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Mailbag 10/9

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We’re talking a lot about the Coastal today!

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Do you feel the offense is finally turning the corner? Is the second half of the UNC game predictive of what we shall see in the next game?

Ben: We’ll see. There were a lot of things that went well, or nearly well, but there’s still a lot to work on. The team still struggles a lot with the offensive line, and that’s not something that will be fixed overnight. Coming from that issue is a lack of consistent success in the running game. Jordan Mason had one nice run Saturday, where he was able to pick up 43 yards, but if you take that carry out, Mason ran the ball seven times for 19 yards. That’s not gonna win many games.

Stephen: I didn’t watch the game this weekend. #FireFallWeddings. But not really, I had a great time at y’all’s wedding and everything could not have been better! (except not getting ACCN on mobile grumble grumble Spectrum....)

Jake: James Graham! Consistent snaps! It’s like a breath of fresh air. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, that’s for sure.

CGC stated they will fix the defense on those third downs, which UNC feasted on throughout the game. How do you think CGC/Thacker will address this in the film room and on the practice field?

Ben: A big problem that Tech dealt with this past week was UNC’s offensive line, and I use the term “big” literally. Tech’s defensive line got physically beaten consistently throughout the game, so Sam Howell had a comfortable pocket almost the entire game. I was a little surprised the defense didn’t play quite as aggressively later in the game, but when the opposing offense runs nearly twice as many plays as yours, you’re already going to be exhausted.

I hate staring at the East End from pictures people post at Bobby Dodd Stadium during the game. It looked emptied…..was attendance that bad? Some of my friends were at that game and said the crowd was actually good as far as energy is concerned.

Ben: This weekend was probably the best, in terms of atmosphere. The Athletic’s Tori McElhaney actually mentioned it on Twitter during the game.

The stadium definitely looked empty though.

Stephen: There’s got to be a better way to fill the stadium and concentrate fans. I’d almost rather charge the same for Upper West and Lower East, close the “Special Bar” area whatever it’s called that’s down there, and get some butts in the lower level before we worry about what’s going on in the upper anywhere. Either that, or put the cameras on the East side and show the crowd. You’re all engineers, make it work.

Jake: Stephen, thats called the Club seating. But definitely a valid point. And as far as atmosphere goes, well, I have previously been on the record on why it’s been lackluster - and I don’t think other than a couple of rogue F tuning/space chords from the band, they really did anything to improve it. Too much piped in music/canned sound doesn’t really help, either.

What are some things that you feel Graham can work on/improve upon? Did he miss anything that would have been a better read?

Ben: Andrew hits the nail right on the head. Graham stared down almost every single receiver he threw it to. Another play that really stood out to me was the third down play where Graham opted to run out of bounds short of the first down instead of trying to get the first. I understand protecting yourself, but at some point, you gotta take that hit and fight for the first down.

Andrew: My biggest complaint with Graham is that he tends to stare down and lock on to his receiver and not really read through his progression. He struggles with seeing the safety at times, this has led to two of his interceptions this season.

Can we all agree the field looked great, and we should keep that design going forward?

Ben: Tech’s field crew is really great. This past week’s was just another great example of that.

Stephen: I agree with your question.

Jake: We have always been at war with bad field designs.

Does the Gray come back again this season despite being 0-1? Does it see the light of day in a “real” televised game?

Ben: If they do, they won’t be the exact same ones. GTAA is planning to auction off the game-worn jerseys, per Ken.

Stephen: Probably not after this season. Support AI2020 without needing an incentive if you want to keep the jerseys from being bought.

Jake: 10 bucks says that the next time we see it, the “grey devils” backstory changes for the third time.

This may have been asked previously but if we lose every game the rest of this season, how big of a loss will we take in our current recruiting class? Or do you guys think it’ll be relatively unaffected? We need all the help we can get, obviously.

Ben: This season won’t have much of an effect. Obviously, recruits want to see the team win, but there are other things I feel like they’re also looking for; specifically, I think they’re trying to get an idea of what kind of path Tech is on.

Andrew: I don’t think so. One seasons win/loss doesn’t usually have as much of an impact on recruiting as one would think. These kids are being sold on the future, not what Tech is doing now.

Stephen: Proof of concept certainly won’t happen in Year 1/0/-1 in my opinion. Now, if we’re putting up a 4-8 season come 2021, then the story might be different, but there are no expectations anywhere right now to win games.

If you had to repeatedly strike yourself in the face with a hammer or say something nice about duke, what type of hammer would you use?

Ben: I don’t love Duke, but I can respect what David Cutcliffe has done there. Love him or hate him, he had done a miraculous job building that program.

Stephen: I laughed when I read this question for the first time, kudos to you sir.

Jake: I dunno why, but I got wistful about the days of playing the ever loving [Stevie Wonder] out of some chimes in my old high school percussion times earlier this week for literally the first time in many years, so let’s go with these. Good, full bodied tone. High quality. What’s not to love?

How long has Justin Fuente got? Fired before our game or at the end of the season?

Ben: Personally, I’m hoping they get something akin to the Tobias Oliver treatment from Tech that costs Fuente his job.

Jake: 0-4 vs. Tech sounds even better than 0-3 vs. Tech to me...

Stephen: EXIT SANDMAN (more on this to come later today)

Do you believe in Manny Diaz to right the ship for the Canes?

Ben: I thought it was kind of silly when they hired him. It felt completely like an impulse hire because defense is something they were good at under Richt. I think there was a better hire that could have been made, though I will say I don’t know who I would have hired.

Stephen: Probably? But at the same time, defensive head coaches get very little leeway in today’s college football environment (Saban, Gary Patterson aside). So if things are running smoothly by Year 3, expect Mr. Worldwide to start the Hot (Salsa Dancing) Seat for Diaz. That was a terrible joke, I’m sorry.

Given full consideration to what they each had to work with, how would you rank the ACC rookie coaches’ performances so far?

Ben: Mack Brown tops the list for me. He did an incredible job hiring his coordinators, and now they’re probably the frontrunners for the Coastal. I’ll go with Scott Satterfield as the second best. Nobody expected anything from Louisville this year, and they’ve actually looked solid in a few games. Next up, I’ll go with our boy Geoff. He’s done a great job with recruiting thus far and building excitement around the program, though we haven’t quite seen the in-game results we were all hoping for. Bringing up the rear is Manny. Like I just said, I didn’t like the hire to begin with, and I haven’t seen much that I’ve liked from Da U.

Stephen: The exact order Ben listed them in. To have brought in so many transfers, Diaz hasn’t done anything, but you almost have to expect that with a team with so many players that for one reason or another didn’t work out at their previous schools. Also, pretty sure your kicker is still named Bubba.

Jake: I feel like Miami has all this clout, and they totally whiffed bringing in Diaz. In another world, they may still be more of a destination job, but I think that Diaz is unexceptional and I delight in Miami pain. I was going to rate Geoff low out of continuing mild annoyance, but I don’t see how you can do worse than Diaz. Brown is more surprising than Satterfield, but, remembering where Louisville was last year, I’m going to switch those two.

Versus Duke, are we at a disadvantage across the board, or are there any matchups we should be able to exploit?

Ben: Duke’s defense is pretty good this season. I’ll touch on this during my Advanced Stat preview, but that’s not looking like it’ll be a fun match-up.

Stephen: WE HAVE THE RAY GUY HOPEFUL. Duke better pray the winds are in their favor on Saturday.

How often does Cutcliffe run the triple option against us, and if they do so more than 50%, should he forfeit all wide receiver recruits?

Ben: I’m expecting no less than 10 plays run from the flexbone this weekend from Duke. From what I’ve seen, they like to use in when they get in the redzone.

Stephen: M?M?BP Prop Bet of the Week! Guess you inception-ed me this week.

What was the year you knew you were gonna stick with Tech throughout all the highs and lows?

Ben: The Chan Gailey years for me, specifically growing up in Athens during UGA’s seven-year winning streak over us.

Jake: The day I agreed to give them four-plus years of out of state tuition, I knew I better be all in on this. I was spoiled absolutely rotten with a nine win season, three over SEC East teams, with one on the road in Athens, another over Virginia Tech, and a bowl. And, in return, I have been gifted a delightfully beautiful gift - in a dozen tries, I am yet to see a road win. Really been downhill since those first four months.

Stephen: Trigger warning: Bennie Cunningham year.

For a svelte lady newsreader, which accent keeps you most tuned into the telly, even if you don’t care about the story?

Ben: I’m a general connoisseur of the news, so what the people anchoring the news look and sound like doesn’t really matter to me. I’m more concerned about the news they’re reporting on.

Jake: And here I am, realizing I never really watch the news anymore. Oops. I couldn’t even tell you.

Is not being the worst P5 team in SP+ a good measuring stick for our team this season?

Ben: Georgia Tech is currently 92nd overall in SP+. I think a better measuring stick is that the defense is ranked 53rd. The offense still needs to match it, but that’s a good improvement for the defense.

Stephen: I’d like to aim higher than that benchmark in all honesty. We haven’t been a truly bottom of the barrel team in a LONG time. Out of 65 teams ( i included ND and BYU, sue me), I think we need to at worst be in the Top 50 in a given year. That’s my absolute floor for us, outside of these first two years transitioning away from CPJ.