Saturday, September 10, 2005

GT / UNC Game Re-cap

The Jackets mercifully beat North Carolina after giving us plenty of jitters, 27-21. Another solid team effort, even if we think it should never have become that close. The bottom-line is this - we won. We didn't falter against a "lesser" opponent. We got the W and now we're 2-0

We stuff the opponents run.............. The defensive line has problems CONSISTENTLY pressuring the QB, and he picks apart our secondary, and only a flurry of interceptions at the end of the game put away the opponent. Let me tell you, this is NOT a pattern that is good for my heart. Yes, we pressured Baker, but not consistently. The UNC O-Line gave him decent protection at key times. We were blitzing, but the O-Line held up pretty dang well.

How about this for ironic - Reggie Ball's BEST game statistically of his career is also one of the ugliest games you will see. His performance wasn't ugly, but everthing else was....... Reggie Ball goes 24-47 for 319 yards, 2 TD's and no INT's. That my friends, is the first 300 yard passing game of his career. Congrats on another very good performance - in that you controlled the game and didn't make mistakes. Oh, don't get me wrong Reggie - you threw a few up there, but overall an outstanding game. One of your best. Heck you even caught a pass for a nice gain............... Well, we all know that Chan Gailey is an offensive passing guru, right? Well, Reggie Ball completes more than 50% of his passes and Chan Gailey all-of-the-sudden thinks he's Joe Montana. From play-calling genius one week to MAJOR head scratcher in the 2nd half of this one. Take a look.............

In only what can be described as weird, Coach Gailey seemed to forget about some guy named PJ Daniels in the 2nd half. Here's the drive chart in the 4th quarter

Drive #1: pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, QB run
Drive #2: pass, pass, pass, punt
Drive #3: pass, QB sack, run, punt
Drive #4: pass, pass, pass, punt
Drive #5: run, run, run, punt (finally after the 2nd INT)

You could see the frustration on PJ Daniels during the 4th quarter. I didn't get it. PJ Daniels ends the game with 21 carries for 105 yards. That would be his 2nd 100-yard rushing game in 2 tries this season. In the post-game show, Coach Gailey said that their front 7 were a lot tougher than they thought and that they were stuffing the run, so he had to go pass. Wwweeeeelllll, I'm not so sure. If PJ Daniels runs for over 100 yards, then something is working. I mean, it's one thing to pass more. It's another to totally abandon the run when you need to run out the clock. Going 3-and-out is a whole lot better when you run than pass when it comes to eating the clock....

Everybody was talking about the O-Line after the Auburn win. The athleticism. The scheme blocking. The speed. Auburn wasn't ready for it. North Carolina was. They benefitted from watching the Auburn game. The tricks were mostly out of the bag, and I think it showed. We had more holding penalties, and Daniels got stuffed at the line much more often tonight than last week. However, you can't criticize too much. Reggie was only sacked once, and generally he had enough time to get rid of the football. He did get knocked down more than last week though, and you see a bit of the youth in the line today.........

One key note - 475 total yards of offense. That very well might be one of the top games in the Chan Gailey era for that stat. You don't do that without some help from the O-Line........

Folks, 9 different people caught passes today. Nine. Wide Receivers, tailbacks, fullbacks, tight ends, quarterbacks - you name it. Ball threw it to anyone who would turn around - and some that wouldn't....

The guy who has the signature game is Damarius Bilbo. He catches 8 balls for 130 yards. That's more yardage than the past two years COMBINED for D-Bo. Heck, he had an easy drop that would have been another 30 yards as well. Oh, did I mention Bilbo had a 32 yard PASS play TO Reggie Ball as well? I loved that play, but is there a reason why we're giving Bilbo any reason to think he's still got some signal-caller left in him? I guess 32 yards is 32 yards. Smoke'em if ya got'em..............

However, in a crazy alternative universe, Tech actually has 2 receivers go over 100 yards, with Calvin Johnson also catching 6 balls for 113 yards. Unfortunately his best catch was one that Reggie threw too far out-of-bounds. He leaps, lays out and makes an amazing finger-tip grab, which nobody will ever see again.........Even Mike Cox catches 2 balls, and missed an "easy" one on 3rd down that could have certainly helped at the end.

Overall, here's the message. We're not a one-dimensional at receiver. This isn't just the CJ show. Last week it was Pat Clark. This week D-Bo. It certainly bodes well for the future with a QB that is not making mistakes.

I'm sorry, but this group yet again was the weak spot for Georgia Tech. The bottom-line is this (so far) - this secondary is NOT good enough (yet) in man-on-man coverage if the opponent has a good offensive line. They give up big plays. If the QB gets protection, he can eat our secondary alive. Another first-time starter has a good statistical game (minus the INT's), with Matt Baker going 18-39 for 280 yards and 2 TD's. The key - 3 INT's to seal the game. Only when the opposing QB is forced to go to the air with pressure to move , with the clock ticking, do we make some plays.

Ok, any secondary is going to give ground when forced to cover one-on-one. Let's be a LITTLE fair. However, I'm sorry, but this group has work to do. Serious work to do. To get to that next level, we're going to need more.

Once again he is critical is winning the field position battle today. His punting was outstanding again, averaging 47.6 yards/punt on 7 punts........... Let's not forget the ever-dependable Travis Bell, going 2-2........ Heck, even M.Yahiaou did a better job on kickoffs, with a couple of touchbacks............ Let's not forget that Pat Clark looked outstanding returning punts. A couple of penalties negated good runs, but overall, Pat looks solid........

Wow. All we heard about in pre-season and spring was how the coaches had to find a way for Philip Wheeler to get on the field. Sorry, it turns out Jamal Lewis is the guy that has forced his way on to the field. A critical 4th down INT in the 4th quarter, big tackles, pass knockdowns. He was the man today.......... Having said all the, he blew a major coverage at the end of a UNC TD. So he's young, and not perfect. But the future looks solid with Jamal..........

One more guy worth mentioning - Philip Wheeler. It's clear he's still learning the system. But it's also clear that this guy can be a star in the ACC. He's everywhere. Pure, raw physical talent, and he's a playmaker........ Actually, while I'm at it, I might as well throw in KaMichael Hall, who was everywhere as well. With these guys and Gerris Wilkinson this is an outstaning LB unit. Wilkinson finishes with 14 tackles today, Hall with 10..............

Three more INT's today to go with 4 last week. That's 7 in two games. Pretty impressive for sure......... That gives the Jackets a +7 turnover ratio for the season, compared to -13 last year. Anyone doubt that turnovers are key?

The officiating was terrible on BOTH sides of the ball. Missed calls everywhere. Calls made that never happened. All I can say is that both teams were equally hurt and helped, so it just balances out. UNC never scores their first TD without a terrible roughing the passer call. But the Jackets later benefit from a push-off by C.Johnson on a long pass-play. Not a banner day for ACC officiating........... Having said that, the instant replay was used twice today. The first time helped the Jackets get a reversal on a Reggie Ball interception. It was ruled not a catch. The second was a weird one on a mystery play I never understood.

Too many penalties on both teams. Very uncharacteristic of the Jackets. Holding calls on the O-Line. Blocks in the back on punt returns.............. We gave up big plays, including an 87 yard pass play for a TD on 3rd-and-14. I'm sorry, who's trying to be a hero here. 3rd and long, keep the guy in front of you please.............. The opposing QB picked apart our secondary and only late INT's saved us again............ Coach Gailey completely abandoned the run in the 4th quarter and general Jacket-nation restlessness was high as we couldn't move the ball or eat clock........... And lastly, the redzone offense was not so good today. Settled for Field Goals when we could have put daggers to hearts........................So it was a bit ugly - although Reggie Ball and the passing game's part was really not.

We stuffed the run for the 2nd week in a row. We held Auburn to 50 yards. We held UNC to 59 yards.............. We went 10-20 on 3rd downs today. Outstanding................. The kicking game and special teams is solid.............. The offensive line is less of a concern that we thought................. The secondary is more of a concern than we thought................... Chan Gailey has really opened up the playbook, and nobody really should know what to expect next.................... We have an outstanding group of pass-catchers..................... Depth - Tech played 17 players on defense, while UNC player 27. Wow................... Jahi Word-Daniels and Taalib Tucker did in fact see action on special teams. That is now 7 true freshman to see action this season.........

Jacket student-athletes collected about $24,000 today at the gates for hurricane relief. Just outstanding!!!!

The key today - we hung on and won. A win is a win is a win. We'll all debate the intracies, but it's a win against an intra-divisional opponent. Win and move on......... 2-0 and folks. Be happy.......... Celebrate................. GO JACKETS!!!!!!!!!