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Tuesday Thoughts 11/2: Insanity

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In which we talk old championships, Kansas, and failure.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Happy homecoming I guess. What a bad game to watch.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

VT gained 329 yards in the first half alone, mostly due to hugely broken pass coverage.

Jahmyr Gibbs had his second straight game with over 100 yards rushing and over 10 yards per carry.

Three second-half turnovers held Tech back from being able to tie the game or take the lead.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Anyone on the 1990 team or staff. No one else.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

Kansas managed to score just a single touchdown against Oklahoma State but that’s not the best part. The Jayhawks went 0-13 on third down and threw three interceptions to go along with 44 total passing yards.

Above The Line of the Week

  • A second straight game with some decent OL play and rushing success.
  • The knowledge that I’ll be hiking in Vermont instead of watching the Miami game.
  • Kyric McGowan. Where would we be without him?

Stat of the Week

I’m gonna rant about the defense a bit later so how about an offensive stat? A 25% third down conversion rate against VT is just depressingly bad. For the season we are now at 34.6%; that puts us in the bottom 30 teams in the country. We simply cannot expect to win any games if our offense can’t stay on the field.

5 Star (7 Star, 5 Star) Developmental Program Haiku of the Week

Fallen off a cliff
Not fun to watch anymore
Please win one more game

Insanity

We’ve all heard the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (fun fact, Einstein never said this) and I’m really struggling to come up with anything that better describes our program’s attitude towards defense.

Coming into this game Virginia Tech was the second worst offense in the ACC (ahead of only poor Clemson) at 23.7 ppg and 329 ypg. We let them throw and run wild for 329 yards in the first half alone en route to 491 total yards. This was our fourth straight game giving up over 480 yards of offense. We saw busted coverage after busted coverage and missed tackle after missed tackle. Whatever it is we’re doing, it’s not working. Things are worse than they were before 2019 (and recall that those defenses weren’t exactly great either).

So far in 2021 we rank firmly in the bottom half of FBS in all of the following defensive statistics:

  • Points allowed per game (83rd)
  • Yards allowed per game (106th)
  • Third down conversion rate allowed (113th)
  • Fourth down conversion rate allowed (110th)
  • Passing yards allowed per game (96th)
  • Rushing yards allowed per game (92nd)
  • Red zone scoring rate allowed (70th)
  • Opponent first downs (84th)
  • Opponent passing efficiency (117th)
  • TFLs per game (130th DEAD LAST BABY)
  • Sacks per game (83rd)
  • Turnovers created (102nd)

I mean COME ON. I think I just listed every single defensive statistic that anyone tracks and provides online for free and our best is 70TH IN THE COUNTRY. In particular please draw your eyes to TFLs, sacks, and turnovers. We’ve been sold on this H A V O C defense that’s philosophically fine with giving up yards as long as they make the big negative plays. Well guess what? Turns out we’re just giving up yards without making hardly ANY big negative plays. Also, it’s worse than you think; 8 of our 15 total sacks came in one game (UNC). If you replace that game with our average per game from the other 7 games then we really should be at just 8 total sacks. That’s good for 125th in the country - tied with KANSAS. So instead of a cool defense flying around in the backfield what we actually have is a defense that hemorrhages yards and can barely sniff the backfield. I call that false advertising.

This is all a long winded way to say: we have a bad defense. In fact, I’m comfortable going a step further and saying that we have one of the worst P5 defenses in the country. This has been true for the past three years. We’ve recently seen some of the worst defensive performances in our history (2019 VT, 2019 UGA, 2020 UCF, 2020 Clemson, 2021 UVA to name a few).

Sure we play a good game every now and then but by and large we are the highlight reel team, the team flailing on defense in the background of a cool offensive highlight. Teams circle us on the schedule and know they can move the ball easily against us. They know we’re not going to create any pressure or cover well. They know they can just smash a RB straight into the line and probably gain 5 yards every time.

I’ve said this so many times but what we’re doing right now on defense is pathetic given the reputation and selling points of this staff. I’ve seen nothing but regression on the defensive side of the ball and that is squarely on the coaches. They’ve had three years to work with a talented and consistent group of guys (plus good recruits each year!) and so far they have basically nothing to show for it. We might as well hire Ted Roof back - the result would be the same. The talent we have is being criminally wasted.

I am so tired of this. At this point I honestly don’t even care about having an ELITE defense; I just want to have an average defense (god forbid above average). Is that so much to ask? Stop doing the same thing over and over and make a change that shows me we’re going somewhere.

Look Ahead

Up next is Miami (11/6, 12:30pm). The Canes have looked pretty meh all season but managed to beat Pitt last week. They’re scoring a lot of points in recent games but their defense is actually giving up more PPG than us. Here’s the reality of our situation though: this is a must-win game for us as is the next one against a flailing Boston College. We need to get to 5 wins this year and with Notre Dame and UGA looming, Miami and BC are our best shots. We’ve played some weird games against Miami over the past 5 or so years but I really want to see a consistent game from both the offense and the defense.