Does Georgia Tech play like it practices?

Greetings-

Sorry for the delay. Blog posts invariably take longer to put together than you think. Anyway, I mentioned in the last post Paul Johnson’s assessment of practice, and how he does that every Wednesday after practice, his last media availability each week.

After he said that he was a believer in the idea that how a team practices usually indicates how it will play after the N.C. State game, I thought it might be fun to re-visit his assessments before each game this season (except for the first) and see how it matched up with performance, along with my score (1-5) for accuracy. Forgive the tangent, but it’s sort of like how market watchers used to judge the size of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s briefcase for clues about the reserve’s impending actions on the interest rate.

When Johnson meets with reporters after practice, Kelly Quinlan of Rivals always asks Johnson how it went and, in cases when he’s not there, Rod Mackenzie of Scout picks up for him. I guess Kelly is our Helen Thomas. For the literalists among you, I wouldn’t take any of this seriously. Onward…

Sept. 7, prior to Middle Tennessee State

“Guys were flying around, acting like they were having some fun. I think we’ll be ready to play.”

Result: Tech jumps out to a 28-0 lead, holds MTSU to seven points through three quarters and rolls to a 49-21 win. The Jackets ding MTSU with two one-play touchdown drives of 73 and 71 yards.

Score: 5. The most confident assessment of the season anticipates a demolition.

Sept. 14, prior to Kansas

“It was O.K.”

“It was a little better today than it was yesterday, so hopefully it’ll be better tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go.”

Result: Tech hammers the Jayhawks with 768 rushing yards and sets an NCAA record for yards-per-carry in a 66-24 rout.

Score: 2. The Jackets prepared for an assault on the school record books with a practice that barely passed muster.

Sept. 21, prior to North Carolina

“It was O.K. Nothing spectacular, but it was O.K. Not terrible.”

“Yesterday was pretty good. Today was just kind of average.”

Result: Against the toughest competition they’d faced to that point (and since), the Jackets pump out 382 rushing yards in a back-and-forth game that they win 35-28 with a 61-yard touchdown drive in the fourth-quarter. Tech’s run-defense issues become apparent as running back Giovani Bernard runs for 155 yards.

Score: 4. A sharp performance overall against a good opponent (particularly by the offensive line) with some holes on both sides. “Pretty good” was one of the more positive phrases used this season.

Sept. 28, prior to N.C. State

“It was good. It was O.K. Part of it was alright, part of it we weren’t dialed in like I’d like for us to be.”

Result: Tech came out firing and led 21-0 and surged again to a 45-21 lead, but the Jackets missed on a number of plays, allowed a 19-play drive (that didn’t result in a score) and got gashed for 195 rushing yards.

Score: 4. Kind of a tough one to grade, given that Johnson assessed practice in four different ways and Tech played hot and cold. Perhaps it’s fitting. But “not being dialed in” was a telling evaluation.

Oct. 5, prior to Maryland

“It was a little better. Practice this week has been a little better. So, hopefully we’ll play that way on Saturday. You never know. We’ve still got one more day to go.”

Result: Tech survives an upset attempt in a 21-16 win over Maryland in a game perhaps most noteworthy for Tevin Washington’s 32 carries and Terrapins defensive tackle Joe Vellano’s 22 tackles. The Jackets miss on a handful of big plays that likely would have changed the complexion of the game.

Score: 3. Another tough one to score, because I think Tech actually didn’t play that badly despite the score. Either way, Johnson’s optimism would have indicated a more decisive win.

Oct. 12, prior to Virginia

“It was all right, nothing great.”

“No, probably it wasn’t as good as last week. Last week we actually practiced pretty good. It’s a concern. We’ve still got tomorrow. We need to clean up a lot of stuff.”

Result: Tech plays its poorest offensive game of the season and takes its first loss, 24-21. The defense surrenders 272 yards and 24 points in the first half but pitches a shutout in the second.

Score: 5. Tech got whaled on at the start, evidence of a lack of necessary intensity. The coach saw it coming.

Wednesday, prior to Miami

“It’s been good. We’ve had two pretty good practices.”

Look back at Virginia

I talked to Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor Tuesday about last week’s game. Not sure how much you care about it anymore, but just in case, a couple tidbits.

1. Going into the game, he had thought Tech was doing a better job stopping the run with “seven guys in the front and playing Cover-2.” That answer might sound bogus, I imagine, and perhaps so will my assertion that I thought the run defense was better against Maryland than the N.C. State game with the very glaring exception of the 77-yard run by quarterback C.J. Brown. Regardless…

2. He thought it was important to start fast, as is always the case, but especially so against an explosive team like Tech. He said he thought the offense did well except for the third quarter, when it only had the ball for one possession due to Tech’s  9:31 drive to open the quarter.

3. On the game-ending possession: “We were huddled on the sideline as a group and I think our guys were very determined that we were going to drive the ball. We threw a couple passes, but the way it was going, the run was really working.”

4. On Virginia at this point: “I think we’re at the point, our team is maturing, so as an offensive unit, we’re maturing and that’s part of where we are. We’ve got some returning linemen, we’ve got three backs who are all coming into their own. It was probably good timing for us to have an opportunity to finish out a game like that. Just everything kind of worked together. It was a day when we were running the ball well. I thought the guys executed the plan very well. … It just all came together. It was the right time to have that kind of situation come up. The guys were really ready for it mentally and emotionally.”

5. Just by the production, he couldn’t argue it wasn’t the line’s best game of the season. During the team’s bye week, coaches drilled hard on the running backs hitting the holes hard and blocking scheme and technique.

“So a lot of things that probably didn’t have to do with Georgia Tech came together. That’s the nature of football. You play a team in a certain moment, sometimes they’re up and you’re down. We were on the way up.”

6. I don’t think Virginia’s coaches thought the offense would have the day it had. “When we watched them, we said, ‘They’re better now at running their defense,’” he said. “That was our opinion watching and preparing.”

It was in response to a question about the Tech defensive line, which he sort of deflected with this answer. Obviously, he wasn’t going to say that he thought Tech’s defense was worse, but he also could have gone in different directions with his response, and I didn’t get the sense he was saying it just to say it.

One conclusion: For several reasons, Tech ran into Virginia on the wrong day, as often seems to be the case in Charlottesville.

Links

Stories on the one-game suspension of Miami defensive tackle Micanor Regis from the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. A Post profile of Hurricanes wide receiver Clive Watford, who started playing organized football as a high school senior and one from the Sun-Sentinel on wide receiver Tommy Streeter, who has five touchdown receptions and an 18.4 yards-per-catch average.

From the Herald:

“The suspension hurts the Hurricanes (3-3, 1-2) in more ways than one. The UM defensive line has been severely hit by injuries, and will face the vaunted triple-option attack of the Yellow Jackets (6-1, 3-1). The loss of Regis, the only healthy veteran tackle, means that the Canes have Adewale Ojomo (who was converted a couple weeks ago from defensive end) and junior college transfer Darius Smith as the remaining players with any real experience. Olsen Pierre, a freshman, is on the depth chart backing up Ojomo on the right side. Freshman Jalen Grimble, listed as an end, can also play tackle.”

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

239 comments Add your comment

juvenal

October 20th, 2011
3:04 pm

#96 must be great in practice……

juvenal

October 20th, 2011
3:06 pm

i know, i’m bored with it, too…….i’ll just pray he plays better………

Ken Sugiura

October 20th, 2011
3:08 pm

ha ha. probably your best option at this point.

juvenal

October 20th, 2011
3:12 pm

since you brought up the politics, goldspan lost money with bernie made-off……..

fan of shorter passes & longer runs

October 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

Johnson normally defers to the second half if Tech wins the toss. Wonder if Tech trying to hold Mia on the first drive is better, or taking the ball first and trying to score first? It seemed (to me) that VA got some lift by scoring quickly…

Hayseed Dixie

October 20th, 2011
3:22 pm

“I talked to Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor Tuesday about last week’s game. Not sure how much you care about it anymore…”

Oh no, Ken. We *always* care about an attempt at objective analysis.

Great coverage, and the 1-5 scale for practice/performance just shows you’re truly interested, which makes for the best copy. Great read!

gtfanfrom1951

October 20th, 2011
3:22 pm

If Tech does not start fast they will lose.

Jackets 2011

October 20th, 2011
3:28 pm

I hope we will improve our blocking downfield or just get out of the way.
We have players who can break tackles or make people miss in the open field.
I particularly was upset by Roddy’s best run ever maybe in the NC State game being ruined by a block taken too far. Just getting in the war of tackler would have been sufficient on that play.
That nearly got us in trouble and then we had two such bad blocks in the Virginia game when we could have gotten them to quit and fold.
The whining when we lose bugs me (assuming it isn’t trolls and not all of it is).
The lose could turn out to be what we need to up our effort.
Since each win got to be sloppier.

Cane 1

October 20th, 2011
3:30 pm

The only holding on the first drive by the U will be on your defense.

Jackets 2011

October 20th, 2011
3:33 pm

Virginia may play us tough because their NC season in 1990 became our NC season.
Teams were pretty evenly matched then and that was probably Virginia’s best football team of all time.
Haven’t we beat them twice by the score of 41-38 or thereabout?

Jackets 2011

October 20th, 2011
3:35 pm

@Cane1.
How did ya’ll manage to lose to Maryland who got waxed by Temple?
Maybe your defense cracked up every play looking at the jerseys.

Cane 1

October 20th, 2011
3:41 pm

Well nerd, it was the first game of the season, we had our backup qb plus 2 more defensive players out.

T3

October 20th, 2011
3:44 pm

“For several reasons, Tech ran into Virginia on the wrong day,
as often seems to be the case in Charlottesville.”

Ken: Good assessment.

GT has youth at so many positions that just havent been through the season grind.
GT was just worn-out going into the UVA game.

It is VERY unusual for GT Offense to score only 14 pts. against another ACC team.

I thought the GT-UVA was going to be a close game and it was.
I believed a FG wold be the difference. Close guess.

I believe GT will play much better vs Miami, and I think’ll GT will win a close one.
Maybe GT: 34 Miami: 30.

I suspect NC-State will beat UVA on Saturday.

Cane 1

October 20th, 2011
3:45 pm

miami 38
gt 17

clemson 45
gt 10

vt 30
gt 15

dook 21
gt 20

uga 38
gt 18

congrats on getting bowl eligible through 6 games

TechFanForever

October 20th, 2011
3:46 pm

Ken, perhaps fatigue is indeed the answer. We get off to quick starts. Earlier games we were able to play 2nd and 3rd string. We haven’t seen much of the 2nd string. There have been times when I thought it would be good to go with Days for a drive especially when teams where daring Tevin to run by covering all other options. Days is a much stronger runner and if the D is set to make the QB keep it, hey, just saying… Not saying he should start but taking the 3rd or fourth series to give Tevin a break and make the defense react might not be a bad idea. Certainly Days needs to control turnovers but if Tevin gets hurt in the next game or two for trying too much we could be in a BIG bind.

Jacket Man

October 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

Tech was ranked #12 in the country, and playing Virginia for their homecoming, so it wasn’t unexpected they were playing over their heads. On the other hand, GA Tech was playing its seventh game in a row, following four straight weeks of summer practice (including 2-a-days) and mid term exams, so a perfect storm was building for the loss that occurred last Saturday afternoon.

Does this guarantee the game against Miami will go any better? Never. My guess is, however, the team will come out more focused and more energetic after having a few days of shells and sleeping “in”. We’ll find out out soon enough.

Birmingham Jacket

October 20th, 2011
3:53 pm

With the exception MAYBE of the Ted (leaky) Roof days, I can’t say I can ever remember seeing a defense as poor.

I’m sick and tired of watching our front 3 (especially 1 in particular–see above comments) get absolutely BLOWN OFF THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE!!!

It’s an absolute embarrassment.

T3

October 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

Cane 1 = another POS dawg troll

juvenal

October 20th, 2011
3:58 pm

as much trouble as they get into, don’t cane 1, cane them all…….

GOLD PANTS

October 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

It’s Supersize time. Go get that troll that calls himself Cane 1 about his 3:45 post. lol

DS_CE91

October 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

Another fine post, Ken……

Lord, please let us find some way to slow down the run Saturday.

GO JACKETS!!!

Ramblin Man

October 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

B Jacket I agree. I was never a fan of going to the 3-4 and wonder if GT can land the big NT needed. I think I am more pissed with the other guys that have the right size and not the heart than I am at 96. Hopefully having Attaochu and Drummond back will help. Of course if the O can get clicking again the D will get more rest and maybe play better.

GTJeff

October 20th, 2011
4:12 pm

Every time I look at the depth chart & see TJ Barnes at 2nd string, look at his physical stats (6′7″ 350) & scratch my head. That is a monster of a man. Why can we not coach this guy up to being a beast of a nosetackle?

Ken Sugiura

October 20th, 2011
4:16 pm

pretty funny, juvenal.

Dooley

October 20th, 2011
4:17 pm

Cane1, the fries are burning.

IL Jacket

October 20th, 2011
4:19 pm

I continue to think the key for our defense is to have the offense keep the ball for long possessions leading to scores. There is a reason Saban is big on the run and that is because it keeps his big hosses on defense fresh and enables him to run out the clock at the end of the game when he can protect his lead. It is a great style of play, never asking your quarterback to have to do too much, always playing within himself.

Last week Virginia played exactly that game, kept our defense on the field a long time and closed the game out against us with the run.

Tech '10

October 20th, 2011
4:20 pm

As sad as it is to say, I think we needed the loss to re-focus our efforts. I would rather it come at the hands of a classy UVA team than the classless hurricons.

5150 UOAD

October 20th, 2011
4:20 pm

Delbert D you wish has come true…………..GBI to look into beating of Warren County football coach

gogt

October 20th, 2011
4:22 pm

Love it when the doggies pretend they are from the school we’re playing week. Cute little doggies…

Hey, GT Jeff...

October 20th, 2011
4:24 pm

…no matter how big a guy is, if he does not want to play there is no amount of “coaching up” that will generate game day exceptional play – conversely, if a player has marginal size and talent, yet wants to play, then that is when “coaching up” comes into play.

And remember, coaches are dealing with 17-24 year olds, who know everything, so God bless those coaches who stake their livelihoods based on the whims of those 17-24 year olds…

Delbert D.

October 20th, 2011
4:29 pm

Helen Thomas doesn’t have the luster that she once had (fired for cause). Kelly Quinlan is probably going to sen Ken an email asking for an explanation.

GOLD PANTS

October 20th, 2011
4:30 pm

@GT Jeff—- I wonder the same as you. The man is huge and #96 plays more than he does which is an indictment of his skills. Maybe he just is big and nothing else. You also have to be quick and agile even if this position mostly requires brute force. I just do not know—It’s a mystery to me. What year of elibility is Barnes anyway?

19

October 20th, 2011
4:34 pm

How many JUCO transfers does Tech have on the team? I’m just curious. It would nice if Tech could get a couple of those 350lb nose tackles. Don’t think it will happen though.

Go Jackets!!!

Reico

October 20th, 2011
4:35 pm

GTJeff, The reason we cannot coach TJ up is because our defensive line are taught to stand the O-line up, read where the play is going and then react. We should be attacking instead and you will not only see better play out of TJ, but the rest of the D-line. All the players we recruited came from attacking defenses in highschool.

1Jacket7

October 20th, 2011
4:36 pm

To All of the Yellow Jackets Reading this post. You only get 4 years of College Football to most is the last 4 years of Football for life. National Championships don’t come easy and great seasons are memories that last a lifetime. Winning is a great recipe consisting of the ingredients: Hard work, sacrifice, team chemistry, opportunity, focus and passion. Success is built on failure and last weeks lost needs to be the impetus that gets the fire burning in your hearts to lay it all on the line for 60 minutes and finish each game starting with Miami like it will be your last. Change your mindset from its ok to mess up once in awhile to it is never ok to play less than perfect because my teammates and my legacy depend on my performance today. You all are better than you have shown but the proof is in your performance. Don’t talk about it. BE ABOUT IT! Now Go Have Fun and get after it. You are Champions!!! You just have to play 60 minutes of complete football to show it. GO JACKETS!!!

gtechsta

October 20th, 2011
4:37 pm

So cane1, what you’re saying is it’s going to be 1st and 20 for Miami after the hold? I’ll take it.

1Jacket7

October 20th, 2011
4:37 pm

To All of the Yellow Jackets Reading this post. You only get 4 years of College Football. To most its the last 4 years of Football for life. National Championships don’t come easy and great seasons are memories that last a lifetime. Winning is a great recipe consisting of the ingredients: Hard work, sacrifice, team chemistry, opportunity, focus and passion. Success is built on failure and last weeks lost needs to be the impetus that gets the fire burning in your hearts to lay it all on the line for 60 minutes and finish each game starting with Miami like it will be your last. Change your mindset from its ok to mess up once in awhile to it is never ok to play less than perfect because my teammates and my legacy depend on my performance today. You all are better than you have shown but the proof is in your performance. Don’t talk about it. BE ABOUT IT! Now Go Have Fun and get after it. You are Champions!!! You just have to play 60 minutes of complete football to show it. GO JACKETS!!!

Delbert D.

October 20th, 2011
4:38 pm

The winning team players attacked the losing team players after a 21-2 game. It’s a troubling time in which to live. I’m going to read Albert Camus’ “The Plague” and get recalibrated.

5150 UOAD

October 20th, 2011
4:38 pm

Enter your comments here

IL Jacket

October 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

19, it seems to me most JUCO guys are there because they couldn’t meet the academic requirements to play at a Div. 1 school, so they are unlikely to think of Tech as a place they can succeed. I am sure there are exceptions, but that seems to be the path that UGA takes with its nonqualifiers.

Delbert D.

October 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

Barnes is a Jr, Walls is a grad student.

5150 UOAD

October 20th, 2011
4:40 pm

Delbert you have that backwards. The Winning team was visiting for the Homecoming Game and they were attcked by the losing home team.

GOLD PANTS

October 20th, 2011
4:43 pm

Gosh , that must be the ghost of Knute Rockne of get one for the Gipper fame that made that last post. Just kidding.

Born2Buzz

October 20th, 2011
4:45 pm

GT Jeff, juvenal and I have wondered what the deal is as well. I just think some kids that have that size and talent never had to bust their butt in HS and thus don’t do so in practice in college. Walls on the other hand is the quintessential over achiever. He busts his butt in practice constantly because he doesn’t have the natural talent of guys like Barnes. Groh apparently rewards that effort and discounts Barnes playing time for the lack of similar effort, even though it appears the Barnes gives the effort in the games and is obviously a better talent. What would be your call if you were Groh?

Ken, I liked the report. I’m looking for a much more intense effort right off the bat from the team this weekend. I’m sure they know that their season goals are now on the line with every game.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 20th, 2011
4:45 pm

UOAD, is what you posted about the GBI investigating true? If so, GOOD!!! I have still not read a single word that anybody from Hancuck County has said about the incident. It’s like they are hoping that if they ignore it, it will go away. Hopefully, the GBI will force the issue now.

Delbert D.

October 20th, 2011
4:48 pm

51 – You are correct. It’s still depressing, and reading Camus will inspire me to live life to the fullest, depressed, because there is no use in expecting anything, and that’s all you get.

Born2Buzz

October 20th, 2011
4:48 pm

19, we take no JUCO transfers. If they couldn’t get into college right out of HS they can’t qualify to go to GT.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 20th, 2011
4:48 pm

Somebody posted on here a couple of days ago, that the helmet was thrown at the Warren County coach. NOT TRUE!!! The Augusta paper has reported every day that the coach was STRUCK with the helmet several times.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 20th, 2011
4:50 pm

Born2Buzz, it might not be a case of not being able to get into college right out of HS; it could be a case of nobody recognizing their talent in HS…..just like walk-ons who end up getting scholarships after they have played for a year.

Born2Buzz

October 20th, 2011
4:51 pm

We’ve taken transfers from other schools (Tashard Choice) but I don’t think we’ve ever had a JUCO guy. If I’m wrong someone will surely let me know.