GT thought it turned a corner but ran into a brick wall
The goodwill that Georgia Tech had been slowly building for the past three weeks was washed away by a torrent of Kenny Pickett deep balls on Saturday afternoon. After allowing 10 opponent plays to go for 20 or more yards in the opening four games, GT allowed 7 today, and it could have been 3 more if not for Pitt drops. This was a thorough domination by the Panthers.
On Pittsburgh’s opening drive, GT showed a few glitches in getting aligned but was able to get a stop. Things went downhill from there.
Jeff Sims had his first two passes intercepted on plays that were eerily reminiscent of the Syracuse game last year. Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison – who came into the game 2nd and 1st in passing and receiving touchdowns nationally – lit GT on fire. Pickett had 304 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, before finishing with 389 and 4 TDs. Addison accounted for 117 yards and one of those TDs in the first half, and Taysir Mack did the rest, with 121 yards and a TD of his own.
The pass rush that stifled UNC didn’t show up in the first half, and Pickett was able to often stand in the pocket for 4, 5, 6 seconds while waiting for a receiver to run free. The secondary did nothing to help, as Pitt receivers found seems over and over again.
The offense was relative efficient, and Sims was highly accurate. But disaster plays derailed things, and GT couldn’t finish drives once again. The absence of Kyric McGowan clearly hurt, and the inability to run inside zone kept the Jackets off balance.
The offense was able to hit two explosive plays in the first half: a gorgeous 44 yard go ball to Nate McCollum and a well-designed screen play to Gibbs that went for 71.
If GT had any hope to get back in the game, the offense had to finish the drive after the Gibbs screen play Things stalled out inside the 5 due to a combination of bizarre play calling, missed blocks, and inaccurate throws.
As the second half got underway, Coach Patenaude had the team doing the only thing that could give GT a chance: throw the ball every play. Sims opened the third quarter with four straight throws for first downs, alternating between Malachi Carter and Malik Rutherford. After picking up first and goal at the Pitt 7, GT lost 16 yards and missed a field goal. That effectively sealed things.
Pitt methodically drove down the field, and Pickett added his fourth TD throw to make it 49-14.
Garbage time ensued. Both teams kept their starting offenses in for most of the rest of the way, but GT had two more failed fourth down plays that allowed Pitt to keep plenty of distance.
The game ended 52-21, and it was every bit that bad. The defensive play was horrible. The offensive line couldn’t block. For a team to look as good as GT did last week and as bad as they did today is the mark of a bad coaching staff. Fans streamed out of the stadium in the middle of the third quarter, and it might be hard to get them back after today.