Looking ahead to Georgia Tech-Clemson

Greetings-

Sorry for the delay. Anyway, I was trading texts after the game with my buddy Stewart, a Tech alumnus who flew down for the Miami game, and the last text he left me with was, “Got to wonder where we go from here.”

Kind of the question of the week, unless he was asking for suggestions about where he and his crew should party Saturday night. It doesn’t look great for reasons easily enumerated, starting with the cold front that’s swept over the Tech offense and the special teams that continues to underachieve. I wrote a story for Monday’s paper pointing out that Clemson scored more last Saturday than the Jackets have in their past three games.

I think the Jackets have a chance Saturday. Not a great one, but as much of a chance as Virginia had against Tech a few weeks back or Texas Tech was given against Oklahoma.

It’s something of a commentary on the season that I dust off this quote from Paul Johnson from two weeks ago that its intent is to offer hope for the Jackets against Clemson rather than provide caution against inflated expectations, which is how it would have been read when he said it two Mondays ago. It was in response to a question about Florida State’s struggles.

“That’s the nature of the game. The game is so fragile. It’s not as cut and dried (as you’d think). There might be three or four teams in the country that are just so talented (they can’t lose), but most of the teams aren’t that way now. On a given day, most anybody can beat anybody. You get three or four turnovers or something happens or somebody has an off day or somebody has a hot day. That’s why you play the games.”

On the to-do list for Tech this week:

1. Clean up execution issues on offense. Tech’s best shot is to hold onto the ball for 35 minutes plus and use those minutes productively. That won’t happen, obviously, if the recent problems clearing holes and not getting playmakers in space with the ball persist.

The fact that Clemson’s defense doesn’t inspire terror (378 yards per game) suggests that this could happen, but it didn’t help in Miami, which, coincidentally, averages 378.6 yards per game.

Clemson’s defensive line, including defensive end Andre Branch (ACC-best eight sacks this season) and tackle Brandon Thompson (41 tackles, likely first-round pick), is not to be trifled with.

2. Infuse some confidence into Tevin Washington. He’s in a funk.

3. Get some special teams answers. Clemson is pretty much the last team that needs a short field to score points. Two very important people this week are kickoff specialist David Scully and punter Sean Poole. Also on the list are the 11 gentlemen on the kickoff return team. Tech’s 19.56 yards per return average is 103rd in the country.

4. Decide how much to put Tech’s cornerbacks on an island. Cover-2 pass coverage will limit Clemson’s big-play potential, but will make it harder to pressure quarterback Tajh Boyd. Playing man against wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins frees up more possibilities to blitz Boyd, but, obviously, leaves the Jackets more vulnerable to big plays out of single coverage.

5. Hope that Clemson’s players busy themselves reading and hearing about how great they are. It seemed to work for Virginia.

Links

Anderson Independent Mail stories on Waktins, the Tigers’ breadth of playmakers and Dabo Swinney’s insistence on focus.

Swinney isn’t spending much time thinking about the BCS rankings, says the Charleston Post and Courier.

Game stories from the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Quote from Hurricanes running back Mike James in the Sun-Sentinel story: “I mean, who holds Georgia Tech to seven points?”

Thanks for reading. I’ll have notes up after practice around 9:30.

Please follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

240 comments Add your comment

joeygt1

October 24th, 2011
2:58 pm

joeygt1

October 24th, 2011
2:59 pm

Ken,

if opposing teams are loading the box to stop the tripple option why does ga tech not throwm more screen passes, short passes..ect…??

Bob

October 24th, 2011
3:07 pm

Joey, did you see Tech’s first offensive (in more ways than one) play of the Miami game?

Ken Sugiura

October 24th, 2011
3:08 pm

washington threw one screen to sims that went for 12 yards. i don’t remember more. i’m not sure what the answer is.

joeygt1

October 24th, 2011
3:15 pm

yes i did put we dont always need to throw down field.. the cornerback our giving us a 8-10 yard cushion.. if we throw a few screens ..shorter passes every other drive as need be we can help loosen up the opposing teams defense to not load the box

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:23 pm

Offensive line needs to have a big game so Tevin will have some time to think. Defense has been playing good, if they can step it up a notch with sacks and ints we’ll have a chance. We need total team effort. ” ROCK THE HOUSE JACKETS “

THE OTHER GUYS

October 24th, 2011
3:25 pm

Not here to ruffle any feathers, but with the remaining games on yalls schedule only 1 game should be a definite win (Duke). If CPJ happens to go 7-5 will the Tech fan base call for CPJ to be on the hot seat? Im not buying into all this “wait until he gets HIS recruits in” stuff ive been hearing from all of my Tech buddies. I think you have to have talent to win and then the coaches must be good enough to take the talent of the players up a notch. I just don’t see Tech being in the position to be a national contender until CPJ is gone. Just my opinion.

The Dream

October 24th, 2011
3:25 pm

I think we need to put Laskey or maybe Perkins at A back and let them lead block on a few plays, then set up to repeat this and run Sims on a counter, back the other way. With the defenses setting up like they are, we can’t run the dive, the toss sweep and the quarterback keeper three plays out of 4. We do that again this week and we will punt on the 4th play each time (again). A S. Hill reverse would be nice too,

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:25 pm

Is CPJ even considering letting Sims pass after getting the pitch? Line Sims and Days up behind Tevin and mix it up a little.

fan of shorter passes (as short as necessary!)

October 24th, 2011
3:28 pm

Perhaps TW’s funk will not matter…he may not even be the QB!

Many think Clem winning is a fait accompli…hopefully the tigggers think this is a done deal!

juvenal

October 24th, 2011
3:29 pm

we stop the run better(answered prayer), & the O tanks…always love the John McKay reply, when he was asked about the execution of Tampa Bays offense-”I think it’s a good idea”…….

gtne80

October 24th, 2011
3:30 pm

I watched some other games on Saturday after the Tech debacle. And, yes, I realize that some of Tevin’s throws are totally uncatchable, but I noticed that the good receivers on other teams seem to expend a great deal more effort getting to balls that may not be optimally thrown. They jump, dive, and sometimes get physical with their bodies (i.e., similar to boxing out for a rebound in basketball) to catch passes. I don’t see our guys doing a lot of that.

I think @joey is onto something also about the 8-10 yard cushions. Other QBs would check down into a quick throw. I don’t know if CPJ allows Tevin to do that or (if allowed) he is capable of doing it. I’ve notices quite a few times where our wideouts appear to be one-on-one with the DB and the DB is giving more than 5 yards as cushion and taking a step back immediately on the snap. That may be something that could be worked on. I’d like to see Stephen Hill catch a ball and have a chance to go one-one-one the a DB.

Surely if I see it, our coaches see it. Is it a matter than Tevin doesn’t have the ability to check to the play?

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:30 pm

Tech’s players need a year in the weight room, they usually don’t come out of high school ready to go. Next year looks very promising.

headley lamar

October 24th, 2011
3:30 pm

Tech has a severe lack of talent on both sides of the ball.

No amount of gimmick offenses is gonna change that.

CPJ could get away with it when he had Gaileys athletes.

Those days are over.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:32 pm

juvenal. he may have said ” executing the offense.” lol

DawginLex

October 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

If you go back to the summer, this year was a bridge year anyway for Tech.

The 6-0 start got expectations way too high

If Vad Lee is as good as they say he is, next year would be the year to make a run.

Clemson has got more offensive weapons than anyone in the ACC and most of the SEC. Their D line is athletic but maybe not as much as Miami

This may be the shootout a lot of folks thought last week would be.

Good luck.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

juvenal, sorry, read your’s too fast.

Ramblin Man

October 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

Joey my answer would be one T. Washington. It worried every fan out there he would be the starting QB coming into the season and then he played pretty well and we said well this might not be that bad. His passes did not look great, but he could improve while adjusting to game speed right? We got worried after the Maryland game and it has all been down hill. Whether by design or Washington he looks uncomfortable and just is not playing well. I do not fully blame him as the line has not helped, ABs have missed blocks, and the last three big plays I remember have all been called back for penalties. This team is killing itself and looked awful against a awful Miami defense. Clemson will probably crush us and then we can only hope something can be done in the off week.

The Real YellowJacket

October 24th, 2011
3:36 pm

I’ll be there but with concern.
And a loud voice!!

IPTAY

October 24th, 2011
3:36 pm

THE CLEMSON PRIDE WILL DOMINATE.” Clemson pride” that has anice little ring to it.

Brent

October 24th, 2011
3:37 pm

Bob, Tech’s first offensive play was not a screen pass. Tech only threw one screen pass the whole game, and it went for 12 yards, like Ken said.

As for what Joe said, screen passes only work in a very limited number of situations, and they depend heavily on the defensive playcall. The proper response to an opposing team stacking the box is to throw a lot of short passes over the middle and towards the sidelines, but Tevin’s passing game is very underdeveloped, as we saw against Miami. He drops back and panics, which results in him getting happy feet and taking his eyes off his downfield receivers, almost invariably ending in a sack. When that doesn’t happen, he’s shown that his accuracy is very inconsistent. I mean, he threw the ball twice as far as Orwin Smith was from him on that first play. CPJ summed it up nicely when he said, “We’ve got to find something he can do.”

Ken, may I suggest that you refrain from apologizing at the beginning of your posts? I’ve seen you do it several times now, and I just think it’s a bad habit. You don’t have any real obligation to us fans to post these blog entries by any specific time. Just post them when you finish them and treat us like we’re lucky to even have you covering Tech.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:38 pm

All the pressure is on Clemson. They should be very afraid. Tech should be very mad.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
3:41 pm

Humble guys apologize, thanks Ken.

Atlien

October 24th, 2011
3:41 pm

I don’t think expectations got too high with most fans (the normal ones not posting online). Most of us would be happy to go 2-2 against Clemson, VT, Miami, and UGA. Still crossing my fingers. It will be very important to start strong (i.e. not on the 10 yard line) to get a little confidence back.

I am cautiously optimistic about the improvements on defense.

BS Patrol

October 24th, 2011
3:44 pm

Please don’t let TW throw an out pattern.

Ramblin Man

October 24th, 2011
3:45 pm

Dawginlex,
I will admit I kept saying well that was Kansas, W. Carolina and so on, but when the offense played well against UNC it gave me hope and I was thinking well maybe this is more than a rebuilding year. Hopefully this line gets better and stronger and can be there for Vad Lee next year. As far as this year I will be happy if I see improvement and the team can get a minimum of two more wins and one or more of those wins is in a bowl.
I will be pulling for UGA this weekend and I really hope UGA can end up in the SECCG and win thus sending the BCS and ESPN spinning off their axis.

hal

October 24th, 2011
3:45 pm

Is it true they are installing a third digit on the scoreboard for the Visitors for the Clemson game?

GTJason

October 24th, 2011
3:47 pm

The quick pass to Hill has been asking to be run. Miami was giving him 15 yards off the line, quick pass and a stiff arm and that’s 6 points. Counter play to Orwin Smith (longest play in GT history) hasn’t been run since the Kansas game. We are running the triple option way more than normal and that’s the one play teams prepare for in our SPREAD Option offense. This is crazy. It’s like playing a 12 year old in NCAA football (video game) because he only runs the same play over and over agian… Every drive ends with my friends and I claiming “What the was that?” Is CPJ just tired of Washington and waiting for Vad Lee to come along next year?

DAWGFAN

October 24th, 2011
3:47 pm

TECH SUCKS…….CLAMPSON WILL DESTROY THAT STUPID YOUTH FOOTBALL OFFENSE.

DawginLex

October 24th, 2011
3:49 pm

That would be fun. first we gotta beat florida

Then Auburn and Kentucky

i want to play Bama or LSU just to see how we do

Beating one of them and having the BCS blow up would be gravy

BigTimeTechFan

October 24th, 2011
3:54 pm

Clemson would be able to handle Tech. Miami has handled Tech the last 3 years and Tech held it’s own against Clemson.

Yellow Jackets in a blow out. Clemson may come within 10 points at the end but game will never be over by beginning of 4th qtr.

GT 45 Clemson 35

Ramblin Man

October 24th, 2011
3:54 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but did Washington not line up in the shotgun for the deep pass attempt against UVA? If so why not try a few more from a pistol or shotgun and give him that extra second from time to time? I know from talking with Vad Lee he loves the pistol and I just wonder if CPJ will utilize it. I have always supported CPJ, but sometimes his stubbornness confuses me.

fan of shorter passes (as short as necessary!)

October 24th, 2011
3:55 pm

@The Dream.
Laskey seems (to me) so timid presently, he would even be afraid to block. It would not surprise me if he “called in sick” Saturday. I feel really bad for him.

DAWGHATER

October 24th, 2011
3:57 pm

First, it’s funny how Dawg fans come on here to blog. Because by next week they will all have their tails between their legs from the beating in J’ville. UGA stands no chance against Bama or LSU. Hey UGA fans, I don’t think I’d brag too much about the SEC this year. Have you noticed the records of Kentucky, Miss State, Miss and Vandy. No powerhouse in this group. Oh yea, did you also notice all 4 of these lackluster teams are all on UGA schedule. UGA’s beaten no one and even if they got lucky enough to beat FL, FL not great team either.

Now back to Tech. We are young and showing it. At the rate we are headed 7 wins is probably the ceiling. I was wondering when Tevin would lose his confidence and he has. A couple of bad pitches 3 games ago and now Tevin won’t pitch the ball and the outside is where we make all the yardage.

At least we knew the 6-0 record really didn’t mean anything. UGA thinks beating Vandy in the last minute is some great accomplishment. And the lack of class their D coordiantor shows fits right in at UGA.

Ramblin Man

October 24th, 2011
4:00 pm

Bigtime I wish I had your optimism. This team is losing confidence in each other on offense and special teams. The D showed signs of life but everything else is just spinning out of control and the Maryland scare already got Clemson’s attention to not look ahead.

IPTAY

October 24th, 2011
4:01 pm

@Bigtimetech-whatever, you my friend will get a dose of reality saturday nite. If you think your jackets looked bad last weekend. Just wait. I’m thinkin more like 60 – 10. The tigers are gonna destroy the popeye’s chicken eatin coach and his staff. Good luck with Duke

joeygt1

October 24th, 2011
4:01 pm

we dont always need to throw down field.. the cornerback our giving us a 8-10 yard cushion.. if we throw a few screens ..shorter passes every other drive as need be we can help loosen up the opposing teams defense to not load the box

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 24th, 2011
4:02 pm

I’d like to see CPJ write something down on paper. When he said the reason Tony Zenon didn’t play in a game was that he overlooked him. If you keep making the same mistakes then change something. I still think he needs some help with the offense and please hire a ST coach.

Reality

October 24th, 2011
4:02 pm

Uga vs FL Loss
Uga vs Au Loss
Uga vs GT Loss

UGA ends up 7-5….Richt hangs on for another year.

Brent

October 24th, 2011
4:02 pm

I think everyone needs to remember what GT’s preseason expectations were and the fact that we have the second youngest team in the entire country. Our offensive line is especially young, and our skill position players have proven that they can execute when blocks are set up properly. Our defense is improving, and all of these things bode very well for the future, especially if Vad Lee is as good a quarterback as advertised.

GT FAN IN PA

October 24th, 2011
4:04 pm

I thought the defense kept us in the game on Saturday and played pretty darn hard. TW has lost all his confidence and you can see it even as an arm chair coach- the one play when they started on about the 5 yard line he had a pitch over the end’s head and Smith would still be running but he did not pitch it-sometimes he needs to take a little risk- he has happy feet for sure- it looks like on a couple of plays if he just stepped up in the pocket he could then throw. The short passes are there but if you overthrow someone like on the first play you can’t call those plays and that is where the offense is limited- look back at every team that has ever ran the TO- Wishbone- Wing T- Veer- whatever you wish to call it and it all started with the QB- you have to figure TW was the 3rd string on this team at one time- I think next year he very well could be back at that position as a SR- I wish no hard feelings on the young man as I know he is giving his all- One game at a time- yes everyone got excited for the start we had and when all is said and done we might be right where we were projected to be- hope not but very well could be- Go Jackets-

Georg M

October 24th, 2011
4:06 pm

BigTime – I appreciate your enthusiasm but please pass whatever you are smoking. GT never blows-out Clemson – in recent history our games always go one of two ways – a blowout by Clemson or a close game that comes down to the end. Sorry, but a GT blowout is not an option.

We look forward to coming to Bobby Dodd this weekend. Maybe Tevin will guarantee a win just like Reggie did in 2003!

Go Tigers.

GT FAN IN PA

October 24th, 2011
4:07 pm

Ramblin- they were also in the shotgun or pistol this past Saturday for a play.

fan of shorter passes (as short as necessary!)

October 24th, 2011
4:08 pm

@GIVE ME A BREAK

Could Zenon be in Johnsons doghouse? Did you notice Johnson “talk” to him after he decided to run that last kick out of the endzone?

J. C.

October 24th, 2011
4:09 pm

IPTAY… ALL DAY! Go Tigers!

joeygt1

October 24th, 2011
4:10 pm

brent , you hit the nail on the head, exactly the way i feel.. i think cpj would throw more shorter passes but he doesnt fell comfortable with tw at qb doing it

juvenal

October 24th, 2011
4:11 pm

now is it back to headley or is headley/cupcake one of those multiple personalities, or-gasp!-an imitator? M, you won’t live long enough to see this series even…….

George Stein

October 24th, 2011
4:11 pm

How is it possible we are only 4 point dogs this weekend?

You’re right, Georg M. The only time I can recall a game that was shaping up as Tech blowout was 2009, in which we held a 24-0 lead that eventually became a 27-27 deficit. Good luck to y’all this weekend, but you won’t need it.

GT FAN IN PA

October 24th, 2011
4:15 pm

I will say some teams have the teams they just don’t seem to match up against- Clemson has always had a time with us- I recall back when they had pretty good teams with The Fridge-and big ole Jon Davis became known by Al as the Fridge Mover- just like us going to UVA we never play them well in their house.

Georg M

October 24th, 2011
4:16 pm

I think the 4-point line is due to the history of the series over the past 15 or so years – incredibly close finishes with only a couple of exceptions. GT always plays Clemson well, regardless of any talent differences. We are looking forward to see how we match up this year.