Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caldwell, Offensive-Line Specialist, Sounds Like Man with No Answers on O-Line Struggles

Anyone catch Coach Caldwell's press conference on Monday? Jeff Lockridge apparently thought one of the big themes was inability of the wide receivers to get open and make plays. So, anyway, is the subject of his curiously titled article in yesterday's Tennessean.

I heard Caldwell singing a different tune on Monday. He did spread the offensive blame around and talked about the need to do better in man-to-man coverage. But the most striking thing about the press conference to me, particularly since it's been the most striking area of weakness to this point offensively, was CRC's apparent inability to explain why the O-line has been so bad or what can be done to make them perform better. Indulge me with a few quotes.

Regarding offensive line woes:
"We had experienced players making mistakes and that's the frustrating part. We can't do as many plays as we thought we could. We have some things that we thought looked good but maybe it's just too much. . . . There were a lot of people involved. We did not do well there. It hurts me to say it because those are guys that I chose but we have to stand up for the task. Not just them, but everybody."

On giving Larry more time in the pocket:
"[W]e'll maximum protect if we have to and send one receiver out. Whatever we have to do we'll do it to make sure he can. If we can't protect we don't know to be throwing. . . . We have to pick up blitzes. Everyone knew what to do on the chalk board, they can all stand up and tell you what to do. On the board they all know what do to but when the bullets start flying is when we have to stand up and be accounted for."

Is it just me or does it sound as if, two weeks into his first season as a head coach, Robbie Caldwell isn't sure what to do to get his own linemen -- the ones he recruited and has coached at their position -- to shoot straight? I find this highly alarming. "We can't do as many plays as we thought we could" yet the guys all know what to do "on the chalk board"? We had this same kind of talk about the offense last year, but now things are different: the team has had both chalkboard time and game time to adjust to a new offense. I find it hard to buy the implication that the coaches are being too clever by half in their play-calling, because to me the blocking schemes have seemed pretty standard. In any case, isn't this something they worked on all offseason?

I'm fine with holding your cards close, and I don't expect coaches to have perfectly straight answers to every media question about why their players aren't getting it done. But this fumbling, searching response -- after having had a chance to look at the film and see what's happening -- is especially disconcerting when it comes from a guy who's coached the OL position (and, by many reckonings, coached it pretty well) his entire career.


Andrew VU '04 said...

I'd think it would be safe to say in one offseason, I could learn all an offensive lineman needs to know on the chalkboard, master it, I dare say, and yet I could not possibly execute any of that on game day. I'm 170lbs, bench 180lbs, and have no discernable talent for the position.

The answer, as always, lies in recruiting SEC caliber linemen. Without the talent, you can't really do much of anything.

Anonymous said...

We all hoped for the best and prepared for the worst against LSU. They were coming off a less than impressive win against North Carolina that had a lot people talking, especially about Les Miles. The guy had a lot to prove and the win on Saturday didn’t do much in his favor. It was 10 – 3 to start the 4th quarter. Even though we sucked it up on offense, LSU was playing for A LOT more on Saturday night.

A lot will be known about this team when they play Ole Miss on Saturday. If this coaching staff can’t get this team ready against Ole Miss then there are going to be some hot seats at Vandy. CRC did inherit a mess and in what little time he had has done an admirable job. He got Herb Hand (which please God let him be our offensive coordinator in the future and get rid of some the CBJ coat tail riders) and his performance against Northwestern was better than expected. We will know a lot more about him as a coach as Saturday because Ole Miss is a very winnable game.

Anonymous said...

I too was puzzled by some of the answers provided by Coach Caldwell. It seems to me that after the first 2 games, not to mention last season and the entire off-season, that its hard to defend Larry Smith's inability to move the offense. His last opportunity to move the team should be the 1st half of the Ole Miss game this Saturday. After that, another qb should be given an opportunity. After hearing about how well the 3 freshman receivers were doing in summer & fall workouts, its had to believe that we can't get them on the field and get the ball down field. I see the potenial for a balanced attack with Krause , Mathews, and Boyd and a good running game. The offensive coaching staff should be held accountable for thier total lack of production. Its also hard to believe that Mathews does not have a catch yet but is being wasted (redshirt) on special teams; and that Krause is the leading receiver with only 5 catches; and at 6'5" why has Boyd not played yet. These guys were suppose to be part of a really good recruiting class....and they are playing behind last years (2-10) wr's???

Anonymous said...

What Caldwell means when he says that he needs to limit the playbook is the o-line will have to double team more in pass protection and possibly keep in the TE and backs to help protect as well. When you do that, you limit your playbook. Our O-line is young and was obviously outmatched vs LSU. But he can't say that as the coach. He has to show confidence in his guys.

What he has to do in the future is help his lineman more with screens. Make the d-linemen have to make a read before they come screaming up field at the QB. They did not run one single screen vs LSU. Seamus, I pleaded with you to tell the offensive coordinator to run some screens to slow the pass rush. What's the deal? I thought you had some pull!

Seamus O'Toole said...

Yes and YES. I love the screen call and I agree that we were set up perfectly to run them against LSU. It's also a great way to get some confidence going for Larry so he can get out of his own way. I think a lot of that comes down to the old adage that you "take what the defense gives you" and you really have to hope this staff is able to recognize those opportunities. We haven't seen many reasons for optimism about that the past few years, nor did the LSU game inspire much more confidence, but who knows -- maybe the Hand of Herb will show up more in the scheming this week.

Anonymous said...

I agree. They have not shown us that they can adjust to what the defense is doing. Hopefully, Hand can help them adjust better. If not, we definitely need a new offensive staff.