Monday, September 27, 2010

NC State Postmortem......

There's no easy place to start & plenty of questions that need to be answered after Saturday's 45-28 loss to the Wolfpack. We failed miserably in all three phases of the game against State, fumbling four times (losing two), allowing 527 yards of total offense, and having a punt blocked for a TD. It wasn't pretty and there's very little to take away that's positive. I'm still watching the tape & analyzing but I thought I'd post some brief thoughts on what I saw on Saturday:

We had chances and when we needed our most dependable, signature unit to step up & grab an early lead we simply didn't execute. Yes, we were down to our third string center with Sean Bedford (leg contusion) and Jay Finch (hamstring) out. But there were plays to be made & we simply didn't make them.
  • As Joshua Nesbitt goes so goes our offense and on Saturday, #9 had a poor game. Yes, he's our leader & yes, he plays with as much heart as any player I've seen on the Flats. But that doesn't make him immune from a poor game & he did not play well on Saturday, missing multiple reads allowing for too many negative plays. I don't know whether Nesbitt doesn't have confidence in those around him or is simply pressing & trying to do too much, but Joshua has to trust those around him & pitch the ball instead of taking multiple losses behind the line.
  • There are two things our offense can't abide: turnovers & negative plays. We had plenty of both on Saturday. 2nd & 12 isn't where we want to find ourselves & that was the case all too frequently against NC State.
  • Our offensive line has to be more physical. We're getting little push & can't seem to get to the second level. I thought this would be a real strength for us this year but we just haven't put it all together yet.
  • We haven't hit a single "long" pass where the ball is in the air more than 30 yards all season: 1) we miss BayBay, & 2) stop throwing what essentially are Hail Mary's! I know CPJ says he wants big chunks of real estate when we throw but something is better than nothing! Throw short for a change. Wheel routes to Allen have been effective, as has that little flair route to Orwin out of the backfield. Smoke screens are a great way to get five or six yards & set up a longer hitch & go route. We're beating our head against a wall right now trying to execute something we're not good at. One of CPJ's greatest strengths, his tenacity & stubbornness, is in this case a great weakness.
  • It would be wise to get #4, BJ Bostic the ball as frequently as possible. He looks to be a difference maker with his speed & elusiveness.
Groh said after the game that of 81 defensive snaps he thought we had three significant plays: the two Jefferson sacks (one of which resulted in a turnover) and the Tarrant interception. Can't disagree. CPJ followed up in last night's teleconference by saying we missed 43 defensive assignments by his count. That's how you give up 527 yards (with 9 plays of 20+ yards). We knew there were going to be growing pains but damn, that hurt. I will say this, while the new defense takes time to learn I truly believe our defensive issues are not scheme related but talent based; it's "Jimmies & Joes, not X's & O's" and we desperately need more talent on defense.
  • Our defensive line isn't getting it done. NC State didn't unveil some crazy new offensive scheme on Saturday. They ran the ball consistently using a simple zone blocking scheme which accentuates one vs. one match-ups. Needless to say, we lost those match-ups. If you want to defeat a zone read running team, you have to shed blocks & make tackles, two things that have been a challenge for us this year. Against the pass, we generate ZERO pressure on the QB with a standard four man rush. Unless we bring additional players (leaving us vulnerable on the back end if we don't get to the QB) we simply can't pressure the QB.
  • Our LB's are square pegs fitting into round holes. Right now we have 4-3 players running a 3-4 & the transition has been brutal. There's really not a whole lot we can do but take our lumps right now & hope we improve as the year progresses. We must get better in pass coverage and recognizing routes out of the backfield.
  • I thought we could have changed it up in the secondary a bit on Saturday. Our constant use of Cover 2 became very predictable & NC State OC Dana Bible exploited that, sending a TE down the seam & a receiver down the sideline & forcing the safety to choose which player to cover and leaving one open. Why not play man (Cover Zero), take our chances, & try & bring some real pressure on Wilson? Just a thought.
Not-so-Special Teams:
Okay, I think I'm actually going to call into the CPJ show this week about OUR FUCKING IDIOTIC PUNT FORMATION WHICH IS THE STUPIDEST THING EVER! This spread "three bears" personal protector shit has to go. The ostensible point in spreading your punt team out is that they will be better in coverage because they are already basically in their lanes & can simply evade their man & get downfield. The drawback? Your blockers are spread out & easier to beat which can leave multiple guys crashing into to your three man "wall" like on Saturday. It's too easy to have punts blocked using this formation.

Saturday wasn't pleasant for any Tech fan. It's a clear sign that we have much to work on. But all isn't lost. Do we need to re-calibrate our expectations for this year? Probably as it looks like we're a pretty average team. But there's still time so don't write the whole season off yet. That being said, we HAVE to get better......


  1. Agree with everything you wrote. CPJ is stubborn, but he's got to devote more time to a ball-control oriented passing game... not just for winning, but also for RECRUITING.

  2. Great Post Hash! You're a real trooper to continuously punch yourself in the nuts, and then relive the pain by writing it down in detail.

    My take

    you can't underestimate how much having a third string center in the game hurt this team. In my opinion, Center is the most important position. Even if the pitch was available on many plays, Nesbit had no time to make the read. Pass blocking was also bad.

    I haven't watched the film, but I remeber a lot of ten to 15 yard routs that just didn't connect, bad pass or bad hands. I can only rember going deep on a few plays. One was touchdown.

    We also have to face facts. Josh isn't a good passer. He can be good enough, but no one is ever going to confuse him for Peyton Manning. love the way he plays the game, but that's a fact.

    Agree on the defensive line. Its not good when the NT makes a takle six yards down field. didn't see how well TJ Barnes Played, he's the only active guy on the team that can hold the NT down, but he can be inconsistant

    Also agree on the D personel, but I did notice some of the younger LB playing with speed and agression I haven't seen sense Philip Wheeler and Gary Guyton left the flats. It won't help us this year, but I like the looks going forward.

    Is that the first punt blocked in the CPJ era at Tech?


  3. I agree with everything other than the complaint about the punt formation. I don't recall any other blocked punts or even many close calls since PJ arrived, so I don't think it's time to junk the approach.

  4. Agree with Todd. PJ better learn to adapt and try some different formations or plays for the passing game or we're in real trouble. Teams are figuring it out (triple option), and if he's too stubborn to make adjustments we have a problem. Still think there's hope but pretty concerned based on the last 5 or 6 games.

  5. "Okay, I think I'm actually going to call into the CPJ show this week about OUR FUCKING IDIOTIC PUNT FORMATION WHICH IS THE STUPIDEST THING EVER! This spread "three bears" personal protector shit has to go."

    Big fan of the blog and typically agree with your thoughts but damn man. We led the nation 2 years in a row in net punt yards when Durant was here (yes he had a once-a-decade leg but the coverage had a LOT to do with it). We haven't had a punt blocked since Duke in '07 which I happened to be on the field for. A bust in any block protection on a punt usually = a blocked kick...

    I promise if you ask every NFL coach if they would put the spread punt in, 99% would say yes. In our scheme, every gap is accounted for with a max of 3 guys getting to the wall. What happened Saturday was a result of a slow operation time and 2 different gaps being flooded. Haven't re-watched it but don't really need to since the only person in the stadium that knows more about our punt scheme is Coach Kelly himself...shit happens when you don't do your job no matter what the scheme is...

  6. Bret,
    Certainly great points, particularly concerning execution: no matter what formation you line up in a missed assignment is trouble. My criticism is probably largely based on frustration and not fact as we haven't had issues with blocked kicks & do cover very well. Thanks for the comment, it's right on the mark. Same goes for dcjacket above. Thanks for pointing it out.


  7. Bret,
    Love to do a special teams Q&A with you. Drop us a line at & we can set something up. Love to learn from someone who knows more than we do. Thanks for the insights,