Article Jackets Brought the Juice to Tallahassee

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Jackets Brought the Juice to Tallahassee

Courtesy of ACC Digital Network

A post-mortem following yesterday’s wild victory for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0, 1-0) over the Florida State Seminoles (0-1, 0-1), starting with my overall takeaway.

We are an improved team.  We are not a good team, yet.

Based on Saturday’s performance, both the national media narrative and the Vegas narrative are likely to change going forward.  That is, the ceiling for this year’s Yellow Jackets squad is higher than most expected in the preseason.  Picked last out of 15 teams in the conference by the ACC media and pegged as a 13-point underdog by Vegas in the opener, the Jackets effectively shattered those expectations one game into the season following a 16-13 win on the road in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Let’s break down some of the highlights and opportunities for improvement, of which there are more than are included here.

What Went Well

  • Quarterback Jeff Sims

What more can you say about the grit and poise out of the true freshman from Florida? Originally a Florida State commit and allegedly asked to look elsewhere by new Seminoles Head Coach Mike Norvell, Sims played up to his Elite 11 credentials and then some in a redemption game of sorts.  Connecting on 24 of 35 of his passes (68.5%) for 277 yards, along with 64 yards on the ground, Sims stat line by itself was a good one for his first collegiate game reps.

More than that, the intangibles showed up.  He showed above average awareness in the pocket, and above average ability to keep plays alive, and a selflessness to give up his body for the extra yards to extend drives.  There were absolutely freshman mistakes, some of which showed up in the stat line and others where he was more fortunate.  However the body of work as compared to that of a typical true freshman suggests the Jackets got a good one.

  • Offensive Line Improvement

Much was made of the NFL talent on the Seminoles’ defensive line.  There probably aren’t many Yellow Jackets who would start for the Seminoles defense based on recruiting rankings and next level projections.  In the end the Yellow Jackets offensive line, now in year 2 under line coach Brent Key, conceded just one sack. The Seminoles generated six tackles for loss (TFL), some of which occurred on the perimeter on failed jet sweeps and wide receiver screens.

The offensive line can lay claim to the most decisive improvement for one position group from year 1 to year 2.  Credit goes to Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude and Quarterback Jeff Sims as well.  The Jackets’ offensive strategy appeared designed to get the ball out quickly and exploit the short and intermediate game, rarely taking the time required for shots downfield, and Sims was masterful at avoiding pressure when plays inevitably broke down.

  • Defense Locked Down After Early Miscues

After the Seminoles’ opening possession ended in an all too familiar easy touchdown drive, there were likely few Tech fans who would have predicted that the Jackets would yield just 6 points the rest of the way.  That is exactly what Defensive Coordinator Andrew Thacker’s defense did.  The defense was disruptive and forced 4 turnovers (1 on downs).  They gave up just 3.8 yards per play and sacked Seminoles Quarterback James Blackman three times.  Yes, this was a beleaguered and much maligned Florida State offense, but how many times in recent past have we seen those same offenses move through the Jackets’ defense with ease?

  • Confidence and Swagger

At the end of the day, fair or not, wins and losses often affect perception of the components as much as anything else.  In order to win though, one team needs to be the better team for 4 quarters, and that is exactly what the Jackets proved on Saturday.  The pregame ESPN match-up predictor suggested that the Jackets had a 24% chance of winning.  The in-game predictor suggested that the Jackets were underdogs into the 4th quarter, up until Defensive End Curtis Ryans’ strip sack of Blackman. At no time did it appear that Tech lost focus.  “Competition is King” reared its beautiful face until the final whistle.

Room For Improvement

  • Special Teams

There’s not much more that needs to be said that wasn’t readily observed.  The Jackets struggled with field goal protection, field goal kicking and in the kickoff return game.  Even famed Punter Pressley Harvin had a misfire, but past performance suggests his first punt attempt late in the 2nd quarter (you read that right) was an aberration.  Nowhere to go but up from here.  Kudos to true freshman kicker Jude Kelley for delivering when it mattered most and hitting the game winner.

  • Penalties

Eight (8) flags for 80 yards just isn’t going to get the job done against most ACC teams, especially on the road.  While penalties rarely come at good times, one could argue that the timing of yesterday’s hiccups nearly handed the game to the Seminoles.  The Jackets moved the ball with relative ease between the 20’s, however ill-timed personal fouls created headwinds for an offense that is still trying to find and confirm its identity.  The missed field goals might not have been attempted at all if not for the Jackets’ miscues.  The good news is the penalties can be learning opportunities, which are much easier to swallow when complemented with a win.

  • Quality of Opponent

Simply put, Florida State is not a great team.  Despite their talent and program history, the ‘Noles were average last year, finishing 6-7 (4-4) under since-fired Head Coach Willie Taggart.  Now they’re going through a transition of their own and we caught them during their first live game reps under new Head Coach Mike Norvell.  Their quarterback, Blackman, has struggled through a handful of different offensive coordinators to the point where any quarterback’s head would be spinning.  Then the program went through an offseason without a full install of their new offensive and defensive schemes due to Covid-19, along with off-field drama among the coaches and players.  Putting it mildly, it was a great time for the Jackets to catch the Seminoles.

Closing Thoughts

Restating my post in the game 1 preview thread:

My hypothesis is that Week 1 will be sloppy in CFB. Whether that’s due to new practice schedules, revised team protocols (e.g., less contact), or off-field distractions/priorities, there are a variety of reasons this season and especially week 1 may not match expectations when compared to other years, regardless of roster talent and coaching. It might also mean some teams inadvertently appear to “click” more than they otherwise will, whether that’s due to random chance or an under-prepared opponent.

What does that mean for my week 1 expectations? I’m mentally prepared that anything can happen. And the results may not be indicative of future performance. I just hope we’re the benefactors of the unpredictability.”

May I emphasize “the results may not be indicative of future performance”?  Tech won and Tech improved.  It is hard to demand much more than that.  But as the areas for improvement suggest, we have a long way to go before we can say Tech has arrived.  The good news is there are many signs of hope and potential for continued improvement.  The speed at which the Jackets realize that improvement will go a long way toward determining their record in the 2020 season.

 
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Heisman's Ghost

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Our offensive line allowed 1 sack.

There have been times when we would allow that in the first series. Much, much better against, supposedly one of the best defensive lines in the country. A great job by Coach Key and the guys including a true Freshman. Two true freshmen starting on offense. Who would have imagined such a thing? Competition is king I guess.
 

potatohead

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I was really impressed with Sims. We haven't seen a QB spread the ball around like that with high completion percentage since Goose and Hamilton, it seems like anyway. I love the pocket presence, the feet, the physical nature and finishing runs, the setting up of screens, and cool demeanor. You really can't hope for better in a freshman QB's first game. Other than forcing about 4 plays, two which cost us, he really played at a high level. That bodes well.

Let's not get too too excited about who we just beat. To my eye, FSU is not a good football team right now. Having said that, any road win in conference is a major building block for our program at this juncture. This was a very ugly game, BUT, the kids played awfully awfully hard. I am so proud of their effort.

While we have made improvements along both sides of the LOS, we are still far from from dominant, IMHO. We are going to have our struggles matching up. However, making plays to move the sticks on offense, like we did tonight (and have been unable to do in recent seasons), will alleviate that some on the defensive side by keeping them off the field.

I love the energy. I love the skill position players. It is time to start believing in what the coaching staff is selling. This season may still prove to be a struggle but the growth is impossible to ignore. 50% on third down with a frosh QB spoke volumes to me. Controlling the ball matters at least as much as big plays.

agree w everything but I think you’re understating the strides the OL has made and their game they put together. The fact that we could even suggest they’d be dominant against that DL after last season is crazy.

sims showed amazing poise, knew when to step in the pocket and make the pass, but I’m still stunned there was an actual pocket to step into. This line has been transformed
 

lv20gt

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Wow, seemed like FSU was in our backfield a lot...but it helps to have a QB that has some shake and bake in his game.


They got a good bit of penetration on some running plays, and there were a couple plays where it looked like they were going to get pressure but we got the ball out quick.
 

takethepoints

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That was just about the definition of a first game for both teams. We were lucky to win; they were lucky to lose by only 3. Impressions:

1. The D looked ok, especially, as expected, the secondary. We have a lot of talent back there and they now have a better idea of what they are doing. Oth, FSU's QB play was soooooo bad that it will be awhile before we know how good the D is. Blackmon was pretty bad last year and he hasn't improved. Carpenter gets the Lick of the Game Award, btw.

2. Sims was ok. He made several throws that could have ruined an otherwise decent effort. I'm still trying to figure out why he threw the first interception at all. But that's the way with frosh; he did it in high school and still thinks he can. He'll get over that and I think he'll be right good by the end of the year. One thing: the coaches need to make up their mind to run him more. The whole O will be more productive after the first game where he rushes for 80 yards or so. He doesn't need to do it every game, just enough to keep them thinking.

3. Jordan Mason is a very bad young man. So is Andronicus Carter. Griffin has improved. Well, both of them have, actually.

4. Will someone take the special teams in hand, please? This is the second year in a row. There's no excuse for three blocked kicks. And will someone please tell Juanyeh to quit running into kick coverage.

5. The OL did ok as well. Nothing to write home about, especially when run blocking, but not bad either. Like Sims, they'll probably improve.

4. Overall, a good effort away from home. Encouraging, given who we have coming up.
 

Jacoooooob

Jolly Good Fellow
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That was just about the definition of a first game for both teams. We were lucky to win; they were lucky to lose by only 3. Impressions:

1. The D looked ok, especially, as expected, the secondary. We have a lot of talent back there and they now have a better idea of what they are doing. Oth, FSU's QB play was soooooo bad that it will be awhile before we know how good the D is. Blackmon was pretty bad last year and he hasn't improved. Carpenter gets the Lick of the Game Award, btw.

2. Sims was ok. He made several throws that could have ruined an otherwise decent effort. I'm still trying to figure out why he threw the first interception at all. But that's the way with frosh; he did it in high school and still thinks he can. He'll get over that and I think he'll be right good by the end of the year. One thing: the coaches need to make up their mind to run him more. The whole O will be more productive after the first game where he rushes for 80 yards or so. He doesn't need to do it every game, just enough to keep them thinking.

3. Jordan Mason is a very bad young man. So is Andronicus Carter. Griffin has improved. Well, both of them have, actually.

4. Will someone take the special teams in hand, please? This is the second year in a row. There's no excuse for three blocked kicks. And will someone please tell Juanyeh to quit running into kick coverage.

5. The OL did ok as well. Nothing to write home about, especially when run blocking, but not bad either. Like Sims, they'll probably improve.

4. Overall, a good effort away from home. Encouraging, given who we have coming up.
I think the kids tough, but running him all the time isn't the best idea, from what I saw today Sims grew up and out of his "FRESHMEN" mistakes by halftime. And the O-Line gave up one sack against two future first round draft picks so I wouldn't say they did "OK" I would say they did great.
 
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So as many of you are asleep I am here in Colorado digesting today. A great win no doubt.
1. Freshman QB makes mistakes ok
2. We need better kicking

But Fla St. State has talent and frankly we were the stronger team. The defense won this game, even being down a few players. They were mean and nasty and we got pressure with very little blitzing.

Offense, once we started running the ball we looked very good. It enabled the passing game to be even better.

Ok, I am going to get over my skis but I have watched a lot of football in my life and a lot of Tech football. Sims may be the best QB Tech has had in my years. In a first game he is fast, strong, and has a hell of an arm. Time will tell but I have never seen one in a fist start like him.
 

JacketOff

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That was just about the definition of a first game for both teams. We were lucky to win; they were lucky to lose by only 3. Impressions:

1. The D looked ok, especially, as expected, the secondary. We have a lot of talent back there and they now have a better idea of what they are doing. Oth, FSU's QB play was soooooo bad that it will be awhile before we know how good the D is. Blackmon was pretty bad last year and he hasn't improved. Carpenter gets the Lick of the Game Award, btw.

2. Sims was ok. He made several throws that could have ruined an otherwise decent effort. I'm still trying to figure out why he threw the first interception at all. But that's the way with frosh; he did it in high school and still thinks he can. He'll get over that and I think he'll be right good by the end of the year. One thing: the coaches need to make up their mind to run him more. The whole O will be more productive after the first game where he rushes for 80 yards or so. He doesn't need to do it every game, just enough to keep them thinking.

3. Jordan Mason is a very bad young man. So is Andronicus Carter. Griffin has improved. Well, both of them have, actually.

4. Will someone take the special teams in hand, please? This is the second year in a row. There's no excuse for three blocked kicks. And someone please tell Juanyeh to quit running into kick coverage.

5. The OL did ok as well. Nothing to write home about, especially when run blocking, but not bad either. Like Sims, they'll probably improve.

4. Overall, a good effort away from home. Encouraging, given who we have coming up.
A few of my thoughts on your post:

1) the defense was ok. Not the best defensive game ever played, but with 3 starters out, they played more than serviceable. Blackman wasn’t that bad. The D did a good job of getting pressure, and FSU’s OL has injuries and they couldn’t account for the different pressure packages we brought. The secondary got beat over the top more than a couple times, but Blackman overthrew all of those balls that would’ve been huge plays. Our intermediate pass coverage was very good, but we were not very good on underneath passes, and like I said we got beat over the top a lot. Was pleasantly surprised with the amount of pressure we got though, even against a below average OL. With Clayton, Swilling, Carpenter, and Chimedza all playing the majority of the game, the defense will look much better.
Defense score: B

2. Sims looked very good. I’m not sure why you think he was just “ok.” The dude totaled 340 yards today, and rushed for 64. Only 16 fewer than your arbitrary amount for getting other defense’s attention on covering him on the ground. He did an extremely good job avoiding pressure, and ran for multiple first downs when there was nothing downfield. He made a few dangerous throws while under pressure, but that’s to be expected out of a freshman. His first interception wasn’t a bad decision, it was more so just a bad throw. The safety was underneath, and the CB was beat over the top. If he gets that ball over the safety it’s an easy TD. He just underthrew it badly and didn’t give our guy a chance. The second INT was just a bad decision all around.
Sims score: A-

3. Jordan Mason is a very bad man, we all knew that of course, but the rest of the country will know that as well by the time Mason is done at Tech. Griffin looked much better as he got the ball a lot more. He hit holes quick, and made something out of nothing a few times. With those 2 guys ahead of him, Gibbs is going to have to be really impressive to get the rock, which I don’t doubt he is, but obviously something weird was going on with him today.
Backfield grade: A

4. Special teams bad
Special teams grade: D+ (the Kelley game winner is the only reason it gets a +)

5.The OL played great today, considering where they were coming from last year. Only 1 sack allowed against a DLine who is widely considered one of the best in the country. A couple of illegal men downfield, a hands to face, and false starts were really the only blemishes on the OL today. Their play was outstanding.
OL grade: A

A very solid, and very encouraging game. But, our special teams has to be better if we’re going to win more than couple of games. Left 7 points on the field solely in blocked kicks. Could’ve very well cost us the game. Also, we can’t keep starting drives inside our own 15 after kickoffs. If we don’t have a return guy that can get it to the 25, just fair catch it. Those 10 yards will cost us points and wins as well down the road. Looking forward to cheering on the UNDEFEATED Jackets next week.
 
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Jacoooooob

Jolly Good Fellow
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So as many of you are asleep I am here in Colorado digesting today. A great win no doubt.
1. Freshman QB makes mistakes ok
2. We need better kicking

But Fla St. State has talent and frankly we were the stronger team. The defense won this game, even being down a few players. They were mean and nasty and we got pressure with very little blitzing.

Offense, once we started running the ball we looked very good. It enabled the passing game to be even better.

Ok, I am going to get over my skis but I have watched a lot of football in my life and a lot of Tech football. Sims may be the best QB Tech has had in my years. In a first game he is fast, strong, and has a hell of an arm. Time will tell nut I have never seen one in a fist start like him.
Honestly I don't blame the kicker for two of those blocks. They switched personnel on the left side for the last kick and he put it through the uprights. Jude Kelley was in high school twelve months ago, had what seemed like a terrible college debut, and kick a game winner when he should've had no confidence, if that not clutch idk what is.
 

Augusta_Jacket

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LibertyTurns

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Unlike last year we were ready to play. I’m not sure you could say that a single time last year.

Got pretty much what I expected out of the D. The attacking style they demonstrated last year was progressively better this year. They clearly understood their assignments and stayed with the plan. Thacker’s going to work well.

Huge change for P’nut and the offense. Everybody was on the same play almost every play which was about 80% different than last year. The execution was obviously much better, QB play a step change better, but the fact that they knew what play they were running, what snap count they were on & understood their assignment was a 180 degree change from last year.

The biggest item to me was the change in overall Team discipline. In my 5 decades being a fan, I was never displeased with our Team’s overall level of discipline until last year. It was just out of control- stupid hijinks on the sidelines, the dance routines, and incessant jawing even when we were completely getting our butts kicked. You thought we were trying to be da U on steroids. I saw none of that today. It appeared to be all business, just like I’m accustomed to seeing from a GT team.

I’ve been praying all off-season our staff did a gut check & made some massive changes. It looks like they did. You can have fun & not have to run the program like you’re managing a stalag, but you also need to keep the kids under control and focused. We got too wild last year and it cost us. To say I’m pleased with what I saw today in that respect is an understatement. I’m thrilled. I hope it energizes our recruiting. We need it.
 
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Unlike last year we were ready to play. I’m not sure you could say that a single time last year.

Got pretty much what I expected out of the D. The attacking style they demonstrated last year was progressively better this year. They clearly understood their assignments and stayed with the plan. Thacker’s going to work well.

Huge change for P’nut and the offense. Everybody was on the same play almost every play which was about 80% different than last year. The execution was obviously much better, QB play a step change better, but the fact that they knew what play they were running, what snap count they were on & understood their assignment was a 180 degree change from last year.

The biggest item to me was the change in overall Team discipline. In my 5 decades being a fan, I was never displeased with our Team’s overall level of discipline until last year. It was just out of control- stupid hijinks on the sidelines, the dance routines, and incessant jawing even when we were completely getting our butts kicked. You thought we were trying to be da U on steroids. I saw none of that today. It appeared to be all business, just like I’m accustomed to seeing from a GT team.

I’ve been praying all off-season our staff did a gut check & made some massive changes. It looks like they did. You can have fun & not have to run the program like you’re managing a stalag, but you also need to keep the kids under control and focused. We got too wild last year and it cost us. To say I’m pleased with what I saw today in that respect is an understatement. I’m thrilled. I hope it energizes our recruiting. We need it.
I actually think we were ready to play against Clemson last year, at least as much so as possible. But having been at that game, my take on it was that the team was ready to play, but the coaches were not. Thank God that changed this year.
 

Heisman's Ghost

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So as many of you are asleep I am here in Colorado digesting today. A great win no doubt.
1. Freshman QB makes mistakes ok
2. We need better kicking

But Fla St. State has talent and frankly we were the stronger team. The defense won this game, even being down a few players. They were mean and nasty and we got pressure with very little blitzing.

Offense, once we started running the ball we looked very good. It enabled the passing game to be even better.

Ok, I am going to get over my skis but I have watched a lot of football in my life and a lot of Tech football. Sims may be the best QB Tech has had in my years. In a first game he is fast, strong, and has a hell of an arm. Time will tell but I have never seen one in a fist start like him.
[/QUOTE

I am trying to remember if any Tech quarterback has ever had a first game as a freshman quite like this. Can't say I have. Shawn Jones, Joe Ham, and Reggie all had considerable growing pains. Jeff strikes me as a very poised natural athlete who knows that job one for a quarterback is to get the ball out quickly into the hands of his playmakers. 24 completions to 10 different receivers is just about unprecedented in my experience watching Tech play football. I am not sure I have ever seen anything quite like that before.
 

Lee

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Loved what I saw today.

Sims has the makings of a star and the poise of a much more seasoned qb.

Loved that the D bowed their neck and played well. Ryans looked really impressive coming off the edge.

Thought Coach P called a great game overall, but especially for a true freshman qb.

Anyone heard from Scuba? He’s done nothing but bash Coach P and his “terrible” play calling. Wondering if he’s doing okay with the outcome today.
 
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