Georgia Tech Football: Three Biggest Takeaways From Ugly Loss To Virginia

[Sports Illustrated] Georgia Tech Football: Three Biggest Takeaways From Ugly Loss To Virginia

Georgia Tech came into the matchup against Virginia with a ton of momentum but by the end of the night, the momentum had disappeared. 

After a two-game winning streak, Georgia Tech had a possible path to a bowl game and a shot to at least remain in the ACC Coastal race. Both of those things are unlikely now (but still possible) and Georgia Tech must now also deal with the possibility that quarterback Jeff Sims may have to miss time with an injury after leaving the game last night and backup quarterback Zach Gibson taking over. 

There are a lot of thoughts about this game, but here are the three biggest takeaways that I had after last night.  

3. The Running Game Was Very Disappointing

Neither Dontae Smith nor Hassan Hall had success on the ground. 

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia does not have one of the best rushing defenses in the ACC (currently 9th in the conference) and for Georgia Tech's offense to have a good night, running the ball on the Cavaliers was going to be a part of the game plan. 

At the start of the game, both Hassan Hall and Dontae Smith were receiving carries, but could not get going and help the offense. When Sims went out of the game, the threat of running the ball at the quarterback position was taken away and that really hindered the offense.Tech has to have a strong running game to have a good day on offense and they just didn't in this game. 

For the game, Georgia Tech finished with 60 yards on 37 carries. That is horrible. The offensive line deserves a fair share of the blame for this performance as well. 

Interim head coach Brent Key talked about the importance of Georgia Tech needing to have a strong running game afterward: 

"I think the whole team felt the effects. It is a team game and I was very blunt about that with the guys in the locker room. It is all three phases, it is all 85 guys on scholarship and 105 guys on the team that feel the effects of things and we had had some success the last two weeks becoming more efficient and effective running the football. I thought on the first drive tonight we showed some efficiency and showed some runs popping in there, three and four yards pop for six or seven and then as the game went on and you took the dimension of the run threat of Jeff went away, so they were able to play a little bit different defensively too so but anytime you become one dimensional on the offensive side of the football, you are going to feel the stress of it throughout the rest of the game, on the whole team because you become field position oriented too now you know, when you are running, you are working the clock, you are working field position, now it becomes how much field the defense has to defend and it puts more stress on the punt team and the return game of trying to flip the field.

2. A Bowl Game is Now Unlikely

Georgia Tech is going to have an uphill battle to make a bowl game now

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the game, Georgia Tech had a 3-3 record after winning two in a row and was starting to appear in some bowl projections around the country. With games against 2-4 Virginia and 2-5 Virginia Tech still left, there was a plausible path for the Yellow Jackets to earn their way into the postseason. 

Now, it is very unlikely. I am not saying it is impossible, but the rest of the schedule is challenging. Next week, Tech must go on the road to face a 4-3 Florida State team that has played well this year and only lost to three of the best teams in the ACC (Wake Forest, NC State, and Clemson). 

Virginia Tech is a winnable game, but after that, a home game against Miami is going to be a mismatch on paper. The Hurricanes have not gotten off to the start they wanted to this year, but they own a massive talent advantage over Georgia Tech, especially on the lines of scrimmage. 

The North Carolina game will be on the road and the Tar Heels have perhaps the best offense in the ACC and what appears to be a future first-round pick at quarterback with Drake Maye. The Tar Heels are currently 6-1 and sitting atop the Coastal Division. Georgia is among the top teams in the country and frankly, there is no scenario in which I see that game being competitive. 

Maybe if Sims returns in time, the Yellow Jackets can surprise some of the teams listed above and pull enough upsets to get to a bowl game. However, last night's loss to the Cavaliers made it even more challenging.

1. The Offense Needs Jeff Sims Healthy

Jeff Sims exited the game early in the loss to Virginia

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

While Jeff Sims is not a perfect quarterback, his ability to move around in the pocket and how he gives the Yellow Jackets an extra dimension by being able to call designed runs for him is valuable. That was evident last night after Sims went down with an injury. 

Gibson came in the game and could not avoid the pass rush and was sacked seven times by the Virginia defense. It was a truly poor performance from the offense as a whole and showed that even with his flaws, Sims is the right guy to be under center for the Yellow Jackets. 

If Sims is not able to play going forward, this offense could be in trouble. Gibson is not mobile and this offensive line can't be trusted against anyone. Three of the five teams remaining on Georgia Tech's schedule have very good defensive lines (Georgia, Florida State, and Miami) and could control the game against the Yellow Jackets. 

Here is what Key said when asked about Sim's status moving forward: 

"Again, I have no clue as far as his status where it goes and he will be in there tonight and here tomorrow and we will get an update on what his status is. Something on his lower body, you know, lower body, foot, toe, ankle, something like that. We will find out though and rest assured, you guys will find out too."

Last night showed how valuable Sims is to the offense and how much they will need him going forward for the rest of the season. 

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