Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hitting Washington the key

When playing against any option team controlling the quarterback can be the key. For Georgia Tech that is even more true as Tevin Washington is responsible for 34.3% of the total carries Tech, 23.8% of their rushing yards, and 33.3% of their touchdown runs. Even on most plays when he doesn't run the ball he is still involved in the run game as more than just someone handing the ball off, he has the ball in his hands as long as possible before handing it off on a dive or pitching it on the option. Throw in the roughly ten times a game he passes the ball and that adds up to two things. First he is their decision maker on even more plays than a normal quarterback (outside of a very pass heavy attack) and second he is exposed to more hits than most quarterbacks throughout a game.

A big key on defense is to, while not over playing the quarterback and letting the other players make huge plays, make sure you hit Washington on every play. He is built for running this offense so the chances of knocking him out of the game are slim but what you are looking for is more of a cumulative affect. I compare it to a 15 round heavy weight boxing match. Hitting an extremely well conditioned boxer in the ribs early and often is probably not going to knock him down. What it will do is slowly wear his body down to where two things happen. The first thing to go is the mind. decisions that seemed easy early on take a second longer as you hesitate from the mental wear and tear. As that starts to go the second part comes into play and that is the physical. No matter how well conditioned someone is taking body blows time and again start to wear a body down.

If you look at Tech's rushing stats they average 3/4 of a yard more per carry in the first half of games than they do in the second half. I believe a lot of that is the wear and tear that Washington takes. The way Tech runs their offense you are not going to stop them from gaining yards on every play but if you can limit the big plays and make sure someone hits Washington as often as possible it will take its toll on him. If he keeps it, hit him. If he hands it off, hit him. If he pitches it, hit him. The good thing for a defensive player in the option is that since the idea is for the quarterback to make you think he still has the ball you can still hit him even after he hands off/pitches it because that is sort of the point of running the option. It is not a late hit if he is trying to make it look like he still has the ball. They don't make many passes but when they do it is usually going to be against man coverage so it is important to not give him too much time to throw. Forcing him to throw before the receiver has time to run the deep routes that Tech normally uses is big. It is also another chance to hit Washington so long as you make sure not hit him late and draw a flag.  There are other keys to beating Tech but making Washington pay a physical and mental toll for the abuse his body has to take is one of the major ones.

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