Are your guys ready for the option?
Well, you'll find out Saturday.
I think they've worked hard at it, they really put time in it to learn the assignments and the details of what they have to do. Then translating that on to the field against somebody who is going to run it at mach speed... that's where you get worried... the first quarter with the transition from the scout team speed to the real speed of it. You know, the cut blocks and all of the things like that.
It is one of those games where as the game goes, you get better and better at playing it. You've got to survive early in the game, and have some good things happen and make some plays.
It's a very, very physical game. I really like the scheme that we've prepared to play for it. Now, we just have to go execute it.
Can you talk about their passing game?
Yeah, most triple-option teams have play-action game, but they usually aren't as successful as Georgia Tech. They've got two really good receivers that are big, and their quarterback is really throwing the ball where they can catch it... back-shoulder catches, throwing it up high where they can jump up and get it.
He's got some weapons. The quarterback leads them in rushing, and they're averaging 20 yards per completion in the throwing game.
There's a reason they're the No. 1 offense, total offense and scoring offense... it's not just because he runs a tough scheme. He has good players in the scheme, too.
How do you prepare for that? Do you put someone else at quarterback on the scout team?
We did. We have a scout team quarterback, Evan Brabrand, that's a very good athlete. He's a 4.6 40 guy. We have a guy... he's given us a great look. That's one thing I can say, we're ready for that part of it.
It's just the full-speed blocking schemes that you're going to get. There's no way your scout team o-line is going to do it as good as [their linemen]. So those guys in the trenches have that coming at them... the crack blocks, the outside-end cut blocks that they use... all of those things you've got to adjust to them and be ready for them.
Coach Johnson mentioned he was impressed with your defensive tackles... talk about the play you've been getting from those guys?
You bet. Thomas Teal is playing as good as any d-tackle in our conference right now. He's very productive, he's disruptive, he's consistent.
B.J. Hill has gotten better four weeks in a row, and he's making a lot of tackles.
We get T.Y. McGill back, and he's fresh so that's exciting because he was playing well before he got pulled off the field for two weeks.
From the rotation standpoint, Monty [Nelson] will not be available this week, so it will probably be those three guys rolling through there quite a bit.
Then you get Kenton Gibbs in there a little bit... I feel good about what we have with those four.
How important are they in taking away the dive game?
They're very important.
Your inside players have to stay alive on scramble blocks and the backside cutoff blocks that they use. When they do read them, they have to close and play the dive, if that's their responsibility.
If a linebacker is the dive player, they've got to be detailed and fit... and you have to tackle. Their fullbacks are physical guys that run the ball well, so it's not just having a guy there, it's tackling the guy too.
You've had a lot of young guys in the lineup all year, how important have they been to getting you to where you are now?
As a football team, we've gotten better, and I think that's all you can ask when you're playing with a ton of freshmen and sophomores... you see a team team improving as the course of the season goes. I feel like we've done that.
We had a dip at the Clemson game, and since then, particularly on defense, they've improved. Our offense has done a tremendous job of taking care of the football since that game.
We just have to continue to find ways to make plays because we're going to be in four-quarter games right now, that's kind of the team that we are.
We've got to find ways to make plays at the end to win them.
The middle stretch was tough, but how much concern did you have?
I was very concerned, and I talked a lot about it.
Nobody likes losing and losing four in a row, but at the same time, I'm not going to sit there and say, 'hey, we just played four good teams so it's OK that we lost.'
We need to learn and find the small victories within those games, find the improving things that are happening, and the things we'r not doing well.
I talked about it during the bye week. We really talked a lot about those things with our players, and talked a lot about it the coaches... the schemes that we need to use to help our players be more successful.
Germaine Pratt's role has expanded... how has he improved this year?
Just his knowledge and probably confidence of playing.
That's a lot to ask a guy, to be out there in the secondary as a true freshman with the skilled athletes you're going to see against Louisville and Clemson. But we just feel like unless you have a guy that's playing way better than the other guys, the rotation helps them stay fresh and play faster. Him and Hakim [Jones] have been able to do that.
Can you talk about Jaylen Samuels' ability to break tackles?
He's a very productive player with the ball in his arm.
He's hard-to-tackle, good vision... strong stiff-arm guy. He finishes runs the way you want them finished.
Now he just needs to learn how to be a better player without the ball. I think that's the next step for him.