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Monday Mailbag 9/16

Today we're talking the Duke game, between hype, disappointment, and weird formations.

DeAndre Smelter: The next big receiver at Tech?
DeAndre Smelter: The next big receiver at Tech?
Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Deandre Smelter: Great wide receiver or the greatest?

Kid's something else. Great athlete, and probably the biggest threat on the outside since Bey-Bey. And no, I'm not forgetting about Stephen Hill.

Is he the WR we need this year?

Absolutely. Vad needs a big-time target at WR to go with Godhigh, Hill, and Bostic at AB. If he can get into a passing rhythm, a difficult team to beat just got a hell of a lot harder to beat.

The pistol, the diamond, the zone read, the flexbone and an unbalanced line look. Which is your favorite formation and why?

I personally like the pistol the most of those. It gives the QB the ultimate flexibility of vision from not being under center, but also not sacrificing the ability to run inside with the B-Back. That vision hangs around too if he needs to make a zone-read a la Robert Griffin III in Washington, and I've always liked QBs passing from the gun more than from under center. Overall I think that gives us our best tactical advantage.

And related to that question, how do you think CPJ knows which formation to use when?

I think that it goes along the lines of what they need from the play, and it's more about whether they're looking for an outside run, inside run, triple option, midline option, short pass, long pass, etc. If it's third and long, we'd be silly to think we're going to fool the defense into thinking we'll run the triple option from the flexbone. It's to our advantage to get our QB into a position where he's most comfortable setting up for a pass and skipping the nonsense of acting like we might run the ball. Meanwhile, if it's third and 1, there's no good reason to go into the pistol -- keep the ball as near the line as possible. (In related news, when it's fourth and goal from inside the one yard line, don't run a speed option out of the shotgun…Spurrier.) Honestly what I want to see him do sometime is setup in the flexbone and then shift into a 4-wide pistol look, just to see if the defense panics and doesn't know how to respond.

How will the Tech’s practices/schedule vary with the UNC game and VT game so close together? Will CPJ give the guys time off to rest up, or will he have them back on the field for practice on Sunday? Will the up-tempo UNC offense require the team to do anything different in practice?

My guess is that it depends on the nature of Saturday's game. If we score 50 points by halftime and keep UNC's offense from even getting started, our guys might not need rest and might get back out there Sunday morning ready to go. Then again, if it's another barn-burner and UNC runs 100 plays, they might not meet on Sunday and then do nothing but film on Monday. Because really, this question was put better in the words of GT_Jason…

"Will the defense have to practice at all for VPI, or can they just recover from UNC while the offense practices? If offense still the correct term for what VPI is doing when it snaps the ball, anymore?"

Right you are, Jason. The Hokie offense has been pathetic at best, and can at times defend itself.

Should dropped passes be cause for concern or nerves with first conference game? Counted 4 or 5, and with only 16 attempts, that can be killer. Thankfully didn’t hurt us yesterday given how much we outmatched Duke but would like to see less of it (obviously) going forward.

I'm not terribly concerned. The drops a lot of time looked to be pretty tough passes too. (I know Summers had a drop on a pass where he was in tight coverage and had his leaping ability tested -- it would have been an impressive catch, I can't blame him for not coming down with it.) I think it'll be more concerning when there are dropped passes that should be caught by any scholarship receiver, based on placement of the pass and amount of traffic around. We'll keep an eye on it as the season progresses though.

A blocked FG, a couple misses, and some kickoffs that weren’t touchbacks. Was it the "Butker-flies" in his tummy for starting his first away game in an environment (I’d call it hostile but…haha Duke) other than home, or is he regressing?

I'm going with "Butker-flies" here. (Gah, I can't believe I just used that word.) He absolutely drilled his 49-yard field goal, which would have been good from at least 55 and was the longest field goal by a Tech player since Scott Blair in 2009. The blocked field goal is a freshman moment, and "kickoffs that aren't touchbacks" could have just been him not feeling 100% or something. (Remember that Deon Hill didn't make the trip due to illness, and you should also know that there's been a nice little chest cold going around campus the last couple of weeks.) No worries here. This very well might be his worst career game.

Why no Justin Thomas in the 4th quarter?

He came in for the last offensive drive, but I'm with you. My guess is that CPJ just wants more reps for Vad as we approach UNC, Virginia Tech, Miami, and BYU, where he'll see 4 very tough defenses and needs to hit the ground running. Thomas did tweak his knee in the Elon game, but was said to be 100% meaning that wasn't the issue.