After seeing Georgia Tech drop its second straight game, I can't help but ask myself two things: what happened, and what should we do about it? This isn't anything new either. The offense has been abysmal since the second half of the UNC game, the defense is sporadic, and special teams have been anything but special.
For over a month, defenses have, as "experts" like to point out after every loss, figured out how to stop the triple option. With any offense, you try your hardest to take away what a team does best and force them to do what they do worst. In Georgia Tech's 2011 offense, you force the weakest runner to carry the ball. This season, that's the quarterback. Without a threat on the ground at that position, teams can load up against the dive and attack the pitch, leaving the quarterback to fend for himself. If this guy can run over someone and get 20+ yards a couple times, that won't happen anymore.
In the passing game, the plays are there to be made, the protection is okay usually, but the pass-and-catch part doesn't happen. Without consistency though, we get behind schedule in terms of down and distance, and secondary players can consistently attack the line of scrimmage without worrying about the big play behind them.
On defense, Jeremiah Attaochu makes all the difference. He's a playmaker, and probably our best player. The secondary is playing extremely well against the pass. The weakness is up front on the line. The defense, while playing well against the pass, has been inconsistent against the run. Teams don't really need to pass against us to be effective. I'm not that worried about the defense though, as they've played well this season for the most part.
Finally, special teams can be summed up in one word: abysmal. What is it about these guys that they just can't do what they're supposed to do? Paul Johnson supposedly "got involved" this offseason, but the players just aren't getting it. The returners have made numerous mental errors (usually multiple times a game), and there hasn't really been much explosive plays anywhere (unless you're on the other team). Kicking (both punt and place varieties) are terrible.
As my boss sometimes says, though, "let's not focus on problems, let's focus on solutions." Check the jump for my solutions.
On offense, we need a change at the quarterback position. You can't rest on your laurels from spring and training camp and beating up on lesser opponents. Since starting ACC play, the quarterback position has been targeted because it's a weakness. We need to make a change there to a more physical runner. I think this change was made in the Miami game when Coach Johnson went with Synjyn Days, but his bell was rung on the fumble play. I think Days is a more dominant runner and he probably can't be any worse in the passing game.
On defense, several players need to get more time. First and foremost, Jemea Thomas is one of the best players we have in the secondary. He plays a lot on special teams (he's our best player there), but he needs to play a lot on defense too. He can probably replace Rashaad Reid without too much of a drop off. Second, the defensive line needs to rotate the backups in more. I saw a lot out of players like Dieke, Cummings, etc., and they need to get out there more often to see what they can do. It will take a couple more years for Groh to get real 2-gappers out there, but it'll come, and these young lions are definitely producing.
On special teams, I'm not sure what you can do. We've exhausted all our kickers. It's just consistency that's the problem. One kickoff goes into the end zone for a touchback, but the next doesn't make it to the 15 yard line. Punting is similarly sporadic. On punt returns, we need to try a new guy back there. He's let the ball hit the ground several times by not fielding the punts. I think his mistake in the Miami game was the final straw for me. I can't imagine what he was thinking, and I was shocked to see him out there again. Long term, we should probably get a special teams coach whose sole responsibility is coaching kickers, the return teams, and the coverage teams. Leaving it to the players isn't working.
On that note, I feel that this team has maybe one more win in them (Duke, although they gave Wake a run for their money, and I don't think we're better than Wake). If these changes are made, and they're successful, we've got a chance to win another game. If not, we'll see how Vad Lee does as a Redshirt Freshman.