With their annual game against Georgia looming in the distance, the Jackets must focus on the task at hand against Duke.
When a team has a huge rivalry game looming soon, players often think towards the future. For the Yellow Jackets, they cannot in any way overlook the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday afternoon with bowl eligibility on the line. After all, focus hasn’t always been the Jackets greatest strength this season.
While the Jackets game against Georgia next week will be huge in multiple ways, it also will pit the Jackets up against the best Bulldogs team they’ve faced in recent memory. Yes, the Bulldogs got clobbered a week ago by Auburn, but they are still in easy top 10 team. That makes next week’s game and especially considering it’s a rivalry game, not an easy win.
For the Jackets, it would be easy to overlook Duke. Why shouldn’t they? The Blue Devils have lost six straight games and their offense has been putrid over that span as well. For a team like Clemson, a game against Duke would be easy and in all honesty, Clemson could probably start their entire second string and still walk away with a comfortable victory.
The Jackets are not Clemson and while they’re talented, the talent disparity between Duke and Tech is much closer than Duke and Clemson. The Blue Devils game presents a similar situation to that of the game against Virginia.
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In that game, the Jackets were favorites over the Cavaliers, like they are against Duke. Also, similar between the two games was entering that game, the Cavaliers were riding a long cold streak and had struggled to pick up wins, coming off back-to-back losses against Boston College and Pittsburgh, their offense struggling mightily.
While the Jackets offense was able to put up 36 points in their 40-36 loss, you can tell there was a lack of focus in the game. The Jackets had not taken the Cavaliers as seriously as they should have, and it helped lead to another terrible fourth quarter that finished with the Jackets opponent walking away with the victory. There were countless mistakes both offensively and defensively that lead to that third heartbreaking loss of the season.
Which brings us back to tomorrow. The Jackets simply must stay focused and not take this Duke team lightly. Like the Jackets, Duke is fighting for its’ bowl eligibility and with two games left, the Blue Devils must win on Saturday, another loss would be their seventh of the season. Yes, the offense has struggled but the defense has remained near elite despite the losing streak. The Blue Devils defense can make plays and cause turnovers which make being focused all the important offensively for the Jackets.
We’ve seen it time and time again in college football, teams are not focused when facing a struggling opponent and it simply leads to a disaster for the team expecting to blow the doors off their opponent. A great example from this season would be Clemson’s handling of Syracuse, the Tigers were obviously not ready for or focused against the Orange, and in return, the Orange pulled off the monumental upset.
When considering the history between the two programs, you’d expect a close played game on Saturday. If that trend continues, one single moment that a player lacks focus when on the field could cause the Jackets the game. Time and time again, the Jackets have blown games this season due to a lack of focus and a loss on Saturday to the Blue Devils would be their worst one yet. Yes, everyone is excited for the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate variably game next Saturday but first the Jackets must take care of business on Saturday against the Blue Devils.