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Mailbag 10/14

Who is the impostor of the ACC?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Sacred Heart at Penn Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Too early for Heisman 2022 hype for Jeff Sims and Jahymr Gibbs? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: Now, you and I both know that the Heisman has become a QB only award, so I think it’s definitely a bit early for Jahmyr Gibbs hype. As for Jeff Sims, I don’t think it’s too early to be excited, but it’s way too early to be talking Heisman.

Jake P.: Maybe just a little too early. They’ve only played four games (three in Jahmyr’s case), and two of them were losses. I think that the two have great potential, but let’s wait until the end of the season to make judgements.

Jeff: Gibbs certainly has both the running and receiving game down needed for running backs to be considered but let's see how they evolve next year first. Having a solid line will be key if that is to come to fruition.

Chris: Maybe a tad early. If either of them gets All-ACC recognition (I think Gibbs has a great shot at this for sure, but the QB position is a little more crowded so might be tougher for Sims) then I’ll put them on the local watch list. And I agree with Ben’s point - the Hesiman has become very QB-y. For Gibbs to have a real shot I think we’d have to run him like a Derrick Henry bell-cow and I’m not sure that’ll ever be the plan.

Carter: We’re four games into 2020, chief. Maybe pump those brakes a bit.

Drew: As Ben said, it’s a QB award so let’s talk Sims. I like the way he’s playing, but he’s nowhere near Heisman quality yet. And we’ve seen far too many QBs who play decent as a freshman or sophomore year and never progress past that. If he comes out playing better next year then it’s a possibility.

Robert: Let’s get carried away. One of Pro Football Focus’s writers started a low-key Sims as a future Heisman winner after the FSU game. Of course - there’s tons of areas for growth and many potential competitors, and it’s very unlikely. But it’s not impossible, and that’s something GT basically hasn’t been able to say since 1999.

Jake: Gosh, which one of them will become Oklahoma’s best quarterback? They’re talented enough it really could be either...

Nishant: Yes. Next question.

How do we rank in overall quality of transfers compared to other programs? - Neal Royal

Ben: I don’t know how Tech compares to other programs, specifically, but I like that Tech, under Geoff Collins, has made this a bit of a higher priority. Getting guys like Antonneous Clayton, Kenyatta Watson, and other highly touted guys looks really good.

Jeff: I'd say Geoff has done a great job at getting talent that was highly rated out of Georgia high schools to transfer back in. A lot of the secondary guys that transferred were top 4-stars and Clayton was one of the highest rated DEs out of high school. With that said there is a reason they transferred and may not be living up to those billings. Hopefully, the change of scenery does them good.

Robert: The best way I know how to answer this is through 247’s Team Talent Rankings. GT currently ranks 34th, even though only one of our recent recruiting classes ranks that high or above. Transfers are bumping us up a good ten spots in that ranking, which is pretty impressive.

Jake: Collins had very nice things to say about Clayton in the presser today, and the Ezzard move was decent. Watson seems like a good get, too. Now we just have to get these kinds of guys to stay home in the first place.

Nishant: The ratings that Robert described are probably the closest thing to a way of comparing across teams. A bunch of the guys who have transferred to play for Collins (Clayton, Ezzard, Myles Sims, Derrik Allen) were pretty highly-rated prospects coming out of HS. Anecdotally, I’ve found it rare that guys who transfer early on end up living up to their original ratings, but it’s not at all impossible. Sims has shown flashes of being a great cornerback, Clayton is a starter now that he’s healthy, and I think the other two will see their roles grow as the year goes on.

Clemson just beat a top 10 team by 25 points, and it wasn’t that close; assuming Tech loses by a larger margin, is there anything at all to be learned, other than “Clemson: still elite”? How bad would we have to lose before it would Mean Something? Or, in the other direction, how much closer would we need to keep it? E.g. how much can we take away if Tech were to only lose by 2 scores? I’m assuming talk of an upset is tabled until next year, at least. - SullyGT

Ben: Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tech lose this game 50-something to zero. Clemson is very good, and Tech is VERY young. If Tech can keep this game to two scores, I’d essentially count that as a win. But as for things to watch, I want to see how well this defense can contain Travis Etienne and if they can keep the whole Clemson offense below 40 points. I also want to see how well Tech’s young offense does against a very talented Clemson defense.

Jeff: Miami's top 10 ranking seemed fickle to me since two of their wins came against teams Tech has wins over (FSU and Louisville). How well we contain Etienne will be big to watch. If we can limit his explosiveness that would be a good sign for the defense. Having another clean game in the turnover category would be a trend in the right direction against an elite opponent as well. If we keep this game within 17 I'd say we would be doing alright.

Chris: Agree with Jeff, I think Miami is more of a top 25 team than a top 10 team. I’m not sure there’s any score that I’d say “well that’s simply too much”, but I will say that not getting into the end zone would probably be a red-tinged flag for me. We’re at a point where I believe we should be able to score on anyone at least once. I’m not sure there’s much to be learned the other way either - a close game could be chalked up to a million things this season and Clemson has been known the past few years to play just meh in a few early-season contests. Still, if it’s the third quarter, we’re within 10, and Clemson is clearly playing well with all of their starters then I’ll inch closer to the HYPE button.

Carter: Look, at some point a game just becomes a whipping and there’s nothing to learn from it other than one team is far better than the other. Clemson lays the wood on 90+% of the teams it plays. If Tech can limit the Tigers to 4-5 touchdowns and/or keep it within two scores, count it as a moral victory. If not, don’t sweat it too much.

Robert: I’ll be most interested in the differential between GT and Clemson in success rate and yards per play. Last year, Clemson had a 17% advantage in SR and a 3.4 yards per play advantage. Can we keep that under 10 and under 2 this year?

Jake: We need to score, and score in the six-point variety. To be completely honest, not getting a kick block would go up as a big win against these guys, considering where we’ve been, too. I know that’s kind of a weird standard, though. He, maybe we do the impossible? Maybe we don’t. I think expectations are a bit more rational this week compared to the week after the FSU game.

Nishant: Keep Sims on his feet,

What are smaller goals or accomplishments for Tech to shoot for against Clemson? - popehats

Ben: Score and keep Clemson under 50.

Jake P.: To have a competent-looking offensive line.

Jeff: I mentioned no turnovers in my last answer but just bringing down ball carriers when you make contact. Etienne will kill you otherwise.

Chris: Score two offensive touchdowns. Give up two or fewer turnovers. Make them settle for a red zone field goal once. Don’t allow one of their stars to have a signature game (i.e. don’t let Etienne run for 200 and 2 scores, don’t let Lawrence throw 5 TDs, etc).

Carter: I think I essentially answered this in the last question, so: Keep the dying to a minimum.

Robert: See above

Jake: No blocked kicks.

Do we have “One Throat to Choke” for Quality Assurance? Does the ORG have a Change Catalyst for the “Quality is Job #1” paradigm shift as the organization leans into optimization of KPI’s, or is this just Blue Sky Thinking? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking here, but I’m sure Tech has quality control assistants.

Chris: Hey now, I write on this here blog to get away from hearing things like KPIs at my actual job. This right here is an STO focused solely on firing off hot white and gold takes.

Carter: Sorry, but I’m not an SME in this field.

Jake: My exposure to QA is pulling leaky, mislabeled, and malformed water bottles off a production line, and making sure the rest filed into a packer in short order. Not sure how that translates to football. These letters? Even less.

At 2-2 can everyone stop freaking out? - Notwima13

Ben: Nah, freaking out is fun!

Jeff: The only freak moment I had was losing to Syracuse and it was warranted. Tommy Devito is one of the worst QBs in football.

Chris: I’m not sure which freak out direction this is going for, but yeah. At the start of the season I’d be fine if you told me we’d start 2-2.

Jake: I think I’d freak out about everything anyways. It’s college football. That happens.


With this new Grayson connection forming, any word on guys like QB Carlos Del Rio, WR Daejon Reynolds, or RB Phil Mafah? - Notwima13

Ben: I’ll pass on Carlos Del Rio. If we can pull Reynolds from Florida or Mafah from Clemson, though, I’d be thrilled!

Carter: When it comes to high school recruiting, I tend to defer to more knowledgeable folks like Kieffer. That said, if you Venmo me $5 I’ll see what I can come up with.

Jake: What’s a recruit?

Is it safe to say the team listened to the early hype a bit too much and simply didn’t take Cuse seriously? We have shown real growth from last year and true potential in every game, and last week potential and focus met. This seems to be much more of who we are going to be moving forward, with the mistakes indicative of the team not completely locking in. Thoughts? - Physically Fast

Ben: Yeah, I would agree with that. The score against UCF wasn’t close, but it was a close game until the last several minutes of the game, so it makes sense to think they should have been able to handle a Syracuse team that is not very good.

Jake P.: I absolutely think that’s the case. Especially with the 20-minute delay to start the game, the team just looked out of it. It was clear that Tech was unnecessarily riding on their high horses, even after a 28-point loss to UCF.

Chris: I’m less inclined to believe “listening to the hype” and more into the idea that it was just a young team that played a bad game and wasn’t sure how to respond. Everyone plays bad games, but you learn with experience how to handle them and drag yourself to a win. I think they got down big early and just didn’t have the experience to lean on to dig themselves out of it.

Jeff: I'm with Chris that it's such a young team. The three ACC opponents may be some of the worst in the conference so it could be rough moving forward still even playing better. The individual talent is there on the offense but some units on defense really need to improve. Louisville coughing the ball up helped.

Robert: Mistakes like we saw against Syracuse are generally not very predictive of future performance. No team is going to have 15 penalties and 5 turnovers per game. Of course, a game like Louisville with no turnovers and three forced aren’t going to happen every week either. We’re likely better than Syracuse, but we played poorly and got unlucky. We’re about equivalent to Louisville, and we played well and got slightly lucky. Such is football.

Jake: I think Collins said as much in the presser - maybe not so much in the Cuse game, but definitely the week before UCF. Lean out of the hype, and just take it one day at a time. Nishant made a great point today in the Slack that Collins is still green as a head coach, and that’s especially true at the P5 level. He’s learning, too. I appreciate the real talk from Collins about it. We play games because everyone always has a shot. I think that was an important lesson.

Propose a rational explanation for why Louisville didn’t then did use time outs as time ticked away in the 4th quarter - GTalbatross

Ben: Heh, you think that coaches are rational and logical when it comes to game management. That’s funny.

Jeff: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Chris: Nothing about what they did with timeouts in the fourth quarter made sense to me. Why on Dodd’s earth you would call a timeout 1. on the road 2. down 12 3. with 30 seconds left beats me. I would stake my savings account on the guess that every single Louisville player said “wait really? c’mon” when that happened. You know they absolutely just wanted to go home.

Carter: Nah, I have to assume Satterfield was as many beers deep at that point as I was.

Jake: I have no clue. Plus, if you’re going to make us run more plays, don’t complain that we scored again. It’s not like Sims was bombing the endzone with passes.

Hello Again Guys,

We won against Louisville! Probably shouldn’t get used to that feeling considering who our next opponent is, but it’s still worth celebrating. I am still a bit worried about how we would have performed if you take out the turnovers from the game. GT struggles maintaining confidence and tends to make mistakes when we fall behind early so I’m not sure if we would’ve have had the motivation to stay in the game as long as we did without the defense managing to steal the ball from Louisville. Sadly turnovers just aren’t something you can quantify on a game to game basis, but I want to believe that the continued performance will hopefully improve the morale of the team on the sideline.

With that said, going into next week, my question is have you guys ever played the game “Among Us”? And if you had to pick an imposter out of the head coaches in the ACC who would it be and why? My personal choice would be Mack Brown. He’s acting awfully suspicious up there in UNC, acting like he’s trying to improve the team with talented recruiting but then making questionable coaching decisions in big time games. Also I’m pretty sure I saw him vent. Super Sus. Have a good week guys.


Big Time Timmy Jim (received via email)

Ben: I haven’t played Among Us, but I would very much agree that Mack Brown could be the impostor. I would also argue that Manny Diaz could be the impostor.

Jake P.: I would have to say Justin Fuente. His weird, reassuring picture where he declared he wasn’t leaving VT for Baylor made it seem like he really wanted to leave but couldn’t land another job. Let’s call an emergency meeting.

Chris: Among Us has been a big activity for my team at work to do some remote socializing with. Nah, Mack Brown is too obvious, he’s just a weird dude. Normally I’d say Mike Norvell because, come on, who could mess up that many times? But no. My answer is Dave Clawson. Dave is in hiding at Wake Forest making absolutely no sounds and no waves. I guarantee he’s the one the least number of people could name as an ACC head coach. Flying under the radar? Never making a peep? Never being good enough or bad enough to attract attention? Sus.

Jake: As someone who often gets accused (no matter what happens) when the first body is found, I feel uniquely qualified to speak here. It has to Brian Kelly. He (along with the rest of his team) are literally pulling a COVID charade of pretending to be an ACC member this year, because they need something from us in order to, ya know, have a season. Sus. There’s no chance they’ll do this again without some other crazy unforeseen development, and, well, it seems like they’re just lurking around waiting to win it all, and then leave, with the rest of the ACC lying in their wake. Or die (at Clemson’s hands) trying. Plus, I saw the guy with the leprechaun hat kill Blue Devil under Touchdown Jesus and then vent down the Indiana Toll Road towards the Horseshoe Casino. Is the end reference too regionally specific to amuse anyone but me? Yes. But too late. I vote for Kelly.

Carter: None of y’all think Collins is sus, and I think that’s super sus.

Am I the only one that feels like we don’t give Gibbs the ball enough? - Justin (received via email)

Ben: I could stand to see Gibbs get the ball more, especially in space. Give me all the half back screens!

Jeff: No, though it's the screens he needs to see more.

Chris: I wouldn’t hate seeing him with the ball more, but it’s a crowded plethora of rushing options between him, Sims, Griffin, Smith, and Mason. That’s a very talented bunch of guys that all deserve reps. Obviously working Gibbs into the passing game is a big part of the plan and I love to see that. My pick for “give this guy more touches” is Ahmarean Brown though.

Carter: Well, I took a look at the stat sheet, and Louisville ran 81 plays to Tech’s 56. That’s 0.821 points per play, and only Alabama and UNC did better this past weekend. I understand why people want to see him get the ball more, but I think there’s plenty of support around him that he can afford to take a break.

Robert: Gibbs is tremendous for a true freshman. His success rate is only average, but he is explosive and will get better. Feed him!