The good: We've won two straight ACC games. That's an encouraging sign, is it not?
The bad: We've yet to beat anyone of merit. FIRE CPJ AMIRITE GUISE?
Here's the deal. We have two games in front of us that can still, against all odds, give this season some meaning. That is, assuming, we win both of them. Lose either and that whole "bowl eligibility" thing looks like its bags are packed for a trip to Durham (for the first time since '94, I'll add). Win one, and our only way of saving it from leaving is by hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth in the form of beating georgia. I won't be holding my breath on that one, so let's discuss what Tech needs to focus on for these final two games.
Rushing Offense: It's Gone Well
Outside of flat, uninspired performances against BYU and Middle Tennessee State, our rushing offense has been largely effective this year. We've gotten a bit more production out of the B-Back slot than last year thanks to the emergence of Zach Laskey, and it seems to me that A-Backs are getting a few more carries than last year. That may be an issue of perception, or it may be an issue of defensive strategies changing, but either way our rushing offense has been functioning fairly well this season so far.
Special Teams: It Hasn't Gone Well...Lately
Interesting how there's a blatantly obvious turning point in the success of our special teams, and it lies at the firing of Al Groh, which resulted in ST Coordinator Dave Walkosky being reassigned to coaching the defensive line. Somehow him not focusing solely on special teams has resulted in a lot of long returns allowed, missed kicks, short returns (save Jamal Golden's kickoff return for a TD against BYU), and penalties. It's times like these when I tend to get really frustrated that college kids can't seem to monitor themselves...does this stuff really need the concentrated attention of a coach that badly? Tech needs to fix its special teams miscues, or else it's going to cost them at least one of the next two games.
Rotating Quarterbacks: It's Gone Well
Tevin Washington is reportedly pretty banged up, so it's nice that we've been able to get him some rest and recovery while Vad takes over from time to time. At the same time, the offense seems to have a little more gusto when Vad's in the game. Vad's overall more athletic than Tevin (we saw this week that he's even quite a bit faster than the incumbent), while Tevin has more mental tools. I guess I'll say it's good that we've been able to change it up from drive-to-drive seamlessly, in that Lee can get his in-game experience while knowing that Tevin's there to bail him out if things go south.
Energy and Excitement: It Hasn't Gone Well At All...Until Recently
Twice this year, the team has come out and played a completely flat, uninspired game in front of a home crowd and laid an egg. There's just never seemed to be a whole lot of fighting spirit in this team...until the Maryland game. It's no secret that Tech's running on fumes as far as senior leadership goes (notice that the seniors have all been wearing Julian Burnett's #40, and they're currently on their second go-around after only 9 games). There was some more life in the team for the Maryland game, and the team's going to need that swagger moving forward. The seniors on the team need to really put some fuel in the fire and get folks up to play. As we get into mid-November, it shouldn't be surprising that other teams might be wearing down a little bit in the excitement department. Coming in pumped up and energized is a necessity for Tech to capitalize on the opportunities that it has in front of it.
Defense: It's Been....Okay?
I don't really know how to judge this one. In three games since Al Groh's departure, the defense has allowed 17, 41, and 13 points (and the 7 became 13 on the final play of the game). It's played against poor, solid, and poor levels of competition in those games, respectively. Coach Kelly has been moving more into a 4-2-5 look (with Brandon Watts playing nickel corner, essentially), and it seems to be working...except for the BYU game. Against UNC we're going to see talent that resembles BYU a lot more than Boston College, and a running back who's a straight-up stud (more on him tomorrow). The defense needs a Maryland-esque performance a lot more than a BYU-esque one, and it's yet to be seen that they're capable of it against BYU-esque talent. Long story short, making the offense score on every single possession won't result in a W for Tech. The defense must protect this house.
That's all from me, readers. How do you feel about the team at this point? Where do improvements need to be made? What's not broke and shouldn't be fixed?