- our offensive line played terribly, particularly the offensive tackles. I didn't grade them out but I would be surprised if any of the three graded above 40%. Some may think me a little harsh but go watch the tape; we whiffed more than we hit. Simply lunging into guys isn't getting it done, particularly when they've figured this technique out & instead of coming forward & engaging at the snap they simply take a step back & allow our tackle to fall down, leaving them a clear path to the ball. At this stage we need to get our five best guys on the field which means reserve center Jay Finch, if healthy, needs to play guard this week for the injured Will Jackson. We must get better tackle play.....
- Interesting that for the first time since he's been at Tech, co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak was on the field & not in the box on Saturday. Sewak coaches the interior of the line & with the injury situation we had entering the game it doesn't surprise me that CPJ chose to have him on the sidelines & not in the booth.
- nice 2nd half adjustment by CPJ to widen the dive track & get a little something going on up the middle.
- we can debate the merits of going for it on 4th down all we want (I don't mind, others, like the 4th Down Consultant, may disagree) but I love the rocket toss on the 4th & 2 in the second half. Everyone is looking for Nesbitt on the inside & we take it wide. I've been hoping we'd vary the 4th down calls some & it proved effective here.
- While the fumble was disconcerting, BJ Bostic flashed why he may be our most dynamic offensive player on Saturday; we need to keep feeding him the ball.
- I charted our passing plays on Saturday & a VERY telling statistic emerged: on routes where the ball traveled less than 15 yards in the air we were very efficient, going 10-12 for 110 yards & the game winning TD. On plays where the ball traveled 15 plus yards in the air we were 1-9 for 20 yards, our lone completion being the TD to Peeples which came when the play broke down. We did have 4 balls of 20+ yards dropped and one play that drew an interference penalty. It's obvious were are 1) more efficient throwing short & 2) we gain plenty of yards that way. For the record, it's not always coaching as Nesbitt often just heaves the ball deep if his first read isn't open. The fact remains we are more efficient & effective on short passes and need to employ them more frequently.
- As has been the case all year, on several plays we were one missed block away from a touchdown. That's the biggest difference between this year & last, we just aren't finishing plays.
- Nesbitt actually threw the ball surprisingly well against Wake, particularly since we didn't really pass block.
- Who would have thought after last season that Scott Blair would be our most reliable offensive weapon to this point.......? Says A LOT about how much Blair has improved & where we are offensively.
- we played better but it's hard to tell how much as Wake is clearly not very good on offense.
- give the defense credit for knocking out Wake's top two available signal callers. They played as physical as they have all year. We basically made them one dimensional & deserve credit for that.
- still vulnerable to zone reads & bubble screens: plays that require us to win one-on-one battles are challenging for us. Clemson's power ISO game & zone reads scare the shit out of me......
- we need to get our four best linebackers on the field so it's time to shake up the lineup: Sylvester at SAM, Jefferson at MIKE, Burnett at JACK, & Watts at WILL. They might make mistakes but the also might make plays.....a chance I'm willing to take if I'm Groh. We are still very vulnerable to play action & any passes across the middle; we have trouble diagnosing & then covering hook, curl & flat routes.
- Off topic but speaking of Julian Burnett he continues to be a beast on kick coverage with three tackles on Saturday. He's a heat seeking missile out there on kicks.....
- Sylvester played a fine game as did Tarrant. Both stood out on tape. Izaan Cross is developing into a very solid 3-4 defensive end.
- I think running a two-gap 3-4 will be very tough at this level; it's hard to find big men with that much athletic ability. Playing a one-gap scheme is certainly easier & might be better suited to the college game. I'm going to think more on this & maybe devote a post on it if people are interested.
Two other HUGE areas of concern: the punt game & penalties. Quick, what's the common denominator in the three games we've struggled in? Poor play in the punting game. I railed on our punt formation last week, maybe undeservedly, but there's no denying we have issues in the punting game. Against Kansas it was a roughing the punter call that kept a drive alive & led to a TD and a 13 yard punt that led to another touchdown. Versus NC State we had the punt blocked for a TD. And this week? Let's see, out first punt, from the Wake forty, we kick dead center into the end zone. Why not pooch it toward the sideline? Why kick to the center of the field when you're that close to a touchback? Later, we had a block in the back covering a punt? Weird call in coverage & I couldn't see it on tape. Then it's a muffed fair catch that led to a turnover. Both Tarrant & the blockers in his way are responsible for that one. Finally, we have a 10 yard punt after the ball goes through Sean Poole's hands. Did I mention we're 92nd nationally in punt returns this year? I'm really not trying to beat a dead horse but we HAVE to get this cleaned up if we stand any chance of success heading into the meat of our schedule (Clemson, VPISU, Miami). As far as penalties go, we're just not good enough to beat ourselves. Three personal fouls is way too many & shows a lack of discipline & focus. I like the tenacity & effort, but we have to play smart.
It wasn't pretty to watch but it was a win & I really can't complain. We showed plenty of moxy & effort in a comeback win on the road. We need to improve & hopefully we will as we head into the heart of the schedule. It may seem at times we're far off but we're closer than people think, particularly on offense. On the the Wahoos.....