What a debacle. GT got embarrassed on a weekend where they really could have set themselves apart as the ONE good ACC team. Almost everyone else lost, and obviously Tech did the same in a very disappointing effort in all phases of the game. I’m going to quickly hit a few things that jumped out at me while watching the game:
2 things are really concerning on the offensive side of the ball, and they both are the reason why the Jackets haven’t been able to break any really big plays this year.
1) The passing game, specifically catching the ball. I’m not here to defend Joshua Nesbitt – he didn’t look great throwing the ball at all, and he really hasn’t since the Clemson game last year. The last 3 games have been pretty rough for the GT signal caller. However, I don’t expect him to complete 70% of his passes for 250 yards every game. What I do expect is that we’ll hit about 1/3 of the deep passes (over 20 yards or so), and the shorter passes should be near the 55%-65% metric. Considering Nesbitt throws the ball deep a lot due to the single coverage most teams will show, a solid 50% completion percentage overall would be fine with me.
The problem is wide open A backs and wideouts dropping highly catchable balls. If Roddy Jones, Stephen Hill, Orwin Smith, and the rest of the outside players can’t catch passes that hit them right in the hands, Tech is in massive trouble.
2) Let me continue dumping on the skill position players and say that the A backs and Wideouts MUST get their assigned player on the ground. It’s absolutely imperative on every option play or toss sweep that the playside A back get out and cut the linebacker or safety they’re going to block, and the wideout must cut the corner that’s guarding him. Watch any good running or screen team, and every successful play will have bodies littered on the playside. Guys know we’re going to cut them, but you have to make sure 100% they’re on the ground.
Not the best video, but an example of a solid cut block:
You have to seal off the perimeter. You just have to. You do that, and you’ll get consistent 5, 10, 20 yard plays by the A backs and Nesbitt on the perimeter. As it currently stands, a safety for Kansas was running free on most plays after defeating the cut and would tackle out perimeter guy after 1 or 2 yards. We have to get 4+ yards on every running play to keep this offense going.
A lot of offensive issues, but I think overall they’re small and can be solved in time for their next opponent, UNC.
GT can’t get pressure up the middle, their DT Walls is getting pushed around on every play. This of course leads to gap control being an issue, which is leading to a lot of the runs’ success. If you don’t stay in your gap and defend both sides of the gaps you’re assigned to, bad things happen. Like big runs.
Missed tackles is still an issue. The short runs turn into huge ones. Until GT can wrap up, they’ll be a middling defense, regardless of the scheme. Statistically GT’s D is slightly better but only by a few yards. I think they’ll continue to improve as the year goes on, and the deep pass defense is actually quite good. The problem is that so far the only way to get any pressure is to bring at least 2 blitzers. If you don’t get to the QB fast on a 5 man rush, you tend to leave some gaps for the QB to get the ball to.
I can’t count the times the pressure took a little too long to get there against Kansas, and the QB dumped it off to his hot receiver and he gained 10 yards.
Penalties kill you. Penalties killed Tech. The well-documented holding penalty to start the half set the tone for a disastrous half which went a little something like this:
Exhibit A) Kick return to the 30 nullified by holding, Tech starts at their own 8. Goes 3 and out. Punts the ball 13 yards. Gives up a TD.
Exhibit B) Tech stops KU near midfield on 3rd down. Called for roughing the passer. New first down.
Exhibit C) Tech stops KU on 3rd down. On the ensuing punt, called for roughing the kicker.
You do this sort of crap enough, and you’re going to lose a lot of games. Tech’s offense didn’t score a ton of points but they had a good day on the stat sheet running the ball. Almost 40 yards more than their average last year, as a matter of fact. The defense isn’t quite there yet, but they gave up 315 yards – not exactly world beaters, but it’s not like they got gashed on every play. They just would maddeningly find ways to keep the KU offense on the field. Ultimately it led to a loss.
Maybe this is last year’s Miami game where they just played a truly awful game, regrouped, and didn’t lose another game until the UGA contest. If you look at the schedule, every single team they play for the rest of the year is beatable from here on out – even the teams I said they initially had no chance against. However, who is this Georgia Tech team? I’m not sure even they know yet. They didn’t look like they were ready to play last week, and if they pull that sort of stunt going up to a depleted UNC squad this Saturday, they may come back to town 1-2.
However, if they learn that you can’t take a play off, and you have to finish (as cliche as that may be), this team has all of the ability to come out and use this game as a chance to kick off a really strong run.