I just finished watching the Georgia Tech vs BYU game in slow motion. It is amazing how much you can see that you miss during live action. There was a little of everything in this game, some really good and was well totally perplexing. I wish I had taken notes. It took me about 3 sittings and 3 hours to get it done and by now some details are lost in my mind.
At times we were our worst enemy and you all already know this. There were too many penalties and self inflicted wounds out there. On the stat sheet, this game appears to rival VT for the sheer number of unforced errors, but to the naked eye it was very different. I have to be honest here, I am not one to call out refs very often. I prefer to focus on things that we have control over, but there were many calls in this game that I have no idea what they were seeing. The crew didn't look familiar to me. What conference refs were they? It looked to me like Mendenhall must have sent in some film to the crew ahead of time and said, look, these guys cheat the snap sometimes and don't get called. This is, in fact, true. I can point to a half dozen plays in the UM game where one of our guards barely, and I mean barely, got a jump on the snap and it wasn't called. Last Saturday, IMHO, that crew was seeing ghosts. If I rewind a play five times and watch it frame by frame and I can't find anything or maybe just saw a guy move an inch ahead of the snap, how the heck can they call it? I am left totally confused by this one. Yes Chamberlain lined up in the neutral zone once and yes we went noticeably early a couple of times, but this wasn't a total breakdown like the VT game. I think we got plain hosed and I am not ashamed to say it. Heck, even the chop block wasn't really a penalty and I am heavily in favor of enforcing those. Our guy who went low never contacted the DL in question until the DL fell on him. Wisely he saw he was about to hit an engaged defender and pulled off short to just lay there on the ground. It may have looked like a chop from the back judge's angle, but it didn't happen. Anyway, to digress any further is fruitless.
BYU played a very aggressive style of defense which we are seeing more of these days. They had 3 DLs down and 2 LBs shadowing the outside shoulder of the DEs making, in a sense a 5 man line. The MLBs would crash an A gap based on motion pretty much every play making essentially a 6 man front at the snap. They blitzed a lot in the pass rush, and like recent opponents, basically dared us to beat them through the air. They have talented players in the front 7, but I would put them behind VT and Miami slightly.
ESPNU here didn't switch to the GT game until after the UVA choke against UM in the final seconds. I missed our first series. Honestly, I thought we looked pretty darned good on offense the first two series (our second and third). We blocked things well, made a few mistakes, but also made big plays to overcome them. What we had going on up front was working and we were driving the ball. Two long drives and 10 points, despite a couple of missed opportunities on over throws wasn't all that bad. Then the clown show started. The next drive we went backwards faster than forwards and lost field position after the punt. We continued to have success at times, but there were just too many missed blocks, bad reads, poor decisions and dropped passes to sustain anything over a long field. It wasn't any one person. There just always seemed to be somebody screwing the pooch when we needed a play. Even Godhigh missed a few blocks that got people tackled and that rarely happens. Most times it looked like 9 of the 11 players did great on a given play, but the botched 2 ruined the whole deal. Details will follow in the position reports.
QB: God bless him, Vad made some really big plays for us Saturday. At times he looked like that guy who can carry a team and at others he looked like a confused blind man. He just isn't hitting his deep throws, and it is going back a few games now. Better passes have to be made when the wheel route gets 3 yards behind the defense, for example. He was rushed and pressured at times, but those aren't the throws I am talking about. I don't think I saw him check down at any time. He hit Smelter off a scramble once for a good play. Most of the option we ran wasn't triple, but out of the diamond. It is here that I think Vad is struggling mightily. He had a very low percentage of reads go his way. If it wasn't for RG making plays out of nothing it would have been worse. Once Vad stuck the ball in his belly from the diamond with the crashing LB (#3) literally 2 feet from RG and already lowering his helmet for the tackle 5 yards in the backfield. Luckily he bounced off and RG fought for about 8 on an utterly amazing effort. Vad just doesn't have the feel for it, if you ask me, and that is supposed to be the style of play he is most familiar with. I don't get it. From under center he failed to get the ball pitched a couple times and also just changed his mind and ran the opposite direction on his own only to lose big yards on a play that if he carries it through probably gets 3 or 4. This happened more than once. At times he just seemed to turn into the defense, taking a loss, instead of taking a modest gain heading to daylight. Personally, I think he got very tired in this game and was hanging on for dear life and it affected his decision making. That pick 6 was just a horrible throw. That LB was 15 yards from the receiver and should have had no chance at the ball. I thought JT played well. He showed composure and got the team moving until Sims fumbled the ball. He also had a good second drive for a TD. He completed all 3 of his passes and I think 1 was a check down and one an improvised short TD pass. All were short to mid range tosses. He made a couple plays out of nothing with just pure agility and athleticism. He is a hard guy to catch. I don't like the way he carries the ball, though. Personally, I think he needs more game reps, but I wouldn't necessarily push him ahead of Vad just yet. I thought he played better than Vad against BYU, but he inherited a situation with little pressure while he was fresh and everybody else gassed. He is pushing Vad and I think that is a good thing.
The OL had a lot of good stuff happening, but unfortunately the penalties, whether real or imagined, crushed our momentum. There weren't a ton of missed blocks, but the ones that were missed killed us. There were just too many defenders in a small space for a missed block not to matter. I would say assignments were botched more than guys getting whipped. There were some free runs into the backfield out there. I have grown tired of watching Chamberlain's guy end up making the tackle. I am tired of him lining up offsides and / or jumping. I know the game was played at 4000 feet and people needed breathers, but there just has to be somebody better. He is the only guy getting shucked and abused physically. Maybe that is why he jumps. I thought O'Reilly did really well with his series. He is a big kid and he can play at little. To me, he was the most impressive of the 2s. I think we need Chase Roberts at LT until Bailey is ready. He did OK. Won some and lost some but looked generally more physical and competitive. Braun did some good things. As usual the G-C-G starting group for us is pretty good. The tackle position is more of the issue.
The BBs did some good and bad. Sims landed some punishing blocks up the middle on LBs, knocking them back a few yards. It was really impressive, but his fumble was a huge downer as was a drop earlier in the game. Yards were hard to come by up the middle as BYU was bound and determined to crash those gaps all night and I am not talking about reading handoffs. I am talking about flying up on AB motion in an attempt to stone the play. Kudos to Conners for his long burst. Why did he stop running? I know he was going to be caught, but he cost himself about 5-8 yards at the end of the run.
The ABs were just so so. Days made a really good tackle preventing a TD. Unfortunately, it wasn't on special teams or a defensive return, but rather Deon Hill who was headed for the EZ for what would have been our second TD. I shouldn't bitch, he made some really really good blocks on the day. Godhigh will tell you he wasn't his best blocking, but man he did a good job running the ball. Never count him out of a run. Van Noy had a free run at him stuck his helmet right in his mid section as he received a handoff. He just bounced off, kept his balance and moved his legs. Deon Hill had a bad drop that hurt.
Don't get me started on Waller at WR. He made a couple catches, but that pass in the EZ was just made for a tall guy to snatch it and win. He just doesn't seem to have the energy, the will, or the coordination to adjust his body and make a decisive leap for the ball. I am sorry, but most tall guys make that catch. Smelter had a drop but also kept working to free himself up when others were standing around. He is our best right now. Summers caught a deep ball, but was otherwise silent.