The Turning Point – Georgia Tech

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With Virginia’s offense struggling this season, the defense has a preciously thin margin of error. Against Georgia Tech, life on the edge cost the Cavaliers as two defensive mistakes led to 14 points thanks to Calvin Johnson touchdowns. The first of the two errors proved to be “The Turning Point” as a manageable 10-0 score became a halftime blowout in the matter of seconds.

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So what happened? As JHoo and Greg Waters discussed in earlier EDGE articles, the defense got caught with the wrong play call in the wrong situation. To make it worse, the Cavaliers didn’t check out of the defensive set when a mismatch was almost certain in the secondary. Let’s delve a little deeper.

Starting with GT’s offensive formation, there were three receivers and two backs. Quarterback Reggie Ball stood in shotgun with one back immediately to his left – the other back was offset in an H-Back position to his right. Two WRs split to the left of the formation with Johnson lined up as the slot man.

For Virginia, the defense was a nickel set with three down linemen and four linebackers, two of which were safeties Tony Franklin and Nate Lyles that lined up in the outside LB slots. That leaves four defensive backs (two corners, two safeties) as the secondary.

UVa set up with press coverage from its corners on the two outside receivers and intermediate zone coverage from the middle linebackers. The two safeties had deep pattern and help responsibilities. Up front, the three linemen rushed the two ends while nose tackle Nate Collins showed rush before dropping into a short middle zone. The play called for the two outside linebackers – Franklin and Lyles – to blitz.

Immediately, the alarm should have sounded for the defense. An audible or a timeout should have been called instantly. Why? The mismatch was already set up before the snap ever happened. Georgia Tech was aligned