Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jackets Exact Revenge on the Irish

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and the Jackets bought the ingredients, prepared it, then shoved it down the throats of the Irish all day long. In what can only be described as a dominating, punishing performance, the Jacket defense completely shut down the Irish offense and Tashard Choice exploded on the offensive side for a final 33-3 score.

The game really came down to three keys:

  1. Dominating Defense
  2. Dominating line-of-scrimmage on offense for TC to go wild
  3. No turnovers of mistakes

The defense was truly the group that won this game. Big play after big play after big play. Sack after sack. Stuff after stuff. Fumble after fumble. It was truly impressive. Honestly, it's hard to decide where to start, but Jon Tenuta is probably the best choice. He developed an unbelievable game-plan and his team executed it to perfection. It didn't really matter which Notre Dame QB came in, and ole Coach Weiss tried three different ones - the results were similar - a lot of nothing.

First, Tech stuffed the run. ND had -9 yards rushing on the day. Not a typo folks. With all those sacks and negative yardage plays, the Irish netted -9 total yards. There were 9 sacks that resulted in -57 yards. So take those out and we still stuff their run game bigtime. Holy cow - 9 sacks. By the way, the 9 sacks came from 9 different guys (Wheeler, Lewis, Robertson, Burnett, Richard, Walker, Johnson, Anyaibe and Barnes). That's spreading the wealth.

The passing game for ND was almost non-existent in the 1st half. Pressure was constant on the QB's, and came from all angles and a myriad of players. ND QB's did finish with a respectable 15-22, but only for 130 yards. However, start D.Jones only completed one pass by about the 2:30 mark when he was pulled. There were a few chances for big plays that just didn't connect, but they just never go anything going.

The Irish finished with only a Field Goal. We are the first team in four years to hold them without a TD, and the AJC tells us that this is Notre Dames worst opening day loss - EVER!!!! Wow.

Tashard clearly made a statement today to be in the national picture for the Heisman trophy (here's my take a few weeks back on what it would take for him to win it). He carried the ball 26 times for 196 yards and 2 TD's. He also caught a couple of passes for about 20 yards. That would be 8 straight 100-yard games, which is a new GT record. At least eight different times he took a direct snap while Taylor Bennett hung out at WR. Two of those times TC went to the house.

Tashard was just plain dominant, but he couldn't do it without the outstanding blocking of his line, his fullback Mike Cox and his receivers. Seemed like everybody was out there blocking today.

As impressive as the performance was, it's important to point out that we made very few mistakes. No turnovers, no critical penalties, no big plays given up to the Irish. The defense missed very few tackles. Just a very well played game overall. Execution was outstanding.

I cannot leave out the nice work of special teams. Durant Brooks did his thing, punting high and far, and not letting anyone return the ball. Two out of three inside the 20 and the other a touchback. A nice net punting average of 48 yards.

Travis Bell was 4-of-5, all from 40 yards and in. He kicked one too low and got it blocked, but overall a very nice day by the Val Kilmer look-a-like.

The kick-off coverage team did a very respectable job. Scott Blair did a decent job booting the ball downfield and Charles Kelly did a decent job of switching up the type of kicks to keep the Irish return team off kilter.

As always, there are areas to work on. As close to a perfect game as it was, there are plenty of things to get better:
  • Taylor Bennett played a respectable game, but looked generally uncomfortable out there. He finished 11-23 for 121 yards, 0 TD's, 0 INT's. He didn't have to win this game, and he didn't, but he didn't lose it either. No INT's, which is critical. He overthrew a number of guys and also had some low throws as well. Not a bad day, but it was fortunate we didn't need him. Should be some good material to work with and improve for next week.
  • Offense inside the red zone: The offense could be have really run the score up early in the 1st half, but had to keep settling for field goals. When we got into the redzone, things bogged down many times. Three tries and a FG over and over. John Bond did make some adjustments and they did score some TD's as the game moved along. However, still needs some work here.
  • Pat Clark: Hate to single out one guy, but when J.Word Daniels was hurt, the Irish decided to pick on Pat Clark, and were fairly successful doing it. Clark seemed a step late a number of times. Need to get him some more reps in practice this week.

A very interesting aspect of this game was seeing which true freshman got into the game. There were 8 who saw action, including Morgan Burnett, Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, Brad Jefferson, DJ Donley, Cory Earls, Derrick Morgan, Dominique Reese.

The most impressive were clearly Morgan Burnett and J.Dwyer. Burnett saw action early and often and ended with 6 tackles and a sack. Not a bad day's work for a true frosh in a complex Tenuta defense. We better enjoy watching this kid for the 3 years he's likely to be here........ Dwyer played some clean-up duty in the 4th quarter and gave us a possible glimpse of a bright future. He scored a TD and on just about every carry he had he broke at least one tackle. We are truly stacked at RB.

Obviously if your team wins and wins big, scoring more than 30 points, you have to give a good grade to your OC. Overall, I'd give him a B grade for the game. Why only a B? Well, let's remember, Coach Gailey told him coming in that he didn't want to change much with the running game, but wanted Bond's input and help on the passing game. Well, the passing attack was not that great today (not that it had to be). In fairness, Coach Bond called all the plays - passing and running, so he gets credit for that.

An interesting comment from Coach Gailey in his post-game press conference:

Q. Running was the original game plan --
Q. How early did that happen?
COACH GAILEY: There were a couple of series. I think we went out there, and I think we ran the ball pretty good early and then we went out there one series and threw it every snap for three straight downs. Somewhere, I want to say start of the second quarter, and I told John, I said, "John, let's just keep pounding them a little bit." And we had enough weapons and enough ammunition to be able to do that.
No surprise really. You're pounding the ball and doing it well. Why leave that? Overall, I liked what I saw from the offense, but Taylor Bennett and the receiving corps is going to have to step up as the season progresses.

Nice to see Calvin Johnson made the trip to watch the game and support his team. Just a great guy and a blessing to have had him come through the flats.

Overall, just a great day to be a Jacket fan. Football is really a simple game. Stop the run. Run the ball. Don't turn it over. We did all three and prevented ND from doing any of them. The result - 1-0 on the season.