Coach V’s Grades – Sugar Bowl

Joseph Ossai (Will Gallagher/IT)
Joseph Ossai (Will Gallagher/IT)

My grading system is based on total points earned against number of plays played. The points are awarded individually on each and every separate play. There are five different possible grades for each play. Players may earn a plus three (3) for a five star type play—-plus two (2) for above average execution—-plus one (1) for doing their job successfully—-zero (0) for getting beat but knowing and attempting their assignment—-and minus 3 (-3) for a missed assignment.

Each player has a total number of points and a total number of his own individual plays. You divide the total number of plays into the total number of points which gives you scale. The grading scale is as follows:

Any player averaging one point per play (1.0) grades out a B which is winning football. If a player plays 60 plays with 60 total points he would earn a passing grade—each point he goes over the total number of plays raises his grade accordingly. The system is built around rewarding any player that doesn’t beat himself or his team with mental mistakes.

The system also punishes any player that knows what to do but loses too many individual battles. If a player plays 60 plays but loses 10 of those with zero special plays (60 plays—50 points) he falls below the 1.0 needed for a passing grade of B.

I use the plus/minus (A-, B+, etc,) when the numbers indicate a partial add or subtract from the grade. This system was used by my first coaching staff and I kinda carried it with me for thirty years—it’s not perfect but it gives the position coach a measuring stick for his individual players.

The only way to earn the highest grade of A is to play a perfect game. I’ve had exactly zero up to right now so great games still can be better so A- is a very popular second best. This system and my grades will always be subjective filled with agree and disagree opinions. It’s entirely fair for disagreement (without it we might not have horse races) but it’s important to remember that each play only counts once instead of allowing a big mistake to have major influence on an individual’s final grade.

Fun game to watch. We made too many mistakes and missed too many tackles but we stuck a bunch of busy into their operation. We turned several “big play” potentials into minimal gains with tremendous hustle—because we all wanted to. That was a very talented offense last night—those two guys ran hard.

I strongly believe that multiple saved our bacon last night. Our four man line definitely made a difference—every time we bounced into our 3-2 those bulldogs gashed us pretty hard. Omenihu and Ossai as DE’s ruined their attack. Wilbon made a strong impersonation of our belly rubbing Nelson with TQG and Coburn adding plays.

Gary Johnson and Tony Wheeler plugged with more authority than normal—they both made stout plays along the way. Ossai led us in tackles. McCulloch added selected pressure. Orlando came up with a few thousand blitzes that we managed to avoid confusion among the troops.

Brandon Jones had another good game. Boyd and Davis were consistently good. Locke had his best game—good for the senior. BJ Foster can play this game. Here are the grades:


















Thoughts are easy to spit out but sometimes harder to defend. Taking that chance here:

90—Omenihu—remember when Charles was a DE? Well, we got another part-time look last night and I could not keep from smiling. He’s our best defender and consistently plays like it. I love watching him play the game.

44—Hager should not ever align as a 4i again and that’s a good thing. I never doubted his determination to play hard for the horns—we got good mileage out of him. It was never hard to find him on video—made grading easier.

49—Graham probably should have played more snaps this year. I think nicks and close games robbed TQ of splitting time as the third 4i. Must be a leader on next year’s defense.

94—Wilbon made a statement case for being the leader in the clubhouse last night. He didn’t play like a part-timer against a very good OLine. He stood up to the challenge. I doubt we would have held Georgia to their lowest output this year if we couldn’t run our 4 man DL—Wilbon played a large part.

97—Nelson was the rock on this defense. He played like a captain that led by example as well as vocal. Glad he didn’t transfer out as was often discussed—leader.

23—McCulloch has potential to become a strong player but so far hasn’t always played up to that potential. His play often reflects aces and spaces. He will make a five star play only to disappear for stretches after making a play. He may not find starter snaps at any position next year—he needs attitude change.

33—Johnson saved our defense many times after his transfer. Worked extremely well with Jefferson where speed hurt the blocking scheme. Spent too many plays taking on immediate blockers which limited his range/effectiveness. He’s the perfect 4-3 WLB where DL’s can reduce down to free him up from defeating blockers.

45—Wheeler looked better “mugging” last night than he does reading/reacting off the LOS. He’s always found a way to make a big play or two each week and those help win the games. He just never adapted to plays developing in front of him.

46—Ossai showed he belongs the last two games. He needs strength and technique work but he’s going to be a good one. He makes plays. He’s a smart player. He did get drilled a couple of times last night but after a standing eight he made the tackle.

2—Boyd has unlimited skill set along with some wtf daydreaming. He makes you stand and cheer. He makes you laugh. He makes you cry. He makes you scream cuss words. And all that in just one series of downs.

4—Cook will be a more attentive Boyd without the reps/experience at this level. He should be better fundamentally than 2 but he doesn’t have the athletic ability of 2—yet.

7—Sterns was all world until the wrecks started adding up and he found out he was still a teenager. He has a tremendous future ahead of him. He will direct the back end in time.

11—Locke went out with a bang. Great interception for a guy that carried coverage difficulties for most of two seasons. Always a big hitter that lit up his share on the edge, he also had his share of whiffs going for the slobber-knocker.

18—Davis was a consistent plus as a corner. He made plays. He made big hit tackles. You can win many games with a Davis as your second corner.

19—Jones has a decision to make but if he’s honest with himself he will dedicate this offseason to Yancy and further develop next fall as a senior college player.

25—Foster is my favorite frosh. He will sacrifice his body for cause. I really don’t know where BJ fits best but I do know he’s one of our best 11 period. He honors the game of football with his play.

29—Thompson has terrific talent that does everything but make plays. He hasn’t shown that he will attack contact nor has he made a play on a thrown ball. He gets into position to make the play and then making that play eludes him.

Spring training should be fun.

Lil'Jordan Humphrey (Will Gallagher/IT)
Lil’Jordan Humphrey (Will Gallagher/IT)

We made fewer mistakes and what few we made were not the drive killing big boys we normally make in close tight games. Good football teams stay focused and proud to execute down after down. We were a good football team last night.

We avoided costly turnovers—one fumble we recovered and an interception canceled on replay. We limited our penalties to a couple of false starts, gave up two sacks (one coverage—one stunt), and two small drops in what might have been our best offensive game, considering the defense we faced.

Sam (11) just keeps making plays regardless of the situation. Our OLine does a fantastic job of working together. The RB’s hit the creases with attitude and caught the swings very well. The WR’s had a couple get stripped but overall made the plays they had a chance to convert. Team effort all the way.

Here are the grades:
















Scattered notes that border on opinions and duh’s:

(84) LJH is the best YAC WR I’ve seen at UT along with being a clutch receiver. He may not improve his draft status by staying but he will improve his abilities with another off season and senior season. Zero doubt about that.

(9) Johnson might be the best jump baller I’ve seen at UT. We need to use this weapon more often—he turns low percentage throws into high percentage completions on jump ball fades.

(6) Duvernay has quietly made himself an all around talent. Not many have this kind of playmaker at the third split-out.

(47) Beck went from a fringe finesse HB to a contact play maker after sitting out last year. Huge strides for this captain—he walked the walk.

(11) Sam plays the game the right way. He not only reduced the freshman mistakes from last year but also gave us a wise beyond his years playing coach on the field. Setting protections and changing LOS plays with uncanny accuracy kept our offense on the field and in the game. Captain without the title or letter.

(5) Tre saved the day as a do-it-all threat at RB. Great transfer.

(66) Anderson was an equally talented transfer that filled the blindside tackle position extremely well.

Sometimes chickens—sometimes feathers with transfers. We hit jackpots with our two guys—hope we continue the trend every year. Experienced transfers help younger guys more than they get credit for.

(52) Sam had a terrific year and was our best OL as a freshman. Gaining strength while keeping his quickness and agility will benefit Sam as he leads our OL next fall.

(56) Shack stayed basically healthy and it showed in his performance. We don’t appreciate him enough.

(77) Vahe plays winning football 80% of his snaps. Stunts and pass protection have consistently been his biggest problem areas. Four year starter that answered the bell every week and gave solid play every time. You win with the Patrick Vahe’s of the world—every team needs foundation guys that show up ready to get the job done.

(72) Rodriguez is the most flexible guy on our line. You need a guy that you can plug in at a troubled position. We got a ton of mileage out of ER at RG this year—center and LT the years before. Versatile OL are hard to find—we struck gold with Rod.

(68) Kerstetter got a few plays as the inside guard on our unbalanced. I see strong improvement that should translate into strong competition for a starting job this spring. I think strength is his biggest disadvantage right now—Yancy should shore that up this offseason.

(26) Ingram never fully recovered from his mid season assortment of bumps and bruises. Freshmen take longer to bounce back from hitting the wall—off-season should make next year a huge jump in production for the flash from East Texas.

(13) Lastly, I take my hat off to Jerrod Heard for his unselfish career here at UT. From award winning QB to freshman standout he made the jump to WR while continuing to understudy at QB. He sacrificed his reps at WR to be sound insurance at QB (where we woefully underrecruited) during his career. Not everybody would make that team first decision in a world where transfers happen at the drop of a hat. Thank You Mr. Heard.

Fun year following this team—great win in the Sugar.