For a holiday weekend the crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium was very good. Hopefully we will get to the point where sellouts are the normal routine for all of the Yellow Jacket home games regardless of when they are played and who the opponent is on the schedule. At any rate the game started off with South Carolina State trying some sort of squib kick that went directly toward a Georgia Tech player and bounced off his leg that we recovered on their side of the field around the 45 yard line. After hearing the initial “thud” when the Yellow Jacket player was struck with the football, it reminded me of the sound and reaction that is made when playing a game of “foosball.” For those who don’t have a clue what that is, talk to anyone who grew up before computer games, play stations, and x-boxes were created.
On the second play of our first offensive series of the season we had an illegal procedure penalty for early movement on the offensive line. After having a sickening déjà vu moment I had to quickly check to see if a certain lineman had suited up today even after transferring to another school earlier this year. Then I remembered that he was in fact gone so hopefully this singular penalty will not be seen the rest of the season. Joshua looked very good running the offense and his 34 yard touchdown run was an example of making the correct “read” on the option. He has a very good grasp of this option offense after being in Coach Paul Johnson’s system going on his third season. Now before everyone starts their chorus of; the passing game needs improvement, remember this was only game # 1.
Every college football coach wants to win a game without showing off their entire offensive package for our future opponents to scout and prepare for when we play against them several months from now. Same holds true for the defense. Besides, every coach in America other than Mike Leach formerly at Texas Tech and Kevin Sumlin at the University of Houston will tell you that to win a football game a team needs to be able run the football. Given that we were extremely successful on Saturday by piling up 372 yards on the ground that resulted in a win; mission accomplished. We will have to get better at passing the football as we move into our conference schedule, but that will entail our receivers not letting catchable throws bounce off their chests resulting in interceptions for our opponent.
What I did see was that our offensive line did a very good job of protecting Joshua and giving him an opportunity to throw his passes. But I will tell you that Joshua’s knowledge of this offense and the ability he showed Saturday to quickly cutback against the defensive flow after rolling out on a passing play and turning it into a 20 yard run will give defensive coordinators many sleepless nights as they now have another problem to address in preparing for this already complex offensive scheme. These type of plays is what made quarterback Tracy Ham at Georgia Southern so difficult to defend when he was operating this Paul Johnson scheme with full knowledge of the reads required and cutback options available that confuse and overwhelm a defense. Offensively I’m excited about what I did see this past Saturday.
More importantly we also saw Tevin Washington running the offense very well, and David Sims doing a nice job at quarterback by showing his athletic skills on an option play to the right side whereby he ran through a tackle and managed to stay inbounds displaying some Joshua like toughness. It was good to see these players get onto the field and run a few snaps from the quarterback position. It will enhance their ability to come into games further into the season and run the offense with some prior real game experience. All of the quarterbacks made very nice pitches to the A-Backs and the fumble that came off a pitch to Embry Peeples was not the fault of the quarterback as it was into his hands. Watch out for true freshman A-Back B.J. Bostic as he had some nice runs for positive yardage around the edge. We have some impressive depth at all positions in the offensive backfield.
On defense Steven Sylvester looked good at outside linebacker and had a nice tackle in the backfield on a running back for a 5 yard loss in the first quarter. Anthony Egbuniwe knocked down a pass near the goal line preventing a completion for a touchdown, and blew up a running play in the backfield allowing Kyle Jackson to make a nice tackle. Brad Jefferson in the middle had a good game, but Kyle Jackson really looked impressive inside especially considering the amount of time he has missed with his foot surgery. We still had a couple of long runs and pass completions that were caused by poor tackling, but that can be corrected and was at halftime by DC Al Groh.
The defense played very well in the second half with lots of folks flying to the football. Our defensive line appeared to hold up okay against another large offensive line, but there were still some good sized holes between the tackles that created the same cut back opportunities for runners that we saw too many times last year. However, the biggest difference is that now teams are being restricted to field goal attempts as opposed to putting up touchdowns. I’m happy to hold opposing teams to 3 points any time. More importantly, we finally forced somebody to punt the football for a change. While there is always room to improve, we are going in the right direction. Go Jackets!