1. After a string of duds, Georgia Tech’s offensive line had a superior effort. Despite a heavy dosage of playing time for backups, the Yellow Jackets averaged 5.9 yards per rush, and that doesn’t happen without the line doing its job.
Particularly effective, it seemed like, were B-back carries behind the tackles, Will Jackson on the left side and Bryan Chamberlain and Chase Roberts rotating on the right side. Syracuse played a 3-4 front with the end in the B-gap between the offensive tackle and guard, and Tech often had the play-side guard and tackle double team the end, with the guard either continuing the double team or moving on to the next level and the tackle finishing off the block.
On the clip linked (the fourth highlight in the first quarter), Jackson drove end Micah Robinson from the line of scrimmage on the Syracuse 6-yard line well into the end zone.
2. Quarterback Vad Lee is getting better on his double option reads, it looks like. I think the triple option is still a work in progress, as it’s said, but at least with the counter and speed options – where his reads are either to keep or pitch to the A-back, he’s showing progress.
“That’s always kind of easy – well, not easy – but easier than the triple because instead of making three decisions, you’ve got to make two decisions,” Lee said.
3. I think the opponent had more than a little to do with the outcome. If Syracuse coach Scott Shafer had ever coached against any offense like Tech, it was so long ago that Tech’s coaches couldn’t find evidence of it. Perhaps more importantly, Shafer had never prepared a team to face the offense.
Syracuse played one front and never changed, despite the success Tech was having, running the same plays over and over. Shafer said after the game that perhaps he had made a mistake in not being more multiple in the looks the defense gave Tech.
Said Lee, “They kept their scheme pretty much the same, and we found a couple plays that we just stuck with and ran ’em the whole game.”
Shafer said after the game that he looked forward to the next game against Tech, but that won’t be until 2020.
A lot is made with opposing coordinators “solving” the offense after facing it multiple times, which is probably the wrong word. I have to believe coordinators get better at knowing how to teach players to defend it and how to make in-game adjustments. As Johnson himself says all the time, the more times you do something, the better you’re going to get at it.
That said, I don’t think that’s the same thing as solving. From a schematic standpoint, Tech will invariably have the edge of having a coach with significantly greater understanding of the scheme and also the benefit that it is a difficult offense to prepare for in a week’s time (or more). And the other thing is, the principle of the offense is that, if executed correctly, it will always present a numbers problem for the defense.
4. That said, whatever advantages Tech's offense had had nothing to do with what the defense did. A shutout is a shutout, and it was Syracuse’s first since 2007. Syracuse also fumbled for the first time in 446 plays (though I’ll put a lot of that on a poor center-quarterback exchange on the shotgun snap) and had a punt blocked for the first time since 2009. Several players deserve credit for their work, including outside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, cornerback Jemea Thomas and linebacker Anthony Harrell.
Lastly, this isn’t really a takeaway, but many of you have been kind enough to ask about my family’s impending birth. I am very happy to tell you that Robert Kai was born Friday morning, a little bit later than expected but no less welcome. Kai (rhymes with tie) had a short stay in the NICU wing with some respiratory issues, but he is thankfully home, and he and his mother are doing well. We owe a lot of thanks and gratitude to the staff at DeKalb Medical, both in the women’s and surgery center and the NICU. No shortage of stars in both departments.
A week after a pair of unimpressive losses, Georgia Tech regained a bit of its footing. The Yellow Jackets delivered an emphatic 87-57 thrashing of East Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion to head into their final exam week on an up note.