Wednesday, November 23, 2011

H2H Playbook: Keys to Stopping Tech's Offense

Coach Grantham and the Georgia defensive staff have certainly done an admirable job of repairing a once vilified UGA defense (you can label me as one of the former "vilifiers"). But one challenge he has yet to properly conquer is defending Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech offense. In last season's game, while we made some great individual plays, the defense also allowed over 400 yards rushing. That is too many yards no matter what offense the opponent runs. So how can we improve?

First, I think it's important to note what Paul Johnson says about his own offense. Most people say things like "he runs the wishbone" or "he runs the triple option offense". While his base formation has evolved from the wishbone and he does, in fact, run triple option plays frequently, the offense itself can be rather dynamic if he has the necessary personnel (which he hasn't really had at Tech). Here is a good video of Johnson (and I think GT play-by-play man, Wes Durham) explaining his offense:

It's interesting that Hawaii's "run-and-shoot" pass happy offense, and Tech's run heavy offense both share the same roots. Anyway, here is a breakdown I did a few months ago of one of Tech's staple triple option plays (in case you are still very confused).

After watching his offense for many years now, I have noticed some tendencies CPJ has and below is a list of these, as well as certain keys for our defense this weekend (keep in mind I only played high school football so I'm not an expert, as I only study X's and O's as a if any of you are actual coaches or former college players, feel free to chime in):

  1. He LOVES to run play-action passes when you least expect it. I know this is usually the goal of any team that runs play action passes, but he frequently runs PA passes the very first play of the game or half and also on 2nd and short situations. 
  2. He also frequently attempts 4th down conversions. Basically, if he is passed midfield and it is 4th down and less than 7 or 8 to go, he is going for it. He also has gotten burned by this strategy though (e.g. the Virginia Tech game this season, when he went for it from his own 30).
  3. Although their plays all look the same, Johnson frequently makes seemingly minor adjustments during the game that can make big differences. An example would be changing the blocking assignment of linemen or backs once he sees our defensive "assignments". Thus, although we DO need to play our assignments, I still think the coaching staff needs to be multiple on defense to stay one step ahead.
  4. Like stopping any offense, getting a great push on their offensive line is key. Tech does like to use cut blocks because most of their runs are "quick hitters", but we still need to keep our feet and push their front back.
  5. ....but we can't be too aggressive. You can't just blitz 6 or 7 guys because there is always an offensive counter. They have many outside run plays (or inside runs if you blitz outside) and their tendency to get the ball carriers "downhill" fast will burn a blitz in a hurry. They will also run reverses or counters if your defensive players flow to the ball too fast.
  6. Watch the deep ball. I think we learned this after watching Bebe Thomas for those two years.
  7. Score a s### load of points on offense.
The notion that Tech's offense is "slow" or "methodical" is absolutely incorrect. This season, they lead the nation in plays over 20 yards. Even though they rarely throw the ball, it can be a very quick strike attack. Our overall defensive improvement should keep some of these big plays down and allow us to be more effective overall, and I'm sure Grantham and Co. realize many of the points I listed above (and undoubtedly many more). 

Now...let's just hope Richt and Bobo do their research.


  1. I think #7 on the list is the most important. If you can take them out of what they want to do by scoring touchdowns almost every time you get the football, the Johnson will get impatient. I still say if Stafford doesn't throw the pick 6 three years ago to change momentum, the Head Nerd would be winless against us and the natives on North Avenue would be restless.

  2. Easiest offense to stop if you approach it right.
    1- tackle fullback up middle
    2- tackle QB
    3- TACKLE RUNNING BACK on pitch

    If this fails, force fumbles because they fumble a lot, due to lots of runs.

  3. Tech has fumbled 26 times. Key is to jump on those fumbles, bcause it's going to happen.

    Tech ranks #115 in fumbles, only 5 teams fumble more than Tech.

  4. Watch cut blocks, got to push down with hands then slide wide "down and slide".

  5. Gotta take away the dive.
    We didn't last year against them.

    Gonna look a lot better than last year without an underweight Tyson at nose.

    Stuff the B-back between the tackles without safety help, TrpOp stalls out... quickly.