Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Football - What do we know?

After two weeks of college football, it's time to take a look at the Jackets and football in general. What do we know so far:

Hard to argue, but it looks like the ACC is down again. Georgia Tech is the only ACC team that has really dominated in their OCC opponents. Let's take at the conference's OCC wins / losses:

  • Wins
    • GT crushes both Notre Dame and Samford
    • Maryland beats Villanova and Florida International
    • VaTech barely beats E.Carolina
    • Miami beats Marshall
    • Clemson over Louisiana Monroe
    • FSU squeeks by UAB
    • N.Carolina beats James Madison
  • Losses
    • NC St beaten by Central Florida
    • Virginia beaten bad by Wyoming
    • Miami crushed by Oklahoma
    • VaTech crushed by LSU
    • Duke crushed by UConn
    • N.Carolina beaten by E.Carolina
    • Wake Forest beaten by Nebraska
Bottom-line is that GT's victory over an 0-2 Notre Dame is the conference's marquee win, and that's beginning to look even less impressive each time Notre Dame takes the field. Now, Boston College has yet to play a non-conference game, and they appear to be a top-tier conference team. In fact, if you had to put teams in tiers based on nothing but performance so far, here's how I would see it:
  • TIER 1 - GT, BC, Clemson
  • TIER 2 -UVA, WF, Miami, VaTech, FSU, MD
Now, having the ACC down again is both good and bad. It's bad from a national perspective. However, it's once again a prime opportunity for the Jackets to sieze control of the Atlantic and make a return trip to the ACC Championship. Heck, based on what we've seen so far, it's not out of the realm of possibility for the Jackets to run the conference slate. That's a stretch, but the team certainly has the talent and the home-court advantage with the toughest teams.

There is an argument that the ACC isn't as bad as it looks. That would be the fact that the ACC has played more OCC games against tougher opponents and more of them have been on the road. All fairly true - but wins are wins and losses are losses, and we have a lot fewer quality wins than we should at this point to be held up as one of the top tier conferences. There are still chances to salvage the ACC's rep, but most of the games are going to occur at year-end, with rivalry and bowl games.

(As Of September 10)
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Boston College 2-0 1.000 2-0 1.000
Clemson 1-0 1.000 2-0 1.000
Maryland 0-0 .000 2-0 1.000
Florida State 0-1 .000 1-1 .500
NC State 0-1 .000 0-2 .000
Wake Forest 0-1 .000 0-2 .000
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Virginia 1-0 1.000 1-1 .500
Georgia Tech 0-0 .000 2-0 1.000
Miami 0-0 .000 1-1 .500
North Carolina 0-0 .000 1-1 .500
Virginia Tech 0-0 .000 1-1 .500
Duke 0-1 .000 0-2 .000

It is a strange season when Michigan plays Notre Dame and both are 0-2. It's a weird year when Miami, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan and VaTech all lose on the same weekend. I'm not really sure what it means, but it does show that there are opportunities for teams to step up and make a mark. The Big Least is trying to make their mark, but the ACC has a chance with a few key teams.

Could we have the best set of blocking wide receivers in the conference? It's possible........... Do we have the best run blocking O-Line in the conference? Could be.............. Do we finally have some new scheme's and talent on special teams to help ourselves in the field position battle on kick-off returns? So far so good................... Do we have the most exciting group of running backs in the conference? Weeeellllll, hard to beat Spiller / Davis at Clemson, but Dwyer has made his case to be the #2 for us, and has shown some play every bit as exciting as anything you're seen out of Clemson so far......................

We are coveraging kick-offs better.
We are blocking better.
We are kicking better
We are punting better (if you can believe that)
We are running better.
We are playcalling better.
We are holding onto the ball better (so far 0 turnovers)

We are all pleased with what we have seen with playcalling the first two weeks of the season. When GT is averaging 51 points / game, some things are going right. However, week three is when Coach Bond earns the paycheck. A home game against Boston College will probably result in a real test for Taylor Bennett's arm. We're all proud of the fact the Jackets are now 7th in the nation in rushing defense. Guess what - BC is #4 in the nation. They stuff the run - and they've done it against two conference opponents, which in my books counts just a bit more.

However, BC is a team that is 113th in the nation in pass defense. They give up some yards through the air, and I think this is the week where we finally see what Taylor Bennett looks like when he's got to throw the ball 25-30 times.

I am absolutely on edge about what Coach Bond will break out in a game like this against a good rush defense. With R.Grant back in the fold, what do you do with J.Dwyer? Don't forget, he's still learning how to block, and he was a little fumble prone in practice. What type of passing formations will we see? How much will we see Peek or Cox get the ball? Throws over the middle? From what I can tell, BC's pass defense is mostly about giving up a lot of short throws.

CFN.com likes the Jackets, and ranks them #5 in the nation based on how they're playing today. Here's what they say:

5. Georgia Tech (2-0)
W, Samford 69-3
next game: Boston College
The Ranking Should Be Higher Because … this could be the nation’s most confident team. When you have great line play, you can beat just about anyone, and right now, outside of Oklahoma and LSU, no one is playing better on both sides of the line. However …
The Ranking Should Be Lower Because ...
beating Notre Dame and Samford is nothing to get too excited about. This really is that good a team, but we’ll know more in a big hurry with a showdown against Boston College this week and three road trips in four week.
The Jackets moved from #21 to #15 in both the AP and Coaches poll........... not that polls mean anything.

Bad news for the Eagles, as they lose another D-Lineman. However, no reason to take these guys lightly. In fact, another area we better continue our good play is protecting the ball. BC forces a LOT of turnovers - even more than the Jackets after two games - so ball protection will be critical.

The GT Running Backs are going to help raise money for kids who won't get much for Xmas. At the BC game, there will be people around the stadium with buckets looking for donations. I sure am glad it's not one of those "$5 for every yard rushing" kind of things. If it was going to be like that, I'm sure the Samford game would have gotten the best result.

I think "sour grapes" is the proper term in this case:

Maybe it was just the run-off from sour grapes in the losers' locker room, but Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington wasn't in a mood to compliment Lions super-rookie Calvin Johnson after the Raiders' 36-21 loss -- even after Johnson had dragged him across the field on a 16-yard touchdown play in the third quarter.

"He wasn't that great to me," Washington said afterward. "They did things to get him open, like pick routes and all that. But he was nothing special, trust me."

Yeah - ok, so you're not all that impressed at a kid's NFL debut when he caught 4 balls for 70 yards and a TD against you - and your team lost. Luckily, nobody cares what you think......

By the way, Roy Williams likes what he sees so far, and has a new nickname for CJ:

"I'm confident in what I can do," Williams said. "If he's the best wide receiver, we'll be the best duo to ever play this game. He's a guy that we need. ... He's a big guy. He's Megatron. That's a big human."
Williams was also kind enough to retrieve Calvin's first NFL TD ball when CJ dropped it in the endzone. Nice to see him looking out for CJ.

This short blurb with some player quotes pretty much sums up what it's going to take to have GT win mindshare in the national discussion over top teams:

A national blind eye

Georgia Tech entered the season unranked despite returning 17 starters from a nine-win team in 2006. Boston College was absent from the polls, too, even though the Eagles returned 18 starters from a 10-win team.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, with 16 starters back from a team blown out by both Georgia Tech and Boston College last season, ranked ninth in the preseason polls. Florida State, coming off a 7-6 season that included a 3-5 ACC mark, made the preseason polls, too.

Unfair? Not really, Georgia Tech's Choice said.

"Folks want to put the big-name teams at the top -- that's just how it is," he said. "Those programs have earned that. They've won championships or been to championship games. That's what the rest of us have to do to get the national spotlight."

The Yellow Jackets understand that well. They drew national attention last season with a 9-2 start and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver. But they lost two huge games early -- Notre Dame and Clemson -- and stumbled with three straight losses to finish the season. Then Johnson departed for the NFL in January, leaving the Jackets a national afterthought this preseason.

"Winning the Coastal Division helped get our name out there a little bit last year, but we didn't win the ACC Championship or get into a BCS bowl," fullback Mike Cox said. "When people hear ACC champ, they still think of the Miamis, the Florida States. We want people when they hear ACC in the future, they think Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech pops into their heads."

Congrats to the D-Train, Jonathan Dwyer, who wins the ACC Rookie of the Week award after rushing for 138 yards on 9 carries