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September 4, 2005

GT vs. Auburn - Non-Dawg Game of the Week Recap

Each week, I'm going to identify one game that doesn't involve the Dawgs. And try and break it down. Last week it was Auburn vs GT. I predicted an Auburn win 16-13. Obviously, I was wrong.

Let's look at where I went wrong vs. where I went right (but not right enough).

Where I went wrong:
1. GT's OL - first and foremost, GT's offensive line played much better than AU's Auburn's front 7. They were kept off balance by the play calling (more on that later) and just didn't push Ball into enough bad decisions. This is where Auburn lost the game.

[Photo: Tuberville and Gailey make arrangements to swap hot seats]

2. Auburn's OL - GT out played them there too. GT got break in that Eric Henderson found out that his family in New Orleans was half time. The 2nd half he played like a guy with the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders and the AU offensive line paid for that. (I don't want to be disrespectful about that. That's a wonderful blessing to know that your family is alive.)

Where I was right:
1. Cox - I said "it's always a safer bet to take the veteran QB who has proven that he "can" play well vs. the rookie making his first start." The only thing I didn't realize is that Cox would be THAT irratic. The Auburn WRs kept them in the game with great runs after the catch and inflated Cox's stats. If he doesn't stop with the INTs, they are in deep, deep doo doo.

2. Auburn's RBs -- Tre Smith and Kenny Irons are not SEC Caliber backs that start for a division winner. Smith led the team in rushing with 51 yards on 13 carries (3.9 ypc). Consider that 21 of those yards came on 1 carry, that's a pathetic running game. I called this one months ago. See, I do know *something*.

3. GT's Skill vs. AU's Skill-- I said that GT's skill talent was better than Auburn's and it isn't even close. Daniels looked outstanding in this game, Calvin continues to impress, and Ball looked good enough. Bilbo even made some nice plays. It's a shame that Auburn's solid outings by their wide receivers went for nothing.

Going Forward for GT:
1. The defensive backs for these guys aren't very good. Auburn wideouts were open all night. Cox just threw it to the wrong guys too often.

2. Ball's reliance on the lob. Reggie has gotten better with the short pass. He zips it in there much better. He also threw it away MUCH more when in trouble than I remember previously. But he still drops back, throws the deep ball off his back foot and whoever catches it catches it. Hope is not a strategy.

3. Don't let up. GT has had a big win over a rival each of the past 2 seasons. And then followed it up with a complete implosion or two shortly there after. AU '03 was followed by Clemson and Duke. Clemson '04 was followed by UNC.

Auburn Going Forward:
1. Cox has to improve. His mechanics are worse than Ball's last year. He not only throws off his back foot, but he sometimes falls backwards (even without pressure) while doing it. Helen Keller shows more consistent accuracy.

2. They've got to find a running game. They weren't even trying to run the ball. All the big teams in the SEC have dramatically better defensive backs than Tech. The AU wideouts won't be that open vs many folks.

3. Defensive Scheme - AU better find a way to handle a mobile QB with a balanced run pass option out of the gun or LSU and UGA will work them silly. When Chan Gailey takes you to the woodshed with his offensive play calling vs. your defense. There are problems galore.

Overall, not a horribly off prediction given that it was the first game of the year. Who knew that GT's OL would play that well? If they keep that up, GT will make some noise. Hopefully, Gailey will coach them into another stunning loss. ;-D


paulwesterdawg said...

For the GT fans who will read this. Before you gloat too much...just ask yourself:

1. Did you predict Boise to beat UGA and sign your name to that prediction?

2. Did you then admit that you were wrong in public like I just did?

I can take the gloating. Just make sure that you remember both sides of the weekend when you gloat.

speedbump said...

"1. Did you predict Boise to beat UGA and sign your name to that prediction?"

I predicted that UGA would blow Boise out of the water with speed, size, and skill. :p I could dig it up on the GT forum but I'm lazy. Can I gloat now? ;)

Nathan said...

Oh, I wanted Boise to win, no question. I also told my best friend (a dawg fan) that it would be a miracle if they got within 2 TD's. I'm not a total fool, even if I wish you leg humpers went 0-12 every year.

That being said, GT's secondary isn't quite as bad as you made them out to be. Auburn's wideouts are really damn good. That's the first part. The second part is that Tenuta's blitzing defense requires the corners to play off a bit or they risk getting beat and giving up huge plays (see: both Auburn TD's). For the most part, I actually thought the secondary held up pretty well against a terrific group of WR's. There was some shoddy tackling which has got to get fixed, but no seriously blown coverages, and when AU challenged them down the field they were step by step on the coverage.

Could it be better back there? Of course. But considering our next 3 games are all against very questionable passing offenses, it shouldn't be a season ending issue.

Anonymous said...

Why gloat? Your prediction was perfectly reasonable.

I picked UGA and GT against the spread in my pool. I was much more surprised and gratified by the GT result than the UGA result.

I too was most surprised by GT's O-line.

A small quibble:

Patrick Clark probably deserves the
most credit among the WR's behind C. Johnson.

A big quibble:

I think that Cox played badly b/c he spent an awful lot of time on his back. It seemed to me that happened b/c GT intentionally sold out on coverage to bring the house. AU WR's were open largely b/c of the above, but it didn't matter b/c their QB was getting hit too hard to be effective. Causality is important here.

B/c of that, it is a little specious to argue that GT's DB's aren't that good. Scott and Landry are talented enough to start just about anywhere; Davis is solid and Reis is a very experienced safety and LB who played great the last two seasons. And Jamal Lewis looked good.

I concede that our DB's missed some tackles badly, but a lot of high end SEC players missed tackles on those Auburn WR's last year too.

It will be interesting to see how Auburn does against MSU, and Tech against UNC, this week.

-- GTornado

paulwesterdawg said...

Jamal Lewis did look good when I was watching him. But I admittedly didn't watch that closely.

Separately - I disagree on your causality comment. I don't think the passing defense was poor because of the overcommitment to blitzing. I think causality is reversed in this one.

I think Tenuta knows his guys can't cover or tackle so he blitzed very aggressively in hopes of helping them avoid having to do either (cover or tackle).

Nathan said...

I think Tenuta was blitzing his 3 year sister with a Tonka truck right out of the womb.

I'm not sure his blitzing is the cause or effect of anything other than his innate desire to bring the house every play.

But for GT's defense, the secondary is the biggest question mark - and the part that played the worst again Auburn. Thankfully the ACC isn't full of big time throwers this year, but that's where our biggest weakness will be.

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