Thursday, October 11, 2012

Defense: Tech's Worst Problem?

Earlier this week Paul Johnson (CPJ) fired defensive coordinator Al Groh. The following notes I took during the Clemson loss suggests the defense wasn’t entirely to blame.

On GT’s first drive CPJ goes for it on fourth and short from Tech’s 40, and does not convert. Clemson takes over and punches it in to go ahead 7-0. After the defense performed so poorly the past three games, shouldn’t you give them every opportunity to succeed? Had Tech punted, Clemson would’ve gained no momentum. By scoring, Clemson gained the mo. Poor coaching decision by CPJ.

Later Clemson did not convert a third down, and their punting team took the field. The announcer thought they’d go for it. Inexplicably TECH called time out. During the commercial Clemson reconsidered, made the first down, and drove in for another touchdown. Another poor decision by CPJ.

By late in the second half, GT had demonstrated that Clemson could not stop Tech’s option offense. Time and again long gains were peeled off by several different players. GT got the ball with over two minutes on the clock. Plenty of time to run the option down the field. What did Tech do? Line up Washington in shotgun formation. His marginal passing skills were exposed. With the clock ticking down, the redshirt senior took too long between plays. When forced to try a field goal, Scully rushed his kick, and Tech failed to capitalize. Another mistake that could be blamed on the CPJ.

There seems to be a revolving door for GT kickoff returners. One player retreated to the two to field a kick…and slipped to the ground. Terrible. After a QB sneak, what does CPJ call? ANOTHER PASS! Clemson almost intercepted, narrowly missing a touchdown. On third down Orwin Smith sweeps left and never makes it out of the end zone. Safety. Could CPJ’s play calls been better? I would think so.

On the next Clemson kickoff the same returner slipped again, this time near the twenty.

Later twice GT drove down into field goal range. The first time the jackets went for it on fourth down, and Washington fumbled the snap. The second time the field goal was blocked. This is the first year Tech had hired a special teams coach, but he wasn’t helping much. Had Tech made three field goals and not allowed the safety, they would have led 40-38 halfway through the fourth quarter.

Were these 25 points the defense’s fault? Was defensive coordinator Al Groh to blame? For years CPJ has taken similar gambles on offense, leaving the defense with their backs against the wall time and time again. Another case in point: In overtime GT goes for it on fourth down against Miami. The Canes stuffed the sneak, then scored to win.

The defense was far from perfect. My beef: TWO personal foul penalties on Thomas, the cornerback. Reminded me of the shameless personal foul Orwin Smith committed a few games ago. Very poor discipline. Doesn’t some of that blame go back to the head coach?

While Tech’s defense could hardly be worse, the rest of the team is far from blameless. Offense. Special Teams. Coaching. This is going to be a long season. Why not give next year’s quarterback some playing time?

While some Tech fans are convinced Tech will beat Georgia, I don’t see them winning more than two more games. Boston College almost beat Clemson, and always plays Tech tough. Loss. Brigham Young comes in with something to prove, which bodes bad for Tech. Loss. Might Tech beat Maryland, and perhaps Duke. North Carolina beat Virginia Tech, and will probably beat GT as well.

At least the Jackets won’t continue their string of bowl losses. As a Tech fan, that was embarrassing.

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