Saturday, October 11, 2008

Football: Survive and Advance

Well, who'd a thunk it? The Jackets win a nail-biter, 10-7, against arguably the worst team on their schedule, 1-AA Gardner-Webb. I don't have time for an in-depth breakdown, but here's what we know.

The offensive line did not block anyone today. I'm not so sure anyone else did either. Paul Johnson basically said that after the game. Any blame on the offense starts in the trenches. These guys were terrible today.

There's a reason Nesbitt is #1 and Shaw is #2. They can run the system. Calvin Booker, bless his heart, did his best as the starter, but he just looks slow as molasses running the triple option. Plays just develop so slowly. Combine that with a swiss cheese O-Line and it makes for a long day. Calvin had a poor day throwing the ball as well, except for a short screen pass on a scramble to Jonathan Dwyer who managed to take it to the house for a 79 yard TD. Bryce Dykes gave it a shot as well, but it just wasn't happening.

The Jackets rushed for 79 yards today. That's amazing considering what they've done to much better defenses. Amazing.

The defense played a solid game today by holding the opposition to 7 points. Had Michael Johnson not gotten called for an illegal jump on a field goal, they would have gotten shutout #2 in a row. The front four were great today, wreaking havoc with multiple sacks and tackles-for-a-loss. Derrick Morgan saved the day with by tipping a potential game-tying field with 3 seconds on the clock. Crazy that it came to that.

The most concerning issue was Sedric Griffin, who evidently had some type of seizure on the sideline. No report yet on this condition. However, just today the Macon Telegraph did a nice story on Sedric detailing a medical condition he's had since his youth.

Aside from that there were some guys that got banged up like Dwyer and Bowen.

Well, there are more questions that answers right now. For me, today was less about execution and more about mental preparation. Gardner-Webb has a very respectable run defense, but their team is full of guys who would never had made our roster. They were better prepared, more focused, communicated better and executed. Those guys played their hearts out and deserved to win the game.

The Jackets clearly were not focused properly on the Bulldogs, and they almost let this one slip away. It seems to me they took these guys lightly. So what are the questions we are left contemplating?

1. Can this staff keep these kids focused on the task at hand?
2. Is the overabundance of youth on this team showing?
3. Are we truly that close to the edge of the season going the other way?
4. Is this system really THAT reliable on an effective system QB?
5. Where are we headed from here?

Bottom-line is that our expectations just got ratcheted down today. We have all been "drinking the Kool-aid" about this offense as we've watched the team rack up big plays and big numbers. If we can almost lose to a team like Gardner-Webb, then nothing's off the table. Clemson could very well run us out of Death Valley next week with their new QB change and about time for the Bowden turnaround story that repeats every year. Anything can happen.

Georgia Tech won today, but it doesn't feel like and it shouldn't. It should be treated as a loss by coaches and players. I have no doubt that nobody will be harder on the coaching staff that the coaching staff. Nobody will be harder on the players than the players.............. and maybe the coaching staff. Nobody will be as upset as Paul Johnson. Johnson apologized to the fans in his post-game press conference.

"It was a comedy of errors, really. It looked like a poorly prepared, poorly coached football team out there." - Paul Johnson

To show you how whacky the world of college football is sometimes, Mississippi State beat undefeated Vanderbilt today and mighty Michigan got beaten by 2-4 Toledo in the Big House (with their new coach). Take nothing for granted people.

The ugly stats:

Team Statistics
Runnin' Bulldogs Yellow Jackets
First Downs 14 9
Passing 11 3
Rushing 2 5
Penalty 1 1
Third Down Efficiency 5-18 5-15
Fourth Down Efficiency 0-1 1-2
Total Plays 69 58
Average Gain Per Play 3.3 3.4
Rushes 45 47
Average Per Rush 1.6 1.7
Completions-Attempts 14-24 3-11
Yards Per Pass Play 6.4 10.9
Times Sacked 7 3
Yards Lost to Sacks 51 14
Had Intercepted 1 1
PUNTS 10 7
Average Punt 45.6 47.0
Penalty Yards 50 48
Fumbles Lost 0 2