After a bye week and a strong showing against Miami, the Jackets faced a talented Pitt defense and seemed to take a few steps back from their earlier successes. Tech ran 50 plays for 194 yards, the lowest amount of plays and yards this season. Pitt looked to stack the box to keep the Jackets from establishing the run, they were successful. Tech only had 86 yards on 29 carries, both season lows. The Jackets were unable to stay on the field, going 2 of 13 on 3rd down. It was a tough loss for the Jackets, but there were some interesting wrinkles on offense as well as something to look to build on as the season continues.
Early on the game plan seemed to be for the Jackets to run misdirection plays to try and get the Pitt defenders to make mistakes. It was not overly successful, the Pitt defenders rarely bit on the misdirection and would often read the play correctly and be unblocked and able to make the tackle.
The Jackets ran the counter in a few different ways, pulling multiple linemen in all of the iterations, the lineman that pull are based upon the front that the defense is playing. Against Pitt, Tech often pulled the center and the backside tackle, where vs Miami and UNC it was often the backside guard and tackle.
This play is designed to get the linebackers flowing with the backfield action and away from the true play direction. The QB fakes the run and then follows the pulling lineman around.
The play was successful against Miami. The linebackers were either caught in a blitz or where slowed down enough for the pullers to get around and be out of position to make the tackle on the QB.
The same play against the Tar Heels was not as successful, Graham cut inside instead of following his pulling lineman as well as 21 was not fooled by the backfield action enough to effect his ability to make a play on the runner.
Against the Panthers, Tech ran the QB Counter without a wing TE on the backside and used the motion player to try and pull linebackers out of position. It was not very successful.
The Jackets also ran the counter play to the RB. They ran this play out of a few different formations and backfield sets, including one out of split-backs where Graham just pulled and tried to make something happen.
The RB jab steps to try and influence the LBs then takes the hand-off to follow the pulling OL.
Pitt runs a stunt here that messes up the blocking play-side.
The pulling center misses completely and Graham decides to just pull the ball.
The Jackets have ran the naked play before, trying to freeze the LBs on the backfield action and bring the play back across.
Here against Temple, the Jackets run the naked out of gun split, with a running back being the drag route back across the formation. The DE crashes hard on the run, allowing the QB to get out of the pocket to set up the throw.
Here the Jackets run it from a one back set with the wing TE as the drag player. The play freezes the DE enough to allow Graham to throw, but the Pitt LB comes on the play as well causing Graham to throw high, but allowing the drag player to be open.
Here is the same play later in the game. The LB plays the drag player and the DE widens to prevent Johnson from getting outside, causing a poor throw.
The top play of the day for the offense is a great one to show how fine the line between great play and disaster can be. After recovering a fumble the Jackets looked to take a shot deep, Ahmarean Brown made a great double move in the slot and Graham stepped away from pressure to throw a deep pass for a touchdown. The only issue is that Graham never saw the middle of the field safety, fortunately, the safety never got a good read on the ball in the air and Brown was able to run underneath the throw for the TD.
The Jackets struggled against one of the better defenses they would see this season. It hurts that such a quality game by the Tech defense, 3 takeaways and a blocked punt, was not able to be taken advantage of by a Tech offense that seemed to forget all of the small progress they had made against Miami in the past outing.