November 22, 2005

Tenuta turns up pressure, sparks giant upset

Georgia Tech has developed a reputation for embarrassing offensive lines and beating up quarterbacks over the last four years. It all started when Chan Gailey took over the program in 2002 and hired Jon Tenuta as his defensive coordinator. Tenuta arrived with a firm intention of creating constant pressure.

"In our base defense our main objective is to screw up the opponent's front five," Tenuta told Rivals.com. "We want to make it extremely tough for O-lines to pick up on our schemes and in passing situations we absolutely have to screw up their protection schemes. We can never let them get comfortable."

Tenuta's defense perfected that art in the Orange Bowl Saturday night. The No. 20 Jackets blitzed on nearly every passing play. Outside and inside linebackers took their turns. So did the safeties. They came from all angles and from all areas of the field.

The result was a confused and inaccurate Kyle Wright and a nonexistent Hurricanes running game, which led to the Jackets' improbable 14-10 win over then-No. 3 Miami - one of the biggest upsets of the season.

The performance earned Tenuta Rivals.com's Coordinator of the Week.

The 'Canes were held to a season-low 30 rushing yards and averaged just 1-yard per carry. It was the 24th time in 47 games under Tenuta that the Jackets have held an opponent to under 100 rushing yards.

Charlie Jones did pick up 50 yards on 18 carries, but much of that modest production was negated by the Jackets' seven sacks. Wright was also hit numerous other times and consequently struggled to find a rhythm, going 14-of-31 (45 percent) for 207 yards with a costly interception. After directing a 60-yard drive in the final minutes, Wright tried to lob a pass to tight end Greg Olsen. But, Olsen was doubleteamed and the ball was underthrown. Dennis Davis picked it off and the Jackets offense ran out the clock.

"With any quarterback, if we keep pressuring him, he's eventually going to fold," said senior defensive end Eric Henderson, one of the many Jackets who bought into Tenuta's relentless style long ago. "He can't keep getting hit like that all night. No quarterback can."

Henderson and his defensive teammates were nearly perfect on the game's biggest plays. The 'Canes converted just 1 of 14 third downs and failed to convert a pair of fourth-down attempts.

"It's obviously one of our better performances. It definitely ranks up there," Tenuta told Rivals.com. "We knew we had to stop the run first and foremost, and we had to get pressure on Wright. We came in with our best fire zone packages and formations and the players did a great job knowing how to attack their offense.

"We don't play zero coverage," Tenuta said. "We put a lot of zones behind our blitzes and have run pressure packages. The key is getting that seventh or eighth guy in the box to be aggressive."

Other coordinators who were considered for the award include:

• USC has developed a new level of appreciation for Fresno State's offense. And so did any of the East Coast fans who stayed up to watch the Trojans' 50-42 win over the visiting Bulldogs Saturday night. Bulldogs offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti put together a game plan that produced 427 yards and six touchdowns despite five turnovers.

• No offense was more productive this past week than Iowa's. Nearly every play offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe worked and most produced big chunks of positive yardage. The Hawkeyes racked up 613 yards and averaged 8.3 yards a play in their 52-28 rout of Minnesota.

• All those concerns about Virginia Tech's offense have vanished again. With an extra week to prepare, Hokies offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring looked like a genius as the defending ACC champs racked up 333 rushing yards in a 52-14 thrashing at rival Virginia. The Hokies piled up that number without their leading rusher (Mike Imoh).

• Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges continues to impress. The Tigers didn't rack up big stats like the week before, but they did score three touchdowns in the first quarter on the nation's No. 2 defense to spark a convincing 28-18 win over arch rival Alabama. The Tide had allowed a nation-low 10 touchdowns heading into the game. Auburn defensive coordinator David Gibbs also deserves plenty of praise. Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle was sacked a school-record 11 times.




 

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