Thursday, January 01, 2015

Orange Bowl Notebook

First quarter couldn't have gone much better for Tech, except for the very questionable non-fumble call late in the quarter. QB Justin Thomas seems to be ratcheting his play up to another level.

MSU DB holds the GT receiver all the way down the field then claims he was pushed, making him look even more foolish. On a successful screen pass a MSU lineman clipped but it wasn't called. Tech defense bends but doesn't break, holding the Bulldogs to a field goal. Tech's number 28 makes yet another key play.

Brent Musburger had more personal anecdotes about GT than most announcers due to the access granted leading up to the game. These so-called experts always say that when a team has time to prepare for the option they can shut it down, but Tech's dismal bowl record is more a function of uninspired leadership and poor play from previous GT QBs.

Great Visio commercials featuring Herschel, Bo, Flutie, and Montana. Still hate those Dr Pepper playoff commercials.

In the second quarter the momentum turned. MSU began to drive on offense and stuff GT's option. Johnson called one too many pass plays. Scrambling backward to avoid the rush, Thomas throws an interception. When the MSU RB leads with his helmet, effectively targeting the GT DB, Tech is called for face masking  At least that's what I saw. Still MSU is held to another field goal. 14-13 with five minutes to go.

Jessie Palmer carries the GT banner in the broadcast booth. Thomas passes best when he throws quickly to his primary receiver but now completes a pass to his third option. His diving TD run capped an 82 yard drive with 29 ticks left in the half. 21-13.

Quite unfortunate that MSU was able to pull off the Hail Mary to end the half. Dan Mullen seems like a good coach. He's got a good thing going there in Starkville but you wonder when he will move to a bigger stage. Perhaps he'll wait and replace Saban at Alabama. 21-20 Tech at the half (take away the lucky Hail Mary and field goal off the non-fumble call and Tech leads 21-10).

My favorite Belk Bowl play was the long UGA interception return when the DB reversed field and ran backwards five yards, confusing the tacklers and springing for even more yards. While starting QB Hutson Mason struggled his backup Bryce Ramsey overcame a first pass interception to complete the blowout.

The few first quarter carries by Chubb worried me, but Richt & company were saving the freshman for the second half. Glad he was able to break the bowl record and tie Garrison Hurst with the fourth most yards rushing in a season. The Dawgs will be tough in 2015.

Talk that TCU's Trevor Boykin will be the leading Heisman candidate next year. What about Alabama's Sims, UGA's Nick Chubb, or even Tech's Justin Thomas? Clemson's Deshaun Watson didn't see enough playing time this year so he will be starting over in 2015.
Great third quarter. Loved how Johnson called six straight fullback dive plays. That made Thomas' subsequent keepers all the more effective. A real sign of respect for Mullen to call for an onside kick so early in the fourth quarter. Was key that Tech recovered. By this point Tech's defense had at least three starters out (maybe four) as well as Zenon and Smelter out on offense.

Thomas didn't see an open receiver in the back of the end zone on second & goal but Days rambled in on third down - 49-27 with 11:54 left. Days was dancing but that's still lots of time left. MSU promptly drove down to the ten in less than a minute and knocked another Tech defender out of the game, and converted another first down...but then for at least a third time the Tech D holds. 9:45 left on the clock.

MSU breaks Days' chinstrap. Fans chant ACC! Thomas rips off another nifty run on third and long - pushing Tech's rushing total well over 400 yards. The first chop block penalty of the night equalled those called earlier in the evening against Boise State. Thomas pulls up lame, but only after running five minutes off the clock. Still time for a Bulldog comeback?

Another Tech defender limps off field. Thomas is named MVP with over three minutes remaining. Bulldogs convert on fourth down and score with 2:20 left. 49-34.

GT recovers the onside kick and Thomas returns to run out the clock. Three Days runs secure the first down at 11:47 pm. Happy New Year!

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