Hope you’re well. I spoke with Art Kaufman, North Carolina’s defensive coordinator, from the side of the road on the north side of the Perimeter Wednesday. (on the phone, not in person) As you might imagine, he had some nice things to say about Georgia Tech’s offense that hopefully you’ll learn something from, and explained a little about what his defense has done.
Before I forget, I want to say I really appreciate the compliments and kind words about the blog. It makes it so much more enjoyable to do when it’s being received as it has been. I hope I’ll be able to keep it up.
1. On holding opposing offenses to 2.3 yards per carry, with only one run going longer than 15 yards, and that a 34-yarder.
Kaufman said it starts with the defense, starting with the tackles, then the ends and then the linebackers, committing to playing their “run fit,” basically staying in the gap they’ve been assigned to close up.
“I think the biggest thing is their technique,” he said. “They understand what we ask them to do and they understand how to make the adjustments and our guys, our cornerbacks and our safeties, they understand our scheme and how they fit into the scheme.”
2. What they have to do against Georgia Tech:
You’ve probably heard Kaufman’s answer before, though that doesn’t make it any less true: Being disciplined and playing your assignment.
3. On what he’s seen from Tech:
He called the offense “very, very explosive” and noted the scores from the first play from scrimmage. Players know their jobs and are efficient at them, and there are some explosive skill position players.
“I think there’s no question, they are as good as I’ve seen them in that offense. It’s as good as I’ve seen that offense run. I just think that the players, they understand what to do and how to do it and they’re talented within what they’re doing,” he said.
That might be as succinct a summary of what is happening (at least so far) as I’ve heard, and something Paul Johnson (not to knock his summarizing skills) has touched on a good bit. Everyone in the two-deep except for Roddy Jones and Tyler Melton was hand-picked to play this offense and most, if not all, of them, are doing a pretty good job of it. (You could add Preston Lyons and Tyler Kidney, who came to Tech as walk-ons.)
4. On if he might approach the first play any differently:
He said no, basically because those scores could have been any play of the game, and not just the first.
On the teleconference Wednesday, UNC coach Everett Withers said kind of the same thing, but he said he thought the players would be more heightened or aware of that first play, as they’re aware of the streak.
I asked Johnson Wednesday if he knew what he was going to run and he said, yes, but that “you’ll be unimpressed.” Maybe it’ll be a punt.
Guess we can scratch these two plays off the list.
And this one.
5. On guys who are playing well:
He mentioned tackle Tydreke Powell who is “playing really good football” and end Kareem Martin (”playing extremely well”) and safety Matt Merletti. (”He’s had a good year thus and that’s got to continue to happen.”)
More on Powell:
“To me, he’s a guy who’s starting to perfect his craft,” he said. He noted that he’s playing better particularly with his hands. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard the same things from (and about) Logan Walls and Jason Peters – fast and violent hands.
6. On how Tech has run for 300-plus yards in the past two Tech-UNC games, both wins for the Jackets.
The Jackets “have done a great job of executing their offense,” he said. “Some of it, we haven’t done a good job of defending it from a standpoint of technique and fundamentals.”
7. Not from Kaufman, but a link to a Raleigh News & Observer about UNC defending Tech.