Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FTRS q&a

Here to help us kick off the ACC season for real, as well as gain a little insight into the Georgia Tech ground assault, is Bird and the rest of the crew coming atcha From The Rumble Seat.  If you missed it, the other half of the Q&A session is here.  Let's get straight to the questions that I had for the engineers, and then one other item of interest, which could be entitled In Which I Get My Way For Once.

1. I'll copycat and ask you guys the same question about ACC expansion: how are GT fans feeling about the newcomers and any future candidates? Also, GT is occasionally mentioned as an SEC target; how would Jackets fans feel in the hypothetical instance that the SEC offered an invite?

Well, the easiest answer out of those questions is that Georgia Tech fans would probably be ecstatic for a move to the SEC. We've established two rivalries in the ACC in our 33 year run (Clemson and VPI). The Clemson rivalry is old school, pre-ACC times and the VPI rivalry would fold up like a house of cards if we were separated by scheduling. FSU, for example, was a budding rivalry but scheduling rendered it functionally inept.

Tech's old money loves the SEC. The two most played opponents on Tech's all-time schedule are Georgie and Auburn. 6 of the top 10 most played opponents in Tech history are SEC teams. Tech has played against current SEC members 435 times versus only 361 times against current ACC members. So, I would think Tech's AD would be hard pressed to turn down a SEC invite even if I wouldn't want to be affiliated with a bunch of mouth-breathing bumblers on a personal level.

As far as the current expansion goes, Tech fans are concerned with 2 things: 1) diluting Clemson and VPI on our schedule and 2) lack of baseball. Pitt has a terrible baseball team and 'Cuse has no team. That sucks. Also, Tech needs three teams on its schedule to fund its program: Georgie, VPI, and Clemson. Those three teams generate sellouts or close to it, every other year. If we lose one of those three, we potentially lose at least 10,000 seats times $35 bucks in revenue per year. Any future scheduling that does not allow Tech to play Clemson, VPI, and Georgie semiannually at Bobby Dodd Stadium is a huge financial issue. Concerning new targets, Tech fans are fine with 14 or even going after UConn, Villanova, Georgetown, or even Vanderbilt. We don't really care as long as we keep out Rutgers (an overrated fanbase) and Louisville (a crap academic institution).

2. The GT offense has been explosive, scoring no less than five touchdowns in each of the first five games? I think most people, me included, expected some growing pains with so many new personnel; what's been the secret to success?

The veteran slotbacks are really carrying this offense and it starts with them. Roddy Jones and Orwin Smith are 10 of the 27 rushing touchdowns and 4 of the 10 receiving touchdowns. Orwin is the playmaker and Roddy is the crusty stalwart that have gelled this relatively youthful offense.

Also, we finally have an All-Paul Johnson offensive line. They were all organically tank-raised in the CPJ system. No Chan Gailey preservatives or Joe D'Alessandris chemicals-added. These guys are working as a unit (minus some Maryland game miscues) and have really set this offense up for a fairly successful year.
3. On the flipside, what did Maryland do to hold you to 21 points?

Penalties really set Tech back against Maryland. We racked up 8 penalties after only averaging 4 per game in the first 5 games.  (ed: One day maybe UVA will get to the point where eight penalties is considered a terrible day.)  Tech really bit itself in the ass with some offensive line miscues and overall poor execution. Another contributor was Tech's drop in passing efficiency since NC State.

We haven't really figured out this little problem but essentially the timing has been off on our deep routes. Big plays that we were hitting with regularity at the onset are resulting in overthrows or dropped passes. Tech needs a week or two to really work on its timing in the passing game before we see it blow up for 200+ yards per game again.
4. Groh's defense had its problems last year but looks better this year, if maybe not all the way as good as Groh wants it yet. It's a complicated system. To what would you credit the improvement more: holdover players learning the system and being more comfortable in it, or the gradual introduction of players that fit it better?

I think new players is the key. We turned the whole secondary over (minus Isaiah Johnson) from last season and they are the best secondary I have seen since 2005. These guys are being into the Groh-fense and really playing well as a unit. Groh appears to give his players more opportunities to make big plays and we've seen it this season with a spike in interceptions, TFL's, and sacks.

Wommack was a bad coach and I think just like Wommack's first season featured an electric Jon Tenuta defensive line, Al Groh's first season featured a lackluster Wommack D unit. Tech fans are very excited about the youth and volatility of this defensive unit and the wins it has already provided Tech in 2011.

5. Is it a little bit weird to see Calvin Johnson catching passes from a Dawg in the pros?

Calvin doesn't care who throws to him. He makes plays. I'd prefer Shaun Hill start just so I don't have to watch Matt "-" Stafford** but as long as Calvin gets a majority of the publicity, I'm fine with the Lions winning.
6. Your turn for a prediction. Give me both this Saturday and GT's prognosis for the rest of the year.

Tech fans are concerned with the Maryland game but I think Tech will come out of its one and a half week shell this weekend. Tech wins it big and continues to roll in the Coastal Division. Give me Tech 35, UVA 13. Tech should finish out with a 6-2 ACC record at worst, in my opinion, based on the way Tech has played and the rest of the division has played.
**A not-very-nice name was used here to refer to one Matthew Stafford.  Solidarity with our ACC brethren - I always root for GT in their season-ender against Georgia - but no gratuitous shots at the Lions on these pages shall appear.
And now for me getting my way.  David Teel writes that the ACC is indeed talking about expanding the conference football schedule to nine games, as well as the basketball schedule from 16 to 18.
The basketball thing is such a no-brainer it's hardly worth expending much time on.  In 18 games you can play all 13 teams once and five of them twice.  That maintains the status quo, essentially, until the league expands to 16 teams.  Yes, it means fewer bodybag games against the likes of UMES and UTPA, since early-season tournaments are not going away and neither is the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.  I expect this to have zero effect on anyone's tournament chances; after all, filling the schedule with mushy soft cupcakes didn't help VT get in.  If it means an extra loss on the schedule, it won't matter - 19-12 with a slightly improved RPI from extra conference games is just as good, if not better, than 20-11.  Hurray for common sense.
Hurray also for the football thing.  I get that the nonconference schedule will now include fewer chances to include bowl-eligibility-inducing cupcake wins, which is why I'd blanch at the idea of the 10-game schedule as championed by Jim Weaver. 
("Moreover, it would help schools avoid the exorbitant guarantees they pay visiting teams from smaller Bowl Subdivision conferences such as the Mid-American and Sun Belt.  'Guarantee games of half-a-million and three-quarters-of-a-million dollars just don't make any sense to me,' Weaver said."  But you do them anyway, so they can't be that exorbitant.  If it "didn't make any sense," you'd never schedule them, but I notice Arkansas State and Appalachian State on VT's schedule, so there must be some cash benefit otherwise those games would never happen.)
No, I don't want to play 10 games, because part of what makes football interesting is the variety in the nonconference.  Nine games keeps enough variety there to keep me happy and lets us at least maintain some semblance of conference cohesiveness.  If we stayed at eight we'd play once-traditional games like Clemson and NC State once every six years.
So, dear sirs at the ACC I humbly once again submit my proposal for a nine-game conference schedule.  A team in the Coastal, let's call them Team V, would have a protected rivalry with Team A, and then play Teams B and C in year one, Teams D and E in year two, and Teams F and G in year three, and then start over again while flipflopping who was home and who was away.  The downside is that NC State (or whoever) would still only visit Charlottesville once every six years, but we'd at least only go three years between games against them.  This would be an improvement over the current situation where the gap between games is four years.
Unfortunately they will probably go twice every eight years, which is stupid, but at least with nine games, we're getting somewhere.

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