Saturday, November 20, 2004

Jackets Lose Big to Virginia

The Jackets fall to Virginia 30-10 in a game was frustrating for fans because once again, 4 Jacket turnovers led to 20 UVA points. If you really want to break it down, it is that simple. Game, set, match. The defense tried their best to keep the Cav offense in check. For the most part they did that in the first half. In the end, the Jacket offense was a more powerful weapon for UVA than for GT. Reggie Ball threw 2 INT's in the endzone and fumbled another ball on a key QB run.

Ok, what conclusions can we draw from the game?

1. Do not underestimate Virginia. They out-muscled us today. Yes, we made mistakes, but their D-Line pressured Ball most of the day, and he didn't handle it well. They are a good group and deserve some credit. M.Hagans didn't do a lot passing, but man, everytime they needed a play, he made one. How many times did the play look like it was over only to see Hagans pull something out of his rear? They are a strong, physical team and deserve some credit for coming into our house and taking this game.

2. Today we really could have used PJ Daniels. This is not a knock on R.Grant, because it was not PJ's running we needed. It was his blocking. By running Grant out for screen passes (which is ok), we lost another guy to provide pick-up blocks on the UVA blitzes. It is clear that R.Grant can be a special player. He is fast and he really has the ability to cut and make people miss. However, Daniels was missed today, plain and simple.

3. Calvin Johnson really is special. Johnson catches 5 balls for 108 yards. For once he actually caught a couple in stride. We are finally throwing more and more his way, which is what we should have been doing all along.

4. Our defense is great, but I am excited about our defense NEXT YEAR. We only lose one starter (Butler) and we have so many freshman that are getting some experience this year (Guyton, Chambers, Richard, Robertson, Anyaibe, Brown, DJay Jones, J.Lewis, Oliver, AJ Smith).

5. Reggie Ball. Where do I start? Reggie is every bit as good as last year. And Reggie is every bit as bad as last year. In other words, Reggie has not progressed much at all his sophomore season. He will make 4 good plays, then kill it with a bad one. His performance today is defined by 2 INT's and 1 key fumble. But that's 3 plays out of 67 offensive plays. It shows you how the slightest slip on just one play can cost the game. So what do we do moving forward??? Well, here's my take:

A. Let Reggie finish the season. We've ridden this horse this long, let's finish it with him. Heck, the way he plays, he's likely to pull off something special next week. But you cannot stick a true freshman in in the game in Athens for his first snaps. And at this point, there's not enough to gain by burning Bennett's redshirt.

B. Come spring, the QB job is wide open and Reggie has to earn his spot again. Nothing he can do from here on out assures him of anything. There's only 2 games left (hopefully), and even if he finishes solid, it will have been an inconsistent season. I want Bennett to get plenty of snaps on the 1st team in the spring.

C. Should Reggie earn the job next season again, then he is on a short leash. There is no protecting a freshman redshirt. Bennett comes into the game if Reggie doesn't show clear improvement.

6. Chan Gailey. Well, the debate will rage on here and on the discussion boards. The bottom-line is this - he still needs to be given at least two more seasons to show what he is trying to do with this team. And you know what - he will. Do NOT give me any crap about "conservative offense". He's got Reggie flinging balls all over the field, and it just doesn't work!!! Chan Gailey is trying to push the offense to be as aggressive as he can with the talent level we have. We just don't have a high-powered offense with enough players capable of that style. It's that simple. We are starting to put the pieces together - wide receivers and running backs look solid moving foward, the O-Line will need more depth, and again, it comes down to improvement at the QB position. I am very happy with the progress in recruiting, and ultimately that is what leads you to more wins.

I would like to see Chan Gailey bring in a real specialist who has some skills at developing QB's. Let a guy like that work with our QB's and see if we can bring more of out them in the spring and fall. Maybe even hire a talented offensive coordinator to call the plays. But as the season has progressed, I have come to realize I don't have a huge problem with Chan Gailey's play-calling. Sure, there are some I question, but for the most part I don't think he's done that bad.

7. I have one more interesting point. As the season rolls along, it looked like GT was up-and-down more than anyone in the ACC. We lose to UNC, then beat Clemson, MD and NCST on the road, 2 of which were ranked. It makes it very difficult to gauge where our team is among other ACC teams. However, I beg to differ. We should judge our play against opponents based on THEIR total body of work, not just where they WERE when we played them. If you look at it that way, it is clear where we stand in terms of ACC play and development.


#6...Georgia Tech.......4-4.....6-4 ST......3-5.....4-6 For...1-5.....4-5

So there you have it. We beat the teams that finished below us in the standings and lost to all the ones who finished ahead of us. Maryland, Clemson and NCST as it turns out just weren't that good. So we are clearly middle of the pack in the ACC. And you know what. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Would you rather be Clemson or Maryland or NC ST or Wake Forest? At the end of the day our last few seasons are proving to be more consistent than many other teams. And nobody wants to hear it, but keeping our record the same could actually be considered progress because of the injuries, flunkgate and the new ACC additions of Miami / VT.

The 24 rule is in effect. That goes for fans too. Come Sunday night you better be thinking about nothing but getting ready to whoop some mutt-tail.