Before we officially move on from Saturday's loss, we wanted to wrap things up with one more question: What's your one takeaway from the Georgia Tech game? I teed up the question for our STL writers, and this is what happened.
Will: Having not watched any of the game I can't try to go in to deep detail, but as a borderline outsider I am only semi concerned after this debacle. Sure, I may have overreacted in my texts and tweets but that was because I had already had roughly ten bud lights so I think I am clear. Anyways, I think you have to look at the gimmick offense that GT runs and take the defense with a grain of salt. Any team that doesn't have a long week leading in to a triple option game seems to struggle. Hell, Notre Dame has struggled with Navy for the past 5 years it seems like. They got smart this year and scheduled the MidShipmen in the opening game so they had all summer to prepare.
Having said that, I am still terrified with the next two games and am not really expecting a win. That just could be my Eeyore outlook on life, but it's the truth. Splitting the next two games and sitting at 3-2 heading in to Maryland would make me very happy.
Tiki: Honestly, I'm not that concerned about the defense. GT's triple option is a well oiled machine, and our young defense was going to struggle against it. The missed tackles are a bigger issue than the missed assignments. Young guys are going to struggle against this offense, because you can't replicate the speed and precision in practice, Jacob Hodges or no Jacob Hodges.
The offense, however, is still a concern. The offensive line, in particular, is getting dominated. I don't know what the solution is, or if there is a solution. The interior of the line is getting absolutely no push, and more often than not is getting pushed back. There is no running room for our talented RBs. Rocco is getting precious little time to throw. There have been a lot of calls for Sims to come in, and maybe that will help. I'm not sure. Sims isn't going to magically find running room for Perry Jones. And his big arm doesn't help much if he can't run anything bigger than a 3 step drop. I didn't think we'd give up 56 points, but I did think we'd lose and I thought we might lose bad. Little has changed in my opinion. Something, however, must change with the offense.
Tim: The takeaway for me for this game is that our offense needs a lot of work. Like Tiki, I'm not as concerned about our defense. Are there weak spots? Sure. Are there things to work on? Absolutely. But, big first quarter plays aside, that's not what stood out to me. The offense was what stood out to me.
[The story continues, then devolves, after the jump.]
There's no real magic wand to be waved here, I don't think. Sims isn't going to all of a sudden make the offense that much better (as evidenced by the performance of the team while he was in during the first three games this year). We have 3-4 very good running backs, but they're not even able to get it done. We've got a group of solid receivers from the rangy Tim Smith, to the shifty Darius Jennings to the reliable Jake McGee. But Rocco doesn't have time to hit them. What's the common theme here? The line. I had been told the line would be an issue this year. But I honestly did not expect it to be this big of an issue. It is, though, and it looks like we might have to start game planning around it rather than just hoping that they get better. Through three games, we haven't seen much improvement. I'm kind of hoping someone with a little more knowledge of line play can tell me what is going on. Is it just inexperience at the interior slots? Is it a technique issue? Is it just a lack of talent? Do we have younger guys who may have more talent or better technique? I just don't know enough about o-line play to say much other than that they're not being effective.
Schwartz: My takeaway point? S**t happens. One game is one game, and I don't think we can make sweeping generalizations and wide projections on the season with only this information. We played over our heads at times last season, and Saturday we underperformed; the truth lies somewhere in between. In that spirit, I agree with Tiki; Georgia Tech runs a great offensive scheme, and our defense wasn't ready for it. We fell behind big quickly, and that completely changed the gameplan on both sides of the ball.
My biggest football concern coming away is actually our running game, mainly because I am baffled with its lack of production through three games. We have four extremely capable backs, who all came into the season poised to do big things. The culprit seems to mainly be the offensive line, as these guys discussed. I've seen Perry Jones and Co. look a bit tentative at times, dancing behind the line rather than hitting it hard, but that could be because what awaits them is so unappealing. I am hoping these guys mesh soon, and I am confident that they will put it together.
Will: These responses are way too forgiving and logical. Where are the "THE SKY IS FALLING. WE'RE NEVER WINNING A DAMN GAME AGAIN. GOD HAS FORSAKEN US FOR JEFFERSON'S SINS AND IS PUNISHING US! AHHHHHHHH"
Need to act like big time fans if we want a big time program. ;-)
Tim: We have plenty of brain-dead fans to handle those kinds of comments.
Will: A more necessary point to consider is that the Braves completed their sweep of the Nats last night and #NatsCollapse2012 has momentum!
Tim: And yet even after the sweep, the Nats still have the best record in baseball…
Good thing for the Braves that their remaining schedule looks like something the Hokie football scheduler put together. One team with a recorder over .500, and that team
Schwartz: The Yankees are very good too.
Will: Good thing that the Nats play virtually the same exact schedule as the Braves since they are in the same division. I guess we can get mad at them for playing the good teams earlier in the year. I guess we can also now stop wondering how the Nats ended up with the best record in baseball.
This discussion better be in the roundtable
Leung: I was going to contribute to this Roundtable, but I see you all have hit the bottles early and this has spiraled downhill. So I'll just bow out now.
Justin: I'm in the "not as worried about the defense as the offense" camp as well. You can basically throw away a lot of the concepts and assignments that UVA had to run this week, because they won't play any team that runs anything close to it the rest of the way. Tackling was the biggest concern of mine on the defense that could roll over to other games. It was bad on Saturday. Also a little concerned with the speed of the linebackers, but against other offenses they won't be nearly as exposed as they were vs the Spread Option.
As for the offense, not really sure where to start. The line has been bad. A lot of people have brought up the idea of moving Morgan Moses inside to guard, which seems to be a weakness. That seems like a good idea, but who knows. It doesn't take a genius, or a college football coach for that matter, to see the game film and know there are protection issues. It seems that teams all have a similar game plan to stop the offense; play men in the box to stop the run and short passing game, and let whoever the QB is try to beat them over the top. It cost Penn State and Richmond a few times, where they left guys wide open 15-20 yards down field. It's also worth noting that Tim Smith didn't play Saturday, and losing a starting WR can have all kinds of weird impacts on timing and assignments in the passing game. Jake McGee is a stud. One thing not many people seem to be talking about now is the turnovers, though. Virginia turned the ball over 4 times vs Penn State, and then Rocco threw 2 interceptions in Atlanta, that directly led to 14 of the 56 points. Virginia is just really lucky that Penn State wasn't able to do much (3 points off turnovers) with their opportunities.
The Quarterback situation isn't going to go away. It's just the nature of the beast. I get frustrated talking about it from all sorts of angles, but that's just the way it's going to be. Saying that we know enough about Sims to say "Yes he should start vs TCU" or "No, Rocco is clearly better and shouldn't lose his job" seems asinine. Sims' supporters point to the touchdown drives he led against backup defenses. His detractors point to the two drives vs Penn State in the 3rd quarter when Virginia went 3 and out and then Sims fumbled. We just haven't seen enough to know what's really going on. The coaches get to see the quarterbacks every day in practice, and in the film room.
I don't think there is any one thing to take away from this game as the blame, but the offense has to really make some strides over the next few weeks, as the young defense faces some tough passing attacks.
Will: That's cool and all, but it has NOTHING to do with the Braves and Nats!