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Mailbag 8/21: Talking B-Back replacements, uniform providers, and the future of the option at Tech

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Let’s look at some replacement options for Dedrick Mills and more in this week’s mailbag.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Anonymous: How's the gold out initiative coming? What other ideas can we do to get the ball rolling for both older and younger fans?

Last year’s Goldout versus Vanderbilt turned out very nicely, I’d say. The athletic department clearly saw it as a success as well given that they’ve renewed it for a second-consecutive season; it will be seen versus Jacksonville State in week two this time around. I think that a Stansbury-run athletic department will be much more receptive to such ideas than was Mike Bobinski, so just keep on keeping on!

Ben Tankersley: What are the odds that we see 4-5 quarterbacks on the field at the same time? (i.e. LJ at QB, MJ at BB, JJ and TM and AB, or alternatively, LJ at WR and TO at QB)

I like the way you think, stranger. You should apply to write here.

But actually, this question was submitted before the dismissal of Dedrick Mills and, though it still almost certainly won’t happen this season, is ever so slightly more likely now considering Matthew Jordan’s experience at B-Back. Let it be known that I’m totally in favor of some crazy trick plays with that many quarterbacks on the field, though.

Aceblitzer: What is the likely hood of Tobias Oliver being in the conversation for starting QB next year? What do you think the odds are of Lucas Johnson or Jay Jones transferring if doesn't look like there every be the starter?

I’m a big fan of what Oliver brings to the table but I’m not sure that he’ll be challenging anyone for the job next season barring an absolute explosion at the position in 2017. If he can provide the steady hand that Paul Johnson values so fervently then he will surely get a shot, but it’s hard to imagine him usurping a guy with a full or even a partial year of starting experience. As for the odds of Johnson or Jones transferring, I have no idea. Everyone is different; we’ve seen plenty of guys leave the quarterback position and thrive in other roles and we’ve seen others leave the program entirely. I hope they’d fit into the former category.

SEAhawkJackets: Will fans get a chance to view preliminary uniform concepts from the big 3 contenders before one is selected by the North Ave Trade School we all love?

Almost certainly not. These talks should be in the very advanced stages by now and I’d quite frankly be surprised if an agreement hasn’t been reached -- we are essentially waiting for an announcement at this point considering how soon the deal is slated to kick in. Any concepts like that were likely kept under lock and key, though I wish we could’ve compared for ourselves.

Ched C: Last year we saw a very solid season for both football and basketball and it seems like both are likely to continue their success for the foreseeable future. Taking this into consideration along with the addition of Todd Stansbury and progressing on from Russell Athletic, to what degree should we expect Georgia Tech's major athletic programs to begin to really prosper?

Success breeds success folks, just look at the Kardashians.

Todd Stansbury’s renewed focus on building a winning culture has been very refreshing from a fan’s perspective. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s done so far, including terminating the Russell deal and moving on, and he definitely has Tech on a god track. Though MBob gets credit for firing Gregory and hiring Pastner, Tech hoops is also looking incredibly promising. I do expect the next decade or so to be a great time for Georgia Tech sports, particularly basketball, but that’s only because I can imagine football taking a dip when Paul Johnson retires.

Jack: I find that players who were 2 stars or overlooked 3 stars coming in to Tech perform just as well as the 4 and 5 stars at places like Georgia. Do you think it's gameday coaching, development of talent, or that recruiting rankings are a joke?

I’ve abandoned the stance that recruiting rankings don’t matter because there’s just too much evidence pointing the other way, but you couldn’t pay me to believe that Paul Johnson doesn’t get more mileage out of lower-rated recruits than almost anyone. In my opinion, we have the offensive system to thank for that. Current recruiting metrics are suited more for determining success in a traditional offense than Paul Johnson’s scheme, so he honestly isn’t even going after the same players as everyone else on that side of the ball. The defense is another story, and I’m willing to attribute some of those issues to recruiting shortcomings.

Jack: If you had to name a starter besides Matthew Jordan (assuming that's who you think it is) who do you think Paul Johnson is starting?

Earlier I would’ve said Jay Jones or Lucas Johnson, but now Taquon Marshall is looking more and more like a possibility. He has gotten great reviews from camp and figures to be pushing Jordan pretty hard as we hit the home stretch of the quarterback race. After all, CPJ did say that he was comfortable starting any of the four guys at ACC Media Days.

CTjacket: Who is going to start at B-back now that Mills is gone?

If you are looking for a bet from me, it’s going to be on Kirvonte Benson to start with. I like Jerry Howard a whole lot as well and Paul Johnson clearly does too given how much praise he’s given him over the course of training camp. Take a look at the following question for a more in-depth breakdown of the options.

Anonymous: Who do we have to replace Mills?

I couldn’t possibly outline this better than Ben did in this article, so I’ll defer to him on this one. There are certainly options.

Uncle Hud, BCE 85: Dedrick Mills off the team due to his choice to violate team rules. Does he keep his scholarship, or can we find another scampering B-back?

No, Dedrick is a goner. He accrued his three strikes in record time and Paul Johnson just doesn’t have the time or the patience for that kind of foolishness. There are options to replace him, but he was unquestionably the best of the best.

Bryson: So now that Mills is kicked off the team, how much does CPJ regret keeping him in the starting B back job over Marcus Marshall last year, especially when he'd already shown to be unreliable? Seeing as it basically drove Marshall off the team, was Mills' talent really worth the gamble?

Paul Johnson is in the business of winning football games, not making bets on guys who might transfer if they are benched. After all, we are talking about a guy who received preseason All-ACC recognition despite playing just one collegiate season. Mills is the better player and Johnson was right to start him over Marshall, demons and all. I sincerely doubt he regrets the decision despite the outcome.

Just Lurking: So how big of a deal is it that Mills is off the team? He was a special player, sure, but don't most B backs have reasonable success? Offense probably is less explosive but should still be efficient. It seems like for CPJ the order of importance in the backfield is QB-> AB (blocking!)-> BB

We’ve been fortunate with the caliber of B-Backs we’ve seen, but don’t confuse that with it being an easy plug-and-play position. There is still a ton of technique and skill that goes into being a successful B-Back, but guys like Zach Laskey who have come in and held the position down so successfully have spoiled us. That said, I’m confident in the replacements for Mills.

William: I think CPJ is as far from the hot seat as any coach, but when he does finally leave The Flats to retire in Valhalla, do you think GT will continue with his style offense or will we go back to "pro-style" mainstream offense? If you think we would continue CPJ’s legacy who right now would best continue his system? I think CPJ may be the last of his kind and his system can't be replicated but I enjoy it so much I don't want GT to become "pro-style" again.

This is a very good question. Though it may not seem like it to some people, what Paul Johnson has created with his unique system has been a culture of very consistent success with one major outlier. You have to consider what would almost certainly be a “rebuilding” period wherein a transition from option to pro-style roster would need to be made; that could feasibly take two to three years. I think that continuing Johnson’s legacy is the right move and that someone like Craig Candeto or Bryan Cook could be the man to do it upon Paul Johnson’s retirement. Maybe someone like Jeff Monken could even find a groove at Army and make his way to Tech, but that decision will obviously come down to the thoughts of Todd Stansbury and others. It will be an interesting time to say the least.

UnCivilEngineer: Over/under on three things:

  • Points scored in Alabama vs FSU - Give me the over. I like both Jalen Hurts and Deondre Francois and I don’t even know what the line is.
  • Points scored in Tech vs Tennessee - Under, doesn’t matter what the number is. Although I hear Mr. Roof is coaching...
  • Orientation of toilet paper / paper towel rolls - What? A lot, I guess. Over. Let’s say that.

Ramblin Gooner: Is the haze over the quarterback battle finally thinning?

What a well-phrased question. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Yes, the haze is thinning. Unfortunately, it’s really only clearing for people who are extremely close to the program. At this point I'm willing to just wait and see what we get come week one. The dismissal of Dedrick Mills completely derailed my train of thought on this matter, so we’ll see in time. Just give me the best guy.

A quick volley from SullyGT:

What's our first play from scrimmage against Tenn? Multiple answers for individual QB's acceptable.

Rocket toss!

How bad does Andrew Marshall’s injury hurt the O-line?

Badly. Marshall is one of the strongest players on the line and played one of the thinnest positions of all at right tackle.

Does a rookie punter and/or kicker make a trick play more or less likely to happen against Tenn?

This is a much harder question to answer than I initially expected since we are talking about balancing running a fake to prevent a bad kick with running a fake with an inexperienced kicker. I think I’d be more likely to do it if I were CPJ.

Where are folks parking near the new Falcons stadium?

I’d take MARTA, personally, but I assume it’ll be the same as Georgia Dome parking since they are right beside each other.

JeffGT: Based on the definition of a sandwich you gave last mailbag…If I have a hard shell taco from taco bell and the shell cracks at the bottom splitting it in two (as it always does) is it a sandwich?!?!

Is a taco shell bread? Don’t toy with me, Jeff.

CTjacket: Let’s say you have 28 sandwiches and this other guy has 27. Who runs this state?

The local sandwich shop, probably.

CTjacket: What score would you give this dive? (Qua’s dive into the end zone)

Take the highest score ever recorded and add 28 to it.

JabbaJacket: What is the over/under on the number of Chick-fil-A sandwiches purchased and consumed at the game?

Mercedes-Benz Stadium can seat 75,000 and I’m gonna say that everyone in attendance is gonna buy at least 12, right? Maybe 29? So I guess 2.175 million chicken sandwiches.

JabbaJacket: Why does whiskey clear beat corn from a jar?

My name is not Jon Taffer so I have no idea.

What are your favorite parody lyrics to Rocky Top?

I had actually never heard a Rocky Top parody, so I’ll go ahead and give a nod to Buddy Smiggins with this one from 680 The Fan that he posted in the comments section:

Wish I went to school on rocky top

Down in the Tennessee hills

Ain’t no classes there on rocky top

Ain’t no tutoring bills

Once I had a test on rocky top

Just said try to spell "cat"

I said that won’t help me get that job

Down at the laundro-mat

Rocky top

You’ll always be

2nd in the SEC

tdot6: Does water surround land or does land surround water?

Water clearly surrounds land. Take all of the water out of the world and you’ll see the crust/skeletal remains of the earth, but take all the land out and all you have left is a big ball of water. If you put a big rock into a puddle, it is clearly being surrounded by water and not visa versa.

Shield Maiden: What are your top three favorite anime?

You know, I can’t say that I’ve ever watched any. It’s just not really my thing, I guess. It also used to scare me as a child and still does to this day in some ways.