Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jackets Get Win #1................. and start a trend

The Jackets did what they were supposed to do against clearly over-matched Samford and win 38-6. Unfortunately it was against probably the easiest game on the schedule, so trying to draw conclusions from the game is tough.

After a quick GT 3-and-out, DJay Jones ran an INT 29 yards back to the house. On their next possesion, Reggie Ball took the Jackets 80 yards with Tashard Choice capping off the drive with a 6 yard run. Reggie was 6-6 on that drive from the air. After 2 straight drives with excellent field position, Samford only managed 2 field goals to make the score 14-6. One of those drives started after a 55 yard kick return. The other after a Reggie Ball INT. The Jackets broke things open in the 2nd quarter with 21 points. Calvin Johnson only caught 4 passes on the day for 26 yards, but 2 of those catches were for TD's, so the important stats got padded. The last TD came on a Jamal Lewis INT return 97 yards for a TD. Talk about a momentum changer.

The 2nd half brought nothing but a Travis Bell FG, but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th teamers got snaps the rest of the day. In the end, the game was never in question, and provided valuable rest for the 1st teamers and valuable snaps for the 2nd teamers.

The good news is that the 1st string, 2nd string and even some of the 3rd stringers held Samford to only 2 FG's. In fact, in the 2nd half with most of the 1st teamers on the sidelines, Samford did not actually have a 1st down. That's right..... 6 3-and-outs in the 2nd half for Samford, and that was it. Strong. Very strong. Jamal Lewis and DJay Jones get to take balls to the house. Lewis gets the 4th longest TD return in GT history (97 yards). After the game, Coach Gailey said - "Jamal really showed some speed too. But of course he was outrunning offensive linemen, so I am not so sure".

For the game, Samford only had 163 yards of offense, including only 11 yards rushing. Just an outstanding effort by the ENTIRE defense.

I mean, how can you really judge an offense against a weak opponent? Well, at least we put points on the board, we moved the ball and we spread it around to a lot of guys. Most importantly we put it in the endzone. All in all, they did what they needed to do. Not going to criticize. One area of focus was 3rd down conversions, and the Jackets finish 8-16.

Reggie Ball gets to rest after about a half of work but finishes 10/16 (63%) for 83 yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT. Again, hard to really make any judgements since the game wasn't on TV and it was Samford. After Reggie, 3 other QB's got snaps, including Taylor Bennett, who was 7-13 for 48 yards, Kyle Manley, who was 2-2 for 8 yards, and J.Garner, who was 0-1. Nice to see those other guys get valuable snaps.

The running game was really spread around, with Choice, Grant and Evans each ending with 44 yards, and T.Evans finishing with 35. In total, the Jackets had 177 yards on the ground to go with 138 yards in the air.

Well, it seems that the one area that continues to kill us is kick-off coverage. Another 55 yard return by an opponent. We've got to learn how to plug lanes. This cannot be that complicated. That was the only real negative Coach Gailey mentioned specifically after the game.

On the other hand, most of the other elements of specials teams looked good. Travis Bell hit a 41-yarder and missed a 50+ yard attempt. Durant Brooks looks just outstanding at punter. He had 5 punts, had 3 over 50 yards, averaged about 48 yards, and 4 of them were stopped inside the 20. The 5th one was almost downed at the 1, but was ruled a touchback at the end. Chan Gailey even challenged the call, but it wasn't over-ruled. Yes, with the Jackets up 38-6 and about a minute left in the game, Coach Gailey challenged a call. Obviously trying to help his punter's stats. M.Yahiaoui had 7 kick-offs, 2 of them touchbacks.

On Jacket returns, Andrew Smith showed something good bringing back punts, with 5 of them for a total of 69 yards, including a 22-yarder. In fact, in the post-game show, Coach Gailey singled him out as showing him something. Coach said that having Smith returning punts could turn out to be a good move for the team. He also said "Andrew look a bit like little ole Kelly Rhino out there".

Chris Dunlap was strong returning kick-offs, with 2 for 60 yards.

Jacket fans will be excited to watch the debut of Jamaal Evans, who carried 12 times for 37 yards in the 2nd. Coach Gailey had nothing but positive things to say about Evans before the game. It will be fun to see him on the CSS Replay Tuesday night. After the game, Coach Gailey had nice things to say, but did say that he still has a lot to learn and still thinks he can outrun everybody. Said he still needs to learn when to stop stretching the play and go for up-field and fight for shorter yardage.

You always want to get out of games like this with mininal casualties. Coach Gailey said we only had 3 guys nicked up, who might miss a little time. One of them was Andrew Smith and I believe another was DJay Jones. Not sure of the 3rd.

Lots of guys played today. In fact, 69 total players played today, which has to be some kind of Chain Gailey era record. In the post-game show, Jamal Lewis said it was always good when everybody gets to play, because it makes everybody "crunk". I must admit, I was feeling rather crunk myself.

Jamaal Evans gets his first carries. So does Tyler Evans. Kyle Manley and J.Garner both take their first snaps. Martin Frierson catches his first collegiate ball. Guys like Sedric Griffin get their first strong taste of game-action.

At the end of the day, Coach Gailey said he accomplished what they had scripted. He said they "hit the punchlist pretty good". The offense clicked, the defense was strong, a lot of guys got snaps and they left with no serious injuries. On to next week.