Coach V’s Grades: UT-Tech

Sam  (Will Gallagher/IT)
Sam (Will Gallagher/IT)

It’s the time of year that bumps and bruises turn into a gut check strung together with duct tape and bailing wire. It’s the same old story—the mind’s willing but the body says “not so fast” too often. We kept putting willing teammates out there and we get their best shot regardless of age or experience. It’s a fun offense to watch. They deserve credit for their combined efforts. Hats off to the good guys—they are keeping us in the title chase.

Here are the grades (OFFENSE):















Epps (85) had a big catch to keep a drive alive.

Sam (11) ran himself into two sacks. Letter perfect on most every other play.

Watson (5) continues to get the little things done but had problems with pass blocking this week.

Ingram (26) is not the average frosh—he’s a big time winner despite not having breakaway speed.

Duvernay (6) is the most unsung offensive player. He’s quietly put together a huge season for being the third receiving option (at best) on this team.

Heard (13) brought his best effort to the game. He definitely answered the bell when we called his number.

Humphrey (84) dropped a gimme before half. He might have done a few positives before and after. If LJH stays we gain a first round draft choice—similar to Ricky staying for Mack back in the day.

Beck (47) had two uncharacteristic drops but did catch a crucial 4th down pass. Blocking remains top notch.

Cosmi (52) is some kind of athletic OL that always seems to the right thing at the right time. If you catch the end of most plays you will find Sam sprinting to ball. The best part of watching Sam is the smoothness with which he has dominated his assignment and the fun he exhibits along the way.

Shack (56) had a really nice game with run blocking—two pass breakdowns kept this from being a big time game for Shack. Snaps once again strong—calls were right on the money.

Vahe (77) had another above average effort—he sometimes struggles in space (pulls, pass pro) but he wins many more battles than he loses.

Anderson (66) had his worst game this year (by far). I have to believe he has physical problems but tried to play thru them. Two sacks allowed, one holding call, several pressures, and some run beats made up an unusual effort this week.

Rodriguez (72) whiffed one pass pro and combined with Shack to bust a NT assignment (both thought the other had primary on the NT) but overall played solid.

I appreciate Danny Young. Third string RB but always gives quality effort. The old adage “he stays ready to keep from getting ready” certainly applies to Mr. Young.

Iowa State is a well coached bunch on defense. Tough bunch. Heal up and get ready for a 60-minute battle.

Tom Herman (Will Gallagher/IT)
Tom Herman (Will Gallagher/IT)

One of life’s mysteries is how do you make a cheerful read when the hand you are dealt is a straight running fold at best? We don’t make excuses in this program so injuries matter not. It’s next man up in this program. They are all coached the same. I see many similarities. What I don’t see is player competition for tackles. I don’t see players running thru blocks with nasty on their minds. I don’t see ball skills or the urge to fight for the ball often enough. I see too many guys pull up without letting it all hang out. This defense is not fun to watch.

Turnovers won this game and our offense won this game. We tried to give it away. One interception and two QB strips made the trip worthwhile. Watching Charles Omeninhu (90) play the game is fun. He basically was our rush. Caden Sterns (7) was enjoyable until he found the twilight zone. Chris Nelson (97) destroyed Tech’s backup center but was limited in pursuit. DaVante Davis (18) had several huge plays including the GL tackle before his oskie (pick). Malcolm Roach (32) gave us quality downs mixed with not so much’s. Running out of solids real quick here.

Here are the grades (DEFENSE):


















Omenihu (90) is our best defensive player. His stop on the 4th down sneak was athletic as hell. Baller.

Hager (44) made two plays but was obviously hurting.

Graham (49) was disappointing in pass rush finishing. He’s not letting it all hang out.

Nelson (97) was terrific in stacking furniture on the 4th down sneak. Tech is hurting for a second center.

McCulloch (23) played poorly. Lost contain, poor angles, and missed assignments. Sad.

Johnson (33) has too many responsibilities and assignments. He acts confused until he finds the ball. Then he’s back to being Gary.

Wheeler (45) made several tackles at the third/fourth level. He got blocked back to the third level too often. Tech’s first two offensive plays pretty much describe Wheeler’s entire game. Unbelievable how he keeps his job.

Boyd (2) was aces and spaces but mostly spaces. His best play (QB strip) was accented with a selfish unsportsman’s like penalty at the end. He made several big hit tackles but just as many not our standards also.

Cook (4) was solid in coverage and tackling.

Sterns (7) had his best game going (of the last five) until he rang his bell on the sideline. We missed him in our next man up program.

Locke (11) played his best game in forever. He still had a couple of diving “fly by’s” but until he hurt his toe was pretty solid in coverage and tackling.

Brown (15) is still a big hitter but it’s the part of getting to the tackle that confuses him.

Davis (18) had a game worth remembering with an interception, a strip fumble recovery, a GL open field tackle, and saved the best for last—a tone setting big hit message right in front of our bench. DD lit up a WR in the flat with a Westbrook like running start. Yes sir.

Foster (25) had a few good tackles but coverages and angles still have his number. The closer Foster is to the LOS the better I like him.

Thompson (29) had too many bad plays. He has a long way to go—athletic yes, football player, not yet.

You may disagree big time on the following but I have some strong opinions that I choose to mention at the end of this whatever.

We need a LB coach that can improve the player from where he starts out until success has merit with his play on the field. The one we have has failed big time in his position coaching. Improvement hasn’t been noted on the field—if anything the entire group is trending backwards.

We need to reevaluate our coverage skills. We are not breaking on enough balls. We don’t exhibit common sense alignments with respect to down and distance in reference with the play-call. Full out blitzes just don’t gee-haw with backed off alignments in the secondary.

We have done an injustice to teaching contain, force, and turning the ball back into the pursuit program wide on defense. Our kids are not playing smart sound football and the people making decisions have not encouraged them well enough to affect change.

We may not have good enough players to be an elite defense. That’s fair. It’s also fair to say we have not made many position players show improvement over a nine game span.

I’m done.

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.