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Mailbag 8/11

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In which we're talking about the ongoing #GTCAMP15 and presidential candidate boxing match-ups.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

What do you think of Matt Jordan's move to A-back?

I think it says two things. First, with him just now starting his redshirt freshman season, I think it shows that the coaches want him and his athleticism on the field -- and understandably so. Every time I saw Jordan carry the ball in both spring games, I was impressed with his running abilities -- he's got solid speed and balance that make for a strong combo in space.

The other thing that I think it says is that the coaches have been impressed thus far with what little they've seen from Christian Campbell. Given that Campbell has only been at school for under two months and practicing for a couple of weeks, it sounds like the coaches have already figured out that Campbell is the long-term replacement for Justin Thomas.

If you could see any of the presidential candidates in a boxing match, who would it be and why would Vladimir Putin beat all of them?

I typically don't dial in to politics too much (I spend more time on sports), but somehow a boxing match between Chris Christie and Donald Trump is a really funny image in my head. Especially if Ben Carson were the ringside doctor. Naturally though, Putin would beat either of them, because how on Earth would they beat both Putin and the bear??

What is your opinion on new unis?

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the jerseys. I liked last season's and it feels petty because the changes are relatively small, but still, they're not my favorite. I don't like the navy or "interlocking GT" on the collar, and I'm not a fan of the weird stripe/pit stain going down the side. I really liked last year's look, with the stripes going around the shoulder and arm, the white collar, and the "TECH" above the numbers. If anything, I would've made the collar gold, and maybe made it "GEORGIA TECH" above the numbers. But generally, I'm not a fan of the changes.

What are we hearing about camp? Team Unity? Frosh Involvement? Who's stepping up as leaders beyond those we KNOW to be leaders? Effect of Orange Bowl win on this locker room? CPJ, cracked a smile yet?

It's pretty early to say much about team unity, but as far as leaders go, there were a number of them who left after last season. On offense, Shaq Mason is a tough one to replace, both with the offensive line and the team in general. This year, I'm expecting Freddie Burden and Errin Joe to step up and be the vocal leader from the offensive line. Justin Thomas is clearly recognized as a leader on the team as well, but he's less vocal and a different style of leader in general. On defense, I'd look to Gotsis, Hunt-Days, Davis, and Golden as big-time leaders amongst their units and in the locker room on the whole.

As for how the Orange Bowl is affecting the team at this point, I'm sure it's providing motivation, morale, and some self-confidence. I wouldn't worry about people getting complacent though -- if there's anyone capable of keeping the players grounded and hungry, it's Coach Johnson.

2015 vs 2016? Based on roster and current recruiting....which Tech squad has the best chance to win the ACCCG AND make the Playoffs?

The two years are pretty different in how they set up. The thing is, Georgia Tech going 12-1 this season and winning the ACC Championship Game would, in my mind, make for an automatic Playoff birth. This year's schedule is one where they wouldn't have to go undefeated to be firmly in the discussion. The 2016 schedule replaces Notre Dame and Florida State with Vanderbilt and Boston College. That's much, much less daunting -- and also creates much less room for error. At that point, they almost can't afford a single loss (even with an ACCCG win) and still be comfortably in consideration to make the Playoff.

All things considered, while I don't want to get my hopes up for a Playoff run either season, I'd have to think that 2016 (easier schedule, senior quarterback, experienced skill position players) is the year if it's going to be one of the two.

What's your thoughts on under amours new "ungrabbable" uniforms?

For those unaware, these are the jerseys in question. I'm not sure the word "ungrabbable" is a) actually a word, or b) 100% accurate, but design-wise I'm all about minimizing the room available for defenders to grab onto a ball carrier. It also has the added benefit of restricting players' movement as little as possible.

At this point, if Georgia Tech were to sever ties with Russell Athletic, Under Armour would probably be the leader in the clubhouse for providers I'd want to take over.

Most recent criticism of the team seems to be centered around the work of the offensive line. Lots of penalties in scrimmages. What was his main gripe during last fall camp on the offensive side and what could we expect these next few weeks?

I think the biggest thing last year was turnovers, mainly as Thomas was getting up-to-speed after missing a lot of spring practice with an injury. The other thing they dealt with extensively were injuries, as multiple starters were playing limited snaps in scrimmages due to bumps and bruises. This year, I think the concern is largely returning to perimeter blocking as well as Thomas's ability to connect with receivers and backs.

Paul Johnson seems singularly and characteristically unimpressed with some of our "rising stars" on offense and defense in practice. Besides this being CPJ being CPJ, how hard is it to learn systems in college ball and are Tech's schemes and systems harder than most? And the follow up would be is Tech's offensive success more dependent on experience than it is talent?

I never played high school or college football, so it's hard for me to say for sure how intricate the systems are relative to each other. That said, I think it's telling that it's so rare to see true freshmen come in and make a major impact, especially on offense. Some of that is due to the individuals and how physically ready they are to contribute at 18 years old, but I think a lot of it has to do with the intricacy of the schemes. On defense, schemes and roles are relatively consistent from school to school, and from high school to college. I think that's a lot of the reason that you saw a ton of true freshmen contribute on defense from the beginning of last season, and that it's more common in general. Offense is much tougher, especially at Georgia Tech, where offensive linemen use less traditional blocking techniques (and put less emphasis on pass blocking), quarterbacks use different footwork and are asked to do different things than in high school, receivers and running backs are asked to block, and there are a lot of different reads that have to be made at a higher speed than they were made in high school. It's a lot to adjust to, and that's why you don't often see true freshmen on the field on the Flats.

Has anyone seen Skov mesh, block, run behind pads, catch passes, block?

The coaches have, but practices and scrimmages have been closed to the media & public thus far. Of those, rest assured that he can block and run behind his pads. As for the other stuff, I have no way of knowing whether he can do that, but he'll be able to before he's asked to. I expect him to contribute at B-Back, although it won't be in a pass-catching capacity.

What's the first play we run on offense against Alcorn St? I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's a swing pass to Summers.

There were some good guesses in the comments, but I think they were a little more exotic than I would expect to be called in that game. I expect Coach Johnson to limit the playbook in that game to minimize what's on film moving forward. (I'm not sure the last time I saw something brand new from the playbook, to be fair, but this is also a unique set of personnel that might have different abilities than last year's.

I do like the misdirection that everyone was suggesting though. I'm going with a trap option. (For the uninitiated, the motion and B-Back go in the same direction, except that the motioning back stops, turns around and becomes the lead blocker while the other A-Back becomes the pitch man. It's the misdirection version of a triple option, and it looks like this: video.)

Does anyone know why we are unable to capitalize on last years season beating Clemson, Georgia and winning [the] Orange Bowl, finishing 7th in ratings and not getting a lot of quality verbal commits? We are losing out to all are (sic) competitors for the best offensive and defensive linemen. which to me make or break your winning teams. We had a decent signing class last year-2015.,but finishing 7th in the country-you would think we would be getting some top lineman==Just one guys opinion.

The thing is, recruiting is about more than win-loss records. There are reasons that schools like Michigan have continued to pull in big-time recruits while barely maintaining bowl eligibility, where schools like UCF and Boise State have struggled to recruit on a comparable level while the last two Fiesta Bowls. It's a far, far more complicated issue than 'whoever wins the most gets the best recruits'.

A few more points I'd like to make. What you consider a "quality verbal commit" and what the coaches consider a "quality verbal commit" may not exactly be the same group of players. The team added 6 commitments to last year's signing class, including a few of the top remaining prospects on the board -- Anree Saint-Amour, Victor Alexander, and Marcus Marshall. Finally, the coaches have commitments from some of the top prospects on the board this year -- Xavier Gantt at A-Back, Dedrick Mills at B-Back, and Jordan Johnson at offensive line.

Don't spend a ton of time worrying about recruiting rankings. Nobody makes it into the Playoff or a conference championship game because Rivals said they had the most 4-star prospects. There's only one ranking that truly matters, and that's the win-loss record.