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Mailbag 11/5

This week we're looking at the past, present, and future, all at the same time.

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It seemed like we left 2 sure TDs on the field due to not taking care of the ball in one series, and bad playcalling (or was it execution?) in the other, where we were 2nd and 1 and wound up having to punt, in both cases practically moving the ball and chains at will until the foulup. What will it take to get our offense over that hump? Did Pitt look particularly adept at knocking the ball loose or the pitch down?

I assume you’re referring to the Turnover on Downs we had in the second quarter, which was a bad series of downs. On first down, Vad went deep down the sideline to Darren Waller, who didn’t fight half as hard for the ball as he needed to. Second down was a great play, Vad running the QB follow behind Laskey. Then on third down Laskey got dropped for a loss after our O-Line failed to block an All-American DL. Fourth down (which, first of all, was in no-man’s land between punting and field goal kicking) saw Donald get off his block really quickly again, and sack Vad. So that drive stalling was 2 plays in a row of having blocking issues, after Waller having an effort issue on first down. The fumble is becoming an issue with David Sims, who has run the ball really well the last few games, but just doesn’t take care of it enough. The way that Sims carries the ball, he’s asking for it to be knocked out of there. When you’re playing D-1 competition, eventually folks are going to see an opportunity and then take it.

So long story short, it’s an execution issue, plain and simple. That means different things for different folks, but that’s what it all boils down to.

I’ve noticed this in several games, and it continues to really bother me. We seem to use Sims in 3rd or 4th and short if he is the B back we used on the previous play rather than using Laskey. This happened at least twice in the Pitt game (and multiple times vs Va Tech, and resulted in Sims getting hit and stopped right at the line. Laskey seems to be able to power through such hits and at least make positive yardage (if for no other reason than simply to fall forward). Why does there seem to be this propensity to use the quicker rather than more powerful B back in such obvious traditional fullback situations? (Do the stats bear this out? I’d like to see Laskey’s success rate on 3rd or 4th and short versus Sims, as well as their usage).

As you wish — to the stats! Per, David Sims this season has 11 carries for 76 yards and 8 first downs on third and short (3 yards or less), and has 4 carries for 8 yards and 2 first downs on fourth down. (So, a combined 10-for-15 in making first downs.) Laskey, on the other hand, has 3 carries for 37 yards (long of 32, granted) and 3 first downs on third down, and has yet to carry on fourth down. So Laskey has had more success on a per-carry basis, but also has a 20% of the sample size that Sims has.

I get the impression that you and I see these two backs quite differently. In my eyes, Sims is the power back, which is why he gets used in short-yardage situations like that, where Laskey is the quicker one, which is why he has a higher propensity for ripping off long runs. Part of it could have to deal with Laskey getting less work and being more fresh when he comes in, but honestly Laskey looks a lot quicker where Sims is more powerful. (Also note that Laskey is an inch taller and 10 pounds lighter, making Sims more powerful just by nature.)

My impression is that Tech started the season wanting to have a greatly expanded offensive play book but has sense learned that the offense, to work properly, needs to be perhaps even more limited than it was last year. On the surface at least it looks like this is mainly due to Lee not being able to master the basics that Tevin Washington was able to do with the offense. Do you think this is mainly about Lee or do you think it is actually the entire offense, with the exception of Godhigh and Smelter, who are not able to perform well enough for Tech to run a more sophisticated package of plays? Versus Pittsburgh Tech seemed to do pretty well except when we outsmarted ourselves by trying to get too fancy on offense.

Make no mistake, it's a pretty tough offense to learn. That's not helped by it operating from under center so much, where reads are more difficult than in the shotgun (where you have the liberty of more time and better vision). I think they'd benefit in the long run from adding more looks, but it's silly to add more to what they're still picking up. Now, I've seen a lot of improvement in both QBs since Week 1, but they'd be the first to tell you that they're not experts yet.

I should also note here that there are times where this theme of "poor blocking" keeps popping up. Missing Ray Beno and Morgan Bailey is really hurting the offensive production right now I think, and better production from the guys up front might have ended in one or two more TD's against Pittsburgh.

How many fumbles has David Sims committed? Because it seems like I see at least one every game. I have no clue why he’s starting.

Sims is getting credited with a lot of fumbles this year, but they're not all his fault. Both fumbles he was credited with Saturday were off the exchange with Vad, once on the mesh and another time on a pitch, where there's more at play than Sims' ballcarrying. Granted, I think he needs to do a better job of protecting the ball once he's got it, but getting it has also provided some issues this season that aren't going to be entirely on him.

Also, how do you think our defense will perform against Clemson? After an incredible performance against a talented receiving corp and decently strong running game (140 ypg coming into the game, held them to -5!!!), do you think we can contain the superior talent of Clemson?

Clemson's decent rushing offense doesn't scare me at all, especially lined up against our rushing defense -- which currently sits at 10th nationally. (I'm still in shock at how quickly this defense has turned around.) What scares me is their passing attack, which is very good. To be honest, I think this game will be a major illustration of how much we've lost in our secondary, between Isaiah Johnson, Fred Holton, and Jamal Golden. As I see it, Jemea Thomas, Louis Young, and DJ White are going to need to play the game of their lives to date if we're going to stop that passing attack, and they won't be able to do that without a pass rush helping out.

Pitt was killing us yardage-wise by having their WRs just go and settle into open areas of our zone defense. I expect Clemson will be able to turn that into points – how do you think we should play Clemson on D and how do you think we will play them?

I think the best way to play it is to try and keep as much as possible in front of us and use that to minimize the big plays. If Tajh Boyd is hitting 30-and 40-yard passes to Watkins, et al. then our only hope to win is in a shootout. I also think the defense needs to take a couple chances if they see a possible opening to create a turnover. Honestly, they have nothing to lose. They're playing on the road on national television against a Top-10 opponent as an unranked team. I would hope they would play to win as opposed to playing not to lose.

I'm still waiting for that injury report. Its nearly impossible to learn who’s hurt until the game starts, and even then I don’t always notice.

I've been including that within the "TV Schedule, Odds, More" post on gameday for a couple of weeks now. If you'd like a separate post in future weeks, I can do that though!

Many recruits on campus during Homecoming?

Quite a lot, yes. It was a great environment and a great win for them to experience. You saw us reap the benefits of that too, when we got a commitment from Antonio Simmons!

Seems like we haven’t even attempted a FG lately. Our Red Zone efficiency for TDs must be solid. How do we compare to nat’l averages?

I believe it was brought up in another thread, but we're 31st nationally in scoring percentage at 87.5%. However, what wasn't brought up is that we're second nationally with 84.4% touchdown percentage. So far this year, 32 red zone trips have resulted in 27 touchdowns and only a single field goal. If we get it inside the 20 yard line, you can pencil in 7 points to be added to the score.

I heard it said that Gurley threw a punch in both first half and second half of Fla game. Is that true or internet rumor? If true would SEC watch film and suspend after the fact? Saint Richts inmates at it again. Still can’t believe Vick didn’t go play for Richt. Such a good fit ethically.

Well, you tell me!


Source: FanSided