At the start of the 2013 Music City Bowl it looked to be an offensive shootout, with both teams marching right down the field to score without any resistance. The Ole Miss Rebels no-huddled their way down for the first score, but Georgia Tech came right back and ran down the throats of the Rebels to tie it up. That was as close as the Jackets ever got, falling to Ole Miss 25-17.
After those first two series, both defenses stiffened, and things became much more predictable.
Georgia Tech didn’t play badly on defense, managing to hold the normally prolific Rebels passing offense to only 256 yards, and holding them to only two pass plays of over 15 yards. But the strengthening of the Jackets pass defense seemed to affect their ability to stop the run. Tech only gave up an average of 107 yards per game on the ground to opponents all season, but the Rebels–in particular, Bo Wallace (86 rushing yards)–ran the ball to the tune of 221 yards.
The Jackets failed to capitalize on a lot of Ole Miss special teams mistakes as well, including a blocked extra point, blocked field goal, missed field goal and excellent field position given to them by the Rebels. The game was loaded with odd plays and mistakes on both sides. Both teams tried end-arounds that ended up backfiring (Tech’s wound up in a safety) and there were wide open receivers that were missed by both quarterbacks.
The difference in this game though, was the Ole Miss defense. For a team that showed little ability to stop the run this season, they managed to do a pretty good job of bottling up the tough to defend option. They held Tech to 151 yards rushing, which was just under their 155.25 yard per game average defensively. What makes that number jump out even more is the fact that Tech normally ran for 311 yards per game.
Normally the Jackets have two or even three players rushing for over 100 yards…tonight, Robert Godhigh was the high man with only 50 rushing yards.
When the running game was proven ineffective, the Jackets had to resort to passing, and the Rebels were just good enough to keep them from gaining too much in the air.
Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee just never looked comfortable–neither running the option or in the pocket–and it showed in his middling stats, rushing for only 24 yards and throwing for 157 (72 of those coming on one play to WR Darren Waller).
Hats off to Ole Miss and head coach Hugh Freeze for putting together an excellent game plan to stop the Yellow Jackets and win their sixth consecutive bowl game, although it was a sad way to see the Georgia Tech season end.