In what has become a thrice-yearly tradition (for football, basketball, and baseball, and it's a shame there's no lacrosse team there), it's just not Georgia Tech week without trading a Q&A with the engineer types at From The Rumble Seat, as ever the finest GT blog around. Here are their answers to the questions I had for them; soon enough you'll be able to read what I gave 'em for answers. Always a good way to find out what the opposition thinks is important about UVA football.
1. Seriously, what's going on? NC State gashed your defense and if Wake Forest wasn't the ACC's second-worst team and using their 4th-string QB, I doubt GT would have pulled that one out either. Is the offense out of sync? Any buyer's remorse with Groh? What's the one biggest problem that needs to get fixed lest GT end up in the Emerald Bowl?
FTRS: Defensively, Al Groh said it best when he said, "There’s no supermarket we can go down to and buy new players. This is our team as constituted." We lost our two most talented players to the NFL draft last season and returned everyone else from a relatively middle of the road 2009 defense. Factor in the transition to the Grohfense and we've got a fair amount of confusion, lack of 3-4 style players, and bad luck. There is no buyer's remorse, however, as most Tech fans are happy with the fundamental football we're seeing from our defense. Guys aren't flying past the ball carrier, missing tackles or completely leaving guys wide open in the passing game. It's just a work in progress on defense.
Offensively, we've had poor execution, untimely injuries, and lost talent to the NFL. Not having a dominant wide receiver has been pretty frustrating. Tech fans have watched at least one first round receiver play football at Tech since 2004. Now, it's only natural to compare our current stable to their predecessors (Calvin and Demaryius) and the comparisons haven't really materialized. Oh and we're fumbling about 40% more often than in 2009. That really hurts an option team.
2. Leaving personnel out of it, do you prefer the old 4-3 or Groh's 3-4 as a way to deal with ACC offenses?
FTRS: Our 4-3 was awful under Dave Wommack particularly in 2009. It couldn't stop a JV offense. In 2010, the 3-4 is still a work in progress. I think Tech fans will definitely give Groh a couple years to build up some decent talent before we judge him harshly. Wommack came in as a 4-2-5 guy and had all of Tenuta's well-coached-up guys to shield his inadequacies as a coordinator in 2008. When a majority of them left, the lack of adjustments and poor fundamental football made GT's 2009 defense fairly inept.
3. Let's assume Groh has impeccable knowledge of UVA's tendencies and personnel and is devising a brilliant scheme that will shut down the UVA offense if perfectly executed. What should UVA do to avoid that? What players on GT's defense should UVA focus on avoiding and what weaknesses should they try to attack?
FTRS: I recommend starting everyone on your scout team against Tech. That way Groh has no idea what GT will do to counterattack it. If the guy doesn't have a scholarship, he better be starting on Saturday. (Editor's note: here's where I'm tempted to make a crack about how you can't tell the difference, but I think the offense will look better this week than last.)
Since the season started, most teams have avoided running towards Brad Jefferson. He is playing one of the inside linebacker spots and has essentially herded opposing offenses to the opposite side of the field. Jerrard Tarrant is a play maker at corner and safety but is also highly susceptible to being burned. Our weak points are all over the field. We have an inexperienced, yet talented safety in freshman Isaiah Johnson. Our defensive line applies minimal pressure and our linebackers are often out of position. Your offense should find some success.
4. A lot of UVA fans really, really want to beat Al Groh. Is there any win-one-for-the-Grohster feeling, going up against his old team, among GT fans?
FTRS: GT fans really dislike UVA because UVA is the fly in the soup of GT. 2008 is the perfect example. UVA wasn't the best team ever coming into GT's 2008 homecoming. When UVA left, they had ended a 12 game homecoming win streak and essentially ruined GT's shot at an ACC Coastal Title. (Editor's note: Oopsy-daisy.) Oh and UVA is 12-7 against GT since the epic 1990 game (including an 8-1 home record). Al Groh just throws fuel on the fire for most GT fans. We want to beat UVA already and Al Groh adds a little spice to the hate-filled burrito that is the GT fan base.
5. Seriously, I hate being other teams' homecoming opponent (except when we win). Couldn't you have waited a week and had it against MTSU instead?
FTRS: I don't really know what goes into the selection of homecoming dates. Looking back over the year, the homecoming game has averaged about 1,000 more people per contest than average football games at Bobby Dodd. And we try to schedule the last home game in October. I guess Dan Radakovich felt that UVA was more enticing for GT alums to attend than MTSU. (Editor's note: Smart man.) It was probably a mutual decision between the Alumni Association, Athletic Association, and City of Atlanta (for traffic). Generally speaking, we don't schedule patsies on homecoming as the last six were UVA, VT, UVA, Army, Miami, and Clemson.