Five Takeaways from Georgia Tech’s 49-21 loss to UCF

Georgia Tech Head coach Geoff Collins reacts against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Georgia Tech Head coach Geoff Collins reacts against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t the result Georgia Tech fans had hoped for on Saturday in the home opener as they fell to top-25 ranked Central Florida 49-There were some positive signs and not-so-positive signs from the Jackets’ standpoint and from the game in general. Here are a few takeaways from the contest:

Jahmyr Gibbs lives up to hype

Let’s start with one of the positives for Georgia Tech. Often times when a player receives a ton of hype before they hit the field for the first time in live game action, it’s almost impossible for them to live up to it. That was certainly not the case for true freshman running back Jahmyr Gibbs on Saturday.

Gibbs, who has received a ton of buzz ever since signing with Georgia Tech back in February all the way through preseason camp, had a huge college debut with 15 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown, four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown and two kick returns for 93 yards. He wasted no time introducing himself to UCF and the rest of college football by taking the opening kickoff and returning it 75 yards, narrowly missing a house call with a UCF player dragging him down to save the touchdown.

Tech fans went into the game excited about what Gibbs had the potential to do as a Yellow Jackets, and they should be just as excited, if not more, coming out of it.

UCF still a very good team

There were some Georgia Tech fans (myself included) that went into Saturday thinking the Jackets had a chance to pull off the upset with Central Florida playing their first game of the 2020 season and expected the Knights to be a little down from their impressive 2019 campaign.

Well, the Central Florida program seems to be in as good of shape as they have been over the last few years. They showed they deserved every bit of their top-15 ranking with quarterback Dillon Gabriel throwing for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns while spreading the ball out to a talented and deep receiving corps as well as the running attack being potent as well.

Add that to a solid defensive unit and Central Florida fans should feel very good about the Knights making another run at an AAC crown and possibly trying to steal a spot with the big boys in the College Football Playoff. Josh Heupel has picked up right where Scott Frost left off with the program.

Tech defense shows grit despite missing key pieces

Many will look at the Georgia Tech defense giving up a total of 49 points and 660 total yards and say it was a bad day for the unit as a whole. But if you look at it through the lens of how many players the Jackets’ defense is missing, you really could say they played relatively well.

Playing today without defensive linemen Antonneous Clayton, TK Chimedza and Antwan Owens as well as defensive back Tre Swilling, who were all expected to be out already, and adding that to a late scratch of last week’s breakout star Curtis Ryans, the Tech defense showed a lot of fight despite being under-manned. They actually kept the team in the game going several series in the second half not allowing points to UCF and forcing a turnover, but Tech’s offense was unable to capitalize enough to get back even or come all the way back into the lead.

Even with the big point and yard totals allowed, there should be optimism for Tech’s defense going forward, especially when or if they can get fully healthy.

Jackets’ offense MUST cut down the turnovers

This one is really simple…you’re not going to win a lot of games when you turn the ball over five times. That is not a winning formula to say the least.

Georgia Tech has to figure out how to take better care of the ball. Jeff Sims had an especially tough game in the turnover area with two more interceptions and two fumbles lost. Just like last week, you expect a true freshman quarterback to make mistakes, but unlike last week, Georgia Tech was playing a very good team and you aren’t likely to be able to overcome that many turnovers against a team the caliber of Central Florida.

Ball security and better decision-making should be a huge focus at practice this coming week, especially for Sims, who still showed a lot of promise for the future even with the mistakes on Saturday. He threw for 244 yards and a touchdown and ran for 82 and a touchdown.

Officiating left a lot to be desired

I’m going to start this section by saying I will absolutely not use bad officiating as an excuse for a loss EVER. (Some folks up the road in Athens might need to start doing that too.) Georgia Tech lost the game on their own mistakes and because of UCF’s great performance.

Buuuuuutttttttt, I’ll just say there were some pretty glaring missed calls by the AAC officiating crew on Saturday. Several clear holds and a clear pass interference went unflagged. Add to that a possible fumble recovery that was blown dead prematurely, and Tech fans were not pleased by the stripes on Saturday. Let’s just hope the calls even out over the course of the season…they usually do.