Georgia Tech Football – Upon Further Review: A deeper look into the Jackets 14-10 win over USF

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 25: Charlie Thomas #45 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts following a defensive stop against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second half at Lane Stadium on October 25, 2018 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 25: Charlie Thomas #45 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts following a defensive stop against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second half at Lane Stadium on October 25, 2018 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) /

In a game with minimal offense from either team, the Yellow Jackets top the Bulls 14-10

After both Georgia Tech and South Florida lost in Week 1, one team was guaranteed their first victory of the season. Georgia Tech proved the longtime saying true “defense wins games”.

Last season when these two teams met, the offense was off the charts with a combined total of 87 points. This year proved that neither team is quite the same.

The Jackets defense is still noticeably improving, holding the Bulls to 262 total yards and two fumbles. They also held the Bulls to just 4/15 on third-down conversions. Tech racked up four sacks on the day, and aside from giving up a 48 yard run by USF quarterback Blake Barnett, the Bulls rushing game was virtually nonexistent.

Possibly the biggest moment for the defense came in the fourth quarter. After Tech fumbled the ball over to USF, the Bulls quarterback Jordan McCloud connected with Mitchell Wilcox for a 54 yard gain all the way to Jackets one-yard line. After a false start against the Bulls, and another 5-yard rush to get USF back on the one-yard line, the Jackets defensive line stood their ground allowing DB Kaleb Oliver to force the ball out of USF running back Jordan Cronkrite’s hands. Tech DL T.K. Chimedza recovered the loose ball giving possession back to the Yellow Jackets, and drastically changing the momentum of the game. If USF would have gotten into the end zone on this drive it would have put them out in front of the Jackets.

Defense may win games, but punters can play a huge factor

One of the most notable mentions in this game is by far Tech’s junior punter Pressley Harvin III. Harvin III punted six times for a total of 248 yards with a 41.3 average, his longest coming in at 55 yards. Harvin III landed the ball inside the 20-yard line four of his six punts and not a single touchback. The defense did their job Saturday, but they had a lot of help from Harvin III.

Harvin III may very well have been Tech’s biggest secret weapon on Saturday and has been for the two seasons prior. In 2017 Harvin III averaged for 44.1 yards and in 2018 he averaged for 41.3. In both of those years his longest punts reigned in at 62 yards. Harvin III can certainly make his case for one of the best punters in college football right now. If the Jackets hope to go bowling this year, they’ll need him to play like it.

Trent Schneider, South Florida’s Junior punter also had a day to remember. Schneider punted seven times for a total of 361 yards and 51.6 average. Schneider’s longest punt came in at 60 yards, with two punts inside the 20 yard line, and one touch back.

In today’s game, while a lot of teams are focusing on offense, it is rare to see not only a defensive battle but also a battle of punters.

With an improving defense, Tech’s offense is still lackluster

Much like the Jackets game against Clemson in Week 1, Tech could not seem to get into a consistent groove on offense. We did get to see more of the passing game this Saturday as Tech threw for 14/21 passes but for a minute 76 yards. This was the first time Tech threw the ball more than 20 times in a game since the 2017 season.

Lucas Johnson went 11/17 completions for 45 yards and one interception, Tobias Oliver went 2/3 for 11 yards, and James Graham 1/1 for 20 yards. Graham still remains the wildcard of the three quarterbacks, as we have now gotten to see more playing time out of Johnson and Oliver than the aforementioned. However, one should expect to see Graham get more snaps as the season progresses.

Tech’s running game was not much better than the passing game as the team ran 49 times for 181 yards. The Jackets leading rusher was Jordan Mason who rushed for 99 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown and his longest run coming in at 32 yards. Mason still remains as one of Tech’s most prominent weapons on the offense. Tobias Oliver also rushed for 48 yards on 9 rushes with one touchdown.

The Jackets top receiver Saturday was Freshman wideout Ahmarean Brown who had two receptions for 26 yards, one of those receptions tallying in 20 yards.

Although the Tech offense still seems to be struggling in certain areas, there are still weapons to be used that can breakout at any time. With the offense that Coach Collins and O.C. Dave Patenaude inherited, they have to play to the strengths of their players. As the season progresses expect the offense to start meshing together. There is an adjustment period for not only the players but also for the coaches every time such a drastic change is made.

Final thoughts

This was a good win for the Jackets. It shows true grit to win a defensive battle like this, and will in return make the team tougher and smarter, now knowing that they can win the close games. I would grade this victory a C+ for getting the job done, but there is a lot of room to improve on the offensive side of the ball.

Tech’s next game is against the Citadel, in Atlanta next Saturday with a 12:30 kickoff time. I expect the offense and defense to take care of business as Tech should be able to take care of the 0-2 FCS team.