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VT 4th Quarter Wrap-Up and Thoughts on the Future

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There were a lot of young players in this game. How did they do?

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The notes will be a bit more sparse this time, as I want to focus on discussing the young guys this time around. At this point. The game has been all about missed opportunities, and that doesn't change in the 4th Quarter

Notes

  • 4Q 15:00 2nd and 8 GT at the GT 25 - Pass. Pass blocking is a bit better here, but Klock loses his man again because he's leaning too far forward. Thomas Rushes a pass out to Jeune who isn't open. Clinton Lynch was wide open for the first down here, but Thomas never looks his way. Needs to not rely on one receiver.
  • 4Q 11:27 3rd and 2 GT at the VT 38 - QB Follow. Will Bryan pushes his man out, and Joe also gets his man. The backside cutoff is the problem here, and the OLB comes around the back here to limit Thomas to 3 yards. The crease was there for much, much more. Another missed opportunity.
  • 4Q 10:47 1st and 10 GT at the VT 35 - Rocket Toss. Bryan was pushed back on what could have been called illegal hands to the face. The DE puts his hands on Bryan's facemask and shoulder, and pushes on the shoulder just enough to make it not blatantly obvious live. By rule, this should have been called, but the refs seem to look for the head to snap back before calling illegal hands to the face, and Bryan's head didn't. The DE goes on to force a Snoddy fumble, taking away a scoring opportunity from the Jackets.
  • 4Q 9:26 1st and 10 GT at the GT 25 - Zone Dive. Trey Braun tries to cut block his man on the Zone Dive. Not sure why he thought that was a good idea but he misses, and the DT puts his helmet on the ball perfectly to force Allen to fumble. That one's on Braun, not Allen, and was the killer. The defense had just forced a 3 and out after the last fumble, and the offense screws them over again.
  • 4Q 8:36 2nd and 6 VT at the GT 14 - Sweep. KeShun Freeman strings out this play well, and Kallon forces the man blocking him all the way out to the sideline, sheds him, and puts the hit on Sam Rodgers. Noble cleans up. This was encouraging to see from Kallon, who will be relied upon to contribute from here forward.
  • 4Q 8:01 3rd and 7 VT at the GT 15 - Pass. Lawrence Austin is in man coverage on Bucky Hodges, which makes me question Roof's decision making at such a critical juncture in the red zone. Hodges uses his size to shield Austin from the ball, and all Austin can do is commit Pass Interference. With 3rd and 7, GT could have forced a field goal and maintained the lead. Instead, they gave up a TD a few plays later. Austin did all he could do on this play, I question Roof for isolating him on the huge TE.
  • 4Q 6:53 2nd and 10 GT at the GT 25 - QB counter. VT blitzes the "backside" OLB when they read Triple Option, and they do so on this play. The idea behind doing this is to cut off counters and catch the option from behind, but this strategy is vulnerable to quick-hitting plays like the Zone Dive. Errin Joe destroys the blitzer, but Thomas is forced to bubble backwards to avoid him. Thomas just uses pure speed to pick up 9 from there.
  • 4Q 6:10 3rd and 6 GT at the GT 29 - Pass. Allen sneaks out of the backfield and runs an out and up to beat his man....then drops the ball. The throw was behind, but still should have been caught. The pass protection was there on this play, but Tech originally had 3rd and 1 before a Trey Braun false start forced them to pass.
  • 4Q 1:14 2nd and 5 at the VT 39 - Midline. This is supposed to be a Midline, but there was no option man. Braun blocked the DT who should have been the read man, and instead lets through a blitzing LB. Thomas probably should have just given the ball to the BB here instead of taking the loss, but he pulls. After Thomas is swarmed, the OLB pulls at the ball after the whistle, and Errin Joe takes exception. Joe commits an awfully timed Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty. Joe seems to have thought the OLB was attacking Thomas instead of pulling at the ball, so I can't completely fault him, but you have to know the situation. It wasn't the time.

Overall Game Thoughts

This game was Georgia Tech's to lose, and the Jackets did a great job of losing it. Georgia Tech was barely penalized in this game, but the penalties came at crucial moments. That, combined with drops, fumbles, and bad blocking doomed the Jackets. The defense played admirably outside of the 2nd quarter, but they could have been much better against the run. The linebackers not named Brant Mitchell need to attack the line of scrimmage more aggressively, as the team still does not have a NT who can eat double teams. That elusive piece of the defense is still the biggest thing missing from Ted Roof's defense. I also questioned quite a few of Ted Roof's decisions in this game. I hope he fixes some of these before Miami.

The Future of the Yellow Jackets

The 2015 class will determine if this team can bounce back. Many Freshmen played in this game, so I paid specific attention to how each of them played. I went through my notes, and wanted to do a write-up on what I thought of the Freshmen(and redshirt freshmen) who played significant time in this one.

Will Bryan

Will had a mixed bag of a game against VT, where he had some good drive blocks, but was not great at the finer points of being an Offensive Tackle in this offense. That is to say, he was great at drive blocking, but struggled to get to the second level and pass block. If he can bulk up this offseason, I'm not sure that a transition to guard is out of the realm of possibility. His height puts him at a disadvantage in some situations at Tackle.

Trey Klock

Will Bryan definitely had the better game of the 2 Freshman tackles, with Klock struggling mightily throughout. I will give Klock a pass in that he was a Guard for most of this season before being thrown into the fire against VT. He did have a nice block to spring Clinton Lynch for a touchdown. The athleticism seems to be there for Klock, the technique is just sloppy right now. He needs coaching, and I'm not sure the staff is giving it to him.

Marcus Marshall

Marshall played sparingly in this game, but has been the primary B-back for most of the season. The coaching staff started Allen with the intention of re-establishing the zone dive that made this team great last year. Allen does a little better of a job waiting patiently and squirting through seams in the line than Marshall. Marshall has good vision, but he hits the hole faster, and doesn't always do as well when the blocking is absolute garbage. In the few snaps Marshall received in this game, he did not get any good blocks from the OL, but showed toughness in the run game to push drive for yards after contact. He also had some knockdown blocks on linebackers on Load Option plays, which was an encouraging sign that his blocking is improving. Marshall is the man at B-back next year, as he is improving in all phases of the game. The only guy who comes close to Marshall in terms of talent isn't even on the roster yet, and that's current Jacket commit Dedrick Mills

Clinton Lynch

Once thought an afterthought in an impressive 2014 recruiting class, Lynch has burst onto the scene and been impressive this season. He has proven himself in all phases of the A-back game from blocking to rushing to receiving. With his performance this year, look for Lynch, Searcy, an transfer JJ Green to be the go-to guys next year at the position. In certain ways, Lynch fills the void left by Deon Hill. Like Hill, Lynch isn't the fastest guy or the biggest, but is a versatile weapon that can get it done no matter what he is asked to do.

Mikell Lands-Davis and Taquon Marshall

Neither played extensively, but both have been mentioned in talks about position changes in the off-season. With Marshall, a stint at QB this spring would be advisable, as he has steadily lost snaps to Lynch, Willis, and Lands-Davis over the course of the season. Lands-Davis, however, I think should stay at A-back. He has cooled after getting off to a hot start, but he has all the skills needed for the A-back position. He's a good receiver, and has the size to contribute as a blocker on the edge. With Marcus Marshall earning more and more snaps at B-back in the future, it would be inadvisable to keep a guy like Lands-Davis off the field by moving him.

Brad Stewart

Oh man, that almost catch by Stewart could have been a huge turning point in the game. He did a great job of coming back to the jump ball, and caught the ball well. It was so close. I encourage you to go back and watch it again on the replay. Not only was the foot barely out of bounds, but his other foot was a fraction of a second from coming down in bounds first. Stewart has at times struggled to get separation, though his route on his 4th down conversion against Florida State was a thing of beauty. He's in the driver's seat going forward, but he will challenged for his starting job this spring. He'll need to improve at getting separation consistently if he wants to stay in the starting lineup next year. One additional positive: I never noted him during the entire re-watch for a poor block! He's done well in that phase.

Kyle Cerge-Henderson

Cerge-Henderson was, for me at least, the most pleasant surprise upon watching the replay. He held his own for much of the game, and performed just as well as Patrick Gamble in this game. He's still not a true Nose Tackle, but nobody on this team is. The Freshman did a great job of being disruptive against single blocks, and chased down some plays from behind. He also showed that he knows how to use his leverage to get an interior pass rush. He pushed the pocket back well in this game, despite not getting any sacks. VT did make a point often to get the ball out early, making it hard to get an interior rush going. He did get moved off his spot against double teams. KCH's biggest limitation is going to be his frame, as it doesn't look like he'll be able to pack on any more pounds. He's athletic though, and should be disruptive. As far as finding a future NT, look at the development of Scott Morgan in the spring. His tape shows that he has really good strength, but lacks quickness. He also has a bigger frame than the other DT recruits in his class. If he can get up to 300 lbs, then he might be able to be the NT we are looking for.

Victor Alexander

Though he only played a few snaps, I definitely noticed in both good and bad ways. He put an offensive lineman on his backside on a gap fill on one play, but on another play he was a bit too slow to react, and got forced away from the point of attack. Like Cerge-Henderson, Alexander's biggest limitation is his height. He's quicker than Mitchell, and he's nastier than PJ Davis, whom he will eventually be called upon to replace. I want to see more coverage and blitz snaps from Alexander, but I also wouldn't mind seeing a few more plays of him knocking blockers down.

Brant Mitchell

Already one of the best players on defense, Mitchell has earned more and more playing time each week. This week he had a big game, regularly getting into the line of scrimmage to stop runs, and having the big pick six. He shows good instincts in the run game, and a block-shedding ability that I haven't seen from any other LB on the team. As he continues to develop, I'd say his floor is a 2-down run plugger, but if he can improve his blitzing and pass coverage a bit, he'll be one of the best 3-down linebackers in the ACC. Coming out of high school, I was excited about his frame, as we have a lot of undersized LBs on the roster, but was worried about his speed and quickness in coverage. So far, his speed has been good enough, and he's done well. He has shown some good coverage skills, and I think his interception against Clemson was way more impressive than his pick-six in this game. Against Clemson, he read Watson like a book and broke on the ball. Brewer pretty much put the pick six in his gut. He showed good hands in both cases.

Anree Saint-Amour

The coaches wanted to get Saint-Amour more snaps this game, and I don't blame them. I'm going to say something that may or may not surprise you. Anree Saint-Amour has the highest ceiling of any DE on the roster. KeShun Freeman was a freshman All-American last year, but I think Saint-Amour has better tools that will allow him to surpass Freeman in time. Saint-Amour showed great quickness off the ball, and his pass rush moves are already decently well developed for someone so young. I also saw the motor that Freeman raved about when I spoke to him about Saint-Amour before the season. Saint-Amour also has a frame that can accommodate a bit more weight, and I can see him playing in the 250s, which would be a size upgrade on a line that sorely needs it. I didn't see much of his run defense, and will look for it in the coming games.

Wow that was a long writeup. We played a lot of Freshmen! Let me know what you think of my analysis of the young guys, and who you are most excited to see in the future!