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Mailbag 5/22

We talked about colors and hot takes about food

Taco Bell Menu Items, Headquarters And Restaurant Shoot Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell

What’s the path and probability that the Tech Golf team can win the national championship? [Color commentary follow on question: Read that Ole Miss was eliminated…contributed by having a golf shot hit a bird in flight—was it an African or European swallow that was hit?]

Jake: As much as I like to think I have end-all, be-all opinions on Tech non-revenue sports, seeing as how I write about them every week, I often don’t have clear-cut answers to questions like this. However, thanks to the consistency of the program over the last quarter century and the level of production we’ve seen this year from the team, they absolutely have a chance to win it. The bevy of outright wins they’ve had, including their second ACC Championship in a row, that one in record-setting fashion, is nothing but encouraging. When they’re on, this team, which spent large swaths of the year in the top 5, can really play. Lacking a true superstar, they have the depth to make a statement. However, this also means they don’t have much in terms of bailing out a weak round in their round. If Tech can continue to capitalize on getting under-par on tougher holes and the depth stays about where it was, they have a shot. And, especially after three years of disappointing regional losses in a row, a shot is pretty darn nice to have.

Carter: Birds are still a sensitive subject over at Red Cup Rebellion and we are respecting their privacy in this difficult time.

Akshay: Randy Johnson-ing a bird has to be one of the worst ways to lose a golf tournament I’ve ever heard. Thoughts and prayers, RCR.

Given that virtually all of our QBs can run well and our O-line may not be the best at pass blocking, do we foresee our offense employing an intentional strategy of spreading the field, making quick initial reads and if covered, then scrambling for first downs? Is 500 yards rushing a reasonable over/under for our QB this year?

Ben: I really wouldn’t be surprised to see whatever quarterback wins the starting job get at least 500 yards on the ground. Of those in contention for the job, I think Lucas Johnson is probably the least likely to do so, but I imagine the offense this year will probably still feature some read option plays to help the quarterback move. Dave Patenaude will do what he can with what he’s got, and he’s got running quarterbacks galore.

Nishant: This is in line with what I’m expecting, though I expect they’ll be coached to try to roll out to buy time when the pocket collapses instead of immediately breaking and running. As Ben said, expect a healthy dose of read option in the run game, so 500 yards seems perfectly realistic for the starting QB. The team also embraced communism ran a bit of run-pass option in the spring game, which typically involves making quick reads, and it’s hard to see Patenaude trusting any of his quarterbacks to go through a long series of progressions when they’re still getting used to the offense.

How much Kool Aid must we ingest to believe we can win 8 or more games this year?

Ben: Personally, I think Tech is currently in the 5-6 win range, so it would take a good bit of kool aid for me to think they can win 8 games this season. Biggest thing will be taking care of business out-of-conference against USF and Temple. If Tech wins both of those, they might be able to find five conference wins in this mess of a Coastal division. If I were a betting man, though, I wouldn’t put money on Tech getting 8 wins this season.

Carter: I don’t know you’d have to drink the Kool-Aid Man dry, but you might have to put him on life support. Collins’ transition is going to be a lot rougher than Johnson’s was - seriously, take another look at that 2020 schedule.

Jake: Numbers aren’t everything, but taking a look at this season’s S&P+ predictions would not be for the faint of heart. Find a Waffle House to-go cup and pour yourself a tall glass.

Akshay: a lot. Even if you look past the early non-conference slate (and you definitely shouldn’t, considering what happened at USF last year), you have to consider that the Coastal is always volatile, you’re facing two of the top five teams in the nation to bookend the year, and your cross-divisional opponent has been a consistent nine-game-winner for a few years now.

We’ve seen a steep rise in transfers out of the program. Do you see these as significant losses? Is it indicative of a larger/hidden issue or are we gonna be fine?

Ben: I’m actually not too concerned about those that we’ve lost. Anytime you have a coaching change, players are going to transfer. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m surprised more didn’t transfer out. I think that speaks really well to how Geoff Collins and his new staff have made an impression on the players. As far as those that have transferred out, obviously Parker Braun and KirVonte Benson are the biggest losses, but I don’t think they are irreplaceable, specifically Benson.

Carter: Churn is normal, and doubly so in a transition year. A lot of people transferred out when Johnson was hired, and I don’t remember any of ‘em. (Except for DJ Donley, weirdly.) Braun and Benson are the biggest losses, as Ben said, but the single biggest transfer of the Paul Johnson era ended up being a net positive, so I wouldn’t worry all too much about losing them.

Jake: Just going from gut feeling, it seemed like we had more transfers a couple years ago, after 2016, I believe, before looking at the numbers. However, losing, say, a Marcus Marshall might’ve contributed to that feeling. Sometimes it’s churn after a big transition, but, other times, especially with grad transfers, they have their degree and sometimes it’s just time to move on, try something new, or get a change of scenery.

Nishant: I’m not worried in the slightest. Benson and Braun aside, most of the guys who have transferred out were way down the depth chart, and those sorts of transfers happen to every team every offseason. I honestly would have expected more guys to leave this offseason, given the massive shift in scheme and philosophy. No doubt a few guys decided to stay simply because they were having fun under the new regime, so that’s a good sign.

Who’s gonna be the highest rated recruit that will commit to the 404 that’s not already committed?

Ben: There’s a couple I would love to see commit to the Flats, but keep in mind I have no way of knowing who is going to commit. As for my wish list, I’d like to see Marcus Dumervil and Phillip Webb commit. Both are biGTime players who could provide an instant impact on both sides of the ball.

Which under the radar verbal commitment do you think can make the biggest splash for Tech and why?

Ben: I don’t know if he’s under the radar, but he’s certainly underrated, and that’s quarterback Tucker Gleason. He’s a very different quarterback than every single one on the roster, in that he’s a passer first. Watching him and Jordan Yates compete for the starting job is gonna be a fun time. Gleason brings some really nice arm talent and isn’t too bad on his feet, both in the pocket and on the run. If you haven’t watched his film, I’d highly recommend it.

During football season I was snooping on clempsons shaking the south land blog and stumbled across an article that stated the authors biggest fear was to see that Paul Johnson would either be fired or retire in the near future. He worried that the right coach could come to the 404 and with a little help from the Institute and some good recruiting could awaken a sleeping giant. Should that author be worried now that Geoff Collins is the new godfather in the ATL?

Ben: That is the one thing over everything else that I love about Geoff Collins. He has embraced the city of Atlanta more than any other coach who has set foot on the Flats. It’s a little soon to say that people should start getting worried, but give it time and I think he’ll start making some people sweat.

Nishant: Anxious? Sure. Scared? No. This team will need several years to reach the point where beating Clemson is even feasible. And that’s assuming Collins turns out to be a solid head coach, which—despite his early success off the field—is still a massive question mark.

Whom is the most deserving GT athlete who will probably never be selected to their sport’s HOF?

Ben: Tevin Washington, dont @ me. I’m only sort of kidding with that. Washington was never the most gifted player, but he was able to do a lot with what he had. I think he was one of the better quarterbacks that Paul Johnson got to work with. He was smart and ran Johnson’s offense efficiently. I’d also recommend Robbie Godhigh.

Carter: Robbie Godhigh once had a 200+ yard game. At Clemson. People forget that.

Nishant: This isn’t really answering the question, but if Jen Yee isn’t voted in on the first ballot, they should just close the entire thing down.

Jake: My totally, unashamedly homer pick is my hometown hero Iman Shumpert. Does he deserve it? Not even. But is he on my personal Mount Rushmore? Absolutely.

What is your House Sigil, and what are your words?

Ben: This is a tough one. For the uninitiated, this is a Game of Thrones reference. Personally, I started watching a couple weeks ago and am in Season 4, probably Season 5 when this posts (SO NO SPOILERS EVEN THOUGH I ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS A [FOREIGNER] STUPID PIECE OF [STYX]). As for my House Sigil, I would say it’s an elephant. My family prides itself on being pretty smart and elephants are pretty smart. For my words, “Let them have pi.” Pun fully intended.

Since ARA is coming back to Tech, replacing Sodexo will we see concession stand fare continue to improve (the food was great last season, although they were always out of what you wanted and the lines were the worst I’ve ever seen), and lines and customer service get back to acceptable levels? Last two seasons were a mess at BDS@HGF (at least in Upper East) in the area of customer service and speed of service.

Carter: it took me a second to realize this is referring to Aramark, who will be poisoning feeding Georgia Tech students and fans for the foreseeable future. These things tend to go to the lowest bidder, so.... I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that.

Jake: Seems like the push from improvement is more from Athletics, not Sodexo, so I’d be shocked to see a regression much beyond the standard transition hiccups.

Also on those lines, can students expect a return of ARA’s Itza Pizza, delivered out of Woody’s? Will Itza Pizza become the official pizza of Georgia Tech Athletics?

Carter: Antico should be the official pizza of Georgia Tech Athletics.

Jake: For those that don’t know, Woodruff Dining Hall is no more. Long live Woodruff Dining Hall. I’m sure readers have plenty of memories of that place, but, for what it’s worth, I was eating some terrible Woody’s pizza when I found this site the first time, and I totally forgot about that until I was typing this sentence. Now that Shaquille O’Neal, noted purveyor of donuts at the Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon and erstwhile basketball player, owns the Papa Johns on Tenth Street, I think we’ll see even more of them around the Flats.

Got any hot food takes lately?

Ben: Always. Taco Bell has the best fast food breakfast, and Chick-fil-A is the only thing remotely close. Deviled eggs, not so good. Peanut butter on a hamburger is actually pretty good. Weird, but good. Thick, non-crispy bacon is infinitely better than thin bacon that turns into dust in your mouth. Boneless wings and white sauce are better than their respective counterparts. That enough for you, Jake?

Carter: Prince’s and Bolton’s are generally accepted as the co-OGs of Nashville Hot Chicken. I decided to patronize Bolton’s when I was in Nashville earlier this year. Ordered a dark meat quarter, medium level spice - the chicken was not spicy. At all. Zero spice. TRASH.

Jake: Sure thing, Ben. I will add I thought I was the only one who liked boneless wings better, so it’s nice not to be alone.

Akshay: In-N-Out - super overrated. The people that love it so much just haven’t ever been to a Chick-fil-A or Cookout.

What will be the best way to cope after our opening game?

Ben: I was going to make some joke about not having to worry about The Citadel, but then I remembered we also have South Florida before then. Anyway, I would say go into Clemson with no expectations, and then get drunk and enjoy the rest of the opening week of college football.

Carter: Well, the Dragon Con Bunny Hutch is that night, so that should help ease the pain. Plus, Zachary Levi and Robert Englund are gonna be there. If you’re not going to Dragon Con, my advice would be to have two beers and put on another college football game. There are a lot of those that weekend, ya know?

Jake: The cool, refreshing taste of a Naturday. Or several.

Akshay: File an FCC complaint against the cruelty you just had to witness on live TV.

Any thoughts on Bill C’s GT preview?

Ben: I really enjoy reading Bill’s articles. I feel like I always learn something. In his preview of Tech, I think he’s pretty spot on. There is a reason that Geoff Collins’ contract is for seven years. It’s probably going to take a couple seasons for the Yellow Jackets to find their footing.

Akshay: I always appreciate the robot’s analysis of our program, and I gotta say: I’m very much on the same page as him. Embracing Atlanta has been a great first step — doing something with that brand and seeing a net change may take some time.

What is your third favorite color?

Ben: Purple.

Carter: Turquoise.

Jake: Navy.

Akshay: Navy.

What crazy helmet should GT Football x adidas try sometime?

Ben: I want the honeycomb helmets back.

Carter: There is only one correct answer.

Jake: I think the old-school block T would look cool but we hardly use that logo, as is.

Akshay: Honeycomb helmets or we riot.

Should each home game include video tributes to different regions of the state?

Carter: Start small. Collins is really trying to sell Tech as Atlanta’s college team. He should work that for a few years before looking to expand to the rest of the state.

What kind of defining moment do you think we’ll have where we can say we have turned the corner as a program?

Jake: A win at Sanford Stadium that doesn’t come down to the wire. Or Death Valley. You can hang with the big boys when you prove you can do just that.

Akshay: Jake, stop reading my mind. But to be more specific to the Collins era, I’m looking for two things: consistently snagging in-state 4* recruits from other nearby schools and consistently appearing in the ACC title game, even if we end up as Clemson’s sacrificial lamb.

Are they more efficient helping with post game egress than the actual traffic lights and 4 way stop signs? Take a point of view for pedestrians and motorists.

Ben: I’ll defer to the answer in the comments:

I am a traffic engineer....

Police are absolutely not more efficent than coordinated traffic signals. It took a while, but APD has finally gotten around to letting GDOT/City of Atlanta manage the signals during big events (outside of safety issues) since:

1. We can set up specific signal plans to help with event ingress and egress

2. During big events there are signal operations people actively managing the signals based on real-time traffic conditions

Where the police are extremely helpful, aside from any larger safety issues that may occur, is managing pedestrian traffic and making sure pedestrians are actually out of the road when vehicular traffic is supposed to be moving (and vice versa).

What are the fastest routes to leave campus as a motorist heading north, south, east and west?

Carter: Depends on where you’re headed, at what time of the day, and whether or not a football game has just ended.

Jake: Don’t. Eat at a nice Midtown restaurant and poke around town a little bit. You’ll only lose a little time once the roads clear up and you can drive smoothly the entire way.

Akshay: If you live in the metro, find a way to get to and take MARTA to and from games. It makes things so much easier. Unfortunately, post-game congestion is just bound to happen in an area with such small streets and a lack of large parking lots, so might as well just avoid that entirely.

What will the new Tech commentator bingo cards look like?

Akshay: Consider these free spaces - “Did you know that Tech used to run the triple option?”, “You know, (play by play guy), Tech might still be getting used to their new offensive scheme and throwing the ball after running the option for so long.”

When will people stop comparing CGC to CPJ (good or bad)?

Ben: It won’t end anytime soon.

Carter: For better or worse, people are always going to want to compare the current thing to the most recent version of that thing, so I don’t see this stopping until we get to the coach after Collins, or maybe even the coach after him. But man, I wish it would at least wait until we’ve started to see what happens on the field.

Akshay: Never (but I agree with Carter that it should wait to start until the season does). Especially for younger fans like me, for whom Johnson is the only Tech head coach they’ve ever known, CPJ will always be the measuring stick for every coach that comes after.

How do you like our odds to be a top 8 seed nationally in Beesball? Depending on when you answer this you’ll have the luxury of a little more data!

Jake: The Pittsburgh loss on Sunday was a step in the wrong direction for those hopes. They’re that bad. Regional hosting is absolutely still in the cards. Super Regional? Nailing down some wins the next few days would go a long way to bring that to Atlanta, too.

Akshay: While I am not an expert on this stuff, I think making the semifinals or the final of the ACC tournament should guarantee Tech a top 8 seed. Like Jake mentioned, they’re in prime position to host a regional as it stands, but a super regional would be even better (assuming, of course, Tech advances that far in the tournament).

What will be our crazy upset this fall? Can we spoil georgie’s season? Clem and son’s (actually as the first game probably not)? Someone we don’t know is good right now?

Ben: I think Virginia Tech will bounce back this season, so I’d love for us to upset them again, but it’s a wait-and-see situation for me.

Akshay: I would love to spoil Athens’s season at home, but I feel more comfortable saying that our best chance at an upset is probably against whoever looks most poised to win our division (be that UVA, Miami, or whoever else). That Thursday night game versus NC State also seems to have delicious upset potential.

Excluding transfers, with no OL recruits last cycle and only two this cycle plus OL being probably the hardest position group to transition to the new offense. How long before we can expect a fully capable offensive line in the new system? Are there higher rated recruits still to come from Key or do these match the style for what he’s looking for and can we expect to see more of the same?

Ben: I think we’ll see improvement over the next couple years, but it’ll take about that much time for Key to get in the guys that he wants, so I’d say between two and four years.

Will other sports start to use GT football’s (and morpheus’s) media/graphics as well or will they mostly stay separated? I thought I saw GT Baseball wearing GRIT t shirts, but wasn’t sure if it would go to basketball and other sports as well with a unified brand.

Ben: I really hope so. If I had to guess, you’ll probably see more teams using media/graphics like the football team as they start to see how well it works for football.

Any players looking good for their chances in the NFL?

Ben: At this point, it’s tough to tell. UDFAs and signings from mini-camps are always hit or miss.