Saturday, September 06, 2008

Georgia Tech - Boston College Insight

Here are some thoughts on the Georgia Tech victory in Boston (with corrections in red):

The win today was super-ugly, but it still counts in the win column all the same. However, we're not going to beat many good teams with performances like this. What today was about was hanging tough and keeping the faith. As PJ said - 19 points is always more than 16 points.

However, I think Boston College has a lot of weaknesses. Yes, they have a stout front D-Line, but I don't see them winning the Atlantic Division. So don't think we went out there and beat the best we'll see this year. The best D-Line - probably. The best team, probably not.

Josh gets the game-ball today. He didn't just execute, he made the critical plays when things broke down. The O-Line was not containing the D-Line much and Nesbitt was on the run a lot. His handful of critical scampers on 3rd down were classic. The one where he ran down the side line, then dropped in the field of play during the tackle to keep the clock going was just incredible awareness. This guy is just such a good fit for this offense.

Jonathan Dwyer was strong again today, with another 100+ yard effort, averaging about 6.0 yards / carry. The 43 yard run for a TD was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Nesbitt made a good read when he realized two BC guys were on him. He pitched the ball and Dwyer was off to the races.

However, the actual play call, if I'm not mistaken, was the same one that Dwyer scored on against Jacksonville State. It goes like this - Lucas Cox, the right side ABack, goes in motion to the left. However, after a few steps he reverses field. His motion tends to cause the LB's to shift and lean to the wrong side and by the time he reverses field the LB's angles are off. Then Nesbitt gets the ball, Dwyer runs right for the pitch option. Nesbitt pitches him the ball and blockers and cutting guys to the ground all over. WR's cut their guy to the ground. The right tackle fires out and cuts the LB, who hops back up, but is too late, as Dwyer runs by him. It was poetry in motion, and I think it's worked twice now.

"The problem with this team is, if you miss your assignment on one play, it could go to the house," BC linebacker Mark Herzlich said. "That's what happened."

You have to hand it to the D. The first half they didn't look sharp, but they bowed up every single time BC got into the redzone. Only one TD in the 2nd half, but many more chances, and with all the Georgia Tech fumbles, they were on the field more than they should have been. The second half was more impressive. Darryl Richard had some fantastic plays, and the safety by Derrick Morgan and Vance Walker was a game-changer.

The linebackers did just ok, based on my novice opinion. Considering we had two guys out, I guess you have to give them a thumbs up. Kyle Jackson has nice instincts and played well. Sedric Griffin got the start today and held his own. Tony Clark played very well. Other than a potentially disasterous late hit call on the QB, Griffin played with nasty streak. Sed is out for heads when he tackles. That is clear. Steven Sylvester won't redshirt this year, as he saw his first action of the season. Too bad, but hey, we need to win this year, and with AT Barnes and B.Jefferson out of action, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. The second half performance by the LB group was much better than the first.

I thought the DB's did a nice job today. Coverage was generally pretty good and tackling was ok. They had a couple of key INT's to help change momentum in the 2nd half.

I don't think there's much to say about the turnovers. They happened. This is a high risk offense. Hopefully, we'll reduce these as we grow into the offense.

Back to Dwyer. When was the last time we had a running back with take-it-the-house, breakaway speed? I think the last guy was the Haley's Comet-like career of Tony Hollings. PJ Daniels and Tashard Choice was all heart, and tough, between-the-tackles, backs, but they just never had that breakaway speed once in the clear. Dwyer is different. He's got a 2nd gear, and it surprises me, quite frankly, because he's so big and strong. He's got that speed, but he broke a lot of tackles today. It's hard for one guy to take him down.

There is something magic about option football. It's college football at its purest, if you ask me. However, there's something else magic about college football - playing to win. Playing "not to lose" is the domain of the NFL and we saw a little too much of it on the flats. Sure, you can win your share of games that way, but you're going to lose a bunch too.

Playing to win is a mentality. Paul Johnson went for it on 4th and inches with the Jackets up by 3 late in the 4th quarter. A field goal would have put us up by 6 and forced BC to score a TD. Johnson decided to go for it, was successful, and then we ran out the clock. Coach Gailey would have kicked the field goal, and maybe we would have still won, but going for it just exudes a different attitude. Go for the throat. Swagger. I like it.

Something else that's pretty cool - in-game fire and intensity. Paul Johnson and his staff bring the heat during the game. Greg Smith felt the wrath of his A-Back coach and Johnson after making a couple of mistakes. It's nice to see fire from your head coach. Having said that, it's not out-of-control. He generally exudes a calm confidence, but most of his fire is reserved his own players who make mistakes. Anyhow, I like the fire and attitude.

Opening kickoff fumbled
Punt fumbled and lost
Two missed field goals

The only real bright spot on special teams was Jonathan Dwyer, who had a 50+ yard return that was very impressive. Maybe we could give Scott Blair some kudos for punting the ball solidly. ther than that, it's back to the drawing board. Our snap / hold / kick trio needs work. Low snaps, poor holds, bad kicks. We did hit a 27 yard field goal, but not good enough. Blair is 1-for-5 on the season.

I'm sorry, but Raycom, the ENTIRE staff at Raycom, should be ashamed. For the entire game, we had to hear about "Roddy Smith". Who the heck is Roddy Smith? There was a guy named Roddy Jones carrying the ball everytime they said "Roddy Smith". Maybe that's who they were talking about. Of course his name was right on the back of his jersey - "Jones". I guess "Jones" and "Smith" are just those generic names, and nobody on the entire staff, announcing crew, film truck, bathroom attendants, etc, decided that maybe they should let the announcers know they were making a mistake.

Ok, we know that BC's D-Line is stout. They were #2 in rush defense in the nation last year and they brought most of those guys and more back this season. Clearly they are talented. Having said that, the O-Line is still a major question mark in my mind. Some of those guys just aren't getting any push off the line. Some guys seem to just miss their assignments. I don't know if it's just an experience thing, a communication thing, a technique thing or an effort thing.

However, give them credit for hanging tough and continuing the fight. Again, a win is a win.

You know what happens when you leave DB's and LB's in coverage? You actually pick off a few more balls. Last season we had a grand total of 5 INT's, with Morgan Burnett grabbing 3 of them. After two games, we already have 4 INT's, and 3 different guys have them (as opposed to 2 last season).

There were 16 NFL scouts at this game, watching a bunch of guys on both sides of the ball.

Wake Forest barely slips by Ole Miss, but a win is a win. East Carolina beats up #8 West Virginia, so does that mean Virginia Tech is better than we thought after losing to them last week? Hard to tell. VaTech beat Furman today, but it wasn't a trouncing. Clemson crushes Citidel. Virginia shuts out Richmond. NCST beats William and Mary. Florida State is shutting out Western Carolina 42-0 as I type this. Maryland did lose to Mid Tenn State (in a game I was sooooo tempted to pick). Duke lost to Northwestern 24-20.

Lastly, Miami is hanging with Florida, down 9-3 in the 3rd quarter, so at least their playing respectably. Does this mean the ACC gets a little reputation back? Maybe a little, but not much. Need more wins.

Going into this season, one thing was VERY clear - the media all thought the Atlantic conference was the clearly stronger ACC conference. Maybe it's not so clear. Georgia Tech just beat Boston College. Miami is looking strong against Florida. UNC should be better. Duke is better (but still Duke). UVA - not sure. But over in the Atlantic, you have the Clemson debacle, BC losing, Maryland losing, NCST losing last week, etc. Wake has won two quality games and FSU is rolling over a nobody. Maybe the Coastal is stronger than people thought.

Said Dwyer: “The coach was saying to us all week, ‘You can’t get respect — you have to take it.’ “

"We thought we had them,'' said the Boston College left offensive tackle."And then we didn't.''