Friday, October 16, 2009

Hokie my friend, you are entering a world of pain...

"If you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man"
Never have the words of Georgia Tech's Swagger Coordinator echoed so true on the Flats as they do this week. For the Jackets to have any shot at the ACC title we must beat the #4 Hokies this week in what promises to be an epic clash at Bobby Dodd this Saturday. Easier said than done, right? This is true, but let's examine a bit closer.
VPISU comes in as its usual powerhouse, the #4 ranked team in the land, fresh off a 48-14 pasting of what was thought to be a good Boston College team. The Hokies sport an improved offense to compliment their always solid defense & special teams. A few things to look for on Saturday night:
  • Clash of the Titans: Paul Johnson vs. Bud Foster. Unstoppable force vs. immovable object? This will be a treat. Who blinks first? Or better yet, who adjusts first. Johnson will throw out a few new wrinkles. Foster will adjust. Johnson will counter the adjustment. So on & so forth. This will be a great game-within-the-game. Whatever coach can adjust the fastest may prove key on Saturday night. I know where my money plays:
Bring it on, Bud...
When we have the ball:
  • Watch for us to continue to use the midline option. The Hokie defensive ends, Jason Worilds & Nekos Brown are super athletic. But they aren't the biggest guys in the world at 240 & 252. Expect for us to block those two & use the bigger defensive tackles as the option keys. And oh yeah, Josh has played pretty well of late so let's ride the hot hand.
  • We'll exploit the corners in the run game. Both VT corners are small at about 5'10" & 190 pounds. Watch for CPJ to vary the blocking scheme & keep them off balance. On one play BayBay will block the corner one-on-one (a mismatch in our favor). As soon as they adjust to that we'll run BayBay at the playside safety & leave the corner to the A-back. Nothing we haven't seen here but we'll force them adjust. Our ability to dictate their defensive packages is key.
  • We'll attack the middle of the field using our A-backs on routes down the seam. Mark it down. Kam Chancellor knows which option plays are coming. He said so himself. That & the fact that he's really a linebacker (6'4", 226) will cause him to cheat toward the line of scrimmage. And when he does, we'll go over-the-top & down the seam. This is exactly what Bama did in the Dome earlier this year. Chancellor is a liability in coverage & we'll exploit that fact on Saturday.
Watch for Anthony Allen down the seam
  • Roddy Jones. I have absolutely no empirical proof. Just a hunch that #20 is due...
  • The 3rd down battle. Tech leads the ACC in 3rd down conversions at 52.4%. VPISU allows only a 27.6% conversion rate. Something's gotta give. If Tech can avoid having negative plays & keep 3rd downs manageable (5 yards or less) we can win this battle.
  • The KEY to the game will be Tech's red zone efficiency. The Hokies are very good defending the red zone, allowing only 6 touchdowns to opponents on 22 chances this year (4th best nationally). Tech must score & cannot settle for field goals in the red zone. This will be the difference in the game. Gotta get six...
When the Hokies have the ball:
  • Stop the run: We've been equally horrid the last two weeks against run & pass alike. But I highly doubt we can contain both run & pass so it's a "pick your poison" scenario. My thought is that we'll sell out to stop Ryan Williams & force Tyrod Taylor to beat us. Not that he can't as he's improved greatly from last year. But VT is a run first team. They clearly run to set up the pass, just as we do. So we'll try & slow down the running game & force Taylor into mistakes.
  • Contain Taylor in the pocket: a corollary to the above. This may actually play into our lack of ability in pressuring the passer. We can't let the pocket breakdown or we're in trouble. Taylor is best when he uses his legs to extend the play & then heaves it to an open receiver down the field. We need to force him to be a pocket passer. And please watch the quarterback draw. I've had nightmares this week of Woody Dantzler rushing for 87 gajillion yards on QB draws against us a few years ago.
Nightmares, I tell you...
  • Play zone in the secondary & disguise coverage. Taylor has improved dramatically this year, particularly as a passer. But an area where we must challenge him is in coverage recognition. Mix-and-match coverage schemes to keep Taylor guessing. Play more & different zone variations. The idea is to slow Taylor's decision making process down...
  • Win the turnover battle. I know it's cliche. I really wanted to come up with something more profound. But it's true. In close games between evenly matched teams it's generally turnover margin that determines the game. There will be no exception on Saturday.
  • Beamer Ball: we all know the scoop. These guys have redefined special teams play over the years. We can't afford a mistake. Dyrell Roberts is a dynamic kick returner. Georgia Tech's Jarrard Tarrant is the nation's leading punt returner. We never force punts....we score a lot & hence kick off frequently.....umm, Houston do we have a problem? Gotta play well on special teams & please, for the love of John Heisman, get the damn punt off, Chandler Anderson.
faster, faster, faster...

It will be a war Saturday night in Atlanta. Look for a low scoring first quarter as both team feel each other out. As the game wears on both teams will open it up a bit. Tech goes on a pair on long scoring drives in the first half but doesn't have an answer for Tyrod Taylor & Ryan Williams & is down 17-14 at half. In the second half CPJ goes to the plays he's been setting up all game: a long BayBay touchdown followed by a Roddy Jones TD pass down the seam. The dagger is a classic CPJ trick play in fourth (my guess is a reverse/pass) that wins the game for the Jackets, 35-27.

Say bye-bye to the Hokie's MNC hopes...

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