Georgia Tech Monday Thoughts: One Step Closer to Charlotte

After
this game, I did something I hadn’t done in a while: I fired up my DVR, went
straight to the fourth quarter, and replayed all the critical plays, over and
over. I admired the execution, enjoyed the crowd noise, and generally reveled in
the victory. There’s nothing quite like a rocking Thursday night victory in Lane
Stadium.

Ryan Williams’ second quarter juking and jiving? Watched it. Davon Morgan’s
interception and Josh Nesbitt’s injury? Watched it. David Wilson’s 15 yard
touchdown run? Andre Smith’s touchdown catch? Rock Carmichael’s game-ending
interception? Watched them all.

David Wilson’s 90-yard kickoff return? Watched it. Over and over and over,
that one.

It took me back to the days when VT football on television was a fairly new
thing, especially ESPN showcase games, and every Hokie win was followed by
endless rewinding and replaying. The technology is different these days — the
DVR is 50 times faster than a VCR, and there’s no comparison between today’s
HDTV and the old clunky tube television — but the experience is the same: Watch
the game-breaking plays over and over.

It’s what’s been missing from Hokie football this season. Joy in victory.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover, and the final outcome of this season
is a mystery, but for now, the Hokies are in the thick of it, with the inside
track on a conference championship, or at the very least, an appearance in the
title game. This is the buzz that’s been missing for the last two months, as the
Hokies recovered slowly from the season’s opening one-two punch.

This one was a little nerve-wracking, but in the end, it was a lot of fun.
Let’s recap the action, then analyze it a bit.

Slow Start Quiets the Crowd

ESPN did their usual stellar job of showing the “Enter Sandman”
entrance, although the new split-screen view didn’t really do it for me, and
there was a weird moment of hesitation where “Enter Sandman” exploded,
the fireworks started going off … and the team took about five seconds to
finally come out of the tunnel. For sheer art of presentation, the 2003 Miami
entrance is still the best.

Virginia Tech won the toss, chose to defer, and wham! Georgia Tech hung 14
quick points on our Hokies.

They made it look easy, too. The Jackets opened with a 42-yard kickoff
return, the longest given up by the Hokies on the season, followed it with a 27
yard run, and stuck it in the end zone without breaking a sweat.

Back came the Hokies, but after failing to convert a third down, they gave
the ball back to the Jackets. Four plays later, Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt
went right up the gut, untouched, for a 71-yard TD that made it 14-0 just 11
minutes in.

Bruce Taylor was limping, the defensive tackles were getting blown off the
ball, and Georgia Tech had piled up 143 rushing yards in just two possessions.

That, my friends, makes the “Enter Sandman” high wear off real
quick. Like so many Hokie games before it, this one started off as a grinder. It
was NC State all over again, with the Hokies falling behind early and looking
bad doing it.

Getting down two scores to Georgia Tech activated all those bad memories from
last year’s game in Atlanta, those fears of constantly chasing them all game
long, but never catching them, like a bad dream.

We knew going in that the Hokies needed a hot start on offense, and they
sorta got it. VT answered with a 10-play, 77 yard drive that stopped the
bleeding. The drive was vintage Ryan Williams, with the sophomore tailback
catching a screen pass for 9 yards and rushing five times for 25 yards,
including a 4-yard TD run that made it 14-7.

Let’s take inventory at this point. Georgia Tech was making it look easy,
rushing 11 times for 143 yards and facing just one third down — an easy third
and one, which they converted — in their first two possessions.

The Hokies, meanwhile, were doing okay on offense, but the pressure was
immense. It felt like the margin of error was zero, and sure enough, even though
Tyrod Taylor was 5-of-6, the one incompletion came on third down and had
resulted in a punt.

When the game started with GT jumping out to a 14-0 lead, I realized that in
my

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