How GT Lost
It's a funny thing, the internet. There's a ton of commentary on Reggie Ball's performance, our lack of imaginative playcalling, not going to Calvin down the field enough, etc. Chan is an absolute idiot, Jon Tenuta is God and is currently standing on a lake somewhere preaching to his disciples of the almighty zone blitz - all of the above.
In reality, our offense did pretty well ... certainly well enough to win. Except in one key area, and the complete failure in this department lost the game. Short yardage situations continue to plague this team, and it's partly offensive line play, partly poor QB decision making, partly bizarre playcalling and partly just flat out poor play by the backs.
So lets look at how each drive ended (which is easy to do, we only had 9 drives all game) and something jumps off the page ... we just blew chance after chance to extend drives on short yardage plays and fell flat on our face. GT only had a single 3 and out the entire game, and yet came away with only 10 points. That's hard to do.
Drive #1 -
GT gets a first down by converting a 3rd and 1 with a Reggie run. This is a nice start to the opening drive, and a good sign for the rest of the night. Or not, as GT gets a 2nd and 1 and procedes to turn that into a 3rd and 4, which is an incomplete pass and GT punts. This goes down as a failed easy opportunity to keep a drive alive with a 1 yard gain.
Drive #2 -
GT gets a pair of first downs and then an incomplete pass and a short run lead to 3rd and 7. Another incomplete and a punt. 3rd and 7 is a tough situation to be in, but ND's secondary played well and this wasn't a "gimme" situation like the first drive.
Drive #3 -
Calvin is superhuman, GT scores a TD. Hidden in all of that though is a nice job on 2nd and 1 early in the drive at midfield where Choice picks up a big chunk of yards. Converting short yardage situations is a GOOD thing, who knew!
Drive #4 -
GT gets a first down (notice how many drives started this way, we were moving the football). On 2nd and 1 we have an incomplete pass. On 3rd and 1 we bring in Grant and lose 3 yards and punt. Huge blown opportunity here as the ball was near midfield and we had ND on their heels a bit. Having two cracks from 1 yard and getting nothing is just killer.
Drive #5 -
Field Goal. Drive was kept alive by a 3rd and 1 conversion by Choice near midfield.
Drive #6 -
Ball picked up a first down on a run, but then we got a grand total of nothing after that and punter. No short yardage situations on this drive.
Drive #7 -
2 first downs get us to midfield and then Choice gets stuffed on a 3rd and 1 on the ND side of the field. Huge blow here, we had a chance to get back momentum and pick up a score and got stoned. This is the 3rd just backbreaking failure to pick up 1 yard conversion.
Drive #8 -
The Calvin reviewed incompletion. It was on 3rd and 5, nothing else really going on this possession. This was the only 3 and out of the entire game for GT. That's it.
Drive #9 -
Bad shotgun snap at midfield dooms this drive after moving the football successfully to this point. This was the final time GT had the ball in the game.
So, to sum it up? GT had the football 9 times. We scored on 2 of those drives, and in both cases converted 1 yard opportunities for 1st downs. In 3 other cases GT simply had to gain 1 yard to keep a drive alive and failed. In all 3 of those drives, GT had been moving the football and was in good field position. If we convert and go on to score on any of those drives, this is a completely different ball game - one GT probably wins.
It is inexcusable with an offensive line as good as Tech's, a mobile QB and an experienced back like Choice behind a blocker like Cox for a team to not convert the vast majority of short yardage situations. Tech was just disastrous, only converting 2 of the 5 drives that had these situations. This has got to get fixed.
Also, quite frankly, the offense played pretty well. Ball had a solid game, and if he can give GT a 50% completion rate, no interceptions and 50+ yards rushing every game out - the Jackets are going to win a lot of ball games. That being said, all the offensive success in the world is pointless if you can't convert those final 3 feet. That's where GT lost the game.