This isn’t apropos of much, but it occurred to me Monday that 15 percent of the regular season (games-wise) is already gone. I guess it’s 16.7 percent, to be accurate. It moves fast, doesn’t it?
Monday, defensive coaches and players, along with coach Paul Johnson, were available for interviews. Hopefully you read the notes I posted Monday night, as well as the story about Georgia Tech’s appeal with the NCAA. A few more gleanings.
1. An excellent synopsis of the Kansas offense, courtesy of inside linebackers coach Joe Speed.
“Kansas is a very physical football team. They’ve got different personnel groups than the ones we’ve just faced these past two weeks. They’ll go 11, 12, 21, 22, even 23 personnel. (Explanation below) They’ve got three returning linemen up front, they’re big and physical. They’ve got speedy wide receivers and a running back who runs pretty hard.”
The numbers are names for different offensive groupings. The first number is the number of running backs and the second is the number of tight ends. The number of wide receivers is whatever’s left to get to five (as you’ll always have five linemen and a quarterback).
2. Backup inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy is playing well in the packages he plays and is pushing Daniel Drummond for playing time in the base 3-4 package. Nealy gets time, I believe, in the nickel and dime packages that are used, broadly speaking, in passing situations and against 3- and 4-wide receiver sets.
Nealy got his first career start Saturday against Middle Tennessee State because coaches anticipated that the Blue Raiders would use a lot of wide receivers and handled himself alright.
“Quayshawn definitely brings speed to the game,” Speed said. “Although he’s a young player, he’s picking up the game well.”
3. The 61.1 completion percentage against the defense is a little misleading. It was in the notes, but defensive coordinator Al Groh said that 16 of the 22 completions made by MTSU were at the or behind the line of scrimmage.
“That’s why teams like to throw them,” Groh said, “because it’s like a running play. It’s a guaranteed competition. You’re going to catch it and see what you can get with it, just like if you were running the ball. They’re a reality of football. You’ve got to do a good job on those plays.”
4. The passing statistic that Groh finds most indicative of performance is yards per attempt, as he said offenses place the most value on it. He said the goal for offenses is typically 7.0.
“So then, obviously, we would like our numbers to be below 7,” he said.
Tech is at 5.4, to some degree because of the number of short passes MTSU and Western Carolina threw. Last year, Tech’s average was 7.2, which tied the Jackets with Florida State for eighth in the ACC. Tech’s yards per attempt on offense isn’t bad – 22.3.
5. The secondary isn’t getting babied much. While none of the four – cornerbacks Rod Sweeting and Louis Young and safeties Isaiah Johnson and Rashaad Reid – started last year, they all had playing experience.
“We’ve pressured a good bit with them,” secondary coach Charles Kelly said. “A lot of our stuff winds up being one-on-one matchups. … I don’t think [their youth] affects what Coach (Groh) calls.”
Kelly likes his group of players.
“They work really hard,” he said. “I think it means a lot to them.”
I remember Groh saying something similar about Young, that he loves every aspect of the game – practice, lifting, watching video, etc. It’s a telling compliment, I think, about the secondary, that those players are dedicated to improving.
6. I’m not sure what the takeaway is, but both Young and Reid, in talking about the defensive backs’ performance, both mentioned that they were communicating well on the field. I don’t know if communication was poor last year, so it’s been stressed, but I guess it’s certainly better than not communicating well. (You don’t get that kind of analysis just anywhere.) I’ll say this, though. It does mean that they’re more likely to be on the same page before the snap, which goes a long way towards eliminating mistakes once the play begins.
7. MTSU coach Rick Stockstill likes Tevin Washington, Stephen Hill and the secondary.
On Washington: “He’s accurate, and (even) when it’s incomplete, he’s giving the guys a chance to make a play.”
On Hill: “I really believe the receiver is a legitimate big-time player. They’ve got two really good receivers, but Hill is definitely a difference maker out there.”
On the secondary: “I think the difference is their skill players on defense. I think they’ve got good players. I think, probably, their secondary is better than it was last year.”
8. Kansas has some injury problems. The Jayhawks lost their starting defensive tackle John Williams for the season with a torn ACL and another returning starter tackle, Patrick Dorsey, is out. Linebacker Tunde Bakare, who had 16 tackles in the first two games, is questionable.
9. The ticket office didn’t get the bump it was hoping for from its three-game package. You can buy tickets to any three home games for $99, excluding the Georgia game. I wrote awhile ago that I thought that $50 for the cheapest single-game ticket is a bit prohibitive, at least for someone who buys a lot of diapers. (For my kids, I mean. I’m not a collector or anything.) But, I’d say $33 a pop for an ACC game isn’t bad. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
10. Kansas’ first two opponents (McNeese State and Northern Illinois) completed 78.4 percent of their passes. That is astounding. It’s the second-highest rate allowed in FBS. (Congratulations, Arizona) Yards per attempt, for you Groh disciples, is 8.65.
Kansas plays Baylor Nov. 12. The Bears have completed 79.3 percent of their passes (although they’ve played only one game. They were 66.5 percent last year.) There might not be a ball that touches the ground. That wacky Big 12.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat