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Mailbag 10/15

This week's mailbag covers potential B-Back changes, the turd that was last weekend's game, pumpkin beverages, and more!

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Why can't we have nice things?

Don't forget, this is an Atlanta sports team. Just inherently, we can't have nice things.

How's the pipeline at WR looking like in the next couple of years and do you have confidence CPJ can keep finding these very good receivers like Smelter?

This year we'll graduate both DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller, who have pretty much been our biggest wide receiver threats since Stephen Hill left. I think Summers can be dangerous moving forward -- he's not a particularly big guy, but a quicker guy with good hands and a knack for making plays. Ricky Jeune has the frame to be the next Thomas/Hill/Smelter/Waller type, and he's gotten into a few games this year although he's yet to make a catch. He and Messick both have plenty of potential from a size and strength standpoint -- for them, it's going to be about how well they catch the ball. Current commit Christian Philpott will also be one to watch -- he's gotten a lot of attention since committing to Georgia Tech.

How much more playing time does TB get at QB? I’m still a fan of JT but for the first time he opened the door for speculation and TB pounced on his opportunity.

It's funny because back around spring game time, when Byerly played most of the game, plenty of commenters out there were in complete meltdown mode over him being our quarterback if JT couldn't play. Then the first couple of games didn't go too hot and people started asking for him. Then a "JT 4 Heisman" deal started between the Virginia Tech and Miami games. Now Thomas has a bit of a tough game, and folks are jumping into Byerly's corner.

Sorry, I got off-topic there. I think Byerly continues to play in the same capacity that he has -- situationally or when Thomas can't. The only thing that changes that is if we see some complete deviation from what Thomas showed us in the first half of the season from an output and improving trend standpoint. At the end of the day, Thomas is still the future of the program, so even if Byerly were to be marginally out-performing him, the reps Thomas is getting are more valuable in the long run.

For the record, I'm a fan of both of them and think they both bring some solid (but different) skill sets.

Also how important do you think it is to burn Leggets RS so we won’t go into to next season with a BB who has never taken a game snap?

I am a believer in the value of meaningful game experience before being the main guy, which Leggett is likely to be next year, but I'm also a believer that the coaches know what they're doing. To put this in perspective, look back at the mid-season firing of Al Groh a couple years back (around this time, actually). Tech was coming back from Clemson at 2-4 with no signs of real improvement. There was a clear need for change to even so much as salvage the season, and that's why it was made. I think when you're at 5-1, you have to treat it as something that's not broken, and a season with an awful lot of potential ahead. One of my favorite sayings is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, right now the B-Back rotation ain't broke, so with results like the team is getting, I'm guessing they won't do much to fix it.

That said, Coach said on his Monday radio show that Synjyn is going to be pretty much exclusively at A-Back moving forward after being "overwhelmed" trying to do both. That seems consistent with his results. Matt Connors is likely to be the backup B-Back this week, but he did also mention that there's a chance Leggett makes the field if he has a good week in practice. So we'll see what happens on that front, but my expectation is that Laskey continues to get an clear majority of carries.

Is it baseball season yet?


Is it baseball season yet now?

Getting closer! (That's a baseball pun if you pronounce "closer" the right way.)

Why can’t I quit crying over spilled milk?

One of my teachers in high school used to say, "Life sucks, then you die."

An inspiring one, she was.

Why doesn't Larry Fedora wear a fedora on the sidelines? That visor just looks silly.

I'm with you. I mean, that name had to come from somewhere didn't it? We need to get Carter in here to investigate.

There was talk of alternating QB's before the season. Maybe JT for 2 series and TB for 1. Think we'll see that in Chapel Hill?

I think what we've seen through six games will continue to be the standard. Thomas should be the go-to guy in almost all situations until he's hurt, severely underperforming, or there's a tactical advantage to using Byerly in his place.

Have you priced drywall lately in consequence of your Saturday redecorating activities?

I haven't, and honestly I'm afraid to. I feel like knowing pricing of these things might discourage me from partaking in such activities in the future. That's a problem, because said activities are actually quite therapeutic, it turns out.

Does FSU or the law enforcement apparatus in Tallahassee deserve the death penalty more? (Link)

I don't know, but it sure sounds like the entire situation down there is awfully terrifying. If you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend checking out Deadspin's piece from nearly a year ago wherein a professor talked about some of the things that he and his coworkers endured as staff there when dealing with football players. Worse yet is that I'm sure they're not the only town and school like that.

If I played football, how many degrees would I have from UNC by now?

Well considering the fact you're literate, you might be running UNC by now.

Follow up, if you had a nickel for every time someone said Tech would finish behind UNC in the Coastal, how many beers could you get at Taco Mac?

Well considering the fact that happens annually by news sources nationwide, you could probably buy Taco Mac by now. Not just the one in Midtown. Like, the entire company.

(This also works for "every time someone said that this was going to be UNC's year".)

Follow up to the follow up: When you're done purchasing one of every beer at Taco Mac with your prediction money, how many UNC degrees will it take to clean up the damage you do to their toilet?

I'm not sure, but they'll probably collectively cost less than said beers, so.

Founder's Centennial or Dogfish Head 60 Minute? Actually, list your favorite five beers right now. That seems like more fun!

Haven't tried the Founder's Centennial actually, but even as a guy that doesn't do IPAs as much I really enjoy the Dogfish Head 60 Minute. Top 5 right now, in no order...

  • Karbach Krunkin' Pumpkin (Houston brewery)
  • Monday Night Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale
  • Guadalupe Brewing Co. Scotch Ale (I'm a sucker for scotch ales)
  • Karbach-toberfest
  • Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale

I've been on a bit of a pumpkin beer kick lately. Gotta get it while it lasts...

Duke game: wha happened?

I'm going to turn this one over to loyal reader and friend of the blog, Buddy Smiggins:

We lost :/

-Buddy Smiggins, October 14, 2014

Rough game. It's a young team and we knew they could be inconsistent. We knew the defense wasn't good enough to win the game on its own. We had 3 turnovers (tied for the most all year) and had a -3 turnover margin (first negative margin all year). As CPJ said on his radio show on Monday and in his post-game press conference, this team isn't good enough to turn the ball over 3 times, get none in return, not convert red zone opportunities to touchdowns, and still win the game.

How big is the UNC game in terms of the rest of the season? This may just be a knee-jerk reaction to the Duke disaster, but I feel like this UNC game is going to define my outlook for the rest of the season. If we show up and play a solid (mostly) error-free game and beat UNC like we’re capable of doing, I think the rest of the season is going to be fun to watch, as we should have a chance in every remaining game. However, if the issues from Duke follow us to Chapel Hill and we choke, I feel like that may start a bad downward spiral that could see us finish 6-6 or 7-5. Maybe I’m just damaged from the last decade of repeated disappointments, because I do feel like this year’s team is mentally tougher than past squads, but it’s hard to get my hopes up. Sometimes I hate that I love Tech so much…

No, I see what you're saying and agree to a certain extent. I want to see the team bounce back from a tough loss and get back to what we saw from them the few weeks prior. I want to know if those games were flukes, or if those were the real deal. I do think that, moving into the back half of the schedule and coming off our first loss, this is a huge game in terms of setting the tone for the rest of the season. It's a winnable game against a team that's underperformed this season to date and has lost 4 in a row. That said, our guys need to go in and get it done to get things back on track and not let things get too far off the rails.

C.J Leggett -- Do you think it is worth it to burn his redshirt so next year we won't have a BBack who has never taken a game snap cuz right now 6 of 9 of our backs our seniors

I think there would be some value in that, sure. To me it's more about risk and reward though. Is spending this year as one of his eligibility worth what he would be able to do for us down the line? I understand the need for B-Back game reps. Luckily next year there will be a couple of emergency options if a lack of experience really becomes a big deal -- namely Broderick Snoddy and Marcus Allen. Both guys were moved because they fit other positions better, but they're veterans who could get the job done if push comes to shove.

I think next year will be a rough one from the B-Back perspective. There will probably be a lot of big runs from Leggett and Mikell Lands-Davis, and there will also be a handful of mistakes made given the rigors of learning that position, especially from a pass-blocking perspective.

Since we've blown a chance at a perfect season, is there any rational reason to play conservative against UNC? Would it not be optimal to take a scorched earth mentality, take no prisoners, blitz often, open Pandora's box of offensive weapons-B-back option passes, shuttle passes, rotating QBs, pistol/diamond formation, hurry-up offense and in general, just disciplined manic mayhem? Swing at their head early and often and take out all frustrations on UNC and let's try to hang a hundred on the ‘Heels? I know I'd feel better just by trying and if successful, it'd remind future opponents not to tangle with a mad Yellow Jacket.

I don't think that coming off of a loss means you change your game plan. I do think it provides a lot of motivation to be better in the next game. I hope we come out and take control early and never let them back in the game. That would be really encouraging to see coming off of a loss.

Did Byerly play because JT was benched, JT was hurt, or Byerly is a better passer. I didn't see the game (sorry guys, it was all my fault), but I saw that JT was standing and walking on the sidelines. And who is the better passer?

Thomas was hurt late in the first half. It wasn't very well advertised but it looked like a Duke player twisted his ankle on the far sideline as he was getting up from a tackle. Thomas played into the second half until he severely underthrew a pass for a red zone interception, which may have had to do with not getting support from that ankle. He's fine now though and will play this week.

As for who's the better passer, I'm not sure I could really say one way or the other. I think they're both around the same level. Sometimes it seems like Byerly has a bit better touch, but he also doesn't throw too many deep passes so that's probably a bit skewed from my perspective.

What changes to personnel or scheme on the defensive front do you think we need to keep teams from Half-back Draw-ing us to death?

I think the biggest thing would be committing linebackers to delaying their pass coverage and keeping an eye on the backfield. At that point you could handle it similar to a screen, where someone yells "SCREEN" and D-Linemen all of a sudden realize why they were having such an easy time getting to the passer. The other thing involved is not getting linebackers blocked by O-Linemen. They'll do things similar to what we do by immediately sending O-Linemen to the second level to take out linebackers. If our LBs can stay in the play, they'll be able to stop that a lot easier. (That last sentence brought to you by #analysis.)

For the Duke game why was our rushing average lower than my GPA when I'm on academic warning?

We had 46 carries for 282 yards, an average of over 6 yards per carry. I remember Ma Tech having standards...but that's pushing it. Good luck to you, sir. (Or madam, or whatever.)

Were the football gods just out to get Tech? While turning the ball over 3 times and failing to score within 10 yards of the endzone on a multiple occasions practically guarantees a loss, did it not seem like every possible break went against us? How many times were their drives elongated due to errant penalties? Was Corey Griffin really deserving of being ejected? (despite the current rule) Overall, we did not play well but in my opinion we just had an unfortunate day out on the flats.

Sometimes, things just aren't going your way, and I agree that it seemed like most of anything that could go wrong in that game did. An interesting example of that was the lightning delay. Total freak thing, nobody plans for it, nobody's fault, nothing. However, by delaying the game an extra hour-plus and keeping the players in the locker room, it actually may have worsened Thomas's ankle, which was ended shortly before halftime. CPJ mentioned Monday that Thomas coming right back out to play the second half might have given him a better opportunity to keep swelling down and keep the pain down and functionality up. However, he didn't get enough motion and next thing you know, his ankle became a major burden in the second half.

Whatever. Weird, bad game. Screw it. Let's go beat UNC.

Thanks to everyone for your questions! We'll do it again next week.