A View From…Atlanta

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A View From…Atlanta

Wiley Ballard of the Yellow Jackets Sports Network gives us his insights on Saturday night’s showdown between Tech and the Bulldogs. Wiley is a tremendous young announcer, known primarily for his work with Yellow Jackets baseball and his work on the Atlanta Braves Network. He’s a good friend and we greatly appreciate his insight.

Talk about the impact Brent Key has had on the program.





Well considering Georgia Tech went just 10-28 under former head coach Geoff Collins, Key’s impact has been massive. With Saturday’s win over Syracuse, Georgia Tech is now 10-9 since Key took over and will compete in their first bowl game since 2018. One of the most promising developments under Coach Key’s watch this season has been the offensive improvement. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 32 points per game, its best mark in five years. Dual-threat quarterback Haynes King. a Texas A&M transfer, leads the ACC with 26 passing touchdowns and ranks second among ACC quarterbacks in rushing yards per game.

Take us through the incredible comeback wins over Miami and North Carolina.

The victory over No. 17 Miami will live on in the memories of Georgia Tech fans for years to come. It wasn’t so much the “who, what, when and where” but the “how.” Tech played one of its best defensive games of the season but appeared to be destined for defeat in the final minute. The Yellow Jackets were out of timeouts and Miami had a fresh set of downs leading 20-17. Miami regrettably decided to run the football instead of take a knee. Georgia Tech linebacker Paul Moala forced a fumble which gave Tech the football back on their own 26 with 26 seconds left. A 30-yard completion to Malik Rutherford got the Yellow Jackets into plus-territory but still out of range for a field goal. After a spike to stop the clock at :09, King raced out of the pocket and hurled a deep ball to Alabama-transfer Christian Leary who scored a go-ahead touchdown with one second left. The Yellow Jackets went into full delirium while Miami suffered an inexcusable defeat. Three weeks later Georgia Tech hosted No. 17 North Carolina and quarterback Drake Maye, a projected first round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. Despite falling 14-0 after one quarter, the Yellow Jackets roared back with a 24 point out-burst in the second period to cut the Tar Heels’ lead to 28-24 at halftime. North Carolina stretched their lead back to double-digits twice in the second half, but a 22-point fourth quarter carried the day for Tech in a 46-42 win. Ultimately the win was a cathartic experience for the Tech fans who had experienced far too many recent defeats at Bobby Dodd Stadium over the last five years.





What is your take on Georgia?

My take on the Bulldogs hardly differs from everyone else. Georgia hasn’t lost a game in two years and has built a roster envied by every other college program and perhaps even a few NFL teams. Personally I’m happy for Carson Beck. It was going to be a difficult assignment stepping in for Stetson Bennett, especially with such little in-game experience entering 2023. However it appears he’s demonstrated the ability to lead Georgia’s offense without issue. Furthermore the defense continues to be the class of college football.

What do the Yellow Jackets need to do to defeat the Bulldogs?

Tech will have to play their best game of the season. Of course I think anyone facing off against the Bulldogs this year would say the same. I do think the offense will have to do the majority of the heavy-lifting given the Yellow Jackets’ deficiencies in stopping the run. Georgia Tech opponents’ have averaged 222 yards per game on the ground this year and they will be tested again this Saturday. But it’s not only imperative that Tech score, they must also possess the football to shorten the game and give the defense a chance to rest. In the games Tech has lost this year, a common theme has been lopsided margins in time of possession.

What do you love most about college football?

So much has changed in our sport over the last few years, some of it good and some of it bad. But the one thing that has remained consistent is the heart, desire and passion of the student-athletes. There’s something you can’t replicate about 18 to 22 year-olds competing with their hearts on their sleeves, their emotions so sincere and earnest. I know the college football world has transformed drastically and will continue to do so, but so long as these young people are at the core of our game I think we’ll be just fine.





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