26 Days Til' Kickoff!!
This article serves as a kickoff for two separate series (efficient, yes, I know...we IE's pride ourselves on it) -- now that all of our team's units have been previewed, we're going to take a look at each of the games on our schedule this fall over the next week and a half. In addition, each Wednesday until the season begins, we will feature a "Bold Predictions" article from a different contributor. I thought I'd start each series by declaring right now that Georgia Tech will go to Blacksburg on Labor Day and BEAT the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Now, this prediction is not made out of nowhere -- it has quite a bit of logic behind it. Lots of it is based on a factor Georgia Tech has lots of, and Virginia Tech will be running short on -- experience. Here are the reasons that Georgia Tech will defeat the Hokies to take the driver's seat in the ACC Coastal come September 3:
VT's Young O-Line - One of the major challenges Virginia Tech will have to overcome this fall will be replacing 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line. When it comes to replacing a couple O-Linemen, there are always wrinkles to be ironed out, usually involving pass protection schemes. Wrinkled pass protection schemes can be exploited by unusual blitz packages meant to confuse the offensive line and shorten the QB's time in the pocket. Unusual blitz packages just happen to be a specialty of a guy who's something of a friend of our program -- DC Al Groh. I expect him to draw up some blitz packages that exploit Virginia Tech's inexperienced offensive line, giving them fits and causing their offense as a whole to struggle mightily.
VT's Young Skill Position Players - 4 O-Linemen aren't all that the Hokies will be replacing, because they're also replacing their leading rusher (David Wilson, now of the New York Giants) as well as their leading receivers (Jarrett Boykin, now of the Green Bay Packers, and Danny Coale, now of the Dallas Cowboys). Now, I won't say that they're running low on talent, because I don't think that Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer will ever be running low on talent (at any position), but the fact that the discussion is more one of who left than who's replacing them makes me think that there's not a whirlwind of confidence surrounding the guys stepping in to replace those skill position players.
Paul Johnson's Offense - I know, I know. "Joey what are you talking about Georgia Tech sucks when teams have more time to prepare really we can't win bowl games and they figure out how to stop the option and we can't win and whatnot rabble rabble rabble!" This has been the popular stigma the last few years surrounding the program, but here's the problem: that refers to the base offense. I'm not talking about the base offense. I'm talking about the word surrounding the program over the past 9-ish months that suggest Paul Johnson is ready to "deviate" a bit from that base offense. He's ready to run a little pistol, a little shotgun, a little read-option, a little passing (real passing, not go-routes to
Bey-Bey Stephen Hill Waller & Greene), and generally diversify the offense's arsenal. Guess what? He's got the tools to do it. Sure, Vad Lee's still not the best at running the triple option, but that shouldn't stop Johnson from putting him in the pistol for a few plays to sling the ball around. And sure, Justin Thomas is brand new here and doesn't fully "get" how to run Johnson's option offense, but how does that stop him from stepping into the shotgun and running some read option to Orwin Smith and Broderick Snoddy, blazing down the field if the Hokie defense doesn't pay him enough attention? Long story short -- I think Johnson draws up a few plays that the Hokies don't have on film and aren't prepared for, and we find them to be highly effective.
That's my thinking, and why I legitimately believe we will come back from Blacksburg 1-0. Maybe you disagree? Maybe you share my sentiments? Maybe you want to sub in for Jeremiah Attaochu for a play and show him and Logan Thomas how a real man throws a punch? Let's hear it.