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Mailbag 9/11

We dig deep into old drive charts!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 USF at Georgia Tech Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If the USF player hadn’t gotten hurt, do you think the play would have been reviewed, since no flag was thrown on the field? I think it was a legitimate, if borderline, call. We’ve seen Tech hurt by the same type of call.

Drew: I don’t think they would have reviewed it. It didn’t seem like the refs noticed it (the announcers certainly didn’t) and the booth only had the time to call down to review because of the injury. It was definitely the right call in my mind.

Kieffer: I agree with Drew, I think his injury led the refs to take another look. It was absolutely the right call. Crown of the helmet strike to the head of another player, defenseless or not, is Targeting.

Any sign that after multiple failures to convert 3rd and short from shotgun that the staff might make a change to at least attempt a play from under center?

Ben: That’s up there in terms of my biggest complaints about the offense. It doesn’t make sense in my head to add so much yardage on a third-and-short plan, so I hope they add some more under center plays

Nishant: They did run one or two plays from under center at the goal line. I’d like to think we’ll see something similar on fourth and inches, but I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath for it to happen in any other situation.

Jake: I wish! Haha.

Drew: I hope so. I got mad at my TV watching that and then watching Texas fail to convert on 4th and goal because they ran out of the shotgun.

Kieffer: Many spread offenses don’t even practice under center snaps, so I doubt we will see a whole lot of under center play, even if there has been a little bit so far. It’s not just the 3rd downs, but also the amount of Option we are seeing that makes shotgun snaps frustrating. CPJ’s offense was under center because it allowed the Option to get on the defense quickly and forced the defenders to commit. Running Triples out of the gun gives defenders more time to slow play a read and can make it harder. It’s for this reason that most gun spread teams run a single option, Inverted Veer style play as their main option staple.

Carter: It’d be nice, huh?

Akshay: I only have so much hair to rip out of my scalp. Please run sneaks from under center for third and short — PLEASE.

Based on what you’ve seen so far, who would you like to see take the majority of snaps [at QB] going forward?

Ben: I’d like to see James Graham get a bit more action. In every game, he’s consistently been the most electric and has moved the offense the best, but with Collins’ emphasis on performance in practice, that may be the reason we haven’t seen more of him.

Carter: Based on what I’ve seen so far, it should be James Graham.

Nishant: Graham is still a little too quick to bolt from the pocket, but he’s also the only guy who seems to be comfortable throwing downfield right now. Johnson just doesn’t look comfortable out there yet, and Oliver hasn’t been accurate enough as a passer. Plus the most intriguing package they’ve run so far is the one where Graham is at QB and Oliver lines up in the slot and occasionally motions into the backfield.

Kieffer: I’m very conflicted here. Graham is the only one that has done anything down the field, but he also made a lot of bad mistakes against USF that destroyed drives. He’s still showed the most so far. I would like to see Yates this week since it is an FCS opponent, but that will depend on how the game goes.

Any chance at all Yates gets in the mix at QB at some point this season?

Ben: I think he’ll play his four games and redshirt before there’s an open competition going into next season with Tucker Gleason joining the fold.

Carter: I really hope not, the QB situation is enough of a mess as it is. Plus he’s fresh out of high school and could use a year to develop.

Nishant: I hope he sees the field, but only in garbage time. The offensive line is a massive work in progress. The easiest way to ruin a rookie QB is to throw him out there behind an OL that struggles in pass protection.

Jake: At this point, with so many questions on the OL, I’d rather see him keep four full years of eligibility and learn the system better.

Drew: Given the new redshirt rules (you can play in up to four games and still redshirt), I think it’s definitely possible, but I’m not expecting anything other than a garbage time drive or two.

Kieffer: If not this week, then it’s unlikely. I’d like to see what he can do, but playing behind shaky offensive lines can lead to bad habits that some players never shake.

Do you think it’ll be Graham’s turn to start this week? I like looking at trends/patterns and Collins went with Oliver the first week against the best team in the nation. Why? Probably because he felt Oliver gave them the best chance to win due to his athletic ability to run the ball, which is the strength of the team). Week 2, Collins goes with his second option, Johnson, against a lesser but competitive opponent. Collins wants to work on the passing game but still have a good ground game. Johnson is that guy. Now week 3 against a FCS opponent, maybe Collins goes with Graham and see what he can do with the balance shifting to more passes?

Ben: I think this will be the best chance to see all four quarterbacks (Jordan Yates included), so long as Tech doesn’t disappoint this weekend.

Nishant: I think the reason Oliver got the nod against Clemson is that Collins wanted his most seasoned QB out there. It would have been cruel to ask Johnson to make his first collegiate start on the road against that defense. As for the weeks ahead... to be honest, I care less about who it is and more about getting some consistency. Whoever is in there will need consistent snaps to improve. At least let the QBs play entire drives instead of swapping them out every few plays. In a weird way, I can appreciate the coaches not wanting to treat QB any differently than any other position, but... that’s just not a recipe for success.

Jake: Seconded on the consistency. The three QBs makes for a nice gimmick, but, it seems to lead to more uncertainty than progress.

Akshay: ...did you just suggest we work through three options (of quarterbacks)? That sounds familiar. In seriousness, if they want to cycle through all three guys (and even Yates) this weekend, I’m all for it, but at a certain point, they have to stick with a guy. Hopefully, we’ll see a full-time starter chosen when conference play starts in earnest on 10/5 versus UNC.

Why can’t we get more fans to show up to games? Was it the scorching hot weather? Can’t be because other southern teams had no issues filling out their stadiums. Winning cures all, eh? Well in that case, it’s going to be a long year and they’ll have to wait year to year to see improvements with this program Collins is instilling.

Carter: College football attendance has been decreasing across the board, so this is not an issue unique to Georgia Tech. That said, it’s probably better for everyone if I keep my thoughts on why Georgia Tech fans don’t show up to myself.

Chris: I think I could write 5000 heated words about this, but I’ll spare y’all in favor of some bullet points:

  • The student body at large isn’t interested and the school doesn’t do a great job engaging them (honestly no clue how to fix this though).
  • Historically (recent history at least), games haven’t been excited. We ran a weird offense you had to “know” to enjoy, and we don’t exactly play top competition every week. The Collins energy will help this enormously, but we could really benefit from everyone else in the Coastal getting better along with us.
  • Alumni live all across the country. I actually would love to see some stats on this - I’m pretty confident Tech has one of the most spread out alumni bases of any school out there, but I do not even come close to having the data to back that claim up.

Jake: It isn’t gonna help if the odd and dour atmosphere of last week sticks around. I can’t be the only one who thinks something felt amiss.

Kieffer: Chris nailed it. The widespread alumni base is rough. Tech alums largely go where the jobs are, and Tech has historically not engaged non-alumni fans well. Heck, Since graduating I’ve lived in Boston, Dallas, and now Los Angeles. Nowhere close to Tech. Following work around makes it difficult to get back to Atlanta.

I’ve seen multiple reports, so did King kick the field goal because it was outside of Wells’s range, because Wells is injured, or because King “won the job” in practice this week?

Carter: Apparently past game performance doesn’t matter to Collins, just practice, so there ya go.

Nishant: Officially, the only news comes from Ken at the AJC, who reported that Collins said King “out-competed” Wells in practice. Unofficially, maybe he had an unfair advantage: his name is King, and as we all know, Competition is King.

Nishant’s inner monologue: what is wrong with you delete that sentence now

Chris: Maybe I’m lost in the Collins sauce, but my interpretation of “out-competed” is that it’s Collins-speak for “won the job in practice and has impressed me”. I have to imagine King has been killing it in practice given how good Wells was last year, so my guess is that he really is just winning the job.

Jake: Props to Ethan Kreager for always being quick to mention this, but Wells has never missed a collegiate kick.

Kieffer: How do I delete Nishant’s answer

Akshay: ^ seconded

If the latter, has Wells gotten worse since he won himself a scholarship over spring practice? How bad would the practice kicks have to be for you to replace a kicker that has yet to miss during an actual game with a kicker that has been … inconsistent?

Nishant: There honestly hasn’t been much news regarding Wells, and I think most people—myself included—just assumed he’d get the nod. My one guess is that (as the previous question brought up) maybe it was a range thing. Wells’ longest FG last year was from 48 yards, and it didn’t look like it would have been good from much longer than that. King’s 51-yard attempt on Saturday was way off the mark, but he definitely had the distance.

Jake: I’d have to think that with a full year in the program, he’d get better? But I’m the non-rev guy, so take it with a grain of salt.

Are those new band uniforms or special ‘hot weather’ uniforms?

Ben: I really liked them!

Carter: Yes, and also yes.

Jake: They are...something.

I was not excited about the CGC hire… but based on what I am seeing I am about to take a small sip off the koolaide. Question: Does Geoff Collins purposely talk like the koolaide guy to get us to drink the koolaide? If he is doing this to “koolaide troll” us all, he is the keyser soze of our generation. If you don’t get either reference, you’re way too young.

You be the judge.

Ben: Makes sense to me.

Nishant: I’m just here to point out that it’s spelled “Kool-Aid.”

Chris: It’s just now occurring to me that “Kool-Aid” is an incredibly apt answer to the prompt “describe Geoff Collins in one word”.

Jake: The best way to sell something is to be a great salesman and to stick in people’s heads, says the mechanical engineer.

Akshay: You know, it really would be entirely on-brand for him to burst through a wall shouting “OH YEAH” to get the team amped for a game, and I’m kinda here for that.

Accounting for preseason projections and current performance – If you’re making Vegas lines, do you have GT as the favorite in any game after Citadel?

Ben: I’d say Temple could be anywhere from a toss-up to Tech being the favorite. I don’t know that I would put Tech as the favorite for any other game right now.

Carter: Maybe Temple, but I’ll have a better idea once they’ve played someone other than Bucknell. Other than that...... maaaaaaybeeeee Pitt?

Chris: Probably not. Agree on maybe Temple and/or Pitt, but I think we’re much more likely to win a game we aren’t favored in than to be a favorite in a game in the first place (does that make any sense at all?).

Drew: At Duke is the only other game I can see potentially Tech being favored unless someone else totally collapses (Please be VT please be VT please be VT)

It seemed to me several times against USF we were in hurry up, over the ball, ref had whistled it in, and we waited for their D to get on field and in position – why not snap it? We also had two times they were hustling to get a defender off field that we could have snapped it – why not get free five yards every time? Those seem like basics of a hurry up but I have been knee deep in triple option for 10 years so I admit I don’t know the intricacies of hurry-up.

Ben: Hurry-up and no-huddle aren’t technically the same thing, though typically, they go hand in hand. The no-huddle can be used to limit substitutions on defense, but the tempo can still be kept slower so that the QB can read the defense.

Chris: My guess (read: no clue what I’m talking about) is that the coaching staff is 100% focused on running the plays we want to run and executing on the little things. Moving to this offense is a big shift for a lot of these players and I would imagine the staff just wants them to worry about that and nothing else.

Kieffer: This offense has a good number of important pre-snap reads that need to be made, and the coaches want to see the QBs make them so they can pick one. At least that’s what makes sense to me.

Did a CPJ team ever start a drive on the opponent’s 2 yard line and not score?

Ben: Y’all better love me for this. I went through drive charts from every single game during the CPJ era* that has on file, and here’s what I found. The answer to your question is a definitive “No.” The closest they came is in 2016 against Vanderbilt. Tech had a drive that started on Vanderbilt’s 9-yard-line after Dorian Walker intercepted the Commodores. On third-and-goal on the ensuing drive, Matthew Jordan attempted a fade to Jalen Camp in the endzone and was picked off.

*No drive chart available for 2008 Boston College, 2008 Virginia Tech, 2008 Duke, 2008 Gardner-Webb, 2008 UNC, 2008 Georgia, 2009 Jacksonville State, 2009 Miami, 2009 Mississippi State, 2009 Florida State, 2009 Virginia, 2009, Vanderbilt, 2009 Duke, 2009 ACC Championship Game, 2009 Orange Bowl, 2010 Kansas, 2010 UNC, 2010 Wake Forest, 2010 Virginia, 2010 Clemson, 2010 Virginia Tech, 2010 Bowl Game, 2011 Western Carolina, the entire 2012 season, the entire 2013 season, 2017 Virginia Tech, 2018 Virginia

Carter: Someone just asked this question last week, right? The answer remains the same.

Chris: Nothing exactly like that is coming to mind, but I do vaguely recall a couple times where we got inside the 5 and left with no points.

Jake: Not quite your answer but I remember a particularly infuriating drive starting inside the ten in the monsoon in Clemson in 2017 that only ended with a wobbly field goal and I felt compelled to say it because I was just forced to relive that moment.

Akshay: Let me add to Ben’s thorough research with a hearty “thank God”.

How many games would CPJ win this year with this defense?

Ben: This year? I think Tech would definitely be bowling, but they’d probably still be a 7-8 win team. Quarterback and offensive line are still pretty big question marks if Johnson is still here. Now 2014? That would be a fun year with an aggressive defense.

Carter: A lot, but, ya know, he never got that defense.

Chris: This is actually a really interesting question. In that scenario I think Clemson and UGA are still off the table, but honestly every other game feels winnable? Of course we aren’t that great at winning winnable games, so let’s adjust for that and hmmmmm my gut tells me maybe like 8 wins? The QB situation would've been good for him and we definitely have some other offensive playmakers. I just hesitate to say 9+ because the teams around us are getting better and the offense seemed to be missing something the last couple years.

Kieffer: The question is moot to me because the defense would look nothing like this with CPJ. Tech had a lot of coordinators run really soft, passive defenses under CPJ, and at some point there’s one common denominator. CPJ even said at times one of his biggest metrics for his defense was limiting plays of 20 yards or more. I loved CPJ’s offense, but I wholeheartedly disagreed with his defensive philosophy.

Does anyone use the GT gameday app? Is it operated through GT? If so, where is the football roster? If not, does anyone know how to suggest improvements?

Ben: When I have to listen to the game, I’ll use the GT Gameday app. I haven’t played around with the updated version this season, though.

Jake: With the presenting sponsors being strong Tech advertisers, I’d say yes. Football roster should be in the team page, I would think.

Additionally, thoughts on the player/Wreck opening entrance to the stadium and lack of use of Tech whistle during the game?

Jake: Great, now I’m frustrated about this all over again. It was pretty noticeable, to me at least, that both were missing. The entrance was muted without the team running right out after the Reck and it seemed clunky. The whistle blowing is literally an important school tradition. I doubt Collins and the marketing gurus go back to “what was” but there definitely are some improvements to make. A lot of newness all at once, that’s for sure.

Akshay: We mentioned this on the podcast, but a lot of these changes seem like a new front office trying to put their stamp on the gameday experience. Given fan feedback and two weeks after the Citadel game to tweak things before the next home game, it should get better and a bit more familiar (hopefully).

Anybody else trading the old worry of defense coming onto the field to win the game for our offense on the field with a 3rd and short?

Ben: Very much so.

Chris: traded added

Jake: ^ that

Did anyone see how well Parker Braun played for Texas this Saturday? His defensive opponent never got close to sacking the quarterback or doing much of anything. Too bad an All-American didn’t stick around….oh never mind.

Ben: From what I can tell, Parker Braun is doing what’s best for his professional career, and personally, I applaud him for it. Plus, Texas might be back this year, so he’ll have a much better chance at a National Championship too.

Carter: Guess he just wasn’t #404theculture.

Nishant: After the Sugar Bowl-sized gift that Texas gave us in January, having Parker Braun end up in Austin was the best outcome imaginable. He put in three good years in Atlanta and got his degree. I hope his fourth ends in another All-American selection.

Drew: If you’re a basketball fan you can at least take solace in the fact that we got James Banks from them last year.

Kieffer: While it would be nice to have him. The OL is going to need a massive overhaul anyway the next few years and getting young guys reps now will pay off in the future.

Would Tennessee consider running the triple option?

Ben: So, I have a couple colleagues that cover Tennessee/are Tennessee fans. Here’s what they said: “I would be shocked if that ever happened. The only SEC team I would think would ever do that would be a school like Vandy. Maybe Kentucky.” and “The answer is hell no. I think East Tennessee might burn to the ground if that ever happened.” But I’d like to point out that former FTRS contributor Conner Knapp has actually written about this idea.

The comments there are...uhhh....not exactly supportive of the idea, so I think it’s a safe bet to say that they’d get a Schiano-esque reaction.

Carter: Tennessee fans would rather be forced to wear red for the rest of their lives than run the triple option.

Chris: This would be hysterical. Remember how Tennessee fans got Greg Schiano fired after like 4 hours? I feel like hiring an option coach would produce the same result.

Is the Citadel game going to be the 2019 version of the Gardner-Webb game?

Ben: Don’t. You. Even. Dare.


Nishant: It’s too late. We were too late. It’s been invoked. The damage is done. Get all non-essential personnel to the lifeboats.

Akshay: Why u do dis?