Tech ran the ball 79.5 percent of the time last season, and we know Tech will continue to be a run-based team.
But Saturday’s first full-pads practice showed there’s a determination to become more proficient through the air. (Tech completed just 44.8 percent of its throws last year).
Ken and I estimated that pass plays were called about 40 percent of the time Saturday.
“I guess coach wanted to see how the passing game was,” wideout Demaryius Thomas said.
Thomas caught a couple bombs, Tyler Melton caught a few short ones and had a drop, Roddy Jones had a long gainer but also a drop, and Anthony Allen turned a short throw into an 18-yard gain. Walk-ons Paul Reese and Jonathan Malone had big catches. On one scramble, Josh Nesbitt saw Allen get behind the defense and threw it about 50 yards to the end zone. The ball was just long, maybe because Allen hesitated for a split second after beating his man.
There were a few sacks, a couple passes knocked down, and other times when the pocket collapsed and the QB (Nesbitt, Jaybo Shaw or Tevin Washington) was forced to run. There weren’t many off-target throws.
Thomas thought the passing game was so-so.
“We’ve got to get our timing down better and our blocking schemes down better, but we had a couple big plays and it was nice to see big plays in the offense,” he said.
Nesbitt’s arm hasn’t gotten stronger, Thomas said. “He’s just gotten a little more accurate than what he was last year.”
Of course, as CPJ repeatedly noted last year, you can’t throw if you can’t protect. Co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak gave the pass protection a “D” on Saturday, noting that was an improvement over last year’s “F.”
“Obviously, we threw the ball a little bit more today,” Sewak said. “We have a lot of weapons and we know we’re capable of doing that. I think our skill guys across the board are fantastic. Let’s see if we can protect and get the ball out to those guys on the perimeter, and that also helps the running game.”
I asked Sewak to assess how the O-line did overall.
“We’re not nearly where we need to be right now,” he said. “I saw some good things, some guys coming off the ball and getting a little bit bit of movement, but there weren’t five guys working as one. It was still a three-two situation where three guys are doing a nice job and two guys are doing their own thing. So we’ve got to get everybody on the same page.”
He said Sean Bedford and Zach Fraysier “did some good things” and Cord Howard did a good job getting movement at the point of attack.
But there were too many false starts.
“That’s just mental toughness, and we didn’t seem to have much of that,” Sewak said.
So what do you expect out of Tech’s passing game this fall?