Tag:Josh Nesbitt
Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:22 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 24)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. After stealing headlines in Week 3, the ACC (and future ACC) struggled in Week 4. A week ago, I was writing praises for commissioner John Swofford for taking action to ensure the ACC had a place in the uncertain future landscape of college football. The ACC was gathering praise for their off-field transactions and on-field victories over Auburn and Ohio State. In a fashion typical of this fluid college football world we live in - things have changed in seven days. Florida State was so beaten emotionally and banged up physically after their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma they could not play to their potential against Clemson in Death Valley. Maryland got embarrassed 38-7 by Temple at home, Virginia lost to Southern Miss at home, and Miami followed their defeat of the Buckeyes with a home loss to Kansas State.

Making the perception even worse, incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse both embarrassed the conference on Saturday. The Panthers could not muster a single fourth quarter score in their 15-12 loss to Notre Dame at home while Syracuse beat Toledo in an overtime that should have never happened. The week wasn't all bad - the games certainly revealed new legitimate conference contenders in Atlanta and Death Valley - but in comparison to the praises showered on the conference a week ago this was a pretty weak encore.

2. Georgia Tech ready to challenge Virginia Tech for Coastal Division. After gaudy victories against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee, we were intrigued by Georgia Tech. After decisive victories against Kansas and a talented North Carolina team, we know Paul Johnson's team is back and ready to compete for an ACC title. When Josh Nesbitt broke his arm last season, Tevin Washington took over and the offense struggled to maintain the level of production due to a rough adjustment period and an unhealthy habit of turning the ball over. The changes in the offense which the coaching staff has discussed all offseason have been clearly visible in the Yellow Jackets' 4-0 start. Not only is the triple option sharper with less turnovers, but Tevin Washington has gotten comfortable throwing the ball as well. With the physical Stephen Hill as his favorite target, Washington actually leads the nation in passing plays of more than 50 yards.

The Yellow Jackets dominated the Tar Heels on Saturday, much more than the 35-28 victory would suggest. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has not faced any opponents of note for comparison and has not looked particularly impressive offensively. While the Hokies defense seems to have found their grit back, holding teams basically no yards on the ground, Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson are still getting used to their new full-time starting positions. Virginia Tech is still the favorite to win the division thanks to a favorable draw, but the Yellow Jackets are right up there with a more convincing resume at this point for the strongest team in the Coastal Division.

3. Clemson's win does not put them in the driver's seat yet. Clemson's victory over Florida State in Death Valley was reaffirming. It was reaffirming to Dabo Swinney that his efforts to recruit players like sophomore Tajh Boyd and freshman Sammy Watkins would pay off for the program. It was reaffirming to offensive coordinator Chad Morris that his newly installed system could roll against the best defensive units in the nation when executed properly. It was reaffirming to a fan base who doubted their team's ability to beat two ranked opponents in a row, that the 2011 Tigers could compete for an ACC title.

But this "driver's seat" talk that is being tossed around? That's a little much.

Two wins over ranked opponents do not automatically erase several seasons of inconsistency within Clemson football in recent history. A 1-0 conference record with a win over Atlantic Division favorite Florida State does not pencil you in to the ACC Championship Game, but it does eliminate one of the most difficult obstacles on the schedule.

The Tigers faced Florida State at THE most opportune time. EJ Manuel out with a shoulder strain. Greg Reid and Bert Reed both out with injuries. The entire team coming down after losing the biggest game of the regular season 23-13 on the biggest stage. But those intangibles are not the sole reason the Tigers put up 455 yards of total offense on Florida State, in fact they are likely a small fraction. The Clemson defense, which has received very little attention so far this season, dropped back against a suddenly one-dimensional Florida State offense while the front four applied pressure to redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett. They were able to come up with just enough stops to secure the 35-30 win and set up the Tigers with an incredible opportunity to jump ahead in the ACC Atlantic Division race.

Are the Tigers in the "driver's seat?" No. But if they can do it again at Virginia Tech, we might have a different conversation on our hands.

4. Jury is still out on Miami and Maryland. Maybe it is because they played a memorable season opener against each other on Labor Day, but Miami and Maryland both have started the season in different yet equally confusing fashions. Miami bounced back from the loss to the Terps with a defensive showcase against Ohio State with four of their suspended players back in the lineup. Maryland has come back from making headlines with the Miami win and shockingly memorable jerseys with two straight losses to West Virginia and Temple. As we saw on Saturday night, West Virginia is a formidable opponent and far from an embarrassing loss. Temple, on the other hand, should be a cause for concern for Terps' fans.

Additionally, Miami's win over Ohio State was supposed to be a signature win for Al Golden and this new attitude in the Miami football program. But the defense that looked so sharp against Ohio State gave up 265 rushing yards to the Wildcats, and forced the Hurricanes offense to scramble just to get back in the game. On paper both of these teams should be among the best in the conference. But their performances have been inconsistent and difficult to interpret, making it tough for any fan to judge exactly how good these teams could be come November.

5. Gio Bernard is ready to be the feature back in Chapel Hill. Entering the season, it was expected that redshirt senior Ryan Houston would be the starting running back. A big bruiser with an ability to withstand the first and second hit, Houston was going to be featured with sophomore Giovani Bernard as the change-of-pace back. It only took two games before interim coach Everett Withers started splitting the workload more evenly, and when the Tar Heels faced Georgia Tech in their first road test of the season it was Bernard who was the featured running back in the offense.

The 5-foot-10 shifty back from Florida answered the call with an impressive performance that basically kept the Tar Heels competitive for our quarters against the high powered Georgia Tech offense. Bernard rushed 17 times for a career high 155 yard and two touchdowns. He was also a threat in the screen game, with 5 receptions for 47 yards. As sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has become more conservative against tougher defenses, Bernard's role has increased. If he can replicate Saturday's performance on a weekly basis, it would make life much easier for the first-year starter under center.

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Posted on: December 27, 2010 8:46 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Independence Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Air Force out-optioned Georgia Tech just enough to win the game 14-7.

Air Force


Offense: Looking at the final score, you can see that offense was at a premium in this game.  Also, while Air Force won the game, the Falcons actually didn't play strong enough to even reflect the 14 points they did get.  All you need to know is that Air Force's option attack was so successful against Georgia Tech on Monday that the Falcons threw the ball 23 times.  During the regular season they averaged 12 passes a game.  Even crazier, Air Force was more successful throwing the ball than running it, as Tim Jefferson led a nice drive out of the shotgun before halftime to get a field goal.  As for Air Force's lone touchdown, it came following a muffed punt by Georgia Tech set the Falcons up inside the 15-yard line.  In fact, punter Keil Bartholomew was Air Force's offensive MVP, as two of his punts were muffed by Tech and resulted in about 90 yards of field position and eight points.  Grade: D

Defense: While they only gave up 7 points, the Falcons defense wasn't amazing on Monday night.  They did allow Georgia Tech to rush for 320 yards, and gave up nearly 5 yards a carry.  They also allowed Tech to convert 8 of 18 third downs, and 2 of 3 fourth downs.  The key for Air Force was that they forced a few key turnovers.  On the opening drive of the second half, Tech put together an 18-play, 77 yard drive that took over eight and a half minutes off the clock.  That's when GT's Tevin Washington was stripped inside the Air Force 5-yard line and the Falcons recovered.  The second big turnover came at the end of the fourth quarter when Jon Davis intercepted a Washington pass in the final seconds to seal the victory.  Grade: B-

Coaching: At the end of the day, you can't be too critical of a coaching staff when the team gets a win, but there were a few things I felt Troy Calhoun and the Falcons could have done.  Particularly after seeing the success that the offense had out of the shotgun at the end of the first half.  The Falcons couldn't get much going on the ground all day, so I would have liked to have seen Air Force shake things up a bit on offense.  Of course, following the script did get a win.  Grade: B

Georgia Tech


Offense: Coming into the game I had doubts about Tevin Washington and how well he could lead Georgia Tech in this game in lieu of the injured Josh Nesbitt.  Well, Washington didn't play poorly at all.  Yes, there were those two back-breaking turnovers that can't be forgiven, but he also had 131 yards rushing.  Anthony Allen finished with 91 yards, and Tech ran the ball well on the day.  The problem was that yards don't count for points, and the Jackets just couldn't punch it into the end zone when it mattered.  Grade: C+

Defense: I had a lot of crow to eat when it came to Georgia Tech in this game.  Much like Washington, I had low expectations for Georgia Tech's defense in this game as well.  Seems I forgot one important thing: when you spend all season practicing against an option offense, you tend to get pretty good at stopping an option offense.  Anytime you can hold Air Force under 200 yards on the ground and force them to air it out more than they want to, you've done your job, and Tech did just that.  It's not their fault they were let down by special teams and turnovers on offense.  I'd give them an even better grade than this had they been able to force some turnovers.  Grade: A-

Coaching: I can't fault Paul Johnson or anyone on his coaching staff for this game.  They had a plan, stuck to it, and the plan worked.  They were without their starting quarterback and were in the game with a chance to win through the closing seconds.  The coaches can't be held accountable for backup punt returners and a backup quarterback turning the ball over.  Grade: A

Final Grade


I was looking forward to this game for weeks because I'm a big fan of the triple option offense, and we don't get many chances to see two teams running it face off.  The problem is that option offenses generally struggle in bowl games, and it turns out that when they go against each other, it tends to make things worse.  Seriously, the most enjoyable part of this game was that the Air Force's falcon mascot literally flew away before the game and the academy needed to form a search party to find him in downtown Shreveport.  They did find him in the fourth quarter.  They would not confirm that he was found at a casino playing blackjack.  Still, the game was close throughout, and the bird did provide entertainment, so that bumps the grade up a notch. Grade: C+
Posted on: December 17, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 12:53 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Independence Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Why You Should Watch: It's pretty simple really.  While man is yet to perfect, or even invent time travel, the Independence Bowl will provide you a glimpse of what football in the past looked like.  The thing that intrigues me the most about this game is that both teams run the triple option offense.  Generally the only chance college football fans get to see such a matchup is in the Army-Navy game, but this one has better athletes.

Keys to Victory for Air Force: The key for Air Force is pretty simple, actually: do what it does best.  Run the ball, run the ball, and then run the ball some more.  You would think that a Georgia Tech defense that has spent all season practicing against an offense that runs the option would be better against the run, but the truth is that Tech's front seven just isn't very good at stopping the run.

Which the Falcons will have to exploit.  

Quarterback Tim Jefferson is pretty inconsistent throwing the ball, and Georgia Tech's defensive strength is its secondary.  So if Air Force chooses to throw too often in this game, it will be playing its biggest weakness on offense in Tech's greatest strength on defense.  Which doesn't make sense, and will not lead to a victory.

If Asher Clark isn't the player of the game for Air Force, then the Falcons lost.

Keys to Victory for Georgia Tech: The biggest key for Georgia Tech in this game could be the health of quarterback Josh Nesbitt.  Nesbitt suffered a broken forearm on November 4th against Virginia Tech and hasn't played since.  Tevin Washington has been serviceable filling in for Nesbitt since then, but he's not as good when it comes to decisions and timing in the triple option offense.

The good news for Georgia Tech is that Air Force will be a little thin up front on defense in this game as Zach Payne and Bradley Connor will both miss the game thanks to knee injuries.  This means that Georgia Tech will have to try and wear down a defense that has already shown against Navy this season that it can stop an option attack.

The Independence Bowl is like: a time machine.  As I said before, we don't often get the chance to see two option teams face off in college football these days, so we should take advantage when we can.  This may be the only chance you have in your lifetime to actually travel back to a simpler time, and if you miss out you'll regret it.  In fact, your only chance will be that hopefully some day when we have perfected time travel, a friend will go back in time to present day and tell you to watch it.

Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 12:42 pm
 

Expect multiple QBs from Georgia Tech this week

Posted by Chip Patterson

When first-team all-conference quarterback Josh Nesbitt left the Virginia Tech game with a broken arm, head coach Paul Johnson was forced to do something he had not done since he arrived at Georgia Tech: name a different starting quarterback.  Nesbitt saw significant time as a freshman under Chan Gailey, but has been Johnson's starter since he arrived in Atlanta three seasons ago.  Now with the starting job vacant, Johnson has taken the opportunity to entertain competition for the spot.

Tevin Washington did string together one impressive scoring drive late in the first quarter, leading the Yellow Jackets 80 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 21 with 2:34 remaining.  Washington ran for 45 yards in the second half, but at times looked undersized for the Georgia Tech offense.  Johnson has been particularly impressed with the work of backup quarterback David Sims this week in practice.

“David Sims has had a good week; he’s practiced well, too,” Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “We’ll play it by feel. I’ll tell you, he’s played well in practice this week, made a case for himself.”

With Sims increased workload in practice, do not be surprised to see Georgia Tech utilize both quarterbacks against the talented Miami defense.  Standing six feet tall and weighing in at 230 pounds, Sims' physical running style is much more similar to that of Nesbitt.  He lacks the arm of Washington (he did not throw a pass in either of his two appearances thus far in 2010), but will be more useful as a threat on short-yardage situations.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 3:59 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 4:04 pm
 

Virginia Tech loses WR for season after surgery

Posted by Chip Patterson

Georgia Tech wasn't the only team to lose a player for the season in Thursday night's Coastal Division battle in Blacksburg.  Virginia Tech wide receiver/kick returner Dyrell Roberts suffered a bruised thigh on the first kickoff return in the 28-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets.  Roberts returned to the game briefly, but missed most of the second half.  On Friday morning Roberts underwent emergency surgery after developing a compartment syndrome in his left thigh, according to head athletic trainer Mike Goforth.  He is expected to miss the rest of the regular season in recovery, but Goforth did not rule out a return for the Hokies bowl game.

I had to google "compartment syndrome" myself, and it looks incredibly painful.  Roberts' injury is certainly not good news for a Hokies offense that has dealt with health issues all year, but what if he had been healthy and David Wilson had not gotten to return the last Georgia Tech kickoff.  Would Roberts have also run the kick back for the winning touchdown?  Roberts has 21 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns on the season, and is averaging 19.4 yards per return in the kicking game.  Virginia Tech, now 5-0 in the conference, have created a healthy amount of space from the rest of the division and are a few games away from securing their spot in the ACC Championship Game.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 12:01 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 12:05 am
 

Hokies survive GT, Josh Nesbitt out for season

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the return of Ryan Williams to the Virginia Tech backfield, sophomore running back David Wilson knew he would need to make the most of his few opportunities with the ball. Pushed back to third-string again, Wilson made the most of every touch. But no touch was quite as important as the 90-yard kick return for the winning touchdown with 2:23 left in the game. It was the only way to answer the 9 play, 80 yard drive by a crippled Georgia Tech offense.

One particular aspect of the Georgia Tech option-based offense is that it does not rely too heavily on any particular player. Which is why when starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt left the game after injuring his arm attempting to make a tackle, the Yellow Jackets were far from done. Nesbitt has been the center of Paul Johnson's offensive scheme for most of his career, but Thursday night called for backup Tevin Washington to step in for the second half. After he put together that drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 21, all momentum was swinging the way of the Jackets.

But Lane Stadium erupted as Wilson broke free up the left side, accelerating past the Yellow Jackets coverage and right into the end zone. The Hokies were able to secure the 28-21 win and improve to a perfect 5-0 in conference play. But what shook the Coastal Division the most may have been the news on injured quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Nesbitt is out for the season with a broken right forearm. If there is any good news for the Yellow Jackets, Nesbitt believes that he would be able to play in a bowl game. Otherwise, Thursday night was a narrow escape for the Hokies, and a terrible twist in an already disappointing season for the Yellow Jackets.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 12:01 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 12:05 am
 

Hokies survive GT, Josh Nesbitt out for season

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the return of Ryan Williams to the Virginia Tech backfield, sophomore running back David Wilson knew he would need to make the most of his few opportunities with the ball. Pushed back to third-string again, Wilson made the most of every touch. But no touch was quite as important as the 90-yard kick return for the winning touchdown with 2:23 left in the game. It was the only way to answer the 9 play, 80 yard drive by a crippled Georgia Tech offense.

One particular aspect of the Georgia Tech option-based offense is that it does not rely too heavily on any particular player. Which is why when starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt left the game after injuring his arm attempting to make a tackle, the Yellow Jackets were far from done. Nesbitt has been the center of Paul Johnson's offensive scheme for most of his career, but Thursday night called for backup Tevin Washington to step in for the second half. After he put together that drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 21, all momentum was swinging the way of the Jackets.

But Lane Stadium erupted as Wilson broke free up the left side, accelerating past the Yellow Jackets coverage and right into the end zone. The Hokies were able to secure the 28-21 win and improve to a perfect 5-0 in conference play. But what shook the Coastal Division the most may have been the news on injured quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Nesbitt is out for the season with a broken right forearm. If there is any good news for the Yellow Jackets, Nesbitt believes that he would be able to play in a bowl game. Otherwise, Thursday night was a narrow escape for the Hokies, and a terrible twist in an already disappointing season for the Yellow Jackets.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 9:32 pm
 

Nesbitt out, but GT leads Virginia Tech 14-7

Posted by Chip Patterson

This Coastal Division showdown between perennial conference powers has already been as eventful as expected, and we are only done with 30 minutes of play.  Georgia Tech jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to two Josh Nesbitt touchdowns, one for 71 yards.  Georgia Tech's defense and special teams served up their own version of "Beamer Ball," forcing Virginia Tech into two turnovers in the first half.  But Nesbitt's heroics were short lived when he threw an interception in the end zone when Georgia Tech was threatening to claim a 21-7 lead.  Nesbitt got injured trying to make a tackle on the interception return.  He went to the locker room and at halftime was declared out for the game.    
 
 
 
 
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