Sunday morning, Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee and guard Shaquille Mason went to the Tech training room for treatment, then, as they always do, went to the football offices to review the previous day’s game video. The environment is not so much cold-blooded analysis as it is two buddies kicking back.
“He’ll say, ‘Oh, look at me get this block,’” Lee said. Then, “I give him props on the blocks.”
Amidst the exchange of props, though, Lee made a quick observation from his performance, in which he led the Yellow Jackets to 55 points in 3 ½ quarters against North Carolina.
“First takeaway is I could have done a lot better,” Lee said.
Lee’s assessment was shared by his coaches, who also felt similarly about his teammates. Lee didn’t carry out his fakes as well as he could have, didn’t check out of plays before the snap that he should have and missed reads in the run and pass that could have opened up more big plays. Lee, who came in the game on the third possession in a rotation with starter Tevin Washington and ended up playing the rest of the game, made a crucial error on an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
“I definitely feel like I can get a lot better,” Lee said.
As Tech prepares for its final home game Saturday against Duke, an offense that ran white hot against the Tar Heels isn’t so impressed with itself.
“I think that they played better two weeks ago (against Maryland) than they did last week,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak said of the linemen. “I think last week they played hard, but they weren’t as fundamentally sound as they were (against Maryland) and their grades were indicative of it.”
Coach Paul Johnson practically scoffed at the notion of the offense being overly satisfied after its play against North Carolina. There were missed opportunities and mistakes, he said, that prevented even better play.
“Even though we scored on a possession, we should have scored maybe two or three players before,” Johnson said.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe wasn’t quite so critical.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen a team that’s been hitting on all cylinders like they are right now,” he said. “A threat to score in so many different ways.”
Tech’s small sample size of mega-scoring games doesn’t suggest the Jackets will keep riding the wave. The 68-50 win over North Carolina was the fourth game in Johnson’s five years against an FBS opponent in which the Jackets scored 50 or more. In the first three, they averaged 33.7 points in the next game, 2.7 points better than Tech’s game average in Johnson’s five years.
If Lee plays with similar effectiveness against Duke, or better, that could well be a difference maker. While his arm is his most obvious asset – “Vad throws the ball 50 yards in the air on a line,” Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said – the knack that he showed to keep drives alive may be a quality that is less striking but equally valuable.
“He does seem to kind of make things happen more inside in a scramble situation,” Knowles said.
Tech’s yards-per-play average (7.4) was actually lower than its rates against Presbyterian (9.9), Virginia (9.6) and Clemson (8.1), suggesting the offense was more explosive in those games. Besides twice receiving excellent field position and benefiting from Jamal Golden’s kickoff return for a touchdown, what Tech did against North Carolina did was convert third downs – going 9-for-15 – to maintain possession, as well as give up only one turnover.
As a result, Tech scored on 10 out of 14 possessions, including a one-play drive to end the first half. It was the highest-scoring game of Johnson’s tenure. But there’s always more.
“If you do everything right, you ought to have big plays most every play,” he said. “I mean, that’s the standard you want. Is that attainable? I don’t know. But that’s what you shoot for.”
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Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog