson.
Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown an interception in 166 attempts, but it's time to start a new streak.
A very aggressive blitz on third down sent Wilson scrambling. Jerrard Tarrant planted and waited for Wilson’s lob; he could’ve called for a fair catch. After a dash up the sideline and a dive into the pylon, Tarrant had his first score since he did the same to Ricky Stanzi in last year’s Orange Bowl.
I had originally typed about half of that in all caps.
Anthony Allen redeemed himself for part of one of his fumbles with a 50-yard catch and run during which he broke four or five tackles.
Tech broke out a little no-huddle on this drive. The crowd and players responded with visible energy after every play, though, of course, each play was a success. So.
Nesbitt is now 3-of-9 for 91 yards, so he’s pretty much back to normal after a rough start.
Now let’s get a stop on their side of the field for once.
After another Tech three-and-out, Russell Wilson ambled into the end zone upon being sort of being chased out of the pocket.
If we don’t count throwaways and dropped passes, Wilson has now completed something like 23 of 25 passes. His 305 yards have gone to ten different receivers.
Tech’s front seven isn’t playing all that poorly, holding ‘Pack backs to 3.6 yards per carry and getting decent pressure. Of course, if Wilson’s just going to start running them in, maybe pressure is a bad thing.
Joshua Nesbitt is now 0-for-5, but that last one was a hurl on the way to the ground.
Tech has the ball back now.
It’s hard to tell what in particular Tech switched up at halftime, but N.C. State has adapted to Al Groh’s blitzes by working in a screen and play-action rollouts. Wilson has also started faking a screen after every other handoff or so.
State covered 78 yards in a little over four minutes, with the touchdown scored on a circle route. Jarvis Williams set up shop behind Tech’s D-line and waited for linebackers to obligingly vacate.
After Joshua Nesbitt opened the half with a 61-yard run, the longest of his career, Roddy Jones followed two plays later with a misdirection handoff up the middle for a four-yard score.
Nesbitt lingered on the ground for a moment after taking a shot to the knee at the end of his run, but bounced up to applause.
When Paul Johnson's halftime adjustments involve his going straight-up Hitler meme on the sun, moon, and stars, your only option is to tweet:
It’s code: “team” actually means “fire department; our secondary and offensive line have just been melted to the walls of the home team locker room at Bobby Dodd Stadium, 150 Bobby Dodd Way, Atlanta, Georgia, 30332. PS: Bring several cans of Easy-Off.”
Wilson’s now 16 of 23 for 219 yards. As long as his offensive line holds, he looks unstoppable. At least three or four of his incompletions came after he was chased out of the pocket, and Tech has three sacks.
Tech doesn’t look as zombified as it dead against Kansas, or as sloppy as it did against South Carolina State (except for that burst of fumbles in the first quarter). N.C. State has simply played very well. Jon Tenuta and company concocted a great game plan, and a lot rides on Paul Johnson’s highly touted halftime adjustments.
Tech’s offense finally arrived, peeling off a 12-play, 80-yarder culminated in a ten-yard pitch up the right sideline by Orwin Smith on third-and-long.
On the previous drive, Anthony Allen fumbled again, after carrying the ball for five straight decent gains. The ’Pack recovered and scooted their way down the field, eventually missing their second field goal.
Allen is apparently in Paul Johnson's
doghouse bughouse (?) now. He hasn’t stepped on the field since his second fumble.
Sean Bedford’s return is announced as questionable.
Russell Wilson looks as good as expected, but the flexbone does not.
Wilson is nine-of-12 for 121 yards, more than tripling Tech’s entire offense. He’s completed passes to a ludicrous eight different receivers already. The ‘Pack also have 23 rushing yard, led by Mustafa Greene’s 18.
I actually think Tech’s defense is playing pretty well, having only given up three points to the best offensive player they’ll play in the whole first half of the season.
Joshua Nesbitt is 0-for-3. Tech is 0-for-4 on third down. Ugh.
With Tech lined up in that bizarre collegiate punt protection formation that makes no sense to the NFL-accustomed viewer, N.C. State sent about 24 bodies up the middle and blocked Chandler Anderson’s punt into the end zone, landing on it for the score.
It should be 10-0 or even 14-0 right now, with the Wolfpack sort of dropping a touchdown and missing a field goal on their previous drive.
After two drives, Tech has 37 total yards. Joshua Nesbitt is 0-for-2.
With All-ACC rocket genius Obama-friend Bedford leaving the field due to what appear to be leg cramps, Tech was down to new guy Ray Beno. As is custom, the first snap was botched.
Either I’m an idiot, or Tech chased that bobble with fumbles on three of its next four plays. One bounced out of bounds, one was pounced on by a lineman, and the last was a pitch stone-handed by Anthony Allen and recovered by the Wolfpack.
The Jackets have found a weakness in the left side of State’s offensive line, with both sacks and a couple pressures coming from the blindside. Sylvester burst through the left to chase down a run off tackle to the right, which isn’t really ever supposed to happen.
After driving to midfield, the Wolfpack gave away the ball for only the third time all year. Brad Jefferson sacked Russell Wilson after State’s left tackle opted to block Steven Sylvester, with defensive tackle Logan Walls falling on the ball. Tech then went three-and-out.
The Jacket defense responded in kind, after Izaan Cross, last week’s ACC Defensive Player of the Week, opened the next drive with another sack. Anthony Egbuniwe stuffed a read option keeper by Wilson on third and short.
(The Grohfense hasn’t done much to improve run defense, but the pass rush hasn’t missed Derrick Morgan all that much so far.)
After a short punt, Tech has the ball again on its own 29.
BOBBY JOHNSON LEFT VANDERBILT TO TAKE OVER AT TECH AND NOBODY TOLD US UNTIL NOW.
This explains everything.
Damn you, clever Wolfpack.
This is hilarious to at least one Tech fan. If these are the shirts your boys are wearing today, they're mothballed jerseys from last year. Tech evidently wasn't planning on having to wear non-white this season. Look at the striping; they don't match this year's models:
Tech went through all the trouble of organizing a white-out for this year's conference opener against N.C. State, as they'd done to reasonable success for last year's conference opener against Clemson, only to see the Wolfpack crash the party.
As the visiting team, State gets to pick which jerseys they'll wear. They chose white, ensuring at least a few of Tech's less seasoned attendees will momentarily root for the wrong team.
White isn't the Wolfpack's preferred color, either. They've worn red at home twice this year, including an all-out Santa Claus getup. The game's temperature will be about 90 degrees, but nobody wears head-to-toe blood-red body armor if they're worried about heat.
I like this move by the 'Pack, as it more or less kills Tech's color-out ambitions. Maybe next year we go for a gold-out, but only if it's the Wake Forest game.
In other fashion news, Colorado has scheduled a black-out, meaning that if all of Georgia's traveling fans wear red, the whole stadium will look like Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2008.
Every week, we preview Tech's upcoming matchup by combining the work done by the two finest Tech football blogs, From The Rumble Seat and Barrel Of Rum.
He throws, he runs, he bats, and he fields. Two-sport star Russell Wilson will be a handful for the Jackets on Saturday, but did you know he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of this year’s MLB draft?
Wilson was rusty in his first two starts this year, completing only 31 of 61 attempts, after spending much of his offseason playing Single-A baseball. He shook the cobwebs off last week, lighting up Cincy and earning conference player of the week honors.
After Joshua Nesbitt, Christian Ponder, and Jacory Harris whiffed BASEBALL TERM?, Wilson stands alone as the ACC’s only much-hyped quarterback to deliver so far this year. Even though he struggled against Central Florida, he has yet to throw a pick this season, and hasn’t thrown one in his last 133 attempts.
From The Rumble Seat is worried about Wilson’s creativity, distribution, and arm:
Earlier this year, we gave Wilson a high fear factor because of his agility and the simple potential of him turning a failed play into a successful one. Now, with three games under our belt and our defensive line surrounded by question marks, his threat level is EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.
If we aren’t worried about the Wolfpack dinging up Tech’s scoreboard, we should watch these highlights and remember all the moments last week when T.J. Yates had cause to move around in the pocket, but lacked the jets:
The Jacket defense’s six-game streak of allowing 100-yard rushers may not end this week. Wilson himself probably won’t run for a hundy, but the threat he presents has often left the read option give wide open for Wolfpack running backs, as you can a few times in the highlights from their game against UCF:
Tech defenders have been overly aggressive and bad at holding ground all the way back to the end of Paul Johnson’s first season, at least. A smart distributor like Wilson will be able to consume yardage against this bunch, as he’s by far the best player Al Groh’s crew has faced yet this season.
We’re looking at yet another shootout. Or, in baseball terms, we might be going to extra innings.
His arrival as N.C. State’s linebackers coach heralded a more aggressive Wolfpack defense this year, and so far it’s served them well. They’re tied for third in the nation with eleven sacks in three games. But as N.C. State blog Riddick & Reynolds points out, blitzing an option-based offense is about the worst idea possible:
But the problem State faces this week is this: The TenArcher style of defense won’t work against the triple option of Georgia Tech, for if State tries to bring linebackers and safeties on blitzes, the middle of the field will contain no one to stop a free rushing back.
The only consistent method that seems to slow down Paul Johnson’s attack is well-executed “assignment football.” Each and every player on the field is assigned a corresponding position to defend. It puts the responsibility on all 11 players to tackle their man one-on-one if they have the ball without help from their teammates.
It may be the first time Tom O’Brien has faced the triple option, but it’s not the first time for Tenuta. Navy ran all over his defense last year in South Bend – the fullbacks alone had 210 yds rushing on just 19 carries, while the offense got 404 total en route to a 23-21 win.
If Tenuta’s somehow talked Archer into cutting the Wolfpack loose and sending five or more rushers on every other play, this game’s already won. We’ll assume he’s learned his lesson.
A defense with excellent fundamentals can stop the offense, as Iowa and even Kansas proved. State doesn’t quite have that oh-so-midwestern reputation as a solid, stay-at-home defense, so it will be interesting to see if they can convert from attacking to reacting for just one game.
Did you know the N.C. State Wolfpack have yet to lose a game? Are you wondering what they're still doing in the ACC? Shouldn't they have tried to jump ship for the Mountain West by now?
Comparing resumes: The Jackets beat State's favorite neighbors in Chapel Hill after two disappointments against South Carolina State and Kansas. N.C. State put away Western Carolina and Cincinnati with ease, but struggled to finish off Central Florida.
Series history: Tech leads, 17-9.
Last meeting: Tashard Choice's 34 carries for 164 yards led Chan Gailey's 2006 Jackets to a 31-23 win in Raleigh. Yeah, that was a really long time ago. Tech kind of never plays N.C. State. We should do this more often, yall.
Wolfpack to watch: Junior quarterback Russell Wilson was named ACC Player of the Week for hanging 366 total yards and three scores on Cincinnati. The five-foot-eleven dual threat has piled up 273.3 total yards per game over his last fifteen starts. Tech's ooey-gooey run defense could be easy pickings for a quarterback with wheels, as even gigantic UNC dropbacker T.J. Yates was able to break a nine-yard run last week. Seventeen other Wolfpack have caught or rushed at least once this year, with only one, halfback Mustafa Greene, getting more than 30 touches.
As for State's defense, their first string might not be as good as Carolina's post-suspension lineup, as they're very young up front. They have been strong on third down, stopping about three of every four conversion attempts, but Georgia Tech third downs don't really exist in the traditional sense so I'm not sure how to use this stat.
Fun fact: Paul Johnson interviewed for N.C. State's head coaching job in 2006, but wasn't offered the spot. This is his first crack at the 'Pack since then, and you have to look forward to the wave of inside-voice dismissiveness that will wash over the first reporter to bring this up to Johnson.
Also monitoring: Tech has called for a white-out. Last year's white-out game against Clemson, also the home conference opener, produced this moment:
So be on the lookout for sad Wolfpack fans. Speaking of those:
How we feel about all this: This is a very winnable game, though confidence would be much higher if not for Tech's stumble against Kansas. It's hard to imagine N.C. State's defense stopping the flexbone, and on offense Wilson can only do so much. I'm not the only person who thought of N.C. State's football roster while watching Zach Galifianakis' "one-man wolfpack" speech from The Hangover, right?
Vegas says: Tech -9. Shouldn't be a problem.
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