Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker was asked a pretty run-of-the-mill question in the program's weekly press conference, but his response was something that will perk up the ears of coaches looking at approaching mistakes in key situations in a way they're probably not considering.
Asked about mental errors on defense, and the reporter alludes to one key third-down situation in last weekend's game, Thacker refused to throw any of his players under the bus and instead offered a breakdown of the play in question.
Against Boston College last weekend, on a key third down, the Eagles offense motioned forcing the GT defense to talk and communicate. Its something that they had prepared for and had a plan for during the week, and had executed during the week. But, for whatever reason, as they found themselves in the same situation on game day, they dialed up a blitz that got a guy unblocked, but the quarterback side stepped him and delivered a strike downfield for a first down.
As coaches, it's frustrating to practice the exact situation, see it unfold in a game knowing that you prepared for it, but at the end of the day, it wasn't executed.
"So what do we do as coaches? We have to go back and communicate what the error was, we have to be honest with them and we have to practice the exact same scenario. That same exact play - I know the one that you're talking about. We went out and practiced that exact play."
How many teams are finding mistakes in key moments and going out there and practicing that same scenario to get the details right? I know most of us as coaches are reviewing the situation on film, but Georgia Tech's defensive staff is taking things a step further.
Part of that is because of the offensive philosophy of their next opponent, Notre Dame and how they hone in on defensive mistakes in their game plan.
"It's not something that Notre Dame is actually running, but it is something, that if they see a flaw on film, then we need to fix that," Thacker added. "They have a type of offense that will look to see where we have had weaknesses in the past and repeat those or copy those things. They don't carry the same plays every single week. They look to find flaws. So we have to go back and prepare for that."
"How do we coach better? How do we teach better? It's not how do we blame a player for not making a play in that moment. How do we coach that player better?"
See Thacker's comments in the video.