Reflect again on the very first offensive play of the 2009 Orange Bowl. Dwyer bursts up the middle with a wide open field between him and the end zone but the play is whistled dead because a lineman moved too soon. For Tech fans the painful part of the Orange Bowl was not getting beaten by a better team, the painful part was seeing Tech constantly out of synch. In the days leading up to the game reporters had asked Coach Johnson if his team would be ready. He spoke of how difficult it is to create game conditions in practice. He said, "We are trying to work them as hard as we can without killing them."
One of the things all of Tech's losses in 2009 have in common is an offense in which the timing was off. The first loss came against Miami. This third game in 12 days was epitomized by a leg weary Tech team that seemed to be running in slow motion.
Then there was the Georgia game. With a two week lay off prior to the game Tech never seemed to have quite the zip that they exhibited a week later against Clemson. Give credit to Georgia for understanding that they needed to jump on Tech early and hard. And, unlike the previous year in which Tech only had 9 days off before the Georgia game, Tech took longer to get back up to game level intensity. By then it was too late.
It is now de'rigueur for fans on blog sites as well as some pundits to speak of how Tech's offense cannot stand the test if the opposing team has time to prepare for it. That is an utter canard. All teams do better with time to prepare for a particular offense. The real problem for Tech is that it's offense requires critical timing and execution to be at all effective -much more so than many other offenses. Give Tech a month off before a big game, say L.S.U. in 2008 or Iowa in 2009, and it is as if the team has gone back to its early Fall practice days.
Tech has a masterful coach and a system that will consistently win 9 or 10 games a season. That is no small accomplishment. But the achilles heel for this system is that it is inordinately sensitive to anything that might throw off its timing-critical nature.