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Mailbag 10/28

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We talk southern cuisine and historical conquerors!

Disneyland’s Fried Chicken Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Why are my tears more salty as of late? - Notwima13

Ben: Are you snorting salt again? I thought we talked about this...

Chris: Well as long as you can taste the saltiness that means you don’t have COVID, so that’s nice.

Robert: I did have COVID; I wish I could taste the salt. Alas, higher hopes dashed bring saltier tears.

Jake: I had a friend with a large chunk of Himalayan pink rock salt that was also a lamp (don’t ask questions about that, I know, it’s weird) and he would lick it sometimes, so, are you consuming a weird form of salt in an excessive manner? If so, stop licking lamps, I guess.

Carter:

Jeff: To better season the bitterness you harbor in your heart towards your teams.

What’s the top priority for improvement for both sides of the ball this week? - SullyGT

Ben: On offense, finish drives. On defense, keep the opposing offense from finishing drives.

Andrew - I feel like a broken record when talking about how the Offense needs to cut down on turnovers. The Defense needs to show some ability to slow down ND’s run game.

Chris: Offense needs to take care of the ball and finish drives. Defense needs to make the easy plays - make the tackle, be in the right hole, etc.

Akshay: If the defense can hold ND to a national average success rate (~42%) and the offense doesn’t have any turnovers, I’ll count it as progress.

Jake: Defense needs to show some sort of life against the run. Offense needs to take care of the ball, not really anything different than we’ve said all year I think.

Robert: Defense: Success rate on passing plays <41%. To achieve this: the linebackers and safeties have to do a much better job passing off receivers and not vacating the middle of the field. Offense: positive EPA/play. To achieve this: we need to continue our efficiency without the turnovers and drive killing plays.

Jeff: In the words of Booger McFarland...probably “The offense needs to score more points than the other offense and the defense needs stop the other offense more than theirs is stopped.”

Carter: Same thing it is every week, Pinky.

If we finish the season with 2 wins but a Top 25 recruiting class, is this season a win? - Notwima13

Ben: I think it depends on how the team looks in those losses. If those losses all look like Cuse or Boston College, that’s almost certainly a loss.

Andrew - I guess, you have to look for all the little things you can when a season goes that poorly.

Chris: Can a season be a draw? I’ll be very disappointed with just two wins given our schedule, but getting some top talent would be a good consolation. More than anything I just want to see improvements being consistently made.

Akshay: Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh, I’m with Chris. That would be a wash of a season.

Robert: Sheesh. I’ll say no. That would mean losing to a couple of pretty bad teams from here on out and would not signal that there is a good on-field trajectory happening.

Jake: We’ve already lost two teams we “theoretically” should have beaten or at least had a shot to play close, so I’d say only having two wins now (I’ll be generous and say win one of those two) is a bad thing. And the recruiting class is looking pretty low compared to last year, so that doesn’t sit easy on my mind.

Carter: Only if that high recruiting class ranking pans out, which we won’t know for a couple of years. Until then, it’s a no.

Jeff: No, but I look at recruiting separately from the regular season. Recruiting is getting better and it should, but we didn’t hire a coach to have his successful season be almost making a bowl. That was once Duke’s lot in life. GT should not be the new placeholder.

Will Jeff Sims be the starter at the end of the season? or will turnovers force the coach into trying something else? - Borojacket12

Ben: If he doesn’t get hurt, he’ll still be starting at the end of the season.

Andrew: I doubt it. This season is a wash from an eligibility standpoint. If you think Sims is the best option for the future, you should get him as many live reps as you can.

Chris: I think the program is all in on him. If they were gonna bench him for turnovers they would’ve done it already. Right now the biggest thing is just getting him more experience and letting him find his game.

Akshay: The coaching staff has let him work through his mistakes at every turn (last week aside, but that looked to be more of an injury concern than a benching). He’s the guy.

Robert: Yes. He’s the starter, barring injury. His upside is light years higher than the other guys throwing the ball.

Jake: If he’s not starting Game 11, something has deteriorated/gone horribly wrong.

Jeff: At this point you are all in on Sims. Barring an injury he is the guy going forward.

Carter: If it was gonna be someone else the coaching staff would have made the switch by now. He’s the guy.

How much do you dislike the Blackwatch Uniforms? - thebugman10

Ben: I like the jerseys a whole lot more than the helmet. I think the solid black GT on the gold helmet is kind of hideous. I wish if they were gonna do this, they did a black helmet with either a solid gold or gold-outlined GT.

Andrew - I am an old man who likes to yell at clouds. I’ve never been a fan of alternate jerseys and think that Tech should always wear white at home.

Chris: I guess they’re fine, they just look like UCF or Purdue more than anything and it kinda sucks they don’t look more...unique. They’re not particularly cool, they’re literally just...black. I think black and white would probably look better than black and gold, but I get that that’s not B L A C K W A T C H.

Akshay: They’re....fine. I tried explaining my gripes about them to a friend the other day and this is the best way I could put it: I will always support embracing Tech’s rich athletic history (regardless of what you think of the BlackWatch era/period/years/etc) and synthesizing uniform designs from it, but the major issue I have is emphasizing black as a school color barely three years after spending a truckload of money and effort to standardize the academic and athletics color palettes and trademarks on white and gold and eliminate the old Buzz gold and black branding (the latter of which is still in flight across much of the Institute’s online presence). Why would you go to all that trouble just to renege?

Jake: I hate them. The Blackwatch defense had one year of elite status and maybe two years of being okay (and the team as a whole only finished at #19 in the AP, so it’s not like Tech was earth-shattering amazing that year, either), so I don’t get the obsession with them from some circles. More importantly, though, BLACK IS NOT A GEORGIA TECH COLOR. We go through all the trouble to get one white, one gold, and a navy for secondary purposes, and it feels like we use more navy than ever. What was the point of all of that? And even so, black is literally a color we call out in our fight song as just as bad as red regarding our feelings for it. White and gold are our colors. I got mad about the grey uniforms, but these are worse - they seem contrived for contrived’s sake, a thumb in the nose to all the great work done on branding in the last two or three years, and an homage to a defense that was good for one year, tops. In short, we look like discount Purdue or (worse) Central Florida. Not good.

Jeff: Besides all the reasons mentioned above the uniforms look plain lazy. There is nothing to them other than being black.

Carter: Boring. Uninspired. Fake nostalgia for a uniform that has never actually existed. Black for black’s sake where not only is black not one of Georgia Tech’s colors, it’s one of Georgia Tech’s top rival’s colors. Nothing about this jersey is identifiably Georgia Tech; it looks like a generic black jersey you could get anywhere. I’m not sure there’s any bigger indictment of how nostalgia blind this fan base gets than the excitement I’m seeing over these. And no, I’m not gonna enter your contest for a chance to win a free one.

How inappropriate is it for this D to wear Black Watch uniforms? - jabsterjacket

Ben: Georgia Tech just gave up over 40 points against Boston College, who has not scored that many points all season. It’s not exactly great.

Andrew: Kind of a slap in the face to a really good defensive unit.

Chris: It’s pretty comical when you really think about it. Probably should’ve kept it on hold until we have a good defensive start to the year.

Robert: You mean our defense that can’t stuff runs, create havoc, or prevent explosive plays?

Akshay: Piggybacking off my answer to the last question, this is the other (more minor) issue I have with these. Those defenses were certifiably good (we checked historic SP+ ratings and can confirm), but 2020’s has yet to prove it is.

Carter: It is fitting that this defense is honoring some of the best defenses in modern Georgia Tech history with a fake “throwback” throwing back to a uniform that didn’t actually exist.

Jake: The 1985 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defense (and mind you, only those that earned the privilege of being on the black watch got to be that, it wasn’t a participation award they gave to the whole team) allowed 132 points in a whole season. We’ve given up 121 in two weeks, and it almost certainly could have been worse. Not great!

Jeff: Tre Swilling’s dad, Pat Swilling was a member of the Black Watch but that’s about it for appropriateness. Bruce-Jordan is also his adopted son but he is on offense now.

Are we downhearted? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: I’m very much at the numb state. It just kind of all happens around me, but it doesn’t make me mad like it used to, because I expect it at this point.

Andrew - Not really, I’ve already moved to the acceptance stage of grief.

Chris: I probably am. It’s been a rough two games in a row.

Akshay: [laughs in Atlanta sports]

Jake: I am, but mostly because I don’t have the excellence of Volleyball to distract me like I did after the Syracuse loss. Plus, Louisville got me back on the high. And, now, well...sad.

Jeff: I’m just here for the ride until further notice.

What is the worst set of uniforms you’ve seen this year (college or pros)? - sportsfan4life2012

Ben: It’s definitely the Falcons’ gradient uniforms. But I also think UGA’s new uniforms are kind of ugly. I really don’t understand why people like them.

Akshay: I feel like I should have takes on this as the usual Uniform Guy™️, but nothing has stuck out to me as extremely egregious. If I had to pick one.....maybe Pitt’s steel gray uniforms? Update: Ben is right; kill those Falcons gradient uniforms with fire.

Chris: Hmmm nothing is coming to mind. Everything has been pretty quiet so far.

Jake: I didn’t like Pitt’s grey jerseys, and I was originally really confused why Illinois blacked out the Block I on their helmets (oops) so I understand that and wouldn’t say I dislike it now that I realize the purpose. Sadly, there hasn’t been a dumpster fire of a jersey yet. Though we haven’t seen a lot of alternates yet, either, I don’t think.

Jeff: The R2D2 costumes UCF wore against Tulane this past week.

What are the most overrated and underrated dishes in traditional southern cuisine? - sportsfan4life2012

Ben: Overrated, I’ve got two: okra in any fashion and white meat chicken. I’ve never like okra. As for the chicken, people always sleep on dark meat, usually opting for the chicken breast since it’s a bigger piece of meat. But the thighs are where it’s at. It’s juicy, pretty easy to eat and just melts in your mouth if done right.

Chris: That’s a good one. For overrated I’d probably say...fried chicken? I dunno, as a southerner living in Boston fried chicken is the thing everyone always asks about so it gets pretty annoying having to tell people that other stuff exists. Underrated is hard. I have written on this site before about my love of Brunswick Stew, but I would more-so classify that as “thing that not enough people know about” rather than truly underrated. The only thing that’s coming to mind is calling out the difference in having good biscuits and cornbread vs just run-of-the-mill stuff. Lately I’ve been trying to perfect those recipes, and doing them well makes you really appreciate something that a lot of people just take for granted.

Akshay: I am not a born-and-bred Southerner and my culinary tastes are from farther east than Georgia, so I don’t feel particularly confident in naming an overrated dish. However, I strongly believe a well-made, well-buttered, and well-layered Southern-style biscuit is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Does everyone in America already know about the glory that is the Southern-style biscuit? Yes. Is it still underrated all the same? Also, yes.

Robert: Overrated: Meatloaf. Underrated: Really good collard greens.

Jake: Fried okra is overrated as all heck. I came down to the south and people were like you have to have it, it’s a Southern specialty, and it’s just weird and slimy and gross. And wet. How is something fried still so damp? I don’t get it. Also boiled peanuts - nasty. As for underrated, I hate to piggyback on another answer, but I went YES when I read Robert’s answer, so those are definitely a good choice.

Jeff: Alright, so Jake is sadly mistaken about fried okra or has found improperly made batches. I’m also going to call out the collard greens because it is boiled leaves and whatever the person making wants to dump in it. Now let me introduce you to a dish that goes by several names but is usually known as Redneck Caviar (I’ve heard Cowboy too.) It’s a mixture of beans (I use black-eyed peas), onions (red preferably), diced tomatoes, and a sugary vinegar mix and chilled in the fridge. Some people spice it up more with certain things but that’s the basics.

Carter: I’ll second Jake on the okra. It’s common in Cajun cuisine too and mars several dishes that are otherwise perfect. I’ll also agree collard greens are underrated; I never had them growing up and since moving to Georgia I get them at every opportunity.

Since we’re playing ND, was Rudy offsides? - jabsterjacket

Carter: Does a bear [Scorpions] in the woods?

Jake: I really, really, really, really do not like Notre Dame, and I listened to a podcast this summer from some NFL guys that really tore the movie to shreds, and now I like this specific play even less. He was offsides.

Jeff: Joe Montana claims the whole thing with Rudy getting to play was a big joke. Some players say that isn’t true but I have heard a lot of people say he is not a nice person. So you get the nicest dude in Hollywood, Sean Astin, to play you. And yes, he was offsides and only registered a half sack. That’s being generous.

Hello Guys,

Hope all is well for you this week. The college football this weekend was fun, mostly because I don’t have a subscription to the ACC network so I don’t have to be concerned with games between GT and BC. I did see the Big 10 kickoff, which was good. Rutgers won a game, and there was that big upset by Indiana. More like WIN-diana, am I right? heh heh heh... no wait don’t leave.

Anyway, my question for this week is who is your favorite historical conqueror? There’s quite a few ranging from Augustus Caesar to the Beatles (they conquered a music scene, but technically it counts). I’m a big fan of Genghis Khan, he had alot going for him in terms of territory, policies supporting trade, policies for granting ranks based on merit instead of genealogy, and of course the ladies (who I am certain all consented... right?). But my favorite is probably Cyrus the Great. He did alot for uniting the middle east (at the time) and bringing about basic human rights for future generations. Anyway, who is your favorite conqueror? Let me know.

Toodles,

Dennis Nilsen (submitted via email)

Andrew - I’ve always been a bit of a Napoleon apologist.

Chris: Trajan is the emperor that expanded Rome to its largest military/geographic peak but was also known for being a very strong ruler with large-scale building programs and generally good-for-the-people policies. You don’t get to be called one of the five “good emperors” for nothing.

Jake: I am a huge fan of history, so I definitely have opinions here, but I want to start with a fun fact I was sad I didn’t learn until long after I left Georgia Tech Lorraine. Between April 7, 451, when Attila the Hun rolled into town and when the city surrendered to General George Patton on November 22, 1944 not a single person was able to conquer the city of Metz by direct assault, and, especially considering how Alsace and Lorraine are right at some of the most fiercely contested crossroads of European expansion and conflict, I think that fact is purely awesome. I wish I could give a shoutout to my man Prince Eugene of Savoy, but this isn’t about battlefield competence as much as it is pure conquering, however, so I would probably say Charlemagne. His movement East and South set the basis for much of what we now know to be true about Europe, and the legacy of his empire left very deep marks on the cultural consciences of France, Germany, the Low Countries, Austria, and Italy, while also affecting how all of those countries interact with each other and those around them. Plus, there aren’t any Habsburgs I could put here (I’m somewhat of a fanboy of the Habsburgs for some reason, I don’t know, they’re just interesting)

Akshay: I wish I had paid more attention in world history to leave a more educated comment. However, I can offer a partial answer that’s a bit off the beaten path: Harihara I and Bukka I built the Vijayanagara empire in 1336 and controlled the vast majority of south India at a time when the northern part of the current nation was controlled by various Muslim-majority sultanates. The coexistence of this empire with its northern peers (and, at times, rivals) foreshadowed current-day sociocultural differences between the northern and southern parts of the country, which speaks to me on a couple of levels: 1) this is my heritage so, you know, that’s cool and 2) reading through this part of ancient history (well, more recent-ish really if you consider the grand scheme of Indian history) reveals a very, very deep rabbit hole of research that accounts the immense cultural diversity contained in a single nation-state, which — again — is cool.

Jeff: I’m partial to Alexander The Great as he brought down several major empires and created the Hellenized world. Most of the regions around the Mediterranean were shaped by his conquests as later empires fought for the cities he had built around the sea.

Ben: I mean, pick your poison. The linebackers and secondary have both been pretty rough this year, so do you want an extra DB or LB on the field? For depth purposes, I’ll go with the extra DB.

Akshay: It’s generally seemed more like a lack of proper execution rather than a schematic issue or a lack of quality personnel (at least, to my untrained eye). Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen corners handing off receivers to wide open space instead of waiting safeties, entire sequences of poor tackling, poor QB spying, bad leverage in breaking blocks, etc. If Tech had just been beat on short and intermediate throws, then I’d be more inclined to play a little less zone and add a third linebacker to shore up that level of the defense. I think Tech has the horses on defense to be serviceable — good, even, in the secondary — but the execution just hasn’t been there.