OK. FCS Opponent Alcorn State down. Next man up: Tulane. Last year, Tulane and GT had a close game. Tulane took an early lead but was shut out in the second half for a 38-21 Tech win. The rematch this year? Not so much. Tech rolled to a 65-10 victory, scoring 60 for the second week in a row, and setting a modern day scoring record as well. Let’s see how it happened.
Tulane’s defense really focused on the dive play, trying to take B-Backs Skov and M. Marshall out of the game and make the outside men beat them. The B-Backs were effective in the Alcorn State game, and this seems like a good plan for an unproven set of A-Backs.
Quarterback (Justin Thomas aka JT)
Justin Thomas played the first two and a half quarters at his usual high level. His decision making is why this team is so good at moving the ball. Breaking down the play calling:
- Total: 44 plays (with JT in)
- Option Plays: 26
- Pass Plays: 10 (1 scramble, 1 sack, 1 pass was actually a pitch)
While JT was in, he had to make decisions on 36/44 plays. I could only find one or two less-than-great decisions. Most of the ineffective plays were option/dives that the LBs pinched in, when the DE went outside, trying to fool our offense. It worked a couple of times, but JT and CPJ (Coach Paul Johnson) adjusted and added the OLB as a read key.
This is the best thing about having a smart second year QB, when CPJ wants to make an adjustment, his QB can handle it, and our team plays more efficiently. The second and third quarter had almost no iffy decisions and we scored touchdowns on every second half drive.
The fumble was unfortunately a high pitch, but it was catchable. I’d have to blame Snoddy on that one.
When passing, JT did well. Of the 10 pass plays, only 3 were ineffective, and only 1 was truly the fault of JT. The sack was an unblocked rusher on a play CPJ said was “bad play call.” The incompletions were one, a barely overthrown deep pass to Qua Searcy, and another where Brad Stewart trips on the defenders legs (luckily this one was also overthrown or its an interception).
This unit is a bit of a mixed bag. I thought the inside of the line played well, pass protecting the QB, and getting upfield and blocking on most plays. But the tackles did not do well. Part of the OT’s job in this offense is to make the same read call as the QB makes on option plays. The tackle must read the DE he is blocking to see if he is pinching or if he is going outside. If the DE pinches, then the play will go outside (pitch/keep), so the OT’s job in that scenario is to get upfield and seal the edge by blocking the MLB/low safety. This is where Bryan Chamberlain (Left Tackle) and Errin Joe (Right Tackle) had big issues. Joe in particular whiffed at least 4 times. Of the 7 Option/Pitch plays I watched, 5 had issues with the OT’s blocking the inside linebacker or safety. This kind of play will stagnate our offense against better opponents.
Award: Most Declined Performance to Errin Joe (Right Tackle)
B-Backs (Skov and Marshall)
The B-Back play doesn’t look great on paper, and thats because it was really taken away by the defense. The players ran hard into tackles all day and took the brunt of the defense’s attacks. Marshall did get the ball on the outside in a Speed Counter Option and ran well outside for a good gain (speed options are double options where the pitch man is the RB behind the QB, in GT’s case the B-Back). This play is actually ruled a pass because it was a forward pitch.
Notably, Skov was asked to run on traditional overloaded Off Tackle plays, where we’d have an OT playing in a TE position and do a straight handoff and run through the two tackles playing next to each other. Skov did score on one of those. CPJ’s been doing this for a while. Memorably, Demaryius Thomas used to play OT on the weak side and once had to block for a play that went to the weak side. WR’s Messick and Jeune were asked to play in the weak side tackle position in this case.
This group had to keep running the ball all day as the Tulane defense took away the dive and keep repeatedly. They did well. Searcy in particular ran really well, and was wide open on an almost TD catch. Snoddy did fumble the ball on a high pitch, bringing down this group from its high perch.
Lynch had the biggest day of all. He was all over the field blocking like a maniac. Whereas Jeune’s blocking last week won him my lavish praise, this week, its Lynch. To boot, he had a great 45 yard run down the sideline where he avoided defenders and outran the defense.
Award: Best Blocking to Clinton Lynch
Last week, I railed at Summers’ poor blocking. I have to say, his blocking this week was great! I counted 5 plays that went for good yardage because of Summers, including the first touchdown by Searcy. In addition he had three catches and a touchdown on a deep pass (the last pass JT threw).
Juene is a strong player. He has a great quick out play where he stiff arms two defenders for a good gain. His play reminds me of Demaryius Thomas. His blocking is consistently really good. You can see why he’s on the field for so many plays.
Stewart had his first catch of the season. Ken Seguira has some quotes about that play. It was a good route where Stewart came back to the ball.
Award: Most Improved Performance to Michael Summers
This week, I did my first defensive review, and it was very enlightening. We played nickel basically all day against a lot of 11 formations (1 RB, 1 TE). There were some very interesting blitz packages including DEs dropping into coverage and LBs coming around the formation for a late blitz. I expect to see more where that came from against the better offensive lines we’ll face this year.
Many people complained about the lack of pressure the D-Line was getting against Alcorn State last week as well as against Tulane this week. After watching the game film this week, the D-Line did an excellent job stuffing the run and getting to the quarterback. There were only three sacks in the game, and there were a bunch of blitz packages used. But the DL was consistently getting to the QB before he had time to throw the ball, and stuffing runing gaps, allowing the LBs to finish the runners.
In fact, on the only score the first team defense allowed, two linemen got to the quarterback. Gotsis even hit his arm and made him bobble the ball. On the last drive before half time, Freeman was in the backfield on mostly 4 man rushes 5 out of 7 plays.
Jabari Hunt has been getting flack from the pundits as well. He was very hyped out of camp this year as a nose tackle, but doesn’t have a lot of stats to his name. I thought he play really well. In one play, he breaks through a block to tackle an RB for a short gain. In another play, he takes on two blockers to allow Simmons a free run at the QB.
The one poor performance by this unit was Keshun Freeman’s poor tackling form. On two occasions he had an opportunity to tackle up the RB, but didn’t wrap up and ended up allowing two big plays. The talent on the other side will only get better, and he needs to shore up that part of his game. Take a lesson from DJ White or PJ Davis on wrapping up.
Award: Most Improved Unit to the D-Line
This unit was very busy, as usual. PJ Davis was his usual all over the field tackling (and wrapping up) really well. Unfortunately he was taken advantage of on a few pass plays due to his relatively poor coverage skills. Tyler Macordes though showed some great coverage skills this game. He had a pass defended on a go route from the slot that showed his coverage awareness. He also rushed the passer effectively a couple times, showing he is an all-around player.
I think this unit did pretty well. The DL and LB had a lot of pressure all night so many of the passes were quick. On longer routes, they defended well. The touchdown as a mental error by DJ White but it shouldn’t affect him in the future.
The most forgotten units on the field when they are doing well is the kicking team. Every kick was through the uprights, and there were more than a few touchbacks. Our coverage team was OK. There were a bunch of missed tackles on some of Tulane’s kickoff returns.
There were only 3 kickoff returns all night, none of which were returned. The one safety punt return was a good 34 yards by Golden.
Our punt coverage team had the best night. Golden had a long punt return to start the night. Milton blocked his 6th punt of his career on a ball the punter dropped. And there was a safety on a punt that was snapped over the head of the punter. I’d say this unit was helped out a lot by Tulane, but right time right place I guess.
Tech played well in all facets of the game to dominate a better opponent than last week. There was improvement in almost all the units. I look forward to seeing this team against a very quality opponent in Notre Dame this week.