The targeting call was made. Adam Gotsis knew his game against North Carolina would soon be over, the automatic ejection coming a little more than one quarter in. After review confirmed his helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Marquise Williams, Gotsis headed to the locker room.
The senior starting defensive tackle showered and dressed, then went into the Georgia Tech coaches offices to watch the rest of the game on television with injured A-back Qua Searcy.
"He's watching the offense do their thing and I'm watching the defense and we're both going crazy a little bit," Gotsis said in a recent phone interview.
For good reason. With two key players watching from the offices and another handful out with injuries -- including fellow starting tackle Pat Gamble -- the Jackets stumbled to their third straight loss. Now, they have to find a way to fix what ails them against No. 6 Clemson in Death Valley, a tough assignment made even tougher considering the circumstances.
Gotsis said watching the Tar Heels move up and down on the Jackets was difficult to watch.
"Those guys went out there and battled but unfortunately we couldn't get the result we wanted. It's tough when you can't be on the field to encourage. You have to watch on TV and you can still hear the band in the background. It does feel like you got kicked in the stomach, but you can't let it get two games out of you. You have to move on."
Moving on has not been the issue. Nor has there been just one thing that has gone wrong for the preseason choice to win the Coastal Division. As coach Paul Johnson said on the ACC coaches call Wednesday, his team is simply not good enough in one facet to overcome miscues from the others.
The offense has failed in short-yardage situations. A veteran defense has given up big plays and ranks No. 12 against the run, giving up roughly the same amount on the ground as it did a year ago. And special teams has done the Jackets no favors at all.
It hasn't helped to have so many players injured, either. Johnson said the team is down to its sixth and seven options at A-back.
"We've got to get contributions from offense, defense and special teams. We'd like to get them all in the same game. We haven't done that," Johnson said. "We've got to grow up. We've had a chance in every game with a play here or a play there. Nobody's riding in to save us, so we've got to save ourselves if we're going to get it done."
Knowing they have been so close is what has given Georgia Tech players hope they will dig out from their hole. Georgia Tech had chances to win all the games it has lost, only to come up short. There was a fumble and failed fourth-down conversions against Duke; missed field goals against the Irish; a failure to score twice from the 1 against North Carolina.
"No one likes losing, and that's the tough thing," Gotsis said. "No one likes to come in on Monday and turn on the film and see the opportunities we did let pass. It's got to be a team thing. It can't be 10 guys on the team want to change and the rest are just complacent losing. The whole team mentality is, 'We've got to turn this thing around.' We feel it's unacceptable to lose and we know we're working to improve that."