In the first game of the 2020 season, the Yellow Jackets showed flashes of potential mixed in among some serious growing pains. Here are five things I noticed as I watched yesterday’s game.
1. Jeff Sims is the QB: At first, I thought it was a bit of a coup having the true freshman start over the more experienced James Graham but during his first possession, he put all of those thoughts to bed. He has as good an arm as any Georgia Tech Quarterback that has played in quite a while. He can use his legs to escape pressure and gash defenses on the ground with his speed, which makes him that dual-threat that many of us have been waiting on. Yesterday though….he showed his youth. Two horrendous interceptions led to big momentum swings and indecision marred him as he was prone to holding the ball just a little too long during his progression leading to bad decisions or sacks.
2. Special Teams Was Just Bad: Two blocked field goals from Jude Kelley our new kicker were just the icing on what was not an impressive day from special teams. The returners were hesitant and the blocking on kick returns was simply awful. This is the one area that I was certain would see the most attention in the new season and the current play is making me nervous.
3. Defense Looked Solid: Overall the defensive effort across the board was solid. They were burned a few times on blitzes and pressure was not at all consistent on Blackmon but in terms of coverage, they looked solid. Most impressive for me was their ability to get a handful of negative plays against the Noles showing that they are also on the right track in terms of the rebuild. David Curry had a few big plays as well making his veteran presence known in the FSU backfield yesterday. When the team really needed a stop tonight thee guys were there with pressure and tackling. It was truly awesome. Curtis Ryans also made an impact in the minds of Blackmon tonight having a huge second half to help secure the victory for the Jackets. Ryans was a late scholarship offer from the CPJ era who only saw limited time last season but after tonight he may become a household name.
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4. Offense Moved The Ball At-Will: The offense really had no issues moving on the FSU defense during the game they just suffered from self-inflicted wounds from young QB play, questionable play calls especially on third down. Otherwise, the offense almost doubled the FSU offense in every category but score throughout the first half. Jeff Sims was making some impressive throws and the receivers even more impressive catches at various points during this game. The tandem of Jordan Mason and Jamious Griffin was solid yesterday as a one-two punch for the defense of FSU. The stat line really tells the story with GT outgaining FSU 438-288 and outrushing them 161-90 which would end up being a big key to the finish of the game.
5. Injury Report Will Be Big: The Jackets had a few players go down to injury including Tariq Carpenter who went down after a massive hit on an FSU receiver. There were multiple injuries across both teams during this game and in this wild COVID season, every man is important. Hopefully, nothing serious comes out of that injury report for either squad.
To finish this takeaway piece in the immediate aftermath of victory is that this win felt less like a win and more like a statement. Georgia Tech showed a tremendous amount of heart and determination on a night that very easily could have gotten away from them if they had allowed early miscues to define the game. It is too soon to know exactly what this win means for the rest of the ACC slate or the rest fo the schedule for that matter but this win feels like a breath of fresh air when you haven’t had one in a very long time.