1. Miami middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, expected to play a significant role in the game, finished with nine tackles, most on the team and above his season average. That doesn’t quite tell the story. On his nine tackles, Georgia Tech averaged 5.9 yards, and the shortest gain was two yards.
Compare that to the job that former Miami linebacker Sean Spence did when he was stationed in the middle against Tech in 2011, when the Yellow Jackets played one of their poorest offensive games of the Paul Johnson era. On Spence’s 10 tackles, Tech averaged 2.3 yards per play, with a long of four.
I think it’s far more a statement about the play of the offensive line as opposed to a comparison between Spence and Perryman, who were given the same assignment against Tech. Saturday, Tech’s line, often center Freddie Burden but sometimes others, was often successful in, if not getting Perryman to the ground, at least getting in his way enough to not let him go straight to the ball.
2. Tech had seven penalties for 69 yards, well above its season average of 5.6 penalties for 53.8 yards. That followed Tech committing eight penalties for 60 yards in the Virginia Tech. Fifteen of the 28 penalties and 48 percent of the penalty yards have been assessed in the past two games. (It was pointed out to me by a reader that two of Saturday’s penalties were intentional delay-of-game penalties. Without them, Tech had five penalties for 59 yards.)
It could be argued that the higher level of competition necessitated more fouls, but it doesn’t entirely stand up in the past two years (see chart below). Perhaps the larger point that the penalties in the past two games are up considerably compared to past averages. Virginia Tech was penalized 12 times for 79 yards, including a slew of illegal substitution penalties, if you recall, so it was a penalty-heavy game Miami had five flags for 38 yards.
3. By tying his career high with 133 yards against Miami, B-back Zach Laskey is averaging 89.8 yards per game. Assuming a bowl game, that puts him on track for 1,167 yards, which would be Tech’s first 1,000-yard rushing season for a B-back since Anthony Allen in 2010 (1,225). Seasons of 1,000 yards from the starting B-backs had been a virtual certainty in Johnson’s offense going back to Georgia Southern.
In the three seasons since Allen, the position has been split between David Sims and Preston Lyons in 2011 and Laskey the past two seasons. Together, they’ve cleared 1,000 – 1,038 in 2011 (1,133 if you include Charles Perkins), 1,309 in 2012 and 1,369 in 2013.
4. First-year freshman Qua Searcy was dressed, but did not play. Coaches moved him over from wide receiver to cornerback during the open week to see if it might be worthwhile to remove his redshirt and play him there. Miami only playing 44 snaps may have been a factor in Searcy not getting on the field.
Saturday’s game was the first that Tech did not convert turnovers into points. Going into Saturday, the Jackets had cashed in all seven takeaways for a total of 45 points. Tech punted after Isaiah Johnson’s second quarter interception, and ran out the clock after Jamal Golden’s interception.
The Jackets have eight interceptions, tied for 13th in the country and tied for the third in the ACC. Eight different players have interceptions thus far.
5. Linebacker Paul Davis led Tech with nine tackles, most on the team. If you’re wondering, the average play length on his nine tackles was 7.1 yards, with a long of 24. Davis has led or tied the team in tackles in three of Tech’s five games.
6. Tech has trailed in every game this season and, obviously, won each game. As you might expect, this goes a bit against the grain of Johnson’s coaching history and, presumably, every coach ever. At Tech, prior to this season, Johnson was 7-19 when trailing after the first quarter (Tulane, Miami), 8-12 when trailing at halftime (Virginia Tech) and 3-26 when trailing after the third quarter (Virginia Tech). He was a dreadful 0-28 when trailing after the fourth quarter. (That’s a joke.) Tech trailed Wofford late in the second quarter but not at the end of the quarter, and trailed Georgia Southern for about nine minutes during the fourth quarter.