I realize that this is supposed to be a weekly column and, well, last week it never did show up in the bountiful timeline that is the football season for FTRS. The short answer is “oops” and the longer answer is the usual one homecoming weekend turned into two in the pandemic time, and it’s been a busy ten days here at Fifth and Spring.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — It is a testament to the power of the Georgia Tech volleyball team that I find myself streaming no. 5 Notre Dame vs. no. 10 Pittsburgh here on a beautiful Atlanta Sunday afternoon. When Yellow Jacket Roundup first slipped last week in the wake of school, Cake Races, and the like, I told myself that I would steel myself and release it Wednesday when the latest volleyball rankings came out, but that came and went, too. Georgia Tech sits conveniently between those two teams, at no. 9, but that is subject to change with the results from the past week.
Rather than wait, presumably load up with more coursework, and slip again, we’ll talk about the no. 9-for-now Jackets this week, take a look back at Homecoming, and hit the usual bases before signing off. Look out this week for the usual From the Rumble Seat football coverage, plus, if I have the time, I’ll try to write something up about the deep (deep, deep) dive I took into historical Georgia Tech football attendance data.
But first, let’s talk sports. There’s TWO this week. Wow.
Last Week on the Flats:
No. 9 Volleyball
Honestly, it would be a disservice to say all of these games were “relatively” the same, simply because all four were sweeps. I think it’s safe to say the pair against Florida State had a distinctly different “feel” to them than the ones up in Winston-Salem. Whereas the games against the Seminoles may not have looked as “well-polished” as the ones against Wake Forest, they were still sweeps. The passes out of the set provided a weapon attacking from the center, anchored by Kayla Kaiser and Erin Moss, that didn’t seem as prevalent against the Hurricanes in the opening set of games. One would not be remised to call it the “Kodie Comby” factor, I would think. It’s a welcome addition to the versatile offensive scheme.
It stands to reason that, with the team working out the newer attacks and sequences that there was a bit of “work in progress” feel to parts of the Florida State series. Sure, Tech was able to lean on what it has done successfully for years (think Mikaila Dowd and Mariana Brambilla with strong attacks and relying on the communication and defensive stability in Maddie Tippett) and leverage that to the win. However, there were a couple points that Florida State got just because Tech looked like it was working out in real time what the situation should be. It’s telling enough that, well, the games went longer (FSU scored 17, 18, 24 and 14, 17, 20 versus Wake’s 14, 10, 13 and 17, 6, 14) too, but Florida State is also a more talented team than the Deacs. In fact, my notes from the second game against the Demon Deacons included “is Wake even trying?” The kinks were clearly worked out by the time Tech hit the road. In fact, in that second game against Wake, the hosts managed just a .035 attack percentage, to cherry-pick a stat, which has to be one of the lowest I’ve seen off the top of my head in four years of covering this team. It made for a quick, one-sided match.
It’s worth noting that Tech also played much leaner (Pastner-esque?) on the substitutions on the road. By the end of last season, it was tough for non-starters to break into the rotation, and it was very apparent even from a cursory glance at the score sheet that Coach Collier is settling back in on her six starters and defensive specialist to execute, and, well, they’re as good at that, if not better than last year. As far as the (limited) subs go, Grace Rigsbee has been effective to get some left-handedness into the rotation, and Breland Morrissette and Isabella D’Amico have been good when they’ve gotten playing time.
I have no way to really tie this in, but, as an aside, an amusing anecdote from the home series was watching a point begin with Tippett still tying her shoe, finishing that up, and Tech still getting the point. Maybe something along the line of “see, Tech really is excellent.”
Another aside worthy of inclusion, and something I had been wondering as I sat outside O’Keefe with the rest of the Reck Club folks attending the home opener waiting to see if they could let in more than 12 students - why not play the games in McCamish? There’s a historical precedent of playing some tournament/important games in the old Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and as much as I love O’Keefe, I love getting this team in front of as many people as possible more, because they deserve every bit of love from Tech fans as they can get. Wake moved out of their new, cozy gym at their recreation center to spend the fall slate in the basketball arena, and I noticed VPISU and Notre Dame have been playing in their arenas, too, though I am less sure if those are their normal home sites. Point is, you could probably match O’Keefe’s capacity or even exceed it in McCamish, though perhaps the locker room situation or the nets and such are harder to move. I don’t know. Just a thought.
But, now that the Notre Dame/Pittsburgh game has wrapped up, one more thing has come into clarity. With Tech heading into the final week of the fall slate, they control their own destiny in the ACC race, and certainly in their pod. With every team in the conference having at least one loss, if Tech wins out, the worst they can do is tie atop the table and feasibly claim a conference title. So that’s neat.
Clemson comes to town sitting at just 1-1, since they’ve only played Miami so far this year. Tech throttled them twice last year, with the win on the road kicking off the dominant last two months of the season in which Tech had only one loss (on the road vs. conference champion Pitt). Games are both at 5:00 PM at O’Keefe Thursday (ACCN) and Friday (ACCNX).
The women’s team, as has been the theme all year, looks quite good on the scoresheet after their final meet of the regular season. Led once more by Nicole Fegans, the Jackets placed second in a field that ran high on SEC and ACC competition. This is good. Meanwhile, for the men, while they only finished in the middle of the pack at fifth, their depth, so often a knock in the past, has been outstanding once again. Like last meet, Andrew Kent provided the stellar show out front, and he complemented the role Fegans plays for the women. A theme from both teams was a strong move up the standings in the closing leg of the race. The men repeated their balanced showing from the previous meet, while the women saw good performances from their upperclassmen. This seems to be a successful formula for the Jackets, who will next take to the course in two weeks looking to ride their depth to improved ACC finishes from 2019, when they placed 9th and 10th, respectively, in the conference.
Around Campus - Homecoming Edition
It was a weird Homecoming weekend in general, I’d say. The sentiment, be it from students on campus or fans and alumni on Twitter, seemed to be that, with all that’s going on in the world, Homecoming just kind of snuck up on everyone. That said, the Student Center Programs Council, Ramblin’ Reck Club, Alumni and Athletic Associations, and the rest of the usual suspects did their best to make the celebrations go on as close to normal as possible, whether that meant a marathon-length Freshman Cake Race — in time elapsed to run the event, not distance of the race — or a concert streamed live directly into the homes of Tech students in the middle of a hurricane-related blackout.
The Freshman Cake Race was the first event on the docket, and it took place the day after the Louisville game. Unlike usual, it was not exclusively at 6:00 in the morning, due to social distancing concerns, however it did still feature cupcakes and a finish line at the top of Freshman Hill. A 360˚ recording of Kelsey Watkins running the race with Reck Club FCR sub-chairs Paul Weiland and Rachel Hurst narrating some of the COVID-related changes can be found here.
As for Wreck Parade, it was also the weekend before the homecoming game, as a parade on the usual morning would absolutely draw a crowd. Thus, the idea was broached to “bring the parade to the people,” which meant a longer parade route that wound its way down Fowler Street, the usual route, then meandering through East Campus, Harrison Square, and around Ferst Drive to West Campus before heading down Ferst and Fowler back to the McCamish Pavilion parking lot. This longer route meant that students could see it without leaving their dorms, but it also meant that contraptions had to fall by the wayside, as they struggle to make it down the quarter mile sometimes, so Freshman Hill and a miles-long route would not be conducive to the vehicles. The pandemic did, however, lead to an excellently produced video that debuted at 9:00 AM on homecoming and can be found here, featuring judges Angel Cabrera and Kenny Thorne.
Personally, my favorite moment in a normal homecoming is looking down Fowler Street where it meets Freshman Hill and seeing the street crowded for its whole length by pit crews on one side and thousands of spectators on the other. The Mini 500 still took place on Friday night (albeit in heats spread out over the course of the night), but social distancing requirements forced its relocation to the track around Roe Stamps Field near the CRC. So, it was a little different and a bit bittersweet. In the end, though, it was great to see nearly a full complement of teams able to participate in the event. Georgia Tech brought out their whole mobile production team for the first hour of the race, and their work can be found here, even featuring an interview with yours truly, resident old fellow of Reck Club, towards the end.
In the end, it wasn’t normal, but things certainly were unique.
Editor’s Note: A sheet on a car shouldn’t count as a worthwhile fixed body, but that’s not for us to judge, I suppose.
As far as COVID numbers go, the surveillance testing program results haven’t been updated in just over a week, which is strange, so I had to pull them off the graphs the Institute provides. The numbers are edging up just a little, but, in general, it seems though Tech is still doing a fine job at limiting COVID spread.
In Lieu of a Best of the Week, Bonus Homecoming Coverage
This Week on the Flats:
Volleyball is your best (and pretty much only) bet in the non-revenue world, Thursday and Friday on the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, respectively. Hopefully Friday we’re tuning in to lay claim to a share of the ACC title.
Poll of the Week:
First off, I thought these results are pretty interesting, so I decided to share them. For transparency, I picked the second option, which is probably unsurprising, but I figured it would have to be something of trophy-level quality to balance out the football comment. Thanks to Stephen Godfrey from Banner Society for the inspiration for one of the scenarios. If you’ve never heard of him, he is often a guest on Split Zone Duo (think Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody) from the Moon Crew, which as a collective has content ranging from newsletters to podcasts which is quite good and can be found here.
And for this week’s poll:
Favorite Homecoming Tradition:
This poll is closed
Freshman Cake Race
Playing Duke, Because It Seems Like We Always Do, For Some Reason
Scavenger Hunt/Homecoming Concert/Another SCPC Event
Mr. and Ms. GT
Seeing Which Buildings Have Been "CULC-ified" or Torn Down Since Last Homecoming
Pomp and Banners