Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gator: Jackets Sting Cats

Not surprised with Tech's Gator Bowl win today. Kentucky's coach Stoops kept getting madder and madder, and things would keep going Tech's way.

After the early strip sack touchdown return, the end of the second quarter was fun. Wildcats go for it on fourth down deep in Tech territory. Jackets hold, the three plays later go for it themselves on fourth down backed up inside the 20 yard line. Huge gamble, but Tech converted.

Justin Thomas proceeded to drive the offense 94 yards for a touchdown. Then Tech got the ball back and converted a first down with one second left in the half. Stoops' protest was denied - and two precious seconds were added to the clock. Harrison Butker promptly drilled a 53 yard field goal, making the score 20-3 at the half.

Even when Tech's punt was blocked, Kentucky couldn't make anything of it. A piling on penalty immediately pushed the Wildcats back 15 yards. Another missed opportunity.

Tech's offense really didn't get going until the second half. Three times Thomas hit receivers in their hands, only to see the ball dropped. In the first half the Wildcats stuffed the fullback dive up the middle, but in the second half Paul Johnson kept calling the play over and over, forcing Kentucky to stop the play. They never did.

With all the penalties and challenges and commercials, I wondered if the game would finish before the 3 pm Peach Bowl kickoff. Not sure if ESPN cut down on TV timeouts to get the game over quickly, but the game ended before 2:30.

While Thomas was his usual efficient self, and the defense rose to the occasion, today's game ball went to the offensive mastermind: Paul Johnson.

Tech's light gold jerseys and white helmets contrasted nicely with Kentucky's blue, but the Jackets have become like every other team: you never know what they're going to look like from week to week.

The announcers were pleasant - even the usually obnoxious Ron Franklin. The sideline reporter was overzealous, demonstrating the Tech center's four point stance.

The Tech win brings out the usual slew of braggarts, though beating the Kentucky Wildcats isn't exactly that much of an achievement. Still, for the Jackets to rebound from last year's disappointing season to win nine games as well as a decent bowl game is nice. But with Justin Thomas graduating, new challenges await next year. 

Sad that the Jacksonville tourism board's advertisement featured yoga, but nothing about the city's Christian heritage.

Also not surprised that LSU shut down flash-in-the-pan Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. Ron Franklin said what I had previously written, that Jackson's decline in play since the end of October, and Deshaun Watson's excellent play down the stretch and in the ACC Championship game, had earned Watson Franklin's Heisman vote.

Basketball: GT beat UNC today. UNC Charlotte gave away bobbleheads today, in the likeness of their head coach: Mark Price.

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