Thursday, October 22, 2009

ACC roundtable #6

I guess that's what we're on. Anyway, Tar Heel Mania hosts this week. A little hastily organized, but THM jumped in with questions that I just know they were saving in their back pocket for just such an emergency. Also, don't forget to scroll down for the Q&A session with the Georgia Tech folks. Here goes.

1. What player whom you were not even thinking about in August has made the most positive impact on your team? Conversely, what supposedly key player(s) has fizzled for reasons other than injury?

It's not like nobody was thinking about Jameel Sewell. Nobody ever ignores the quarterbacks. But in August, it was sort of hard to see how he was going to get on the field when he was coming off a missed season and the offense looked like it was ready to be handed over to the similar, but more athletic Vic Hall. But part of the reason for the improved offense over the past few games has been the stability at quarterback as the job essentially fell to Sewell.

For the flip side of the question, I could probably nominate the whole offensive line at one point or another, as their pass blocking has been, in general, atrocious. I'm going to pick on Landon Bradley, though. He's clearly still learning the ins and outs of his position and has been getting absolutely abused by opposing defensive ends. Bradley will be in a depth chart dogfight next year and frankly, it wouldn't surprise me to see Oday Aboushi steal the left tackle job this year.

2. UNC’s performances, and in particular the two losses, have felt like the ghost of Carl Torbush is roaming the sidelines. What part of your team’s past, positive or negative, has this season drudged up?

Let's see, how about last year, and the year before that? Even outsiders can see that Groh appears to be embarking on his now-annual job saving rampage through the ACC. Plenty of drama left in this one, though.

3. Because this is the ACC, no team is truly out of the conference race yet; 5-3 can still win the division. Find your inner optimist, no matter how bruised, and tell us why you’re still holding out hope for your team. (This is NOT the best-case scenario question; rather, what your team has shown to indicate success in the immediate future.)

First off, 5-3 probably is only going to be good enough to win the Atlantic. Actually, given the abysmal record Atlantic teams have against Coastal teams, 4-4 might well do the trick. Anyway, the answer is defense. The offense continues to scrape by on a game-by-game basis, but the first-team defense has now gone three full games without allowing a single touchdown. The only touchdown in that span was a meaningless one scored by Indiana against the second-string. That's beastly defense and it's been a treat to watch. As long as we have a fired-up defense like that and it stays healthy, there isn't a single team on the schedule we don't have a good chance against.

4. What remaining conference game not involving your team do you look forward to most and why?

I tried to think of one and couldn't. It's still just way too early to decide which games are gonna be the biggies. Part of the major problem is that the three teams generally considered contenders in the Coastal - GT, VT, Miami - have all finished playing each other already, and managed to end up with the hideous one-loss-each round-robin that calls for obscure tiebreakers.

5. Now for what Block-C would call the “shits and giggles” question.Offense in the ACC is…well, offensive. To solve this problem we’re putting four ACC offensive coordinators into Thunderdome, where only one man will emerge to smear a football field with his tactics again. Bryan Stinespring and John Shoop are shoo-ins. Nominate at least one more offensive coordinator (preferably, yours) and tell us why he deserves a 75% chance of doom.

Despite the apparent failure of the fancy new spread, I'm not tossing Gregg Brandon into the Thunderdome. I don't think the problem is the offense or the coach, I think it's just another exhibit in the growing case that in general, you can't shock the system with a radical new spread offense and expect it to be immediately successful. Georgia Tech is the exception, but Auburn was a particularly high-profile example last year, and Michigan was too.

No, I'll toss Jimbo Fisher inside instead. Here's the thing: It's pretty widely known that Bobby Bowden is at least half figurehead in Tallahassee. He delegates. A lot. Florida State is his team in name only for the most part. His assistants are generally believed to do most of the actual coaching. So why do people think getting rid of him is going to solve anything? It seems to me that the team is mostly Fisher's, and that the debacle currently going on in Tallahassee is also mostly Fisher's. Not that I don't enjoy watching Florida State flounder, but Fisher is the "offensive coordinator" most in need of replacement in the ACC.

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