• Optimism After Loss to Virginia Tech

    The Jackets suffered a frustrating 17-10 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies last Thursday night. Here are thoughts and breakdowns on what happened between the lines.

    I just finished watching every offensive series in great detail with the action slowed down. To be honest, I spent more time with this one because analyzing the failures takes a little more work. Quite frankly, what I thought I saw live last Thursday night wasn't really true, or maybe I should say, there is a lot more to the story.

    Obviously, for all GT fans, this game represents a maddening result, full of mental errors, penalties, and the like. While all that is true, the film study provides a lot more reason for optimism than I thought it would. I was very wrong about a lot of things. Hopefully, I will be able to articulate my misconceptions in enough detail to paint a decent picture of what really happened out there.

    First of all, I feel sure that VT spent a heck of a lot more time on GT than just the short week getting ready for us. Give Bud Foster credit. He had those kids well prepared and very sure of themselves. They knew our tendencies and played with a far better sense of anticipation than any of our opponents ever had. They jumped snap counts and read our motion very well. I don't think I saw a single case of a safety biting on toss play action.

    The Hokies had a plan for getting to the perimeter that would take pressure off the safety. Usually, if we went to pass, they brought EVERYBODY on the pass rush besides the 4 who backed up into coverage, with very little regard for the consequences. I think this was one of those tactics that they probably had a plan for pulling out of, in the event we were able to burn them with it.

    While we hit a couple plays over the top, we weren't reliable enough to make them change. In general, against the run, their plan was to funnel the action into the interior of the defense, where their strength is. They tried to jump beyond the LOS ahead of plays to slow the action down just enough that a deep MLB could get to the edge. For the most part, they were able to do just that. They had a full bag of tricks that varied with down and distance in an effort to confuse us, and I think they did. The teams we have played so far had a single basic alignment and did the best they could with it. Foster forced adjustments and quick decisions. We were not up to the task.

    Upon viewing the game live, I was of the opinion that we got whipped up front. I knew we had a bunch of penalties that slowed us down, but I thought the bottom line was that they got the best of us mano-a-mano (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling of the expression). That cannot be further from the truth. They were far better than any interior line group we have faced yet. They were quick and very physical. But you know what, when we actually executed our assignments and got hat on hat, it was a very interesting fight up front.

    We had dominated until this game. IMHO, we more than held our own, in a physical sense, against what may be the best group in the land. I guarantee you, VT feels like they played a very physical group in GT. They won some battles here and there, just as we did, but more than anything it came down to consistency of execution, and we didn't have it. I will go ahead and say it, because I feel strongly that it is true, IF, IF, IF we eliminate the brain dead penalties alone, we blocked them well enough to score another couple TDs. I leave this viewing with a far greater sense of optimism than when I started it.

    Moving on to the position groups:

    OL is probably the best place to start given the intro. It is impossible to give this group a good grade despite what I had to say above. The kids blocked hard, but assignments and execution are a part of football, and we had no consistency in that regard. We had false starts. We chose to turn loose players a few times that absolutely couldn't have been the blocking scheme for the play. We had kids block a play beautifully, only for the BB hand off to go to a different gap.

    I don't know who was wrong (QB & BB or OL), but they weren't together. This was just the kind of game where, if we made a physical error like tripping over a teammates feet, or slipping and crawling into an opponent, it happened in the worst place at the most crucial time. VT had a good scheme. They were limiting big plays. There wasn't much room for error.

    The one guy I am going to get on a little is Trey Braun. He subbed in for Jackson on the series in Q4 when we went for it on 4th and 2. Well, he let himself get whipped by #98 (a hell of a player btw) on 3rd and 2 causing Sims to get stoned for no gain. If he just makes a decent to average block there, it is a first down and 4th isn't required. Then on 4th and 2, he slips on the snap and literally crawls to the neutral zone in #98's direction. Who do you think makes the play?

    Many of you may feel like we were terrible in pass protection. Well, there were a couple breakdowns in technique, but for the most part, what happened was just the natural byproduct of wide splits and them "bringing the house" almost every time while timing their runs to the LOS beautifully. It is pretty hard to be effective under those conditions if the skill guys aren't breaking off routes and making some short completions. Beno acted a couple of times like he actually forgot we were passing. Once, his DE was by him and he never got within 3 feet of touching him. I don't understand that one.

    Once again, upon initial viewing, I felt like Vad Lee screwed the pooch running the option and generally managed the game poorly. I was dead wrong. He actually did OK. The few mistakes he did make in the game, just happened to be very costly. Before the fumble in the first series, we had just executed a few plays very cleanly and appeared to be starting a good drive. We will never know if we would have gone on to score, but I sure would liked to have found out.

    The play in question was very lazy and careless on his part. He has to carry the ball out in option position there, but he has to be more aware and much more firm with his grasp. I felt he missed a couple of pitch reads on the perimeter in the second half that would have sprung some runs. The picks and some of the incompletions were really not on him.

    On the first pick, I am still trying to figure out why Zenon slowed down when coming back for the ball. He was in perfect position to do so. Instead he just lets the defender go right in front. He had a 6 foot lead on the guy coming back and just quit! It was horrible. That was a good throw and a play that would have overcome a couple of horrible penalties.

    Later in the game, Waller, who is working his way on to my list, was lackadaisical on an incompletion on a potential big play. The ball was well thrown deep. He is in perfect position with the defender behind him and he is too lazy to jump and high point the ball using his much longer body as a shield. Instead he keeps his feet on the ground and passively tries the bread-basket catch, allowing the defender to catch up and swat his arms.

    In general, Vad was under a lot of duress throughout the game. Frankly, there just wasn't a lot there for him to work with some of the time. On a percentage basis, I would say he actually graded out decent on the option. Vad would like some throws back too. He led a couple guys out of bounds on what would have been nice completions, one for a TD.

    The WRs had a crappy day IMHO. All except Smelter that is. He, once again, blocked like a freak and made plays on balls when they were in the air. He might be the only guy we have that does that. He didn't win every ball but at least he was working for them. Obviously, Vad Lee has come to trust him more than the others. He is a gamer. The rest were a sad lot, false starting over at the boundary and playing lazy. Seriously, why would a WR false start? All he has to do is watch the darned ball. He doesn't even need to know the snap count. He has 10 yards before he has to block somebody. Summers was breaking in when Vad was throwing out. That kind of stuff happened a good bit. VT was going to force some incompletions. We couldn't afford the unforced kind.

    The ABs got into the illegal shift and false start train too. Robbie Godhigh actually got in on that party too. It is hard to get mad at him because he is one of the guys giving it all every down. This little guy was laying some crushing blocks on big LBs on the interior. He is fearless and effective. Once again, he made a big play on a deep ball when a guy his size shouldn't be able to.

    I thought the BBs ran well. Against this good a defense, the windows are a little tighter and the sledding a lot tougher. They got some tough yards.

    I know there are many, including myself, who felt Paul Johnson had a crappy game plan. I no longer really think that is true. Given what they were doing, I think we ran the right stuff. Maybe a little more mid-line could have been utilized and some smoke routes deployed, who knows.

    Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster was doing a good job varying the depth of his cornerbackss, so it was hard to guess. It would have to have been an audible at the line and I'm not sure if he trusts Vad with those kinds of choices yet. They were going to shut the perimeter run game with their tactics. Getting to the boundary consistently was not going to happen.

    If you want to get mad at Paul Johnson, don't take issue with his plan, but rather, take issue with how he failed to get the kids ready to execute it. We played with our heads in our rear Thursday night. End of story. Varying snap counts is a basic fundamental that an offense uses to counter an over aggressive defense jumping the LOS. We were nowhere close to being ready to use it. Had we done that ONE SINGLE THING better, I think this game has a different finish.

    We ran 60 some odd plays and had 9 offensive penalties and 2 bad turnovers (the last one in desperation). The only drive where we didn't have a penalty resulted in a TD, and even that one had a fumbled snap inside the 5 yard line that nearly ended it. Those elements, combined with bad field position, and a short game clock (lots of running by both teams and completions by VT), resulting in reduced number of possessions, did us in.

    So in summation, this game was a missed opportunity, more than it was a revelation about our apparent weakness. Personally, I think this team "wants it" far more than any in the last couple of years and they are playing too tight because of it. Pretty much every kid down the line (except Waller) may be pressing a little, trying to make something (too much) happen. In any case, I would rather have that than the opposite. At this point in time, I don't have a big fear of upcoming opponents. Physically, I think we can handle it. I just want us to settle down a bit. Sometimes the exact right frame of mind for a team is hard to achieve. If we can settle down and play in a relaxed state of concentration while maintaining some energy, I think we will be fine.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Film Room - GT on Offense vs VT started by Boomergump View original post
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. jtopher's Avatar
      jtopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by PleaseNoOvertime View Post
      Why do people always want to compare teams by common opponents? South Carolina scored 27 against UNC... Does that mean that we are better than SCar and that ECU would destroy both of us? No...
      Exactly, we played UNC in a deluge and Duke put up 53 on Pitt. What does it all mean....nothing.
    1. jtopher's Avatar
      jtopher -
      Thanks Boomer for the write up. The only thing I would have liked to have seen would have been some diamond just to make VT react to us instead of the other way around. I mean if you wanted to use it a a surprise element why "waste" it on Duke?

      But I understand why CPJ is reluctant to use and practice it, if we can't run the "base" how can we run the rest. Vad will continue to get better(still not even a full season under belt), but we can't get whipped these next two weeks or I will have strong reservations about whether the O can work against top D lines. That being said, this D line made Alabama's "Pro-style" offense with 5 star Offensive lineman look pretty silly also.

      This is why I LOVE college football so much more than pro. Also, it is nice to read conversation about the "problems" rather than blanket rants. I know the players and coaches want more and I think it will pay off. Starting to see some of the players on D really mature and come into their own.
    1. Jim Hart's Avatar
      Jim Hart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lexjacket View Post
      Thanks Boomer you bring clarity through the fog of emotion and disappointment. I hope you don't mind but I share your analyses with Georgia Tech fans all over Delta Tech Ops. If I don't get it to'em quickly I start getting "Where's my Boomergump?" e-mails.
      Just send them the link to the article here on GTSportsTalk, Lex.
    1. Lexjacket's Avatar
      Lexjacket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hart View Post
      Just send them the link to the article here on GTSportsTalk, Lex.
      Will do Jim.
    1. Rdm's Avatar
      Rdm -
      Boomer, based on what you said in the article, I would place blame for the loss on our coaches. I think you are saying that they failed to get the team prepared. Do you agree?
    1. dressedcheeseside's Avatar
      dressedcheeseside -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hart View Post
      Just send them the link to the article here on GTSportsTalk, Lex.
      Does this mean we're allowed to link to other sports messages boards here now???
    1. Boomergump's Avatar
      Boomergump -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rdm View Post
      Boomer, based on what you said in the article, I would place blame for the loss on our coaches. I think you are saying that they failed to get the team prepared. Do you agree?
      I place the blame on everybody including the coaches, but I object to the way the question is worded. Losses happen in football. In fact, there is one for every contest. Blaming people for losses makes no sense to me. I blame the coaches for the repeated mistakes of the players. I blame the players for not concentrating and executing their assignments. Shame on the players for making it necessary for coaches to belabor simple football basics. A coach should have a better idea if his team is ready to execute the basics than ours did Thursday night. However, we COULD have made those same mistakes and won, IF some other breaks went our way. I don't blame anybody for losses. I blame them for failing to do the things they can control. No coach or player has ultimate control over whether their team wins or loses. We could have had no penalties and still lost. You just don't know. What happens when two coaching staffs both prepare perfectly for the game and both equally matched teams play really well? It isn't going to end in a tie.
    1. Anotherbee's Avatar
      Anotherbee -
      Great read, Boomer. A questions or two you might be able to answer for me:

      It appeared to me that we whiffed much more on our cut blocks that we did on our straight-up blocks. Did you see anything like this? My theory is that you might get pancaked on a straight-up block, but if you whiff or flop your cut block, the don't even slow down the defensive player. We looked like a big pile of firewood out there sometimes.

      Since the VT tackles were jumping into the backfield and the MLB was shooting the edge playside on our plays from the Flex, was there space for an AB to run a quick slant where the MLB was? It would seem to me if the MLB is overplaying the edge, there is a short pass opportunity where the MLB was, maybe for the non-motioning AB.
    1. Jeagt's Avatar
      Jeagt -
      Quote Originally Posted by Anotherbee View Post
      Great read, Boomer. A questions or two you might be able to answer for me:

      It appeared to me that we whiffed much more on our cut blocks that we did on our straight-up blocks. Did you see anything like this? My theory is that you might get pancaked on a straight-up block, but if you whiff or flop your cut block, the don't even slow down the defensive player. We looked like a big pile of firewood out there sometimes.
      I think we whiffed on both types of blocks. I saw numerous times where we engaged #17 straight up and the dude just bounced off the block or broke free anyway, at least one play where the guard pulled and never made it front of the QB for a block, as well as whiffed cut blocks.
    1. Boomergump's Avatar
      Boomergump -
      Quote Originally Posted by Anotherbee View Post
      Great read, Boomer. A questions or two you might be able to answer for me:

      It appeared to me that we whiffed much more on our cut blocks that we did on our straight-up blocks. Did you see anything like this? My theory is that you might get pancaked on a straight-up block, but if you whiff or flop your cut block, the don't even slow down the defensive player. We looked like a big pile of firewood out there sometimes.

      Since the VT tackles were jumping into the backfield and the MLB was shooting the edge playside on our plays from the Flex, was there space for an AB to run a quick slant where the MLB was? It would seem to me if the MLB is overplaying the edge, there is a short pass opportunity where the MLB was, maybe for the non-motioning AB.
      Q1: I think we missed a lot of blocks because we couldn't get there and not because we cut poorly. They did a great job reacting before the snap to get ahead of our blockers and defeat the angle. This happened at the second level some and in the neutral zone. I saw quite a few plays where, say, Jackson was supposed to block #98, who was lined up right in front of him, on a play going right. Jackson was supposed to cut him off, but was unable because, before the snap, #98 was already in motion towards the play side. There were many times where our OLs had an assignment at the second level, but couldn't get there in time because the LB or #17 had read the play and anticipated so well and were gone. I give them credit for doing a great job of timing us up. If we blew a cut block, from what I saw, it was usually because of slippage or something.

      Q2: There may be space for something like that, but you have to remember, most of what we do passing-wise is off of play action. Part of what we do is try to suck safeties up in run support with play action. If we try to run slants, we may be throwing balls directly into areas we are trying to pull safeties into. That is why you see us throw deep so much. We are gong to areas where, hopefully the safeties have vacated. Against most offenses you will see safeties lined up 15 yards deep. Against us, most of the time it is 8 or 9 deep. That tends to eliminate the AB slant unless you see them bailing consistently. The play that I thought could have been there for us was smokes or quick slants to the WR from the boundary. Their second 3 were crashing the LOS pretty often leaving a lot of space in the flat and only 4 back spread out across the field.
    1. alagold's Avatar
      alagold -
      Quote Originally Posted by jtopher View Post
      Exactly, we played UNC in a deluge and Duke put up 53 on Pitt. What does it all mean....nothing.
      you are right--it only means we lost to vt ---by a BIGGER margin than last yr--and our OFF had the lowest point total ever vs vt I believe with an run OFF that was 150 yds+ under its avg and ReggieBall numbers on passing.Those are FACTS.
      Let me know if our OFF gets the job done this week.
    1. NYJacket's Avatar
      NYJacket -
      So, why didn't we make adjustments to counter what VT was doing to us? And, what are we going to do if Miami does the same thing?
    1. dressedcheeseside's Avatar
      dressedcheeseside -
      Quote Originally Posted by NYJacket View Post
      So, why didn't we make adjustments to counter what VT was doing to us? And, what are we going to do if Miami does the same thing?
      We did, but the guys couldn't execute them. Try them again, but do them right this time?
    1. GT Man's Avatar
      GT Man -
      Quote Originally Posted by dressedcheeseside View Post
      We did, but the guys couldn't execute them. Try them again, but do them right this time?
      Agree Cheese. Adjustments weren't the problem. The kids were getting out-played, not out-schemed.
      However, I do think changing up the snap counts on a short week (in retrospect) was not the best idea. I think the offsides penalties started to take their toll on the O-line's confidence level.
    1. yellojello's Avatar
      yellojello -
      Quote Originally Posted by GT Man View Post
      Agree Cheese. Adjustments weren't the problem. The kids were getting out-played, not out-schemed.
      However, I do think changing up the snap counts on a short week (in retrospect) was not the best idea. I think the offsides penalties started to take their toll on the O-line's confidence level.
      Godhigh, in his post-game conference said they practice changing the snap count all the time. They better practice that. Something as fundamental as that needs to be practiced regularly.
    1. NYJacket's Avatar
      NYJacket -
      Whats wrong with shifting to a different offensive formation when the other guys stack the box? Go to 4 wide outs and drop the QB back in the spread? Something to cause confusion on the defense! Why stay in the two wide out with slot backs tight on the wing? Expect the defense to stuff the dive and crush the QB to shut down the option. with 4 wide outs we could still put a slot back in motion and run the same plays.
    1. stonedwall's Avatar
      stonedwall -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boomergump View Post
      The play that I thought could have been there for us was smokes or quick slants to the WR from the boundary. Their second 3 were crashing the LOS pretty often leaving a lot of space in the flat and only 4 back spread out across the field.
      i'd love to see us do this. muskegon big red "ski gun" screen passes. watch first minute or so of this vid:



      same team, "quick" passing game. doesn't give an aggressive D time to get to the QB: