On Saturday night in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the stars aligned to break every known rule about recent Tech football. First of all, the Bulldogs won at WKU, which they had never done. Second of all, they won in a close game, which felt rare in recent memory.
It was a close game throughout, with neither team really looking reminiscent of their 2016 selves. Gone are the days of good ol’ 58-44 and 55-52 shootouts. Despite Tech’s struggles to get the offense going, they eventually got it done and put up 10 unanswered fourth quarter points to win the game. Jaylon Ferguson’s sack on WKU’s last third down was a perfect callback of last year’s game in Ruston. J’Mar was able to shake off his interception to lead an effective two-minute scoring drive. Then, the money man himself, Jonathan Barnes, came on to the field. Jonathan Barnes is a captain of this football team for a reason. The man can’t be iced, he’s made of ice.
Just how rare is it for WKU to lose a conference game at home? Since joining the CUSA in 2014, WKU had lost exactly one time at home. That loss was in their very first CUSA home game against UAB. After that loss, the Toppers decided they didn’t care for losing on their home turf. They rattled off 14 straight wins over almost three full calendar years before the Bulldogs showed up on Saturday.
With all that being said, here are some thoughts about the game and the team moving forward from gtpdd member Josh: The offense is still a huge question mark. The lack of a mid level passing game is perplexing to me. It seemed like all we called in the passing game were short screens and deep balls to Bonnette. The running game wasn’t the best we’ve had and the box score shows it. 122 total rushing yards with no single player over 100. The lone rushing TD came from Kam McKnight (hella) from the big bone. Defensively, I thought we could’ve been much better, but I’ve been saying that for years. The D-line wasn’t able to get any pressure on White for most of the game, but Ferguson did have a v nice sack when it counted. The secondary also gave up some passing plays that probably could have been covered easily.
Player of the game
Evan: I’ll be a contrarian and give it to J’Mar Smith. He had flashes of poise and moxie and all that intangible mumbo-jumbo that you want to see from your sophomore starting QB. He hit three perfect deep balls to Rashid Bonnette (only two of which connected, but still… perfect passes from the QB). He held onto the football when he felt pressure. The WRs definitely didn’t help him with the drops.
Josh: JONATHAN BARNES
Daniel S: Every WKU receiver that dropped an easy catch.
Nathan: Jonathan Barnes. Two game winning field goals in the past four games. They are taken for granted in the NFL, but a consistent, clutch kicker can’t be taken for granted.
The go tech pls dont die metric
Evan: It really is amazing how big this outcome is for the gtpdd metric. If Tech loses the game 22-20, we’d be writing about the uphill climb in conference and that Tech needs to find its identity moving forward (which it still does). But being 2-1, 1-0 in conference, puts us right back on track to where we want to be. I wish we’d have looked better so that I would have confidence in our ability to beat the Cocks this weekend… But I’m not quite there yet.
Josh: Tech went and tried very, very hard to die, but they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Tech = not dead.
Daniel S: Tech in many ways did not go and for most of the game fans thought dying was inevitable. in the end Tech miraculously managed to go for a solid one quarter and not die.
Nathan: Before the Armed Forces Bowl, Tech was 2-5 in games decided by four or fewer points in the Skip Holtz era. The Bulldogs are 2-0 since and it is so much fun to win these close games (i.e. not Tech it up).
gtpdd hot takes
Evan: Can we PLEASE tell Blake Baker that blitzing is an appropriate thing to do? PLEASE get some pressure on opposing QBs early in games. PLEASE.
Josh: THE PASSING GAME IS V BAD
Daniel S: Ferguson is two for two in last minute clutch defensive plays against WKU in the regular season.
Nathan: Blake Baker is not the best DC, but he is not nearly as bad as many think. It’s hard to get a pass rush against what looked like an NFL offensive line.
Moment of the game
Evan: The precise second that the WKU player was forced out of bounds to end the game was the best moment of the game.
Josh: Gotta be Barnes hitting the game winning FG.
Daniel: Just to be different I’ll say that horse-collar tackle to set up first and goal from the 8.
Nathan: J’Mar’s interception on the penultimate offensive drive. It felt like like we had seen it before.
Tales from the BBB game thread
Photoshop of the week