Sunday, November 26, 2006
My thoughts on Tech-UGA, in non-sensical numbered form, as per usual:
1. It's pointless to pile onto Reggie Ball at this stage. His ineptitude was on full display yesterday afternoon and you don't need to click on this site to get a greater apprecation of it...but I only get to do it for two more games, so bear with me. Bolstered by a highly effective running game and the best receiver in college football (although Dwayne Jarrett certainly gave him a run for his money in the 8 p.m. game), Ball managed a sterling 1.9 yards per pass attempt, he threw two picks, and he also added for good measure a fumble that Georgia returned for a touchdown. I kept wondering during the game whether Tech was employing the obvious counter-measures to Georgia keeping Calvin Johnson in double coverage, such as running a tight end or slot receiver deep down the middle or on a crossing route into the area vacated by Johnson. As the game progressed, I decided that: (1) Tech was surely making such calls and Ball was not able to make the resulting throws; and/or (2) Georgia wasn't doubling Johnson and Ball was still missing him. Ball missing Johnson on a deep fly pattern was the most obvious instance of "quarterback screws receiver," but one mistake that CBS's crack b-team missed was Paul Oliver's excellent break-up of a pass to Johnson in the end zone on the possession that Tech narrowed the Georgia lead to 7-6. On second and goal, Georgia blitzed and Johnson, lined up in the slot, was open on a slant. All Reggie had to do was lead him (I suspect that Tech fans have started sentences with "all Reggie had to do..." a lot over the past four years), but instead, Ball threw the ball high and behind Johnson. Calvin being Calvin, he leaped and reached back to get the ball, but Oliver was able to knock it out of his hands. It would have been a great catch and instead, it was a great defensive play, but what was missed in the analysis was that an inaccurate pass made the break-up possible.
1a. Reggie Ball: worst four-year quarterback starter at a major program since...?
1b. I loved Steve Beuerlein's explanation that four-year starter Ball's 47.6 completion percentage was a function of the Tech offense. Steve, you might want to, you know, watch a tape or two to recognize that Tech has plenty of short passes in the offense, but Ball is highly inaccurate and thus, doesn't complete half his passes.
2. I had a feeling of trepidation when I saw Jack Childress and an ACC crew (call it flashback after the '03 Florida-Florida State game, which featured the most one-sided refereeing I've ever seen in favor of the Noles by an ACC crew), but they did an excellent job. Case-in-point: Tony Taylor's fumble return. They correctly judged that Reggie Ball fumbled and then the entire crew resisted the urge to blow their whistles when the ball disappeared into the pile. If a ref would have blown the play dead, then G-d knows how they would have awarded the ball, but Georgia would not have scored a touchdown. Since the Dawgs had previously come away empty after a Ball interception set them up on the Tech 25, letting the fumble return run its course was the right call and it helped the Dawgs significantly.
3. How does John Tenuta feel right now? His defenses have allowed 19, 14, and 8 points to Georgia in the past three years and the Jackets are 0-3 in those games. Cincinnati would be making a smart move if they replaced one successful former Ohio State defensive coordinator (Mark Dantonio) with another (Tenuta). If Tenuta leaves, then it will be the equivalent of Ralph Friedgen leaving Georgia Tech after the 2000 season; the head coach will be totally exposed as having ridden the coat tails of a smarter coordinator. If Tenuta stays, however, then Tech will be quite good next year. They lose one offensive lineman, one defensive lineman, one linebacker, and one defensive back. Losing Calvin Johnson will be tough, but it won't be unlike an Australopithecus losing his toaster oven because Johnson has been criminally underutilized for three years. I hope that NFL Network has a show that follows Johnson around in his first mini-camp so they can capture his face when he has a quarterback throw to his hands as opposed to an area five yards away.
3a. Speaking of next year, I'm not bullish on Georgia right now. I like Matthew Stafford, but I'm not convinced that he's especially accurate down the field. (He misfired on all three deep balls against Tech.) I have absolutely no idea who is going to play offensive tackle for the Dawgs and one need only watch tape of Auburn this year to realize the importance of good pass-blocking tackles. Furthermore, if Charles Johnson goes pro early, then Georgia will be replacing six of seven starters in its front seven. Most Georgia fans will not miss Danny Verdun or Jarvis Jackson, but are their reserves going to be much better. (Note: the same reasoning could be used to puncture my belief that Tech will get better play at quarterback last year, but I genuinely think that Taylor Bennett [or Taylor Dayne, for that matter] would be better than Reggie Ball, but that Chan Gailey was committed to Ball after having started him as a true freshman.)
Tell it to my heart, I can count to four.
4. Was I the only one who was seriously dismayed by the performance by Craig Bolerjack and Steve Beuerlein during the game? Maybe I should have known we were in for a long afternoon when they managed to refer to "Mike Richt" and "Jim Tenuta" in the first half. Heck, I should have known after the first play from scrimmage, when Beuerlein mixed up Georgia's safeties and gave Kelin Johnson credit for a play made by Tra Battle. Or maybe I should have muted the TV after Beuerlein implored Tech to go for a 4th and one at the end of the first half, then complimented Chan Gailey on his decision when he ran the clock down and punted. And Bolerjack, when he wasn't making inept puns based on the fact that Tech's tailback has the last name "Choice," decided that Georgia's first play from scrimmage, a simple zone read play, was some sort of trick play. (Maybe he missed every Texas game from the past three years.)
5. When Tech embarked on their last drive with 1:45 left, I gave Tech a 20% chance of getting into field goal range and then asked Der Wife what odds she would give the Jackets. She pronounced their odds as 1,000 to 1, which then led to a disagreement between the two of us after Ball's interception as to whether she was "right."
6. Right before Georgia scored their winning touchdown, I got the sense that Mark Richt had something up his sleeve. The two running plays that led up to the winning pass seemed very vanilla, almost as if Georgia was bleeding the clock knowing that they would score on third down. Sure enough, the playcall to Massaquoi in the back of the end zone was a gem. Credit the offensive line on that one because they gave Stafford enough time to pump and then throw. Also, credit to Richt for guessing that Tech would not blitz. (As it turns out, Mike Bobo was calling the plays on Saturday, so credit goes to him for the final sequence. That's an interesting move by Richt and a piossible acknowledgment that he had too much on his plate this season.)
7. Tech had 188 yards of total offense, 146 of which came from Tashard Choice. Am I the only one who is reminded of Georgia winning a certain game with a similar distribution: