The hotly awaited debut of Georgia Tech’s Pro-Style, Spread, NFL, buzzword, coach speak offense didn’t go as well Jacket fans would have hoped, though to be fair to Tech the Clemson defense is the most talented defense the Jackets will face this season. With that being said, there are a few positives that can be taken from the game. Tech racked up just under 300 yards of total offense, the most against Clemson since 2014 as well as many of the issues that the Jackets ran into were of the self inflicted variety; turnovers, missed blocks, and missed reads. Let’s take a look at the Tech offense vs Clemson to see some of the successes as well as places where the Jackets can grow.
Tech spent the majority of the game in 11 personnel; 1 running back, 1 tight end, and 3 wide receivers. There were a few snaps in 20 personnel; 2 running backs, 0 tight ends, and 3 wide receivers. A few snaps were also taken in 12 personnel; 1 running back, 2 tight ends, and 2 wide receivers. Given how the game went, Tech rotated in a lot of personnel, every player listed as ATL on the offensive side also shows up in the participation report for the game. The biggest surprise was Tobias Oliver getting the start at QB, and taking the majority of the snaps, Lucas Johnson only taking 3 snaps was also a big surprise. James Graham came in during the 3rd quarter and threw the ball a bit better, but had a few of the same struggles as the others.
The Jackets ran the ball 47 times for 157 yards, 3.5 yards per attempt. Jordan Mason has the top day for Tech on the ground, gaining 72 yards on 13 carries as well as scoring Tech’s only touchdown on the ground. Mason ran with power and broke quite a few tackles, against a Clemson defense that is very fundamentally sound. You saw Tech run a variety of run plays, some gap scheme, some zone scheme, and even a few plays that would bring a tear to ole Paul Johnson’s face.
After 11 years you knew the Jackets just couldn’t quit running this play. You saw it out of 20 personnel with the Jackets lined up in Gun Split. The depressing part is that on the first one, Tobias Oliver misread the dive read and kept when he should have given.
The Jackets ran a few different versions of the zone read. They ran your standard one, leaving the backside player unblocked and giving or keeping based on whether the end player chased or stayed home. Another version that Tech ran is a read off the the split zone play, a wing TE will block back across the formation, the QB still reading the backside man on the end but with the added help of a TE lead blocking. Tech also ran this split zone play without a read as well.
We also saw an interesting wrinkle on the zone read, where we read the backside 3T instead of reading the end man.
The play that we rode to a few wins last season continues to be a part of the offensive game plan for the Jackets. Oliver is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, so let him take the snap and see what he can do.
A play we saw in the spring game, and made famous by Guz Malzahn and Cam Newton, showed up this week. We saw the traditional inverted veer, with a front side read of the DE/OLB and a pulling guard.
The Clemson DE slow played it an mucked up the read, Graham should have pulled and followed his Guard.
That was most of what we saw this week in the run game. Tech did run a little bit of a gap scheme, power once with a pulling guard and wrap a few times with a pulling tackle. No matter what the Jackets chose to run, it was going to be a slog, given the talent of the Clemson defense.
As was to be expected, Tech didn’t have much success throwing the ball. They were 7 of 18 for 137 yards, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown. There were a few simple throws missed, but often the Tech QBs were running for their lives, due to a breakdown in protection. One thing that stood out is that none of the QBs seem to be comfortable sitting in the pocket and progressing through their reads, they would often take off at the first sign of trouble or if the first read was not open. It will be interesting to see what Tech can do against a defense that isn’t loaded with 5 stars and future first round picks. There were two plays that stuck out positively.
The mesh passing concept might be my favorite one in all of football. It is a high-low concept with two shallow crossers, one coming from each side of the formation. It is a route that allows for a lot of experimentation with other routes around it, while already including a tough to defend combination. Tech ran one of the most common mesh combinations, a wheel route out of the backfield, to that they added a double high-low with the outside receivers running a deep crossing pattern, this was to clear out the space for the wheel.
I’m not sure exactly what to call this concept that Tech scored on. The #1 and #3 receivers run hitches while #2, Brown, runs a vertical route. The thing I love about this play is Brown’s stutter step inside is just enough to get the safety to think, as well as Graham stares him down the entire play and Brown is still able to out run the safety, #12 K’Vonn Wallace a SR who has played in a lot of games for the Tigers. This is the athleticism that Brown came advertised with and it’s great to see it translate to the field.
The Jackets struggled against the best team on the schedule. There were a lot of learning opportunities and places that the Jackets can and will get better at as the season continues. Some strong performances, Jordan Mason and Ahmarean Brown both looked like they are guys that can make plays and be counted on this season.