Thursday, January 31, 2008

Where are they now - Jon Tenuta

Wow. Didn't see this coming. It appears Jon Tenuta is headed to Notre Dame - as an assistant position coach (most likely LB or Secondary). It appears he's going to replace none-other than a retiring Bill Lewis (small world). I guess holding the Irish to 14 points one year, then completely obliterating them the year after (held to 3 pts + 9 sacks)looks pretty good to Charlie Weiss.

However, the obvious white elephant here is that Tenuta appears to be taking a demotion, which almost assuredly means a substantial paycut (probably a 50% cut if you ask me). How is it possible that a guy who consistently put top 25 defenses on the field at a school that ties your arm behind your back before you even get on the field (recruiting, academics, etc), not able to land a DC job somewhere else? Of course we don't really know what JT was offered and by whom.

Now, I already speculated on why he hadn't landed somewhere already here. Key possibilities:

  • Personality
  • "My way or the highway" approach
  • High risk D strategy
  • He burned his bridges by ratting out Les Miles to Kirk Herbstreit (not confirmed) and is being black-balled as not trust-worthy. Pure speculation there.

One thing is for sure - if Charlie Weiss wants people like him around the program, those two foul-mouthed, yelling, emotional, gruff guys should mesh just fine.......... ooooorrrrrrrrr NOT!!

I am thankful we had Jon Tenuta represent our program. He did a nice job for sure. However, in a strange way, he went from the coach I wanted to lose the least - to a guy I was indifferent about losing (after we lost him of course). I won't be all rah-rah about the new guy until I see his work on the field, but the psychology of watching a guy we all held up in our minds get knocked down a few notches somehow makes losing him easier to swallow. Strange the way our minds work.

What is interesting is that we may never know the truth about the circumstances around his leaving GT in the first place. We are led to believe he was offered the DC job by Paul Johnson, but we really don't know if it had strings attached or a timeline attached.

Oh well. I can say this much. It won't have any impact on my rooting against Notre Dame. I didn't like them before and I still won't like them now.

Rankings, Coaching Changes, Trades, Calendars

I have a handful of random tidbits I thought I would throw out today in case you didn't know.

D-RICH DOIN' THE DO
President Daryl Richard continues to excel and give every fan a ridiculous number of reasons to have pride in our student-athletes. Check out what the future Athletic Director is up to these days. Another legacy of Chan Gailey, as he recommended D-Rich get involved. Now he's the Prez......

HOOPS + FOOTBALL - WHO'S THE BEST
Here's Rival.com's ranking of the top 25 best combined football/basketball schools in the country. GT slips in at #19. UGAg nowhere on the list of course. Maryland comes in at #10, BC #22. Here's their math.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW - CURTIS MODKINS
I think you knew, but just in case. One week after accepting the OC job at Colorado State, Modkins bolted to take a job working for his former boss Chan Gailey as the KC Chiefs Running Backs coach. Evidently he saw a position coach job in the NFL as way better than an OC job at the collegiate level. Of course sticking with the horse that brung you is never a bad idea. Chan Gailey is always going to have job security.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW - JARRETT JACK
Is Jack about to be dealt in a three-team deal to the Nets? Check out details.

DURANT BROOKS DAD TAKES TIME OFF
........ to check out his son boom the ball. Durant's dad is a coach by the way:


"I think the key is (the players') understanding of the situation," Reid said. "If they were in the same position with a child doing the things Durant has done, they would want to see him as much as they possibly could. So I think knowing that, they certainly understand why (Coach Brooks) was not here.

"I was more than happy to fill in. Because Coach Brooks has helped me for a number of years when I was coaching the girls team and he was coaching the boys. He is a very good coach. He is one of the finest men I know, and I was glad to be able to help him out."
MARK SOME DATES ON YOUR CALENDAR
Per D-Rad:


I, like many of you, am looking forward to spring practice which will culminate with a much-anticipated Spring Football Game on Saturday, April 19. In fact, mark your calendars not only for that date, but keep open Friday evening, April 18 as well. Soon we will release details of a major Georgia Tech event to celebrate our spring weekend and formally welcome Coach Johnson and his new staff to Georgia Tech.

Also, more dates to be aware of per D-Rad:


Our February social calendar is loaded as well, as Georgia Tech will be well-represented at a number of functions. Our signing day celebration on Wednesday February 6th will take place at Opera - a fun and historic midtown club at Crescent and 14th Street, near the Four Seasons Hotel. Festivities run from 6-8 p.m. with Coach Johnson and his assistants filling us in on our 2008 recruiting class. Don't forget our annual baseball leadoff dinner with Chipper Jones as guest speaker will be held February 9th at the Georgia Tech Hotel. I will lead a delegation at the Atlanta Sports Awards banquet on Monday, February 11 at the Fox Theater and again at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame dinner at Cobb Galleria on February 16.

PRANK CALLS
Evidently the conferences are getting a rash of prank calls, like this one recently addressed to Paul Hewitt during an ACC teleconference:

Morrison's recent brush with a similar but unrelated call came from someone posing as a reporter for the Technician, the N.C. State school newspaper. In a serious tone, the caller asked Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt if he was concerned that his powerful center, Jeremis Smith, would eat North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough.

After the caller repeated the question, Hewitt curtly replied, "Next question."
PYSCO-T
Look, I admire Tyler Hansbrough's game, grit and determination as the next guy. I absolutely like the drive and intensity with which he plays. If our post players consistently played with his level of effort, we might be staring at a few more wins this season.

Having said that, this article is typical of stuff you can read or hear about TH on a regular basis. It's all about his toughness, and how he withstands major abuse from opposing teams on a regular basis:


"How does he not want to throw punches at people?" Sahratian asked. "We played Georgia Tech, and after the game, he looked like he was in a UFC fight. ... He's kind of like a machine. The more you hit him, it feeds him. He channels that anger by getting more points and rebounds."

Listen, GT is a very physical team. We all get that. Don't expect to get too many easy layups against us, ok? We all understand that. But understand this - Tyler Hansbrough initiates contact. He invites contact. He is the aggressor. Just watch one of his games sometime. His game is a physical bruising game - initiated by him - not by his opponents. The guy scraps. The guy pushes. The guy bangs. The guy commits a ton of offensive fouls that don't get called. Why? Well, partly because of the respect he has from everyone. He hustles and he's earned it.

However, he also has good technique. In that game UNC lost to Maryland, I happened to catch one of those offensive fouls that was not called, but resulted in an easy layup for TH. He used his lower body and hip-checked the defender out of the way - even though that defender had perfect, stationary defensive post position. The result was that the defender didn't have that typical "flop" from the upper body down that gets called all the time as an offensive foul. It was more like he had his legs taken out from under him. It worked. A no call and an easy 2 points for UNC.

Again - I respect the heck out of the way he plays. He gets more out of his physical ability than most anyone - and probably works harder at it. But don't sit here and convince me I should be all empathetic about the fact he gets bruised and bloodied. It's the way HE plays the game. Believe me, if we face an opponent who plays the same way, there's a good chance that guy's gonna get hurt too.

JAYBO SHAW - STANDING OUT
GT QB recuit Jaybo Shaw has what one Rivals.com writer calls one one of the best 5 personal high school game performances he saw all season.

This son of a head coach put on a performance against Gainesville on October 12 that Houdini would have been proud of. Down by as many as three touchdowns in the first half, Shaw personally brought his team back for a 49-38 victory. The Gainesville defense had Shaw trapped in the backfield on numerous occasions only to watch him escape time and time again.

Shaw ended the evening with 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns to go along with 170 yards passing and another score. If the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are looking for a player that can make things happen with his mind, body and soul then they have found their quarterback of the future.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW - BILL O'BRIEN
Remember O'Brien when he was at GT? Well, did you know that he is now an "offensive assistant" with the New England Patriots, and is helping prepare for a SuperBowl?

UZZI TO THE PROM?
From the football recruiting world, evidently the only thing missing for recruit O.Uzzi is flowers.

Coaches from Georgia Tech and Virginia used in-school visits on Wednesday to explain to Chamblee offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi why he should commit to their programs.

“Tech came in the morning and Virginia came in the afternoon,” Chamblee coach Jim Showfety said. “It’s almost funny hearing these sales pitches.

“The guy from Virginia was down in my office and, I tried to stay out of it, but I could hear what he was saying. It’s like a guy trying to convince the girl to go to the prom with him.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meet Mike Sewak

Ramblinwreck.com has a new interview (video and transcript) with co-OL Coach Mike Sewak. I have not watched the video, but did read the Q&A. While I found some of the wording in the written version strange and hard-to-follow, I did lock in on this statement about the triple-option:

Q: ... What are the things that are going to be most important to offensive play at Georgia Tech?

A: There are a lot of things. First, we have to analyze and evaluate the (players) we have right here now, because they all came highly recommended. They have played really well and they have had some success. They have had a thousand-yard rusher. So, we are going to try to mold those kids into our scheme and as we go out to recruit for our offense, we will try to find some guys that can slide a little bit more. Not so much lateral movement but more up the field movement. So, I think the terminology will be conducive to making the change work because the kids understand offense. When they are running the zone plays they understand A-gap, B-gap. The thing about option is you try to go where you have the numbers, then you try to go where you have the angles, then you try to find any personnel mismatches. Where sometimes in the other offenses you try to find the personnel mismatches first, then try to either elevate them or not elevate them. For us the personnel mismatches aren't something that we are trying to get to because we try to put ourselves in positions to make good plays. Let your athletes make the plays. That is what we are going to try to look for and try to find in our guys and slide our offensive line to that.


Ok, so we now have an "order of priority" for the Triple-Option offense.

1. Go for the numbers advantage first
Can you get the guy with the ball to a part of the field where there are 4 blockers for 3 defenders? That's priority #1.

2. Go for the angles second
The TO Offense is about angles. Can you create a pitch-lane, keep the defenders on their heels waiting to figure out who is going to get the ball, then put your guys in a position to create advantageous angles - where a fast guy can just use his speed if he points himself in the right direction.

3. Lastly, look for personnel mismatches.
Traditional pro-set offenses basically require your people to ALL make a play against "their guy". Everyone has to do their job or the back gets tackled - or is forced to use his God-given talent to "make something happen". Defenses are predicated on guys shedding their man and making a play. That's the game. But with this modus-operandi for traditional offenses, it becomes critical to have the "best" guys; the strongest players; the fastest players; the most athletic players. That's where the recruiting arms race plays out........... With the Triple-Option and/or spread offenses, talent is important, but superior talent is not always required......... So after you find the numbers advantage, and find the right angles, then you start picking on that weak LB or weak DE the opponent is bringing to town.


One last thing - Coach Sewak referred to this offense as very "aerobic". In the context of his statement, I wasn't sure if he was talking about for the players or the fans. However, I'm sure Jane Fonda would be proud. Maybe the theme song should be "Let's Get Phsyical".

News You Already Knew

I am assuming that you knew that our assistant AD - Wayne Hogan - interviewed for the AD job at FSU. Evidently he cried.......... or rather talked about the time he cried when FSU lost when he was 10 years old. I guess he's Seminole to the core and wants the job bad. He also referenced GT's "Total Person" Program, and other great things that have happened at GT:

"To the idea of bridging your gap, the academic folks in athletics and the athletic director need to pay special attention to the faculty on the campus," Hogan said. "Get to know those people. Create a relationship with those people. . . . Our athletic program is one part of a much bigger picture here at Florida State and we need to act that way. We need to be a part of faculty relations. I think we've done that very well at Georgia Tech."
Of course Wayne had to help clean-up that little flunky-gatey, probationy thingy that happened a few years ago. I guess I wish the best for Wayne if this is the gig he wants. Don'e want to keep a guy from his dream.

Where are they now - Ed Nelson


We have an Ed Nelson sighting.............. in Spain. Also note that the article mentions Ed's former bunk-mate Luke "The Posse" Schenscher, who is playing ball in Germany. The article manages to touch on his game, his love life, his ride, his rap career, and his future plans. Until next time, peace out........

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where are they now - Tashard Choice

Double-Duece definitely improved his draft stock as a result of his work during Senior Bowl week. He showed toughness, tackle-breaking ability, sticky hands catching passes, and the general attitude we all know and love.

It is going to be an interesting draft for Running Backs. There are a BUNCH of good ones out there, and the mass exodus of the junior class is going to push a lot of guys further back. Heck, James Davis declared, then saw all the other juniors declaring, saw his draft stock drop, and decided one more year at Clemson might not be too bad after all.

Of course Tashard Choice doesn't have that option. His time at GT is complete. He's moving on, and he's got a real shot to be a 1 or 2 back in the NFL.

Here's a nice interview with Tashard - worth the read.

Hoops - Roster Analysis

You asked for it - you got it. The complete Hewitt year-by-year rosters. If you see something that looks wrong, let me know and I'll correct it.

Click on the picture for the larger version

Monday, January 28, 2008

HOOPS - 2 ROAD WINS? IN A ROW?

Have we entered some sort of Twilight Zone episode? Our Jackets just won their 2nd road game in a row - both ACC games? That has not happened in eons. Congrats to the team for a great victory, taking out UVA 82-72 in one overtime session.

FLIP THE SCRIPT
The script for this story was reversed. It is supposed to be the Jackets who run out for the big lead, give it up, then find a way to lose in the closing minutes. That's been the script for the Jackets too many times the past couple of seasons. Sunday it was just the opposite. Let's face it - Virginia was on fire in the 1st half.... unconscious..... It was like everything they threw up from everyone went in. I never had the sense or feel that it was slacking off on defense by Tech. However, the Jackets do play a fairly aggressive, help-type defense. The result is usually open threes if you have some guys with decent vision and an ability to penetrate-and-dish. Virginia found guys who got open looks and it was like they couldn't miss.

So the Jackets go the locker-room at half trailing, but they came out in the 2nd half and did what it took to get back in the game, even taking the lead. How many times do we have to hear "In the ACC, teams are going to make a run at you so get ready" - regarding the OTHER teams? Well, it was GT Sunday. In the end, they did have a chance to win it in regulation, missed the shot, but dominated in OT. Way to go.

MATT CAUSEY - EN FUEGO
You know, if Matt Causey is a 30% shooter from 3pt line hoisting up some of the moon shots he's been taking, we'd all be writing about how he's killing us; how he needs to be benched; how he's a hot-head and not a team player. Buuuuuuuttttttttt, make 50% of your bombs and especially the ones in cruchtime and it goes from zero-to-hero. You're now gritty and gutty and fearless.

You have to just shake your head. The kid hits about a 35-foot dagger in OT to break UVA's back. By the way here's what Causey said about that shot - "It was deep, but the shot clock was running down so I was permitted to take it and coach couldn't say anything,". He scores most of his points in OT (12 of 18) to take UVA behind the woodshed. You have to hand it to him. He has some moxie. He's tough. He's fearless. He's got game. He's also the exact type of player that every opposing fan loves to harass and hates to play against. He's our Hurley / Wojohowski (sp?) / Reddick - you get the point.

Coach Hewitt said this after the game - “I’m to the point now where I just let him go.”. I'm not sure any of us envisioned this stretch after watching him early on. Can it continue? Why not? Can it inspire and push our other players? Why not?

INSIDE-OUT
Something that was clearly better Sunday was the Jackets ability to go inside-out. They consistently got the ball into the post to Jeremis Smith and Gani Lawal. Low-and-behold Gani got 2 assists as a result - only his 4th and 5th of the year. Maybe he's learning not to be the black hole in the post. Remember Ra'Sean Dickey went through the same thing. He was like a roach-motel - balls come in, but they don't come out.

However, it was that inside-out game that really opened things up. When you force the defense to collapse and play tighter in the paint, it gives you more opportunities on the perimeter. There were a couple of stretches where I thought we were jacking up too many three's without getting the ball down low, but for the most part, it was one of the more balanced efforts.

REBOUNDING - WHAT'S THE DEAL?
Georgia Tech is last in the ACC in rebounding. Last in offensive rebounding. Last in defensive rebounding. I don't get it. Considering GT was one of the best rebounding teams last season, and we added Gani Lawal, I'm not sure I get it. Is the loss of Dickey that significant? Is there a lack of focus on rebounding? What is happening here? Paul Hewitt puts two things at the top of his basketball list - defense and rebounding. How have we fallen so far on the 2nd?

One issue is our defensive style. It's aggresive. It's helping and doubling down. It's getting in front of post players to deny them the ball - not necessarily gettying yourself in between the bucket and the post player. All of that gives the opponents a better chance at good position for a board.

Some of it is just plain old focus. Find a man. Rebounding is as much about desire as anything. Just ask yourself how Sean Singletary tipped up an offensive board for 2 points over Zach Peacock late in the game. Desire.

There's something else that frustrated me in that game. Hard to describe, but even when our guys had position, UVA players consistently came over the back to tip the ball and keep it alive. MANY of those could have been called but they weren't. I'm not complaining about the refs here. It's just that our guys don't seem to take advantage of the same opportunity on our end of the floor. Our guys just had trouble timing their jumps and/or securing the ball even when they did have position. There was a key play late in the game where UVA put up a shot, Matt Causey establishes position in the lane and a big UVA players absolutely bowls him over - runs right through him and pushes him right under the basket. That guy ended up tipping the ball causing it to go off Lewis Clinch's fingers and OB - ball to UVA. I guess if you're a little guy in the lane, you have no right for position if a bigger guy wants to bowl his way in.

GANI - WOW
Can you see it rising? See it going up? "It" would be Gani Lawal's draft stock. Right now, the freshman class across the country is an unbelievably good one, and Gani Lawal is on the periphery of it. He's starting to make his case to be higher. What he is starting to do the past few games is impressive. The kid has springs on his feet. He's blocking shots. He's grabbing key boards, and he's making shots. He is becoming a force in the paint. His defensive skills are really getting better, and he is so active and energetic. It's just fun to watch.

Now, there are a couple of skills that will prevent him from rising to the elite of this freshman class across the country. First - he's not a good free throw shooter. We're told he's working like crazy on it. That's good. We all know free throws are about mechanics and mental focus / concentration. It Gani ever got his FT% up to 70%+, then watch out. As it is now, they're going to do what they do to Jeremis Smith - mug him if he gets the ball in the paint. Force the kid to make them at the line. The other aspect of his game that will keep him from the elite of the class is his outside shooting. All, and I do mean all, of his shots come around the basket. And they're all basically back-to-the-basket generated. No face-up jumpers in his game....... yet. Right now Gani is battling Jeremis for team honors as "blue collar" guy.

One thing's for sure - Gani's as fun to watch as anyone on this team. Let's enjoy his time here. Can you imagine next season when you have Lawal on one side and Ra'Sean Dickey on the other? Throw in Zach Peacock and Alade Aminu and that's a potentially impressive group of athletic bigmen.

MO MILLER - ACC CALIBER PG
Mo Miller has definitely shown us something. He's got game. He handles the ball nicely. He defends well. He's got a nice dribble-drive game, and he can hit the long shot. It's clear that Miller has a future in this league, and it's going to be fun to watch him develop. More than anything he appears to have confidence that past few weeks. Maybe watching Causey is rubbing off on him.

No word on his ankle injury, although the AJC indicated that he was walking around on it decently after the game. Hopefully it's not the BJ Elder variety - the good ole' "high" ankle sprain. As we know all too well, those just linger..................

DIVINE INTERVENTION?
The the AJC tells us that Derrick Moore has attended both ACC road victories. These are his first road trips since his football duties ended. Look, I'm not saying it's the difference, but let's not chance it. The guy is dialed in. Let's keep calling his number.

GREAT COACHING OR WHAT?
Ok - now comes the age-old question. We've won a bunch in a row. Two ACC road victories in a row. That happens less often than an appearance by Hailey's Comet. Is it the coaching? Has Coach Hewitt changed enough of what he is doing to make a difference? Has HE found the right combination of players? Has HE made the right adjustments? Or, are his players just making plays and doing the things he's been preaching and they've been practicing all along? Do the players just "get it" now?

My take is that it's a bit of both. Coach has made some specific adjustments.

First, he changed the starting line-up to focus on defense - putting in Miller and Bell. That has made a difference. Causey and Clinch still get their minutes, but not to start the game. Set the tone early.

Second, he has eliminated certain player combinations on the floor. For example, no Morrow and Clinch on the floor at the same time. Too many easy defensive buckets when they're on the floor. There are other combinations as well, but someone would have to breakdown the substitution chart of the game to find the specific ones. Bottom-line is that if you are limited as a player in one area it's going to impact when and who you play with. Strengthen your defense and you just increased the number of player combinations you're allowed on the floor with.

Third, "Hotel Hewitt" has become less like a Motel Six and more like a Mariott Suites. In other words, you don't actually get whiplash now watching players come in and out. He's already given 6 different score-keepers carpel tunnel syndrome. It's something that fans have speculated about for a long time. Why do you keep taking guys out that get into a flow, preventing them from ever truly getting into a flow.

Those are specific tactical adjustments he has made. You have to give credit to the coach for those. However, when Matt Causey hits a 30 foot jumpshot that seems ill-timed and low-percentage, but hits it, how much credit can you give the coach. If Causey misses that long bomb, we're all yelling - "what are you doing"? But he made it, and now Coach Hewitt is a genious right? Maybe Coach is a genius for "letting Matt go".

Bottom-line. It's coaches making tactical adjustments and it's players making plays. That's why we're winning now. It's the yin and the yang. It's also that tough little cuss Causey stepping up with no fear.

CONGRATS
with a few minutes left in regulation, I said to myself - win or lose, this team has made it fun to watch again. Congrats to the team for a great win. Now show us that it's not an anomoly and that you're building something.

GO JACKETS!!!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hoops - ACC Strength of Schedule

Interesting info - the Sagarin Strength of Schedule Rankings for each ACC hoops team as of January 24:

6...... Georgia Tech
27.... North Carolina
44.... Virginia Tech
50.... FSU
54.... Duke
64.... Clemson
85.... NC ST
128... Maryland
154... Virginia
168... Boston College
178... Wake Forest
191... Miami

What even more interesting is that ALL the ACC teams have improved their strength of schedule since the strart of ACC season. At one point, GT had a top 15 schedule and there was only one other ACC team in the top 50.

So yes, we're frustrated at being the only ACC team at .500 or lower. However, we've played significantly tougher opponents, and other than a bad loss to Vandy, we went toe-to-toe with all the best opponents (including Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina.

By the way, Georgia Tech opponents have a combined record of 133-33. That includes 4 losses to top 25 teams with a combined record of 86-8.

Side note - GT is #7 in the RPI rankings.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Football - DJ Donley is Gone

DJ Donley has his walking papers from Paul Johnson, and he is not sticking around:

Donley Headed To USC
By Phil Kornblut


ATH D.J. Donley (6-4 203) has been granted his release by Georgia Tech so that he can transfer to USC his former high school coach said Friday. "He requested his release and it took a little longer than anticipated," Charlton County, GA coach Rich McWhorter said. "He got his release for South Carolina and it ran thru the time to enroll. He just came home (to Folkston, GA). I talked to coach Spurrier Jr. and to coach Hunt today and his plans are to be up there in March. He'll go thru spring football and go thru next year as a redshirt. He will have three to get three. He had a really good bowl game and coach Johnson really didn't want him to go. But he is officially released and South Carolina has the paperwork and he'll be arriving in March." Donley strongly considered USC before signing with Tech last February. Donley can play linebacker or receiver.

Of course this goes against his own direct quotes earlier:

"I'm just going to wait and see what happens," Donley said. "Whichever one the coaches want me to play, I'll play. It's [Johnson's] team, and whatever he wants to do, I'm here for him."

"I know (Johnson) talked to all the receivers," freshman receiver D.J. Donley said. "I know he talked to me, J. J. (James Johnson) and Correy Earls for sure. "I just want to see what happens; but I ain't going nowhere."

There was this:

"A lot of people tell me it's just basically running, but then I talked to [Bohannon on the phone] and he told me they adapt to what kind of personnel they have, so it could work out," Donley said. "Everybody, we're just waiting to see what happens. ... The receivers coach told us we really won't know how much they're going to pass the ball until they get down here and they put in their plays and stuff. I think pretty much everybody's going to wait [until spring practice] and see what happens.

"Everybody's telling me this is a run offense, so of course I feel a little worried, me being a receiver. When I talked to the coach, he made me feel a little bit better. I know we're going to run the ball, but we could do some new stuff, too, and open it up more than he has in the past."

I told you multiple times that the Donley thing was not over. Internet speculation is that there were some personal issues. I'm disappointed to see him go, but frankly, whatever his reasons were are his business. I wish him all the success in the world at USC-east. Georgia Tech needs a team full of men who are proud to be at Tech, want to be at Tech, and can hack what it takes to be at Tech. There is no shame in not meeting all those criteria. Do what's best for yourself.

His departure sure hurts, as he appeared to have a bright future on either side of the ball. Oh well. Just the reality of the college sports, particulary when there is regime change.

Buckle up men, because whoever choses to stay is in for a helluva ride!!!

Football - PJ the Hammer

Here's something we learned recently. Paul Johnson is establishing himself as a guy who is more strict about academics than his predecessor. During the Chan Gailey era, evidently walk-ons and freshman were required to attend study halls and classes, and they had people checking on them on a spot basis.

Evidently under Paul Johnson, these rules have been expanded to include the entire team, even if you are a 5th year senior, or a graduate level MBA student (can you hear me now D-Rich). A discussion board source (valid?) also points out that the random checks on class attendence aren't so random anymore. Call it "full coverage" if you like. If you're skipping, it's going to get back to the coach.

One other thing - it's apparently true - Paul Johnson does not have a playbook, and basically told the players to make their own notes. That would become their playbook.

The take-away - Paul Johnson knows exactly what he wants and how he wants things to run. He has had success everywhere with "his" system and his way, and that's the way it's going to be. Of course the key is always the results. When he wins (not if), the believing will ultimately start. It's going to be an interesting and fun ride.

The Triple Option Playbook - OL Misconceptions

There's a misconception that the triple option works better with smaller, faster O-lineman, and people look at Navy's track record for justification. That couldn't be further from the truth. Well, actually it's half-right. Fast = good for the TO. Slow = bad for the TO. However, big and fast is better.

At Navy Paul Johnson couldn't go after big guys. There were many reasons including recruiting limitations at Navy and size restrictions.

So the mantra for the TO now that PJ can recruit IA high-level talent is................ Fast + Big = Best. So if you run across any 6'6" 320lb high school kids who run a 4.7-40, why don't you drop PJ a note.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where are they now - Jon Tenuta

The strange story of Jon Tenuta peeks out of the darkness, and the school in the rumor mill - Washington. Check it out. It's so hard to know what's going on in the mind of head coaches looking for a DC. There have been many openings that have come and gone, and Tenuta's name has barely come up on the fringe of the radar. Heck, after the LSU / Herbstreit debacle, he sort of disappeared, kind of like a coaching Bermuda Triangle.

So what is it with JT? He is clearly one of the most respected DC's in the business.......................... or at least that's what the media outlets want you to believe. So what is it? Why hasn't he upgraded his position, when HE decided that he wanted to move on from GT (don't forget he was supposed offered a chance to keep his job)?

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Personality - gruff, impersonable with the media, funny in a trusted circle of people, foul-mouthed. He had plenty of years to mold and shape his image as a potential head coach while at GT. He didn't do it. He chose to focus on X's / O's, player development and the inner-workings of the D. His typical media interactions were sparse and terse. Pulbic "Image" just didn't seem too important to him, and that probably hurt his potential as a future head coach. It just might have impacted his potential DC jobs in other places as well.
  2. "My Way D" - speculation, but he sure got used to Chan Gailey leaving him alone. Maybe he wants a job where he still is "the man" and isn't looking for some meddling head coach to stick his nose in on defensive coaching meetings. My guess is that Paul Johnson probably wanted more involvement than Chan - but just a guess.
  3. "High Risk D" - not every head coach wants an 85%+ blitzing defense. Not every head coach wants to give up big plays as often as GT did. Not every coach wants to isolated their corners on an island, then force them to play 15 yards off the receiver.

I sure hope JT lands on his feet. He was great at GT on the field. It was nice having defenses that "played to win", even if our offenses were more conservative. He had issues, but wherever he lands, they will benefit from having him there.

Jackets Get Elusive Road Win at NCST

Don't have time to say much but congrats as the Jackets get a rare road ACC victory vs NCST 77-74. Matt Causey was again a man-on-fire. Gani Lawal had 5 blocks and was a monster offensively in spots and very strong defensively through-out - including against the very familiar JJ Hickson. Hickson did most of his damage when Lawal was out of the game.

The Jackets only turned the ball over 3 times in the 2nd half, which is of course outstanding.

A road win is huge, no matter how you get. We'll take it and move on............ next?

GO JACKETS!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Triple Option Playbook, Part II, QB Decision making

The good old dual-threat QB. Folks, it's going to be super-easy to assume that every dual-threat QB can run Paul Johnson's triple-option offense. We learned in the last episode of the "Triple Option Playbook" that a TO ("Triple Option") QB must have 1) the willingness to get off the ground after a big hit and run the same play again, 2) enough athletic ability to get a first down on 3rd-and-7 when he is forced to run, and 3) the willingness to be an option QB. That means that just because a QB prospect is quick and can run doesn't make him a legit TO QB.

Don't we all kind of have this idea that Josh Nesbitt is going to shine in the TO? He sure looks the part. I'm sure many Tech fans believe that Reggie Ball could have thrived in a PJ TO system. True? Who knows, but don't assume the answer is yes. Why?

The reason is because there is one true measure of a QB - decision-making. Fast legs and a strong arm come and go with hundreds of kids every year out of the high school ranks. When the cream rises to the top, there are two things that cause some to stand out from the others - decision-making and accuracy. Chan Gailey always said it. Most coaches do..... because it's true.

Paul Johnson says it in his "playbook". Once again, from that wonderful interweb, we bring you an excerpt from an old Georgia Southern Veer Playbook. Today's topic - QB Decision-making:

Excerpt from Georgia Southern Veer Playbook:

DECISION-MAKING
The ability to make the decisions to execute an offense is the true measure of a QB. Quarterbacking is decision-making. The QB's decisions win or lose football games. Regardless of the style of an offense a coach designs, it won't be successful unless the QB makes a significant number of correct decisions. Athletic ability and mental and physical toughness are key ingredients in a quality QB. But, a QB with these qualities can't get on the field when he doesn't possess the decision-making ability which allows the offense to move the ball.

The most important and difficult technique to coach in any offense is the QB's decision-making. The difficulty arises in preparing the QB for the numerous variables, either offensively or defensively, which influence the QB's decisions. The QB's decision-making in an option offense is the key to success because of the number of decisions an option QB must make in a game. To be a successful decision-maker the QB must be coached to understand and execute a simple and logical decision-making process.

A QB can't be expected to be one hundred percent correct with his decisions. In football that is impossible when twenty-two players react on the snap of the ball. But, two very important results must occur when the QB makes a wrong decision. First, the initial wrong decision isn't followed by another poor decision. Usually the second wrong decision creates a lost yardage play or a turnover. Second is, the offense has possession of the football after the QB makes an incorrect decision.

The QB must understand he will make X number of wrong decisions in the course of a game. Those X number of wrong decisions are acceptable if the offense has possession of the football when the whistle blows to end the play. An offense can recover from a QB's wrong decision, but often can't recover from a turnover.

Regardless of how complex double or triple option decisions appear, those decisions aren't complex when a simple, logical decision-making process is coached, practiced and applied in a game. In an option offense the QB must have the decision-making tools to minimuze the risks in an option offense. For an option QB to consistently make the proper decisions he must be coached to:

1. Make one way decisions
2. pre-snap read the defense, and
3. understand the perimeter of the defense.

ONE WAY DECISIONS
The key to consistently making correct decisions in an option offense is for the QB to make one-way decisions. One way decisions are predetermined in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage.

In a double option the QB can't dome down the line of scrimmage to option number three, hesitate and then decide to pitch the ball to the tailback or not to pitch the ball. The decision can be predetermined for the QB with a one-way decision-making process. The one way decision-making process removes any hesitancy because the process instructs the QB exactly what to do when he reaches number three. The one way decision-making process instructs the QB to pitch the ball off number three, until number three won't allow him to pitch the ball. When the QB takes the snap and comes down the line of scrimmage he tells himself, "Pitch, Pitch, until the option man won't let me pitch the ball".

PRE-SNAP READ
The QB makes a pre-snap read for a TO by asking four questions. These are:

1. Where is the free safety?
2. Where is the "read man"? The read man's alignment on the offensive guard or tackle establishes the QB's one way decision-making process for ready the triple-option play
3. Where is number three?
4. Where is number four?

When the QB answers these questions he can execute the option with confidence and with minimal risk.

THE PERIMETER DEFENSE
The QB must have a fundamental knowledge of perimeter defenses to execute an option play. He must understand how the defense reacts from a variety of perimater alignments to defend the option. Also, he must recognize the perimater defense to determine whether the offense has a number advantage or disadvantage based on alignment.

The defenders in the perimeter defense are the QB's aphabet to read the perimeter defense. The perimeter defenders include: the option man (number three), the run support defender (number four, either a DB or outside LB), the free safety, and the DB's responsible for the deep half or third of the field.



So there's another piece of the Triple Option Playbook. It's a bit fluffy but really these type of things form the base for everything. The QB brings this system to life more than most other "systems". So decision-making is the ulitmate.

Some other posts on the triple option for your viewing pleasure

The Triple Option Playbook, Part I, Evaluating QB's
Into the Mind of the Triple Option

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Football Tidbits

JACKETS NAB SOME NEW RECRUITS
The Jackets landed a couple of new recruits this weekend- another QB (Tevin Washington) and a big O-lineman (Phil Smith, 6'6" 290lb). Tevin is of course a dual-threat guy. So the class continues to fill up - and I believe this is commit #16. Expect for us to sign 18-20 kids this year, even though there are plenty more free rides available. However, I expect a plus-size class next year, with a handful coming into next spring early counting against this year's class. We'll see. However, it's just not realistic to expect a guy who has had the job only a few weeks to pull in some great recruiting class. The job was to secure the kids they wanted to keep that were already committed, stay hot on the uncommitted kids we wanted all along, then go find some QB's and skill position players to fit the triple-option offense.


QB SITUATION CHANGES FOR 2008
Just FYI - some QB changes in the air. Kyle Manley is done with his football career. He will graduate and not pursue another year. In addition, Taylor Bennett will not be on scholarship for the 2008 season apparently. It appears he's probably going to finish his degree here (as he said himself in a previous AJC article), and may transfer to Boise or some other school to finish his final year of eligibility. However, rules prohibit him from going to a 1A school without sitting out a year without some type of hardship waiver from the NCAA. Since he's had a redshirt year, he wouldn't have any eligibility left. For Jacket fans - the bottom-line is he won't be in a Jacket uniform next season.

So here's the QB situation:

Calvin Booker - earned a scholarship recently (congrats)
Josh Nesbitt - a clear leader?
Jaybo Shaw - a true freshman who runs option.
Tevin Washington - true freshman

THREE JACKETS HEADED TO SUPERBOWL
Well how about that - Gerris Wilkinson, James Butler and Michael Matthews are headed to the Superbowl as their Giants knocked off Brett Favre and the Packers. Congrats. For me, it just solidifies who I am rooting for. Wouldn't it be a monumental upset to take down the evil empire of New England?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jackets ALMOST Shock the World

Wow. Tonight the Jackets almost shocked the college basketball world. Tonight the Jackets almost beat the #1 team in the country. Tonight the Jackets had the final shot to win. It clanked off the back of the rim and they lose again, but tonight the Jackets made basketball fun again. I really mean that. I have some hope again.

There is no shame in losing to the North Carolina Tarheels 83-82 at home, especially when they are the top ranked team in the country. I really had no expectation of a win. What I had was a keen interest in seeing if this team cared - if this team could rise to the occassion - if they would buck up and compete. They did. They played hard and they gave me hope again that maybe this group can win a few games before the season is over.

WHAT CONCLUSIONS DO WE DRAW TONIGHT?
What is the take-away here? How do we fit this pieze into the overall puzzle to know what we're looking at? What does the picture look like? For me, it is clear that regardless of issues with lack of ball handlers, issues with fundamentals, issues with defense, etc, this group has enough talent to compete wiith anyone. For me it just comes down to focus. They play to the level of their competition. Well almost to the level of their competition. The three best teams they've played this season are arguably UNC and Kansas at home and Indiana on the road. They gave every one of those teams all they could handle, then proceeded to lose every one of them. Then we go losing to average and below average teams. This paradox just begs to talk about focus, energy and motivation. If they can just figure out how to sustain the energy level they had tonight against all the other ACC teams coming up in the schedule, they just might win a few.

1. This team has talent and athleticism
2. This team has the capability to compete with anyone.
3. This team plays "about" at the level of their competition = lack of focus
4. Tonight means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

ZACH PEACOCK - PROPS
You know, Zach tends to have up-and-down games. He frustrates fans at times. However, do you find it interesting that he always seems to have the ball at the end of the games trying to make something happen? I give the guy credit. He doesn't always succeed, but he is always willing to mix it up, scrap and take the final shot. While other guys are standing around, he was the guy moving and looking for the ball at the end.

CAUSEY HAS A MEAN STREAK
Matt Causey is a firey little cuss. Now, it's one thing to be firey and out of control. It's another to channel that fire into making things happen. I really haven't been sure what camp Matt really fell into. Tonight he showed his mean streak and he poured it into some great play. He made some nice aggressive steals and had some nice passes and hit a few shots.

MO MILLER - CAN YOU SEE IT COMING?
Mo Miller seems to have matured substantially the past few games. He's playing with more confidence and he's making things happen. It's fair to say that you can start to see where his game might develop. You can see that he has a shot to be a Jarrett Jack type guy. He really reminds me of Jarrett Jack as a freshman, and life as a freshman PG in the ACC is brutal. However, he's showing some growth as we enter the ACC slate. Great news for sure.

GANI HAS IMPACT
Gani Lawal showed what he is capable of by scoring in double digits, grabbing a bunch of boards and doing a decent job defensively against Tyler Hansbrough (before fouling out). He's a super-nice kid and once he learns not to make those ticky-tack fouls, he will continue to excel. Nice to see.

A GROUP EFFORT
I singled out a few guys, but really a bunch of guys had good games like D-Bell, J-Smith, A-Mo, to name a few. Most of the guys left everything they had on the court. Really, as far as I could tell, only Lewis Clinch and Alade Aminu struggled.

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT
Ultimately tonight was just fun. It was nice to watch a game again and see the Thrillerdome in full swagger on national TV. Maybe it's only a thin slice of time, and now we'll go back to losing to mediocre teams as well. We know this group has the ability to compete with anyone. We just don't know if they will. More efforts like tonight and they sure can get a few W's.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Football Recruiting - Jackets Nab a Texas Slotback


One of the fastest kids in the state of Texas changed his commitment from Tulsa to Georgia Tech yesterday - Marcus Wright. Marcus will certainly be a "slotback", one of those two backs that line up typically just outside the OT's in the triple option. Wright is actually from the Atlanta area, but lives and plays in 5A ball in Texas. Was all-state 1st team and the state 5A offensive player-of-the-year. He's also a participant in the US Army All-American Bowl. As a sophomore at a Nike camp, he was electronically timed at 4.36 in the 40. Not bad. Not bad at all. He also runs track.

Now, as a junior he racked up 3,374 yards rushing and 45 TD's (including 8 rushing TD's in one game), which was good enough for the 7th best season ever in the state of Texas by a tailback.

So if he's all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips, then why did he commit to Tulsa? No major powers? It appears that after his committment to Tulsa he did receive offers from some of the major BCS schools in-state, but he decided not to change......... until now..

There's another issue that probably scares off some - he's 5'7", 170lb (listed at 5'6" by Rivals.com). No doubt the size-police blew the whistle for a lot of schools. However, a quick, shifty, speedster makes for a nice slotback if you ask me. I believe you generally want fast, cut-back, smaller guys in this role. In his videos you could see the speed, but I was just as impressed with his vision and cutback ability. Seems like a nice get for PJ.

Here are some links from around the web (some taken from posters at the Hive):

Bio 1Bio 2 with vids
Texas InsideA look at his 06 season
All-State RB in Texas and Offensive POTY, 2007
On San Antonio's all-time rush list
HS stats
(San Antonio link)

One last side note - Wright was Tulsa's first commitment in their class and Wright's father indicated that Tulsa coaches were pretty upset at the switch. So the next time we go bashing Spurrier or Saban for stealing our guys, I guess we have to remember those ole standby lines - "All's fair in love and war", or maybe "what comes around goes around", or "don't count your chickens" or maybe "that's just life in the big city". Not sure, but the shoe sure is on the other foot now.

In fact, the Rival article after his commit to Tulsa ended with this:

When asked what he's going to tell other college programs that try to change his decision, the speedster who once ran back five kickoffs in a Pop Warner game responded, "I'm going to tell them I'm committed to Tulsa, and I'm going to be a Golden Hurricane."


I put that here not to cast negative light on a good day. Just that until ink is to paper, nothing is certain, and these kids are making life decisions. I don't fault Chris Jackson or AJ Jenkins or the other de-commits. It hurts to see them go, but only from the standpoint that they could have helped and represented GT football.

Anyhow, welcome aboard Marcus. You did make the right choice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where are they now - Chan Gailey

"WaycoJacket" over at the Hive reported that he happened to fly back to KC next to Herm Edwards, and it appears that Chan Gailey will be the KC Chiefs new Offensive Coordinator.

True? Who knows. Guess we'll find out soon. Evidently Gailey was back in KC today interviewing for a 2nd time, and is thought to be a favorite along with Mike Shula.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Good Day for Jacket Fans


With all frustrating news in recent weeks, it was nice to get more than one dose of good news today:

THE STICK IS COMING BACK
Man-beast Michael Johnson and all 6'7" of his lean, mean fighting machine are going to be back for a senior season. Oh, sweet music to our ears.

THE O-LINE JUST GOT BETTER
Andrew Gardner has also decided to keep his game in the college ranks for another season, get that degree, beat Georgia, THEN give the NFL a shot. Evidently his paperwork came back with a 5th round estimate. Certainly great news for Jacket fans

JACKETS NAB A RUN-STUFFER?
It appears that Jackets may have received a commitment from massive Defensive Tackle TJ Barnes (6'7" 320lb). His reported height varies by an inch or so depending on where you look, but suffice it to say he's massive. When was the last time we had a giant like this on the D-Line? Of course some would say height can be a disadvantage at the DT spots, but this guy looks like a possible run-stuffer in the making.

CURTIS MODKINS GETS A PROMOTION
Really great news for one of the guys who did not survive the coaching change. Curtis Modkins was named the Offensive Coordinator out at Colorado State. Oh yeah, he's already been recruiting Sean Renfree, the former QB Jacket recruit who decommitted when the triple-option came to town.
CHAN GAILEY FINALIST FOR CHIEFS OC JOB
He didn't get the 49ers OC but he's up for the KC OC job now. All the best Chan.

DJ DONLEY STAYING, BUT HAS HIS RELEASE
There were reports that Paul Johnson wasn't giving out releases until spring ball. Colin Peek got his and even though DJ Donley said he's staying until spring ball, evidenlty he got his as well.


Donley Staying At GT, For Now
By Phil Kornblut

WR D.J. Donley (6-4 203), who has been considering transfering from Georgia Tech to USC, has received a release from Tech but won't leave just yet. Donley had thought about visiting USC this weekend but after talking with the Tech coaches, he decided to stay there at least for the spring semester and go thru spring practice to get a taste of the new offense. If then he's not happy with what he thinks his involvement will be, he might decide to follow thru with his transfer plans.


ALL QUIET ON THE TENUTA FRONT
For awhile it seemed that Tenuta was the hottest thing since sliced bread. He was going with Miles to Michigan, or he was staying with Miles at LSU. Then he was THE guy for the Auburn DC job. Now it looks like none of these things may happen.

Here's what one Auburn newspaper article said about Tenuta as a candidate for that job

Former Georgia Tech coordinator Jon Tenuta: He was a candidate early, but
Tuberville quickly lost interest.

Ouch. In spite of all this, Tenuta should land on his feet just fine.......... and of course we wish him all the best.

FORMER JACKET GOLFER INDUCTED TO HALL-OF-FAME
Jacket two-sport star Bunky Henry was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Way to go Bucky.

GOLFER R.CASTRO HONORED
Roberto Castro was given one of the most pretigious awards by the NCAA, the "Top VIII" Award, which recognizes a combination of athletic, academic and public service achievement. Check it out. Wow.

HOOPS - NEW GOALS TO SHOOT FOR
You know, just when I thought today couldn't go any better, comes news that we now have another post-season tourney in hoops to shoot for should we miss the NCAA's and the NIT. I was starting to get down because I couldn't figure what we were playing for any longer. Now I know!!! Heck, we make that one and we're already in the "Sweet 16". Actually, what's interesting about that tourney is that it's a single elimination until the finals, which is a best-of-three. Cool..................... Fight for the right to be the 98th best team in the country!!! For those counting, that's 65 NCAA tourney teams plus 32 NIT teams (I'm assuming anyone invited the NIT is going there, not this one).

HOOPS - STRANGE COINCIDENCE
Surely you heard about the weird deal where super-freak Chicago Bulls rookie Joakim Noah was suspended by his own teammates in a players-only vote after Noah verbally assaulted one of the assistant coaches. Here's the link - the Bulls took the vote while at Georgia Tech preparing for their game against the Hawks. In case you didn't know, many visiting NBA teams use Tech's facilities to prepare for road games against the Hawks.

HOOPS - THADDEUS YOUNG MAKING AN IMPRESSION
Look, I know he left after a season, but Thaddeus Young was a nice kid, a talented player, and his success in the NBA will have some positive impact on Georgia Tech. So I give you a nice write-up on TY, showing that he hasn't changed his work-hard, respectful, listening attitude. He's doing all the right things, even though he's only "getting by on raw talent" right now. Nice story.

NOT ALL ROSY
It wasn't a 100% slamdunk day, as another of our verbal comitts might be waivering - Malcolm Munroe. I'm sure you'll hear more, as he visited UNC and came away impressed.

Hoops - "Bad Team" or "Playing Bad"


So our men's hoops team runs out to a big early lead against Miami on the road, but still manages to trail by two at half, then go on to lose the game handily. Another day, another loss. Another road loss. Another exercise in frustration for both the players and fans.

"What is it? We're not bad guys," forward Gani Lawal said. "We don't go out and do drugs and hang out in late hours of the night. We just want to know why we can't pick up the wins that we want."


"Oh, man, me and Anthony were just in the locker room asking, 'What is it?' "Smith said after his 21 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs. "We're tired of answering questions. We just don't get it. We just don't know what it is, honestly."

The players don't know what it is. Obviously the coaches don't know what it is, or you might assume they would have fixed it. So what is "it"?

Even our Athletic Director has seemingly started "looking ahead" to next season. This from his "Good Word" newsletter:

"These guys need our support more than ever as Paul Hewitt goes about re-loading for the future. "

Yikes. So, in trying to characterize this team, would you say this is a "bad team" or a team that is "playing bad". Maybe semantics, but maybe not. It speaks to coaching and potential. If they are truly a bad team, then maybe there's not much that can be done to bring them up to a higher level. If they are just "playing bad", then of course the ceiling is higher.

Now, if the definition of "team" includes the coaching staff, does that change your opinion? Has Coach Hewitt reached his ceiling in terms of developing a program?

It's interesting to think about the parallels from hoops to football. We just fired a coach for being amazingly consistent, a consistent winner, but never taking that proverbial "next step", never finishing in the top 25, and never beating our rival. "Consistent winner" was not enough to save him. On the hoops side you have a guy who has had taken us the pinnacle of NCAA Hoops - the Final Four, then on to finals where we lost. However, he has also failed to compete for a conference championship, failed to keep us in the top 25, and failed to figure out how to win on the road. "Consistent" is probably the opposite of the right word to describe his tenure.

Now, as fans, if you had your choice, what would you take - consistent winner but never reaching the "top", or a roller-coaster ride with an occasional national title appearance? Would you be willing to accept losing seasons, knowing that the payoff is the occassional "magic" season?

Part of a magic season is having "magic" players. You have to recruit and Coach Hewitt has proven his ability to get blue-chippers to campus. He just can't get them to stay there. Certainly Coach Hewitt has been decimated by "one-and-done" players. Without looking it up, I have to believe that we are one of the top 5 programs in losing one-year players (Bosh, Jack, Young, Crittenton). Throw in losses like Austin Jackson (MLB), transfers (H.Lane, Nystrom, E.Nelson, Fredrick, Diaw, Faye), and you have a lot of discontinuity in the program to overcome. However, this is life in college basketball today. That's just reality.

We all know that Javaris and Thaddeus were not "NBA ready", but that's not the criteria used to make an important financial decision in your life. So we had them for one season - and clearly they made a difference. Their raw talent raised a program with a losing record right into the NCAA tourney. Now they're gone. For the players left, have they just reached their ceiling?

At the end of the day my conclusion is simple. You ain't going very far without an experienced talented Point Guard. Paul Hewitt's desire to recruit big guards has worked against him in terms of program continuity. There is a big difference between a 6'2" PG and a 6'4" PG - from the NBA perspective. Javaris shows up for a season with his big 6'5" frame and NBA-ready body, and he's gone after a bumpy first season. Ty Lawson at UNC, a 5'11" PG, had a better freshman season at UNC than JC at GT, but here is year-two, and he's still running the show for the Tarheels. Had he been JC's size, he would have been gone. Had Jarrett Jack been 6'1", I am willing to bet he would have stayed his senior season. Hewitt's insistence on large guards is a great philosophy for the system he likes to run, but the NBA likes those kind of kids too.

It's why I'm cautiously optimistic about Mo Miller. He's big, but at 6'3", his size doesn't jump out at you, and he doesn't have the raw talent that JC had. So there's a chance for some continuity and development at the PG position......... finally.

I am absolutely convinced that Coach Hewitt needs to reevaluate his system, or how he teaches his system. But at the end of the day it's the Point Guard. Forget Thaddeus Young. Put a sophomore Javaris back on this team, and I believe they have a real shot at the NCAA's.

What do you think?

On a side note to Gani Lawal: None of the fans think anyone on the team are "bad guys". In fact, we rather like having all of you on this team. However, liking how players represent the school off the court (which mostly seems outstanding), and how they represent themselves on the court (where winning trumps virtually all). This year's team seems like a group of good guys playing badly. It doesn't help much, but just thought I'd mention it.

Side Note #2: I guess if you are frustrated with the men, it looks like the ladies are seriously representing themselves in most of our major sports, including hoops. The lady Jackets actually beat Miami the other night on a buzzer beater by one of our super-new freshman. Probably time we gave the ladies more billing over here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Football - The Triple Option Playbook

"Coach, that's a pretty small playbook"

"I run six plays. Split veer. It's like novacane. Give it time. It always works"


- Denzel Washington as Coach Herman Boone, in "Remember the Titans"

I watched this movie again the other night. The "split veer" is a form of the triple option. In fact, I found a website that sets straight some truths and falsehoods from the movie and found this:

7.Did you really run six plays?
The foundation of the offense consisted of six plays; they were all variations of the triple option veer. In addition to the basic running plays, which could be run from several different formations, we had a set of passing plays and a few other plays, traps, sweeps, screens, etc. The basic six plays each had three options and could be run in either direction, so in reality we had a lot of plays.

Just an interesting side note................ and a fantastic movie to boot............... and based on a true story.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Triple Option Playbook, Part I, Evaluating QB's


You can go online and find a copy of Georgia Southern's playbook in PDF form. I did. I thought I would post a few interesting tidbits.

First, it opens up right away talking about the the Quarterback. Make no mistake, the QB is EVERYTHING in the triple option attack. Without the right QB to bring the system to life, it is going to be very limited. Here are the opening paragraphs of the playbook:

Three questions can be asked about a quarterback prospect to determine if the prospect is an option QB. when the 3 questions are answered "yes" then more than likely the prospect can be an option QB. He may not be a Colorado or an Air Force style QB, but he can run the option effectively to win football games.

The first question is, regardless of athletic ability, does the prospect have the willingness to get off the ground after a "big hit", call the same play and run it aggressively? If the answer is "yes" he has the mental and physical toughness to be an option QB. Mental and physical toughness is the QB's ability to remain poised, confident, determined, and courageous regardless of what happens on the field, or off the field. Mental and physical toughness, not sheer athletic ability is the key ingredient in a winning QB. A QB who has average ability and endowed with mental and physical toughness is more likley to win than a QB with excellent athletic ability and marginal toughness.

The second question, does the QB have enough athletic ability (speed, quickness, balance) to run for a first down on 3rd and 7 when the defense forces the QB to carry the ball on an option play? If the answer is "yes" the QB can be an effective option QB.

The third question, does the prospect have the willingness to be an option QB? For the answer to be "yes" the QB prospect must be willing to execute option plays, not just tolerate running the option.


What I found most interesting about this is that it spoke more about the intangibles. It was more about toughness and attitude than ability. This should be both exciting and slightly concerning in regards to next season. It is as obvious as the nose on your face that Josh Nesbitt could be the face of our triple option offense next season. He posseses tremendous running skills and tremendous athletic ability. However, will he have the right attitude? Will he be able bring the offense to life? Is he a good decision-maker? We just don't know.

The number one skill you need at quarterback is decision-making. Number two is accuracy. Almost every coach says it. Chan Gailey said it all the time. I absolutely believe it 100%.

In Part II of "The Triple Option Playbook", I'm going to share with you what it says about QB's and the role of decision-making.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hoops - What are we playing for now?



Well, I'm not exactly sure what to say about the hoops team these days. I'm really trying hard to figure out what they will be playing for. Usually when you run out of things like National title, ACC title, NCAA tourney bid, NIT tourney bid, beat UGAg..................... what's left? Tonight the Jackets lost to the mutts from Athens by a final score of 79-72. We've worked ourselves down the totem poll of expectations in fairly quick order. We're only 0-1 in the ACC, yet what from this team really gives us an inkling of hope of winning 8 ACC games? I'm coming up empty. What about you? Help me folks. Maybe I'm missing something.

  • We don't have a point guard to lead the team, provide tempo and make plays
  • We promote strong defense and yet we have the worst statistical defense in the conference. Realistically our actual defense is one of the ACC's worst.
  • We promote rebounding and yet we are probably the worst rebounding team in the conference.
  • We promote a motion offense and yet "motion" is such an ironic word for what we see much of the time.
  • We hear from our head coach about things "clicking" and making progress and learning, and yet we are team with lots of upperclassmen? How long does it take to "click"? At this rate, it's going to click when half these guys are playing pro ball in Europe.

I just don't get it. I absolutely believe this team has talent and athletic ability. So, if I believe that premise, then some of the following conclusions must be true:


  • Our players are fundamentally unsound. How can I conclude anything else? If they are "talented" and yet we turn the ball over a lot, play "olee" defense, don't box out, get 5-second calls, are easily trapped, can't shoot free throws or can't bring the ball up court, then they must not have a good grasp of fundamentals
  • Our players lack focus. Clearly there are stretches where this team plays amazing ball. Short stretches for sure, but it happens. So I guess our guys must just not be focused. Their minds must wander at times.
  • Our players do not hustle. I really don't believe this one, but there must be some truth there, you think?
  • Our coaching staff are great recruiters but not great teachers. There are many Tech fans that are starting to embrace this idea. It's not hard to believe it when you see the way these guys play at times. We get highly rated guys to come to Tech. But why aren't our juniors and seniors significantly better players than when they arrived? We talk about how the one-and-done guys are killing any momentum in the program. However, Hewitt has his share of 3 and 4 year guys - and the fact that they're staying doesn't seem to be resulting in progress either. I guess I seriously believe that losing our last two assistants, who became head coaches at mid-level programs, is having a toll on teaching.
  • Hotel Hewitt doesn't work. Many fans are tired of Coach Hewitt's constant rotations, which completely disregard a particular player's hot and cold streaks. Hit two in a row? You're out. I honestly have no idea if this is a hinderance to the team, but many fans do - and of course, fans know best.
  • Poor team chemistry. Our Final Four teams had dynamic and amazing chemistry. Take away Ed Nelson (& Chris Bosh), add Clarence Moore, and all-of-the-sudden a soph point guard helps take that group to the NCAA final. Chemistry is extremely underrated and also extremely vague and unquantifiable. Does this group get along? Do they communicate well in practice and games? It's hard to know, but seems to be an issue.

I was listening to an interview with UNC Head Coach Roy Williams the other day and he called out a particular player for something. The interviewer asked him about his philosophy on calling out individual player performance when they do the wrong things. He said he only asks two things of his players - FOCUS and HUSTLE. He said if his guys make a mistake, he's not going to get called out as long as he is focused and hustling. He said that when you focus and hustle, your natural talent and ability ends up being applied doing the right things more often than not.

That's why I put both focus and hustle in the list above. I have no idea which items above are dominating factors, and I'm sure it's a combination of all. At this point, I don't know what to expect. Can my expectations get any lower? Is "not finishing worst in the ACC" something to aspire to? Where do we go from here? There's a big part of me that still thinks this group can get it together and go on a winning streak. But let's be realistic. There's nothing we've seen this year to give us ANY hope of that happening. Going on a winning streak would be a completely out-of-character thing to do. Finishing games consistently would be completely out-of-character.

You know, I'm not really in an overly frustrated mood. My ramblings are really just serious head-scratching. I don't get it and I don't see the hope. It's not there for me. Is it there for you? Before you answer that - I'm not interested in hearing more "fire the coach" stuff. That's the cheap, non-constructive way out. What can Coach Hewitt do here?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Straight from our horses mouths

Well, if you want to learn the triple option, you can learn it from your new Offensive line coaches. They will personally teach you the secrects for a grand total of about $160. No kidding. Check it out.



Turns out Todd Spencer and Mike Sewak have their own DVD's teaching "the system". Note to all ACC schools: increase game film budget by $160...........



WN-07032 - The Triple Option – Play Action & Screen

By Mike Sewak Former Head CoachGeorgia Southern University

The Triple Option – Play Action & Screen video is a must-have video for any option coach looking to expose defenses with the pass. Coach Sewak, considered one of the top 5 experts on the Option Offense in all of football, presents a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the fundamentals and techniques in this all encompassing video. Learn his base rules for the passing game, effective routes, protection schemes, position-by-position responsibilities and much more! run time 27:42



WN-07033 - Secrets of the Triple Option

By Mike Sewak Former Head Coach Georgia Southern University

What is the difference between a good option play and a great option play? It’s found in the smallest of details. In this video, Coach Sewak, considered one of the top 5 experts on the Option Offense in all of football, reveals his secrets to maximizing the Option Offense - secrets that he has developed over the past twenty-plus years coaching this high-powered offense. Learn the details of each position that make up the formula for turning good plays into great plays, such as, what Playside Wide Receivers must do when blocking downfield, how undersized backs block blitzing linebackers, solutions for spacing issues, plus position-by-position analysis for the entire offense! Run Time 54:30



WN-07031 - The Triple Option

By Mike SewakFormer Head CoachGeorgia Southern University

Whether you’ve been running the Triple Option or you’re looking to install this offense, you’ll wear out your remote watching all the in-depth, detailed information in this video. Coach Sewak, considered one of the top 5 Option Offense experts in all of football, gives you insight into the responsibilities of each position; a thorough analysis of the Arc and Load Schemes; an itemized outline of his rules for the option offense; and, much more!



Offensive Line Drills in an Option Offense

Todd Spencer

Offensive Line Drills in an Option Offense presents an invaluable overview of drills that can be employed to develop the skills and techniques that are essential to an effective option attack. The DVD features step-by-step instructions on how to perform each drill, as well as a detailed demonstration of the drill being conducted. Among the topics covered: movement drills, shoot-starts drill, blocking drills, veer-release drills, and coaching pointers.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Remembering Sara Keene


If you remember, Georgia Tech players wore orange wristbands during their bowl game. Those were to honor Sara Keene, a friend and classmate at Georgia Tech of Djay Jones. In case you don't remember, Sara was battling cancer. It really was a nice story - check it out.


Football players and the Alpha Delta Pi sorority staged the Cookout for Keene on Nov. 12 on the lawn near the Tech Tower. Jones arranged for autographed footballs and other souvenirs to be given away in a raffle. Quarterback Taylor Bennett helped cook hot dogs and hamburgers. Running back Tashard Choice signed autographs and posed for photos. Eighty or 90 football players showed up, said Alpha Delta Pi's Caitlin Hanson, the event planner.

That's where Keene and Jones finally met. He gave her a big hug, and they talked, and they got their picture taken, she in her pink hat and yellow sweater, with a filtration mask hanging around her neck, he in a white Georgia Tech football strength program shirt, both smiling so naturally you'd bet your bottom dollar they weren't saying "cheese."

They didn't have to feign happiness.

"I was so blown away," Keene said.

The cookout drew about 660 students and raised more than $4,000 for the Shirlock Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families of college students who have leukemia. It is named after Jonathan Shirlock, a Tech student who died of leukemia in 2006. Jones wears orange rubber Shirlock Foundation bands on both wrists, along with two Tech football wristbands.


Why do I bring this up?

Early in the morning on January 3rd, Sara Keene lost her battle with cancer. Here is her online family journal, where you can read more. If you feel led, I encourage readers to donate to the Shirlock Foundation, which helps to ease the financial burden faced by families of college students who have been diagnosed with leukemia. There is a link on the site.
Rest in peace Sara.

Transfers and Decommits, Oh My

Well, the expected rocky road following the firing of our head coach continues.

PEEK TO TRANSFER TO BAMA
Well, looks like Geoff Collins continues to pick apart the carcas of anything fleshy when it comes to Georgia Tech. First he leaves for more dough. Then he figures out how to sway that WR recruit kid, what's-his-name. Now, Colin Peek has decided to transfer to Bama and his lawyer dad is filing a hardship appeal to allow him to avoid sitting out a season.


Under NCAA transfer rules, Peek would have to sit out the 2008 season and would have one year of eligibility for Alabama in 2009, however, he plans to file a hardship appeal in order to be eligible in 2008. Peek said he hopes to have the appeal ready "within a month.""It's a unique situation so hopefully that will work out for the best," Peek said.

Honestly, I don't blame him one bit, and hold no hard feelings. Paul Johnson has no real precedent for using tight ends in his triple-option system. In fact, he had none officially on the Navy roster last season. So all the best to Holla McGhee.

DJ DONLEY NOT 100% STAYING
DJ Donley is saying all the right things - I'll wait until spring..... it's PJ's team and I'll do what's best..... I'm on board.......... etc.......... However, don't think that story is over yet:

Georgia Tech WR D.J. Donley (6-4 203) is still pondering his future which includes a possible transfer to USC. Donley's mother said Thursday her son is "close to a decision." Donley contacted USC about a transfer shortly after the coaching change and was told the Gamecocks could not talk to him until he received his release. That release has not been granted by new coach Paul Johnson and Donley will have to go thru an appeal to gain his release. Once that is done he is expected to be recruited by the Gamecocks. Donley played this season as a true fresman. If he transfers, he would have to sit out next season and would have three years to play three.

Bottom-line - no matter what you hear from anyone on this - just wait until spring is over to see if he stays. Same goes for just about anyone else. Nothing is 100% right now.

Also, I fully expect Donley to switch over to the defensive side of the ball, which will really test DJ's commitment to GT versus his desire to play a certain position. Also, I don't blame PJ if it's true that he's not granting anyone a release until spring. Smart, prudent move, which should not hurt any of these guy's chances to play elsewhere in time.

RASHAAD REID OPENS UP RECRUITMENT
Verbal commit DB Rashaad Reid is open again to other suitors. Per Rivals.com:

"I'm probably not going to Georgia Tech because of the coaching change," Reid said. "(New coach) Paul Johnson called me and said he still had my scholarship, but I haven't heard from them in a while. I don't even know where they stand anymore.""I'm probably not going to Georgia Tech because of the coaching change," Reid said. "(New coach) Paul Johnson called me and said he still had my scholarship, but I haven't heard from them in a while. I don't even know where they stand anymore."


On one hand, there's this little thing called a "dead period" which would preclude contact Rashaad. On the other hand PJ, there are many legal ways to skin a cat to make sure a guy continues to feel the love when recruiting goes dark..... nudge nudge, wink, wink.

I don't think this one is dead. He could very well still end up a Jacket....... However, don't be surprised by the loss of one or more of the other commits. It's going to happen. Take it to the bank.

IMPROPER CONTACT
Coaches and recruiting staffs are flocking to our recruits and current players like ants to a picnic. While I have zero knowledge of anything underhanded, make no mistake - I would be willing to bet you there were some improper contacts made with our recruits and / or current players.

In the end, it really doesn't matter. We made our own bed........ We are just going to have to weather the storm and make the best of it.

NEGATIVE RECRUITING
One thing is for sure. Paul Johnson's M.O. with the triple option is being used against him bigtime. I sure hope Giff has devised the right selling point to counter the spin:

But determining what is negative can be difficult. Some coaches might consider certain things negative that others would consider pointing out the facts.

Hicks said he didn't think it would be negative for a recruiter to point out how a specific situation might affect a recruit at a school. He brought up an opposing coach pointing out to a receiver that going to Georgia Tech might not be a great idea with the triple-option offense.

"I think that is something you can say to a recruit that isn't negative," Hicks said. "You are pointing out a fact about what offense they are running."

Georgia Tech has been forced to put out fires related to its coaching change and new head coach Paul Johnson's offensive philosophy.

Dublin offensive lineman Nick McRae committed to Georgia Tech well before the coaching change and has listened to new offers following the firing of Chan Gailey.

For the most part, Dublin head coach Roger Holmes said the recruitment has been clean. He said one assistant coach asked if McRae wanted to ever play in the NFL. McRae said that he would like to, and the assistant said it would never happen in the triple option.

"But Coach Johnson came in and met with Nick, and Nick asked him about that," Holmes said. "(Johnson) said he had a franchise offensive lineman from Navy (Mike Wahle) who starts for the Carolina Panthers. That was about the only real negative we've heard. It's all about doing your homework and finding out what is true and what isn't."

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE...
... Sporting News voted Tashard Choice as having the best pre-game speech video here.

OH YEAH, FAYE IS TRANSFERRING TOO
The "International Man of Mystery" is transferring too. Oh what could have been. I guess every Superman has their Kryponite.... We wish you the best....

IS IT JUST ME....
.... or has it been a pretty rotten month to be a Georgia Tech fan?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Where are they now - Hoopsters

WILL BYNUM ARRESTED
Evidently Will Bynum ran over a guy outside a nightclub and has been incarcerated. Not good. I guess you could say "the thrill is gone". Hopefully it all just turns out to be an unfortunate accident.

JAVARIS VS THAD TAKE 1
Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young squared off for the first time, and they both actually had career nights. Young had 16 pts and 9 boards in 22 minutes, while JC came off the bench to lead the Lakers with 19 pts on 7-9 shooting in 24 minutes. He also threw in 3 assists and only 1 turnover.

Both guys are proving the addage that the real purpose of collegiate basketball for an aspring star is to improve your draft position, not your game. Once you're a first round draft pick, you need to high-tail it out of town, collect your paycheck, and do not pass "go". It stinks for the college game, but it's the right thing to do if you're in their shoes.

JARRETT JACK SHINING
Meanwhile, Jarrett Jack is really starting to shine as his Trailblazers are the hottest team in the NBA, and he is playing a key part. In fact, he hit the go ahead-three point play in an overtime victory the other night. He's playing well, and he's incredibly well liked out in Portland. Just imagine when they get Oden. Also, I believe Jack's Blazers will be on TV tonight against Matt Harpring and the Jazz.


CHRIS BOSH WANTS YOUR VOTE, PARTNER
... and in this bit of creative advertising tries to prove it. Nice work lobbying for the All-Star game:



Friday, January 04, 2008

Where are they now - Chan Gailey

Chan Gailey has interviewed for the OC Job with the San Francisco 49ers. If in fact that's what he wants, I sure hope he gets the job. He deserves anything good that happens to him.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Football: More Coaching Tidbits

LONG INTERVIEW WITH MIKE SEWAK
Check out this great interview with our new co O-Line coach Mike Sewak.

DUKE HIRES GT GRAD AS DC
David Cutcliffe just hired former GT player and grad Mike MacIntyre as their new Defensive Coordinator. I guess if one GT grad didn't work as a head coach, maybe one as DC will work..... Speaking for former GT coaches at Duke

TED ROOF SIGNS ON WITH LOUISVILLE
Ted Roof will coach the Linebackers at Louisville. Frankly, that's a great pick-up for the Cards.

PATRICK NIX vs JOHN BOND?
In looking back at guys who make decisions with their careers, sometimes it pays to be lucky, and sometimes timing is everything. Patrick Nix decides he needs to get out of Chan Gailey's shadow, sees his boss unsuccessfully interview for some NFL jobs, and parlays a fresh OC job with Miami. In other words, he bought himself a few years of stability at a major BCS school, while his former boss is shown the door and he would have left under very different circumstances had he stayed.

John Bond, the OC at N.Illinois, comes to GT for a "better" BCS job, and gets caught up in the wash after one season - poof - gone.

They all know the risks. Maybe Nix saw the writing on the wall with Dan Radakovich coming in and knew his best bet was to leave. Bond certainly didn't have the benefit of seeing things from the inside. From his vantage point, he saw a program excited about their offensive performance in the Gator Bowl, having tons of returning seniors, having just played for the ACC championship and with a head coach that everyone seemed to feel pretty decent about. How possible would it be that a guy who's never had a losing season and just played for a conference title would get the ax?.............. Well, what do you know.

On a side note, guess what - had John Bond stayed at N.Illinios he would probably have been out of job anyway - their longtime head coach decided to retire and they're cleaning house.

Timing is everything.