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Mailbag 10/30

We're covering all the bases in this week's mailbag, from beer to Halloween to potential NCAA violations.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Is there no one else who can play [CB]?

Honestly, no. We're about paper-thin in the secondary right now without Fred Holton, Isaiah Johnson, Jamal Golden, or Chris Milton (who's only good for ST right now). Jemea Thomas has been playing safety in the base since he's best used there, but sliding down to nickel corner when the offense is in a spread set. Otherwise our best corners right now by a lot are Louis Young and D.J. White, in that order. Young had a rough game at UVA, but it wasn't entirely his fault according to Ted Roof. He wasn't getting help from the play calls or pass rush.

Will a falling perception of Pitt work to undermine our team's desperate need to fix its mistakes?

At this point, with the season in such a fragile state, I would really hope that our team isn't losing focus based on the opponent's resume. Pitt got beat, but they're more than capable of beating Tech if our guys come out unfocused and nonchalant.

Since Pitt has now played Navy (thus allowing CPJ a look into how Pitt defends the option) might we see a return to some of our different formations from earlier in the season? Diamond, for example? Or will we just do the same stuff Navy did but this time with actual football players?

You're going to see a chess game, I think. Pitt's going to adjust what wasn't working, and Tech will adjust based on the adjustments they expect from Pitt. Add in there that Tech has a talent advantage over Navy, as well as a slightly more diversified playbook, and it's a favorable matchup for Tech, even on a neutral field. Now consider it's not just a home game, but Homecoming, and I think we'll all be devastated if our guys can't make it happen.

I think we'll all be devastated if our guys can't make it happen.

Who will start and who do you think should start?

Who will start:
QB - Vad Lee
BB - David Sims
AB - Robert Godhigh
AB - Deon Hill

Who should start in my eyes is that same crew, but sub Laskey for Sims. Also need to note that I would put Justin Thomas in on our third offensive drive, almost no questions asked. Only reason to get away from that would be Vad coming out and playing nearly perfectly in all phases, in which case I wouldn't want to disturb his or his offense's rhythm.

Since as far as Tech's team goes, it is what it is this year, what kind of breakdown are you most afraid of? This could be on offense, defense or special teams, and I am not talking about getting beaten in this area because of our talent deficits or just plain getting beat but rather where the team underperforms.

You know, of all things, the part that scares me most is the secondary, and that's purely due to the guys we're without that I figured we'd have. That's crazy too, because we're 17th in the nation in total defense with a depleted group back there -- where might we be with a secondary at full strength? Put Isaiah Johnson, Chris Milton, and Jamal Golden in at safety (rotating, probably), and have Jemea, Louis, D.J., and others to play corner, and passing got a lot tougher than it has been so far.

At this point though, I'm afraid of that unit's woes catching up to us, especially in the Clemson and uga games.

We're 17th in the nation in total defense with a depleted secondary.

Where do you see the most hope on this team as we move toward finishing out the season?

Honestly, in the short term I have a lot of hope for the passing game. Waller and Smelter have been a better duo than I (and maybe a lot of you) expected, and I think that we're pretty close to seeing a passing game similar to that of 2009, or maybe even more effective.

Longer term, I have hope for the front 7 as they continue to grow. There's a ton of young talent, especially in the D-Line, and I'm excited to see the terror Ted Roof can reign on others using them.

What are you doing after graduation? Also, how does FTRS fit into your post graduation plans?

I'll be working full-time, although the details are still being worked out. I'm excited to not have to deal with tests or homework or class any more, although I know I'm going to miss college about the minute I leave. Really, it's bittersweet leaving the place I've loved so much for the past 4.5 years. As far as FTRS, I haven't really worked out what the plan is. I'm planning to see if it still fits into my daily and weekly routines, and if so I'll keep entertaining you guys for as long as it's feasible. If it becomes difficult or gets in the way, I'll need to find someone else to take over. As for who that would be or when, I still honestly have no idea. So...stay tuned?

I get that Vad has made some poor throws but why are we putting in JT when he makes ones mistakes?! Don't get me wrong the kid has some serious speed but thats about all he has right now. He needs to put on weight and work on passing. I saw Vad come back in the game on saturday and besides his one bad throw for a pick (which we cant really take into account because he had been out of the game for about 1-2 hours of real life time) he did what we needed him to do! He made big time throws and didnt turn the ball over again!

I don't think we're putting Justin in the game at Vad's first mistake (and conversely, we're not pulling Justin at his first mistake either). I think where you saw Justin enter the game Saturday was after Vad had a rough opening to the game, and when your backup is as talented as JT, why not give him a shot? Next thing you knew, the offense was moving a lot better, and so why pull him? There were two turnovers under Thomas, and while the interception was completely his fault, the other was a Godhigh fumble off a pretty good pitch that looked like more of a freak accident than anything (I call it "The Charlottesville Effect"). After the interception Vad went back into the game and was more effective than he had been earlier. It's weird, because it's almost like Thomas coming into the game results in the defense playing things differently, which may have something to do with our increased success under him. Long story short, they're both good, and CPJ wouldn't play both of them if one were just leaps and bounds beyond the other.

It looked like more of a freak accident than anything. I call it "The Charlottesville Effect".

Joey, you just returned from Texas, which has cloned the worst style of German beer and called it Texas beer. Did you find anything there that tasted better than weasel p#ss? Don't tell about Shiner. Please!

A few great breweries I've enjoyed down in Houston are Karbach, Saint Arnold's, and Buffalo Bayou. Saint Arnold's in particular had some fantastic craft brews, and if you're in the area I'd recommend them. Buffalo Bayou is new (younger than Monday Night if I'm not mistaken) and does some really interesting stuff, but in general makes some great beers as well.

Why all the doom and gloom? If we didn't turn the ball over so much last Saturday, none of us would have much to complain about. I mean, Louis Young, sure. I guess I'm saying that I don't have any "questions" because the answers are pretty obvious. The big picture is that we won a conference game on the road in a weirdly hostile environment (because UVA students picnicking in the end zone is apparently intimidating?).

Here's what I tell people. I don't get mad when Tech loses. Sad? Sure. Sucks to see your team get outplayed. However, I get mad when Tech plays like garbage, which is what happened on Saturday on the offensive side of the ball. 5 turnovers is not fun to watch, and not very confidence-inspiring when you have the likes of Clemson and uga left to play. So there's your "doom and gloom". That said, nobody will complain that we won by 10 points -- that's a result I'd take any time.

It seems to me that we've been doing more pass plays that aren't just deep bombs. I feel like that added emphasis on more complex pass plays is hurting our offense. Thoughts?

Funny because a few weeks ago we were starved for shorter passes. I think a lot of it is Vad maturing -- a lot of our "deep bombs" have been him electing to toss one way down the field in hopes of a big play, when he had someone open on a crossing route in front of him. Adding a short passing element to your offense can only help, in that it gives defenses one more thing to worry about. They already have a tough enough time stopping our base offense with the occasional deep bomb thrown in, so adding in another thing to watch for sure can't help them, can it?

How is Homecoming shaping up this year? (I won't make it unfortunately.) Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the varsity swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.

Good grief, sounds like this campus got boring after you left.


We having a FTRS meet up somewhere next weekend? I want to show y'all the suit I had made when I was in China.

It's definitely an option if there's interest! I'll add a poll to this article.

Within NCAA rules, is there anyway to get Calvin J, BayBay, Stephen Hill, JD and Kevin Cone involved in helping us with recruiting in off season? We need to activate those dudes.

It's really tough. To my knowledge, it's illegal for us to invite those athletes around to help convince kids to commit to us. That said, if the athletes are welcome to use our facilities, and they just so happen to be there when recruits are present, well isn't that just a fortunate coincidence?

If it became a major trend, there would be an investigation, and there would in all likelihood be a paper trail that'd be easy to follow and easy to nail the Athletics department on. So we probably prefer to just leave it to coincidence.

If pro athletes are welcome to use our facilities, and just happen to be there when recruits are present, isn't that just a fortunate coincidence?

Is there anyway in advanced box score to keep up with attempts against and completions against and yards after catch for each of our secondary players? Might be illuminating for coaches.

That'd be extremely interesting, but also extremely tough. Part of receivers having catches and YAC involves what sort of coverage we're in. If a receiver runs a drag route out of the corner's zone and into the MLB's, but catches it near the nickel corner's zone -- who gets charged? Man coverage would be much more simple, although there would need to be a built-in mechanism to account for things like double-coverage, unless it's fine to double-count yards in that case.

I really need to find a hobby that doesn't involve numbers.