Monday Mailbag: HATE WEEK EDITION

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

You had questions. I have answers...of completely questionable quality.

How is team chemistry under Johnson and the new coaches this season? Does everyone still believe in the coaches and schemes?

As far as I can tell it's really good. I think the players had given up on Groh by the time he was fired last year, but they like what Roof is doing a lot - clearly it helps when it's working. In the scope of the players, it's always obvious to me that they like each other a lot, which goes a long way in my opinion. But yes, I think everyone involved still believes in the coaches and scheme.

What would a win this weekend say about this team? What would a close loss say? What would a blowout loss say?

I think a win would not only show that these guys don't quit, but more importantly that they believe in themselves and know they're capable of winning. It's easy to see how games like last year's could leave players feeling inadequate, but a win Saturday would show our guys don't feel anything like that.

A close loss would show the clear talent difference in the two depth charts. Both teams are depleted (don't forget, we are too when you consider we're missing three of our best players in the secondary (one of whom was on the national radar as a kick returner), plus our best starting wide receiver, and probably half of our offensive line). But the difference you'll see in a close loss is how their back-ups are still 4- and 5-star guys, where our back-ups aren't quite on that level across the board.

A blowout loss would show a combination of talent and attitude, where we're less talented but our guys also didn't believe in themselves. To get blown out by a uga team missing their QB, their #2 RB, and their two best WR's would be a real kick where the sun don't shine for everyone in the Tech program. It also could make Johnson's seat noticeably warmer.

Rumors of (forced?) changes in CPJ's staff. Particularly Offense Coaching staff I hear.

I mean if I had to guess, you're referring to Sewak. It's no secret that the O-Line has basically been a disaster this year, and so it would only follow that his job is anything but secure. I'm guessing he's fired after the season, but after Signing Day. It's not that he's a particularly good recruiter, but he's got two commitments (plus a third he shares with DL coach Mike Pelton) and you wouldn't want to mess with that.

Also, a little early, but NFL Draft rumors for GT Seniors? Any Undergrads planning to pull the trigger?

For the seniors, our two best prospects will be Attaochu and Jemea Thomas. They should both be drafted, although their positions in the draft are totally up in the air and could be heavily influenced by the combine. Attaochu will be a 3-4 DE prospect, where Jemea will be the football version of a "utility player", who could play anywhere in the secondary or on special teams. Brandon Watts is another guy who has a shot, although maybe not a great one. He'd be a 4-3 WLB prospect. Louis Young has played himself out of a shot, and hard, as has David Sims with his fumbling issues. I can't really imagine there are any undergrad guys looking to go. If anyone were going to the draft before their senior year, we would have discussed them by now. The only chance would be next year, when Jabari Hunt-Days might elect to leave - but it won't be this year.

Recruiting rumors? Where are the three or four recruits that we supposedly had lined up to take Kinlaw's spot? What's the latest on Shai McKenzie?

The guy that Tech wants to replace Kinlaw is in a temporary holding pattern while he retakes the SAT. Who that is, I'm not going to say...largely because I have no idea who it is. If I had to speculate, it's UCF commit Mike Rogers. But I have no idea and also don't have the liberty to say much on McKenzie. Let's just say that the "doom and gloom" surrounding his situation relevant to us about a month ago is fading, and quick. He very well might end up with us.

What is y'all's take on Hutson mason as qb next week? Can he run Bobo's system anywhere close to what Murray can? Is there a decent chance our defense can get enough pressure on him to rattle him?

Mason has a good arm and is no slouch, but I think the drop-off will be quite noticeable. According to Richt, he hasn't seen first-half time in his career prior to Murray's injury, and also has yet to see time where his team wasn't up by at least 3 touchdowns. This will be his first real action ever as a QB - and I think you'll come to find out that the decision to not give him those meaningful, live reps until now comes back to haunt them.

Any new news on the recruiting front ie front runners to replace kinlaw? Anyone we could steal by signing day?

See above. We've got options, including Myles Autry, Rogers, and Shai McKenzie. Apparently the staff is as excited or more excited about everyone still on the board at A-Back when compared to Kinlaw, so his departure might not actually end up all that detrimental.

If GT loses to ughhhha for a 5th straight in CPJ's tenure how much heat or lack thereof will be applied to his seat or staff?

CPJ will be the coach next year. That's a done deal. The only question is how much of a "hot seat" he's on to begin the year, and that's where this game will have some impact. A loss this weekend will make it half a decade since we've won in this rivalry, and that doesn't sit well with any fan base.

Broderick Snoddy looked good in limited playing time, and with the impending graduation of David Sims, I would assume Snoddy and Laskey would share the load at B-back. If Travis Custis gets back on track, he could also compete for playing time. Snoddy brings the breakaway speed we haven't had at the position in a long time. What is the expectation for him moving forward in his career?

I think Snoddy at B-Back has been one of those things that's a bit like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. With his frame (5'9", 190), he doesn't have the natural "fall-forward" ability that Sims, Laskey, Custis, Anthony Allen, or Jonathan Dwyer have. I wouldn't be surprised if he moved to A-Back and stayed there. He does bring a different element to the position with his blazing speed, but I never see him being a major factor at the position - he'll a role-player if anything. Next year it should be all about Zach Laskey and Travis Custis, barring an incoming freshman stepping up.

One theory about Lee, implied by CPJ, is that he looked good last year at QB because he was often coming in with fresh legs when the opposing defense was tired. At any rate, he looks slow this year compared to last year. The explanations range from being a starting quarterback takes more out of you physically, he is thinking too much rather than reacting, and he does not have the advantage of fresh legs that he had last year. What is your explanation for why Lee looks like he is running at half speed this year?

I think it's a few things, as you mentioned. First, he's definitely playing more than he ever has and there's some natural fatigue. Then, he's definitely more hesitant than Tevin was, giving the defense an extra split second to keep him from breaking away. Also, there's some speculation that he may not be 100% healthy - apparently his ankle is a bit gimpy. I think a combination of those three things is resulting in what you're seeing there.

Has Vad lost the confidence he had before the season?

I don't think so, just having read what I have about him and his natural leadership. Part of that involves an undying confidence in yourself and your team. I don't think it's like that at all.

We're in for another .500-ish basketball season, aren't we? What does CBG need to do to get over the hump?

I'm not the best guy to answer this question, but I've noticed our struggles the past couple of games. I see three things that are killing us right now. First, effort on defense, particularly in rebounding. Our guys aren't fighting for balls so much as hoping they fall into their arms. Second, our defense is giving up a ton of open threes because we aren't switching properly. As in, in man-to-man, one guy will switch, and the other won't, and the guy with the ball ends up double covered. That turns into an easy pass to his wide-open teammate who nails an easy three. Finally, we just straight up have to make more shots. Our field goal percentage the last two games has been 44% (Sunday) and a little over 45% (last Wednesday), which is below our season average and puts us in the 150-175 area ranking-wise. That won't fly for the rest of the year if we're planning to make the tournament. As for fixing these issues, the first two are a lot easier than the third, which is concerning because the third is probably the most important.

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