Georgia Tech Football: Yellow Jackets Opener Really Not That Bad


Okay Yellow Jackets fans, you’ve all voiced your concerns over the seemingly lackluster performance the Yellow Jackets displayed on Grant Field last Saturday against Wofford,  and some for good reason.

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Anytime a Power-5 team faces an FCS team, a mere 19-point margin of victory is lackluster in itself.

There is more to this story though, especially as you dissect the stats, situations, and schemes. First, if you haven’t researched it by now, Wofford is no chump out of the FCS.

Just two years ago, Wofford was TIED in the 4th quarter with Steve Spurrier’s 12th-ranked and 9-2 Gamecocks team in late November before the Gamecocks scored 17 points in the final 11:57 of the ballgame.

Rewind another year earlier, and Wofford took eventual ACC Champion Clemson to the wire in 2011, but Clemson eventually prevailed late in the 4th 35-27.

This is proof that even when a lower-level option team plays the same scheme against higher competition, the scheme is still VERY difficult to defend if executed properly. Wofford is clearly an excellently coached football team.

Another important point to make is that the play of Justin Thomas simply cannot be ignored. While his performance wasn’t perfect, with bumps along the way in the first half, he quickly adjusted to the situation and displayed flashed of brilliance in his passing game.

The weekly college football passing statistical leader rankings have been floating around the last few days, and as many have seen, Thomas is by far the #1 QB.

With 282 yards passing, Thomas also boasts a 73.3 completion percentage, and a 275.25 rating. Yes, this is only one week, but one can’t help but see what a physical beast Deandre Smelter is, bringing back joyous memories of Demaryius (BayBay) Thomas, while knowing what a package deal the two could possibly be on the flats this season.

Oh and by the way, Darren Waller, Tech’s second big-bodied and gifted receiver, will return against GSU after serving a two game suspension.

Aug 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) drops back to pass against the Wofford Terriers during the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

As bright as Thomas’ passing abilities seem, you can’t help but notice he’s put on quite a bit of muscle weight this season, and his speed is noticeably an advantage, one that Vad Lee did not possess last season, at least while running the option.

Thomas is showing his abilities to make quick reads and pitches, and seems more like Tevin Washington with his football smarts.

Washington was always somewhat of an underrated QB for Paul Johnson, but he did not possess superior arm talent or great speed, and he also never had a worthy defense on the other side to compliment the efficiency he displayed running the offense.

Which leads to the final point. The performance of the defense. The defense has been much maligned in the court of public opinion in recent days, but again, a closer look is required.

The Terriers rushed for 271 yards, but 92 of those yards were on one huge touchdown run right up the middle as a result of a blown defensive play.

Without that run, the yardage differential would have been 508-234. That speaks volumes, because in the aforementioned game against South Carolina in 2012, Wofford outgained the mighty SEC power 330-293. We all know just how good Steve Spurrier’s defensive unit was that season.

We really just don’t know yet how good Ted Roof’s 2014 squad is, and Saturday’s game against Tulane should be more of a litmus test.

Tulane runs a more traditional pro-style offense, which of course is more similar to every other team on Tech’s schedule this season except GSU (by the way, yes, GSU nearly beat NC State, but it’s worth noting the Wolfpack football team just quite frankly isn’t very good).

The talent level should be drastically in Tech’s favor, so Roof’s unit should be expected to dominate down in Louisiana.  A questionable performance this Saturday, and there will be genuine skepticism starting to cloud the progress of the Tech defense.  As of now, it just quite frankly isn’t warranted.

What we all know is that when Johnson’s offense is at its best, the only thing that can make it better is a solid defense on the other side to compliment it.

So far in Johnson’s tenure, maybe other than 2008, that has never meshed.  Beginning this week, we will start to see more signs of whether this could be that season. If it is, all teams on Georgia Tech’s schedule had better take notice, and quickly.