Tuesday, September 7, 2010

South Carolina State Post Game Thoughts......

Other than entry and egress into Bobby Dodd, which was disastrous at best, the game went about as we expected; a sloppy but still potent offense & a defense that can best be described as a work in progress. I'm a firm believer in the old coaching adage, "you're never as good as your first game or as bad" so take it for what it's worth; a solid win over a decent team that served a a good learning experience. Most importantly, we emerged from the contest healthy, with LG Will Jackson's sprained knee the only blemish to our medical record. We'll know Jackson's status for this week on Wednesday or Thursday but the injury isn't serious. In other business, guard Ray Beno did not dress for the contest due to a coach's decision regarding a disciplinary matter. It's nothing too serious & we'll leave it at that. On to the breakdown:

Offensively we looked a bit rusty & certainly have some things to clean up but we scored easily and could have put up a lot more points had we wanted to (they were pursuing so hard that CPJ could have called a reverse for an easy TD at any point). While not an outstanding offensive performance, let's not forget we did score 41 points easily. Some thoughts:
  • Nesbitt looks in complete command of the offense and made solid reads on Saturday. Instead of trying to force things (see B-back dive/Anthony Allen) he took what the defense gave him & moved the team effectively. We did look rough passing the ball and will need to improve in this area against tougher competition; we've said it many times, it's a blunderbuss, not a sniper rifle.......
  • Anthony Allen & the B-backs didn't see the ball a lot because SC State defended the option from the inside out & simply crashed the defensive end on every play. He'll be fine running the football & will get plenty of opportunities. Blocking, however, is another matter. How Allen can crash through the line untouched & not block ANYONE when Nesbitt is running a midline is a pretty spectacular feat? There are two safeties & a LB to choose from, just hit one of them. Frustrating........(as was his pass protection....). Love me some #18 but you gotta block.....
  • Speaking of blocking we MUST block on the perimeter better. Both the WR's & A-backs have to improve in this area. I know it's not sexy but we HAVE to get guys on the ground on the edge.
  • The A-backs looked solid running the ball on Saturday & it was great to see Roddy back at full strength; I don't think people realized how bad his injury was last year. Orwin Smith gained some hard yards while BJ Bostic looked explosive. For those seeing Bostic for the first time you can easily see why the staff wants to get him the ball in space. Not Embry's best day but there are 11 more....
  • The offensive line looked good & I like the fact that we have three serviceable tackles that can rotate. Nick McRae was solid if not spectacular in replacing Jackson after his injury. Jay Finch saw extensive time at center & the staff obviously feels comfortable with him.
  • When you are 1-6 passing with a terrible interception, there's not a whole lot positive to say about the wide receivers. We need to block better & I'd love to see Mckayhan get a chance to stretch the field.....
Patience is the word when evaluating the defense but there's some room for optimism after Saturday's performance. Yes, we missed a ton of tackles and it's maddening. But that's an easily correctable flaw. What we can take away is that we played a pretty vanilla scheme & for the most part managed to be in the right place at the right time. Couple that with the fact we made several halftime adjustments & while not perfect it was a learning experience.
  • Up front we played a servicable game with Izaan Cross leading the way. We still have a tendency to get pushed around at the point of attack but TJ Barnes showed some fleeting signs of life on Saturday & we'll really need him to step up before the season is over.
  • Our big weakness defensively was at LB where it's becoming apparent our personnel are having trouble fitting the system. Brad Jefferson had a decent game and is solid against the run but a liability in pass coverage; something SC State tried to exploit in the first half. Kyle Jackson looked like a player who missed all of last year due to injury; that's not a knock on him just the truth. Inserting Brandon Watts into the lineup in the second half brought some much needed athleticism onto the field & helped us greatly. I thought Steven Sylvester played well at SAM. I expect to see some changes at LB this week as Watts & true freshman Jeremiah Attaochu see more playing time. Both are superior athletes to what we have now, it's a question of learning the defense. They may not start against the Jayhawks, but I expect both to log serious minutes.
  • The secondary continues to be the strength of our defense. Cooper Taylor missed the 2nd half due to heat exhaustion but should be fine. True freshman Isaiah Johnson played well & I expect to see him on the field more next week.
  • One overall concern I have after Saturday is Groh's substitution pattern. He's reluctant to substitute players in the middle of a possession, preferring to keep a cohesive unit on the field. In theory, that's fine, but when guys are out of gas during a long possession, get them the hell off the field. Nine or ten consecutive plays is a lot to ask of a defensive line.....
Special teams was a mixed bag on Saturday as we botched a snap & thus a FG but may have found a kick off specialist.
  • The best thing I saw on Saturday was Julian Burnett on kick coverage. It was both awe inspiring & hilarious at the same time. Burnett flew down the field like he was shot out of a cannon, destroying anything in his path. The first two times we kicked off, #40 literally knocked his guy back ten yards in the air! Don't believe me? Go watch the tape. It was almost comical watching him throw people around. After that, no one wanted anything to do with Burnett and it was as if the Red Sea parted as he steamed down on kick coverage. Check Burnett out next Saturday, you won't be disappointed.....
  • true freshman Justin Moore banged one kick off into the endzone ad another to the goal line, eliciting great jubilation in our section. A kick off into the end zone? Next thing you're going to tell me jacksonville State beat Ole Miss.....wait....hell yes!!!! My guess is Mr. Moore gets another shot at kick offs this week.
A nice, solid, workman-like effort for the Jackets on Saturday. It's funny how things have changed in a couple years regarding expectations: we scored 41 points on Saturday & people complained about the offense. We've come a long way & have a long way to go......


  1. This was a good weekend, maybe not a great one. At large in the ACC, this weekend appeared to be yet another weekend where we failed to join the ranks of the elite, but as a conference, we went 10-2.
    One of the two is considered the rare victory which will likely inspire a firing (Les Miles, you are on notice) as UNC was mere yards and a pass interference call from beating a team that was physically superior with third and fourth string talent.
    The VT loss hurt, but they were a respectable in the loss.
    The biggest embarrassment of the weekend was Maryland nearly choking up against a hungry Navy team. While I (and most of the other guys here) was pulling for Navy, a notorious UMD win was a check for the ACC at large.
    Tech needs to tweak some things and work some rust out, but this is a start to a very promising season, both for us and the league at large. If we have a big weekend next week (routing interests Miami and FSU), we may finally hear the announcement of the arrival of our conference.

  2. Julian Burnett reminded me of the last guided missile on kickoff coverage, the great Kelly Rhino. Remember that guy? He would draw a bead on the kick returner, fly down the field and lay. Him. Out. I remember him taking out Clemson's returner in, what, 2005? with a deep thigh bruise by going horizontal from about ten yards out, head-on.

    Maybe it's something about being short...

  3. Nice call on Rhino. An all time favorite. Fearless with nothing to lose. Burnett does play the same way. Fun to watch.


  4. Burnett knocked the dude 15 yards back... TWICE Hash, Frank W, and I all chuckled at that.

  5. Per Groh, Gap control was a problem. I.E. our linebackers were out of position on most of SC States Big Runs. Including the 55 yarder in the second half. RB got to the line and just cut back. Thank goodness our secondary can tackle.