ATLANTA, GA - Credit to The Citadel. They knew who they were and stayed true to themselves for all 60 minutes, plus bonus time, of Saturday's game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The outcome? A 27-24 overtime win for the Bulldogs.
Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is struggling to find an identity. Questions are aplenty after any loss, let alone one to a FCS team three games into a coaching transition. Let's look at a few, and go quickly, to avoid further agitation following a disappointing afternoon on The Flats.
Who is QB1?
Still, no answer. Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude is on record saying he prefers to have one quarterback be "the guy". During today's game vs. The Citadel, Lucas Johnson and Tobias Oliver continued to split snaps, sometimes within the same drive and same series. James Graham did not dress due to injury.
Who is PK1?
Tech has two "above the line" placekickers in Brenton King and Wesley Wells. King missed his lone field goal try last week, albeit from 50+ yards. This week was more discouraging, with King converting 1 of 2 field goal tries and Wells missing his lone extra point attempt. Give credit to King for being in position to have two attempts. His first was a pressure-filled effort from 34 yards out as regulation time expired to send the game to overtime. The latter attempt was 46 yards out and again in a scenario of "survive and advance". It had the leg, but unfortunately sailed wide.
What are reasonable expectations of the offensive line?
It's no secret that head coach Geoff Collins and offensive line coach Brent Key prefer big, long lineman. They inherited a mixed bag of size and skills. The line has been decimated early by injuries, with 4 scholarship linemen out due to injury during the majority of each of the last two games. On the positive side, the Jackets averaged 5.5 yards/rush and 6.5 yards/play today vs. The Citadel. On the negative, they allowed 3 sacks, gave up 6 total tackles for loss (TFL) and achieved just 14 first downs. In other words, fits and starts, and a ways to go to be competitive against better competition.
Is the defense for real?
There were reasons to be encouraged and reasons to "wait and see" about the Jackets' defense following the first two games against Clemson and South Florida. Today's game did little to clarify expectations. The Citadel executed their offense efficiently, averaging 4.5 yards/rush while converting 8 of 16 third downs and their lone fourth down attempt. They possessed the ball for almost 42 minutes, albeit aided by Tech's own inefficiency and penalties (we'll get to this in a second). It's an offense that Tech will not have to face again, and because of that it's difficult to project a ton from today's effort.
Why were penalties an issue all of a sudden?
Tech committed just 4 penalties in its first two games. Today, the Jackets committed 8, many of which came at absolutely critical junctures and deflated what otherwise would have given Tech a lot of momentum. The dead ball penalties by the defense in the first half extended drives, ultimately yielding points that otherwise would have been left off the scoreboard. Tech's last penalty of the game was a false start by the offense with 23 seconds to go, and unraveled an otherwise promising, potentially game-winning drive. Should we expect more of the first two game or more like today? TBD.
Perhaps the most frustrating question is, when will all these questions be answered? Some may take more than a season. For the sake of wins on the gridiron, let's hope that many are resolved expediently and positively, otherwise there may be more frustrating days ahead like today.