Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Football - 2007 Season Closes with a Whimper

The Chan Gailey era is over.

The Jon Tenuta era started and ended with a record of 0-1.

The Paul Johnson era starts January 2.

On a nice day in Boise Idaho, the Jackets got run on, run through and run over by the Bulldogs (these of the Fresno State variety). A final of 40-28 puts the stamp on an up-and-down, mostly frustrating season. The saga of coaching frustration is over as one chapter closes and another begins.

I don't think there is much point in breaking down this game in detail. It really is so insignificant when you think about the overhaul that's coming in the off-season. It's an interesting snapshot, but really has no bearing on where we are headed. However I will make a few points.

Fresno State's head coach said after the game he told his kids to play head on, physical football, and that the first team to turn their heads was going to lose. He said their players got Tech to turn their heads first. You hate to admit it, but we flinched. No matter what spin you chose to believe on this game, we got outmuscled and out-toughed on that field in Boise. Yes, you have to give some credit to our team for fighting their way back. But in the end, when they needed to buck-up to give the offense the final shot to win, they got run over again.

So Jon Tenuta's defense gave up almost 600 yards of offense with him on the sidelines. No sacks. No INT's. No fumbles. Only two punts forced. All with JT on the sidelines. What does this say? Is Tenuta truly the MVP of the defense? In other words, does he need to be in the press-box, calling the plays, focusing on nothing but the D, making the adjustments? When he has to split his time and focus on other stuff, do things just fall apart? I don't know the answer, but clearly JT's defense had one of the worst efforts EVER since his arrival on the flats.

Six guys took snaps in Boise for the Jackets (3 RB's, 3 QB's). Bennett started but was told at halftime he was not coming back in because of his broken hand. Of course Bennett knew there was another reason:

"I came in at halftime and they told me I just wasn't going to go back in,"
Bennett said. "They said it was because I had a broken hand, but they hadn't
even X-rayed it yet, so they didn't know I had a broken hand. So that was kind
of odd. We did find out it was broken, but Dr. [John Xerogeanes] said I could
play. And I threw the ball fine. I was fine to go."

This is the way I see it. Jon Tenuta saw that the offense was getting nowhere after the first scoring drive, and Taylor had had his shots. Tenuta doesn't have the background to really make offensive playcalling adjustments, so he decides we might as well take a shot with a new QB. I don't blame him. We seen time and time again that this offense doesn't score many points quickly. To his credit, Calvin Booker did an admirable job, throwing for 3 TD's in the 2nd half. In fact, if you judge all the QB's this season, discounting the number of snaps they had, you would have to say that Booker was the best QB on the squad. He just didn't get many chances.

Ultimately the lack of defensive stops was our downfall - not the offense.

Our new coach flew in the night before, kept a low profile, watched from the press box, did a short interview for the TV folks. Some key things to know:

- He did fly back with the team.
- He will formally announce his staff today
- They will have their first staff meeting today, and begin their work immediately.
- The bowl game was in no way a tryout for anybody.

Here's a new piece of the coaching puzzle - Mike Sewak will become GT's new O-Line coach. Note that there is a video interview on that page. Also, here's a bio - which is a pretty good one. By the way, he coached Tight Ends at GT back in 1984.

Here's something PJ said about his philosophy and plans.

“For me, they’re going to find out that it’s all about the team. I’m more into the team than I’m into the individual,” said Johnson, owner of a 107-39 record after head coaching stints with Navy and Georgia Southern. “We’ll have plenty of opportunity over the next three or four months to have them show me what they can do. The big thing is, I just want to get our staff in and start to get our program installed.”

Evidently most of the players were not even aware he was there until after the game -and evidently that garnered some respect from the players.

Evidently having the tag "Interim Coach" on your name badge is not a good thing. Coaches falling into that category are now 0-6 this bowl season. More interim coaches are on deck today, so we'll see if this trend plays out.

He predicted that GT would be the biggest blown-out team of this bowl season. Yeah, rah-rah, Corso was wrong.

Scanning the net chatter, there are interesting discussions about "toughness" and our team "quitting". I don't think it's fair for one second to say our guys quit. They didn't. They are not quitters. However, I think it is fair to speculate that this group may not have the mental toughness it took to close out and win games. Having said that - mental toughness is a learned skill if you ask me - and it starts with the leader of the program. Everything we've heard about Paul Johnson is that he is as mentally tough as they come, and he's going to come in and instill toughness, grit and a mean streak into this group. From what I hear it's going to start with off-season conditioning, which is pretty brutal.

We will hear today about Paul Johnson's new coaching staff. We will start to hear dribs and drabs on on the impact of recruiting. We will start hear about changes in off-season conditioning. Spring is just around the corner.

In the meantime, to occupy your time, there's always our frustrating and disappointing basketball team to follow - right? YEAH!!!!