Before the 2012 season started, many of us GT fans were optimistically hoping for a 4-1 record going into Death Valley next week.
Oh my, how the expectations have changed.
Georgia Tech is riding a 2-game losing streak and coming off probably the most lackadasical, undisciplined game in the CPJ era against MTSU. No question in my mind about that. I understand that the emotional toll of grinding games out on a weekly basis can be mentally, as much as physically, challenging. But to approach the fundamentals (blocking, tackling, passing and catching, ball security, etc.) with such a lack of control and discipline...where it appeared that everybody (at least on defense) was waiting for someone else to make a play...was inexcusable.
If this were the NFL...someone would have been fired for this performance. Being that you can't hire adequate and willing candidates (for even position jobs) until the offseason we get to sweat it out. So how do we assess the most fundamental aspects of our performance this past Saturday? Objectively of course, because stats don't lie.
Blocking - The Jackets offense rushed for a 4.5 yards/rush on the game, primarily driven by a 19 carry, 4-yard output by Tevin. You take Tevin out of the equation, and the offense had 6.9 yards/rush. What this tells me is...good run blocking...bad reads by Tevin. It's also tough to pin sacks on an Offensive line when the QB doesn't throw the ball when he's supposed to.
Passing - Are you interested in a bright spot? How about 18-26 for 187 yards, 0 TD 1 INT. Plus, I counted 3 critical drops (mostly Jeff Greene). Tevin's passing got the job done, but it was probably the most underwhelming mix of ducks, lobs, and underthrown balls. The interception is on Tevin, not Jeff Greene. Sure Jeff should have tried to play the ball at its highest point...but the underthrow gives the safety a chance. Vad went 4-4 on the last drive, but it amounted nothing more than a skeleton drill against a prevent defense.
Tackling - I haven't looked up any YAC (yards after contact) data on this game, but I'm sure it would be appalling. To allow a mid-major conference team to come in an embarrass for 500+ yards and 49 points is shameful. Embarrassing is the only word you can use. It really is. The up-the-middle runs (especially on 3rd down) almost seemed too easy for MTSU. We actually got a break on the intentional grounding call when their RB threw the ball precisely because T.J. Barnes DIDN'T tackle him. The Benny Cunningham run into the North endzone (which I believe put them up 42-28) was about the most pathetic attempts at tackling I've seen in my time as a Tech fan. I'm truly shocked if that observation holds for the older Tech fans.
Turnovers - 4 on the day. You ain't winning a whole lot no matter what offense you run or how bad the opposition is. We mentioned Tevin creating the 50/50 ball (which Jeff Greene should win, but that's another story) earlier. He also lost another on a very frantic pitch into traffic that was extremely ugly. Darren Waller finally got a catch...then proceeds to put the ball on the ground. And not to be outdone by the offense, Broderick Snoddy lost one on a kick return trying to do too much.
Discipline - 6 penalties for 60 yards. Orwin Smith, far from acting like the Senior leader he is, drew 2 unsportsmanlike penalties on his own. While I am extremely curious why the MTSU player didn't draw a matching personal foul for head-butting Orwin with his helmet off...Orwin should have kept his cool. Orwin Exhibit 2...driving on MTSU in their territory, but draw a 4th and 17. Tevin completes it to Orwin on the yardline to gain...all Orwin has to do is fall forward. Instead, he cuts back and gives up ground to make a bigger play and loses yards en route to turning the ball over on downs.
Coaching - This one is pretty much on the defense. There was seemingly no answer for the wide-stacked twins formation. Either it was thrown wide, where our DB was blocked and the OLB missed the tackle or was too slow getting to the perimeter, for a large gain. Or they were able to run out of it (particularly up the middle) and severely gap control us. On offense, I am able to make peace with 400+ yards and 28 points, but we were often off-schedule and in down-and-distances that are out of character for us.
So is it going to get any better against Clemson? If the same lifeless team shows up...it could be ugly on an epic scale. You could argue they didn't get over the Miami OT loss and thought they could coast through Saturday's game. If they actually demonstrate some pride, make some tackles, and a few more plays...we can make the game competitive. That's all we can hope for right now.
There are lots of coaches and players fighting for their jobs right now...