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Monday Mailbag 10/7

There are a lot of questions concerning moving forward for this team, and we're getting them answered this afternoon.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

O-Line Coach: Who is he? What's his background? Why has it sucked so bad last 3 years? How old is he? Can we get a new one? When is last time we had an O lineman go to pros and play?

Mike Sewak has been coaching with Paul Johnson for a long time. He was his O-Coordinator at Georgia Southern before taking over for him as head coach. He came to Tech when Johnson did to be his O-Line coach. (Fun fact, he also served as a graduate assistant Tight Ends coach under Bill Curry.) He's an alumnus of Virginia, graduating in '81, so I'd ballpark him around 55.

Our O-Line hasn't sucked for 3 years, it's sucked since the start of the Virginia Tech game and you're remembering things wrong because of emotion. They played an awful game against Virginia Tech, but other than that have been good for the most part since the 2011 "Goon Squad" started up. He's come under scrutiny recently not so much for his coaching as his recruiting, which has a pretty poor track record. We can go get a new one, and we very well might after this year. Last O-Lineman we sent to the NFL was Cord Howard, who started 4 games and played in 10 for the Bills in 2010. Before him was Andrew Gardner, who's still playing OT for the Texans but hasn't ever started a game. For big-time guys, you gotta go back to 2006, when Andrew Economos joined Tampa as a center/longsnapper. He's been there ever since.

Vad Lee was supposed to be a big improvement over the good-but-not-great Tevin Washington. What happened?

I don't know, it's weird. Ever since he took over all of 5 games ago, we've only won 3 games...

Sorry for the sarcasm there. He'll be fine. He's had some poor blocking as of late, and against Miami I thought he made a few fantastic reads, especially early in the game. The passing is the part he needs work on, which is also the part that blows me away. He and Justin are both still young, give them a bit more time with a bit more full-speed game action.

Who is the luckiest coach ever?

My answer here was mentioned in the comments, but I'm taking Frank Beamer. He's held up entirely by his coordinators, and has experienced a silly number of wins from clutch special teams plays, which, disagree as you might, have a considerable element of luck involved.

Who is the unluckiest team?

As mentioned by others, Tennessee certainly can't catch a break any time recently. The other program that comes to my mind is Duke -- and I realize that they're just Duke and they're all Duke-y and whatnot, but how can a program be that bad over such a long period of time? They have a losing record all-time, have been ranked at any point in only 3 years since the start of the Vietnam War, and haven't made the AP Poll since the Olympics were in Atlanta. Decent hires, decent high school football in NC, great education, huge fanbase for other sports...why can they not get it going?

For those of us to lazy to look up the answer, do we have any Secondary rooting interests (behind the Barves) for former Jackets in the ALDS's and NLDS's?

As it would turn out, the only Georgia Tech alumnus playing in the playoffs is pitcher Brandon Cumpton of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He's thrown 30 innings this year as a starter and had a couple of outings in the last 10 days of the season against the Reds, but my guess is that he's not in the rotation for the Pirates, and probably isn't the first or second guy out of the bullpen, either.

I said all summer that Pittsburgh is the real trap game for Tech this year. So my question is clearly not scientific and is really just a matter of your opinion. I want YOUR OPINION on this. Which games can CPJ afford to lose this year and who are they and which games can he not afford to lose and how many losses will put him on the hot seat?

Let's start with the remaining games that CPJ cannot afford to lose. First there's Virginia, which has been pretty awful this year and just got blown out at home by 3 touchdowns to Ball State. Syracuse hasn't been very good either, and is our next home game -- need to win that one. Alabama A&M is an obvious need-to-win game. The toughest must-win left is Pittsburgh, not only because Tech should be the better team, but also because that's Homecoming, and CPJ cannot afford a second straight Homecoming loss at this point.

A third straight loss this weekend will not do Coach any favors, but after last year's masterpiece against BYU the fan base can't have high expectations for the game, meaning a loss isn't about to shock anyone. The other 2 games are on the road against Clemson and at home against uga, both of whom are top-10 teams that Tech has a combined 1 win against since the ACC Championship Game in 2009. Writing's on the wall there.

Overall fans will call for someone's head at 6 wins (which isn't bowl-eligible this year, remember), they'll get restless and ornery at 7 wins, and will be satisfied but disappointed at 8 wins. Yes, disappointed at 8 wins because we always want more than we can have.

Why do you think the offensive line is having so much trouble? And do you think we are ever going to find an A-back to compliment Godhigh this year? (and I don't want to hear about running back by committee because so far the committee hasn't been working and we need one back to step up be the man)

Again, I really don't think the O-Line was having that much trouble on Saturday -- we ran for nearly 350 yards. I think that the exterior blocking by A-Backs and Wide Receivers is the culprit of any offensive struggles we've had, and you can pin that on playcalling a bit as well. Looking at Saturday's drive summary, we scored 17 points on our first 3 drives and managed at least 30 yards on every drive before halftime. The third quarter was terrible offensively (12 plays for 12 total yards, 1 first down), but the fourth saw us reel off two 40+-yard touchdown drives, and a 45-yard drive that ended in Justin Thomas throwing a pick-six.

On the A-Backs front, you're going to laugh at me here...but every time Charles Perkins has seen the field at A-Back, he's done a good job this year. Did you know that he's currently standing alone at 3rd on the team in rushing TD's? It's way more than that though, because he also blocks fairly well -- odd, because he was notoriously a pretty poor blocker as a B-Back. Main concern with Perkins this year is how much mileage he has on him after the injuries he's dealt with in college. The thing that we're missing right now is a second A-Back that can effectively block. Deon Hill could be close to filling that role, but he's dealt with a flare-up of his Crohn's Disease in recent weeks which has kept him out of action. Godhigh can't do it all himself, and someone needs to step up to help with the all-around job A-Backs are charged with.

My observations at this point in the season on Vad.

1. He can pass better than TW and JN, but still leaves more to be desired in the passing attack.


2. He tends to leave a little too much air under the ball on deep passes at times and under throws them frequently.

Agreed. It's an issue of footwork, which is poor but not made any better by the occasional break in pass protection.

3. Maybe it's just me but his pocket presence hasn't looked great of late.

He was unsacked the first three games, and has been sacked three times in the two games since. I understand the growing level of concern.

4. When he's kept the ball on option keepers he hasn't looked good running it. Hasn't broke open many runs of 15+.

Here's a difference between him and Tevin. Other teams wanted to make Tevin beat them. Now they want to pick another ballcarrier to beat them after seeing some film and knowing what he's capable of.

5. Still indecisive while running the TO plays. Looked somewhat better against Miami at times.

I noticed a few times early on that he was looking for a B-Back dive when there was no B-Back to be found. Not really a good sign if you ask me, unless he's trying a little too hard to sell it like there's a chance of the B-back dive happening.

So with that being said can CPJ utilize better passing plays for him to build up his confidence and establish a rhythm with him?

I think all of us are starving for a short-to-mid-range passing game, which would seem extremely easy to implement if it was a priority to do so. By nature, our passing game is meant to keep defenders from cheating up to stop the run -- which is fine. But you also need a couple of safety valves in the decent chance that the deep ball's not there.

The last drive for Vad in the Miami game CPJ starts all this passing with over 5:00 minutes left when we had ran the ball effectively the previous scoring drive. Why not run the ball with four down territory to get your yardage down to like 4th and 2 or 3 and have an option of running a higher percentage pass or run play? Seems like CPJ tries for too many 15 yards plus pass plays when we can throw a dump pass to AB or BB for 3 to 5 yards a gain to mix it up and keep opposing D honest. Getting irritated with his calling of late.

You realize that if he'd started running the ball, we'd all be complaining about how there was no time for that and needed to be passing, right? What bothers me at this point isn't the pass/run play selection, but the continued ineffectiveness of the passing game.

Is Vad still our man? And is he just learning how to grow up under the baptism by fire kinda thing or is CPJ using him in ways that detrimental to Vad?

Time will tell. I think until one of them really grabs the job and rolls with it, you're going to see more and more of a balance in playing time. Both guys have more potential than Tevin, but we're not seeing it yet. Whoever starts to realize that potential quicker will ultimately end up with a lot more playing time moving forward.