What a difference a year makes in defending the triple option. After reading all of the post game discussion last season coming from the UVA program about the benefits of having extra time to prepare against the triple option, one would have thought that this season it would have been easier than painting by the numbers. After all, once you have the formula in hand all you need to do is follow the Nike Motto; “Just Do It!” What happened?
Apparently the real formula was that Georgia Tech was feeling a little too good about themselves last year after that 6 and 0 start to the season and got a little ahead of themselves in the process. So give the Cavaliers credit for dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage in that game and derailing the Yellow Jackets 24 to 21 up in Charlottesville. Perhaps that defeat alone has set up this season’s Yellow Jackets into developing the frame of mind that better reflects the attitude of their head coach; Paul Johnson. Learning how to be humble is part of the process required in becoming a winner, and each step along the way is part of that maturation process known as leadership.
So now that the Yellow Jackets have evened their ACC record at 1 and 1, they have no time to feel good as they face a very talented Miami squad that has dominated them for the past three seasons on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Nice as it is to score 56 points in a conference game, it is not likely to keep up as Miami has some weapons on both sides of the football. Georgia Tech has been able to successfully play around some injured players this season, most notably Fred Holton at safety who has yet to hit the field. In his stead redshirt freshman Jamal Golden has been playing some good football that can only enhance the depth in the secondary when Mr. Holton returns.
Also, Jabari Hunt-Days who started the season at inside linebacker in place of Daniel Drummond has been a force the first three games and my hunch is he has solidified himself as the starter even after Mr. Drummond returned last week against Presbyterian. What can anyone say about the performance of Zach Laskey at B-Back this game as well as against Presbyterian? Let’s hope he didn’t suffer anything more than a shoulder bruise, which is what it sounds like as Coach Paul Johnson did say he was available to return in the second half if needed.
The play of Tevin Washington all season long has really shown what can happen when a QB is given time to throw the football by the offensive line. He is doing exactly what this offense is designed to achieve; hurt teams with long passing plays when they play their safeties close to the line in order to stop the triple option running game. After the first long pass to Zach Laskey on a wheel route out of the backfield to open the game with a 70 yard touchdown, I didn’t have time to even notice that Tevin was wearing Julian Burnett’s # 40 this week. So when he broke free on that 60 yard QB keeper on a pitch play, I thought Paul Johnson had inserted a B-Back at QB and was running him out of the wildcat formation. After the stadium announcer confirmed that it was in fact Tevin Washington that cleared up the confusion.
Against Virginia Tevin was not only making the correct read on the triple option plays, but his pitches were leading the A-Back perfectly as he led Orwin Smith seamlessly on the pitch who once he turned the corner had an outstanding block from Robert Godhigh, then just cut up field off the block of Jeff Green who was dominating the Cavalier cornerback that opened a free path to the end zone for a 77 yard touchdown run. Just a great job blocking all day long by the offensive line who had inserted left guard Will Jackson at right tackle this week and had Shaq Mason taking over his spot at left guard.
For the third week in a row the defense just played some more great football in getting UVA off the field time and time again on Saturday. Nose tackle Shawn Green made a great play on fourth down and one getting into the UVA backfield and making a play at our own eleven yard line to prevent any points after the Cavaliers had returned a kickoff nearly scoring a touchdown but for the outstanding hustle of redshirt freshman A-Back Chris Milton who came all the way across the field to make a tackle around the Yellow Jackets twenty yard line. It’s that type of play from this team that is really showing on the field this season.
It was nice to see plenty of reserves get into the game for the second week in a row and once again QB Vad Lee made some nice plays including a 56 yard touchdown run to the end zone on a keeper. I also liked the effort of Shawn Green at NT, and Anthony Harrell made some nice stops from his inside linebacker slot during his time on the field. I’m not sure who had more hits in this game; LB Quayshawn Nealy or DB Jemea Thomas, but it’s nice to have multiple players to choose from in that category.
One play in particular I remember was a Cavalier running back catching a short pass in the left flat and when he turned around he was immediately knocked flat by Mr. Nealy for no gain and probably lots of pain. Quayshawn also had an interception that the offense turned into a touchdown. Just another outstanding game for Mr. Nealy and all of our linebackers who are really making some outstanding plays this season now that the entire team better understands the 3/4 Al Groh scheme.
So after this 56 to 20 win Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium to open the ACC home schedule, Georgia Tech needs to step up their play in order to get another conference win this week against the “U.” The Hurricanes always have lots of talent on their roster and for the past three seasons have whipped this team pretty good on both sides of the line of scrimmage. So now the Yellow Jackets will have an opportunity to break that streak as this is another big Coastal Division challenge early into the season. Go Jackets!