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Monday Mailbag 9/23

Today's abbreviated version of the mailbag will involve us talking about the UNC game, the team's weaknesses, and the APU movement.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Vad Lee commented that this was the loudest game he's been a part of at GT, and that he believed it helped confuse UNC's communication at the line on offense. It seems that at least our students seem to understand the importance of creating crowd noise for every down while GT is on defense. I ask you this: If you sit in the upper stands or the general admission seating in any part of the stadium outside of the student seating, do you believe fans should still "help the team out" by standing, bending forward, cupping a hand on either side of their mouth, aiming this at the opposing QB, and holding a long yell to help drown out audibles, checks at the line, and generate false starts? Do you think it's only for third downs? Or only third downs that "matter?" Do you think we should do it when we're losing? Do you cave in to old people behind you who get crabby and tell you to sit down because they can't see?

First, I'll say that for the student section, we should always be making noise when the opposing team has the ball. Too often, our students act real polite and make no noise at all. (This goes for basketball as well.)

As far as other parts of the stadium, I think it's far more situational. Sitting in the top row of the stadium, other team has 2nd and 2 on their own 37? I won't get upset if others are barking at you to shut up. Close game, late in the 4th, critical 3rd down, past midfield? You'd better be making noise and doing your part. If not, what exactly are you paying for when you got your ticket?

The short answer here is gauge the situation, and gauge your immediate vicinity. If it's a critical game situation and everyone around you is sitting, a) you picked a crappy place to sit, and b) you gotta understand when they don't like your screaming at the top of your lungs.

I'll also say that for this game, it was surprisingly loud given the conditions and how much the crowd thinned out from pregame. It was as if everyone who stayed had a vested interest, and the rain only intensified how much fun everyone was having. (I also love to see the defense get excited after a big play -- that kind of thing helps out with noise a lot too.)

Way back in the off season, I indicated that I thought we had several question marks on this team this year. One question mark I had was how we were going to replace Orwin Smith. Most everyone disagreed with me because they said Godhigh would be the replacement. But my point was that if Godhigh was the replacement for Smith, then who would be the replacement for Godhigh? Are you satisfied with our A-backs or do you feel as I do that we still need one more A-back to really step his game up?

Deon Hill sitting the last two games out hasn't been good, and his replacements (B.J. Bostic, Tony Zenon, Synjyn Days, Dennis Andrews) haven't been phenomenal. The Achilles' heel of this team is perimeter blocking -- if it can't get done, the offense struggles to get in gear and start working. That's where the major dropoff is from Godhigh to the pack, and that's where the biggest impact is felt from our second starter being out. What you've seen so far has largely been despite our perimeter blocking efforts, and we're still lacking that second A-Back who can cut a guy down outside the tackle box.

By now I hope everyone realizes that having a brand new starting quarterback means we are sometimes going to have mixed results through the course of the season. But assuming we can all live with that, what other areas on the team are you most concerned about right now?

I've been unpleasantly surprised by the front 7 on defense, in particular the defensive line. 3 seniors (Dieke, Cummings, Attaochu) and Adam Gotsis up there have combined for 2 sacks through 3 games, and generally haven't given a consistent and impressive push. There was a lot of hype surrounding these guys coming into the season, and I just haven't seen it so far. Between them and the linebackers, we'll have to make QBs less comfortable than they've been so far if this team is to be a major contender this year.

How has (Virginia Tech DC Bud Foster) approached our offense in the past? Are there any wrinkles he likes to throw in? Doesn't he like to play all of their speed guys against us?

I'm not a huge film junkie, but from looking back at part of last year's game, it looks as though he likes to run a 4-3 Over/Under, which would basically be a 4-3 where the linebackers shift so that one is up on the line to give a 5-man-front look ("Over" indicates the SLB, "Under" indicates that the WLB is on the line). This seems relatively common for teams defending the option, who want an extra guy up front without sacrificing the speed of a linebacker. As you mentioned though, I feel like he has special packages for this game, where he puts in all DE's or something, because I always get the impression that their defensive front is relatively tiny compared to others. I'm not sure how he's been doing it, but every year since 2009 has been some sort of improvement in stopping our attack.

Your thoughts on APU and CPJ's response to the sweat band solidarity movement?

I support CPJ's opinions. It's not an issue of the organization or of the message, but that it was a set of individuals who took the liberty of doing that and setting themselves apart from the team on something. Maybe one of the worst cases of this was R-So QB Vad Lee, who's recognized as the team's leader and should know better than to put himself in front of the team on an issue like that. I'm not sure CPJ has an issue with the message the APU group wants to spread, but I think he has a major issue with folks doing things like that without team approval and inclusion.