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Mailbag 12/16

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What’s on your Christmas wish list?

Covid-19 Contagions Lower As Italy Prepares For The Holiday Period Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Andrew’s Leaky Thacked Roof Grohs Al too familiar - Agree or Disagree? - YankeeJacket

Ben: jon-snow-i-don’t-want-it.jpg

Jake: Agree, but I think it’ll get better.

Chris: allllll too familiar.

Jeff: It hurt just reading that

Carter:

This pun has gotten very tired… almost as tired as the concept of our defense ever getting better. - Agree or Disagree? - YankeeJacket

Ben: Disagree, I think Tech’s defense takes a decent step forward next year, if only because I don’t know that it can get worse.

Jake: Disagree, but I think it’ll get better.

Chris: I’ll still chuckle.

Jeff: Well it can only go one way from here.

Covid, My asp. we ducked Miami. - Agree or Disagree? - YankeeJacket

Ben: Quarterback is an important position with playing football. Tech would not have had many available for a potential game against Miami.

Jake: Disagree, injuries.

Chris: Injuries. Starting our 3rd string QB + not having Gibbs back is not a great formula.

Jeff: They played 3 games in 12 days. Players were at risk for some serious injuries.

Carter:

The video of Coach Football not Found (6-22) insulting Pat Narduzzi (42-34) and his lame excuses for his childish insulting behavior tells us all we need to know about this Waffle House loser. - Agree or Disagree? - YankeeJacket

Ben: Is this still being talked about? Personally, I’d rather he get mad about something and be genuine than getting the same old platitudes we always get from him.

Jake: Disagree, love the passion he had on the sideline. It was refreshingly candid. Narduzzi is a tool. Geoff had every right to be mad, and I won’t shake the hands of people I like right now, pandemic and all, so I don’t expect our football coach, who is equally concerned about COVID, to shake anyone’s hand, let alone the guy who just beat him after he spent three hours getting jobbed.

Chris: Look, should he have done it? No. But I really don’t care that much. Stupid things like this happen all the time and there are far worse things out there.

Jeff: I've always thought Collins didn't get animated enough with blatant missed calls. Sure it may look disrespectful but if he starts winning he can slap the other coach and no one would care.

Carter: No, it ruled. For the first time it felt like we were seeing Collins show some real, raw emotion and I’d prefer to see more of it. Maybe not to that degree, exactly, and preferably on the positive side of the emotional spectrum.

Who is your person, people, or group of the Year? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: It’s gotta be the frontline healthcare workers and also essential workers who have had to deal with the stupid people pretending there isn’t a global pandemic going on.

Jake: Trying to keep mine Tech-related: the student-athletes playing and doing school and whatnot through all of this. I’ll plug my soliloquy from the podcast here.

Chris: Healthcare workers + vaccine scientists.

Are [transfers] a sign that we’re recruiting better or a sign of something more sinister going on with the football program? - Partywaggin

Ben: Players want to play, and if they are in a position where they aren’t playing and they think they’ll have an opportunity to play elsewhere, I say go for it.

Jake: I always have a tough time reading this. I’m gonna stick with recruiting better and people looking for playing time, particularly the QB room, considering everyone gets an extra year of eligibility from this.

Chris: Sinister? Nah. There are always gonna be transfers. A mass exodus would be different, but a few here and there isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In some cases it probably is recruiting (or at least talent) related - its totally understandable to want to go somewhere that you’ll get meaningful playing time.

Jeff: Transfers are becoming more common with search of playing time. You add that in with coaching transitions then it is par for the course.

Does beating a “blue blood” cancel out 2 losses to in-state weak sisters? - Partywaggin

Ben: Nah. It also didn’t help with Pastner’s whole speech about practicing hard or whatever.

Jake: Lol, no. I wish it worked that way, but that’s a nope.

Chris: Nope.

Jeff: Michigan lost to App State the same year they beat Florida in a bowl game. Tebow had just won the Heisman. Over a decade later we just remember App St upset.

With James Graham headed to GSU and now Tucker Gleason is thinking with portals, is the QB position a sudden cause for concern? Or is there nothing to worry about with Sims at the helm and a competent-at-minimum Yates backing him up? - SullyGT

Ben: I’m not super concerned with it. I absolutely did not expect all four of the quarterbacks to return for next year. They are all young guys with some talent, and I wish both Gleason and Graham the best wherever they end up. As for Tech, I’m comfortable with Sims starting and Yates as the back-up. I think you could also see Tech try to add a career back-up type guy as a transfer or grad transfer. I hear Chase Brice is looking to transfer again lol.

Jake: I’m not terribly concerned. I really do like Yates, and I think Graham in particular was unsurprising.

Chris: I’m also not concerned. Its clear that the team is all-in on Sims being the guy and there was a lot of talent behind him. Going off of my previous answer, generally talented QBs are only cool with being the backup if there’s a clear path to them starting in the future. And given that Sims is a freshman and clearly has won the position it’d be tough to think you could overtake that spot anytime soon.

Jeff: No because if Chayden Peery signs there will be another high-ceiling guy behind Sims.

How much improvement is reasonable to expect from Sims in year 2 after a (presumably) full spring? - SullyGT

Ben: I think a lot of it depends on the improvement along the offensive line. There will be some general improvement, I think, like some of the issues he had with the mesh this year, that can be worked out in practice, but a lot of his picks came when a ball either got tipped at the line or when the OL got obliterated and Sims tried to force a throw.

Jake: I’d say quite a bit. Sims didn’t get really anything going into this season.

Chris: I think a good deal as well. He’s raw talent that just needs time to refine. He’s gotten a ton of great experience this year and having a full spring to develop and mesh with the offense more should be really good for him.

Jeff: He would really benefit from a normal spring practice. He could develop well too if the offensive line takes a step forward.

What year are you considering Collins in next year: 0, 1, 2, 3? - Jacket4Life

Ben: I’m not concerned with what number it is, but I do think that Collins needs to put his money where his mouth is this year and we need to see some marked improvement on the field, or he is going to start losing a lot more of the fanbase.

Jake: Year 2. I gave him a Year 0, but I think a -1 is patently absurd. Paul didn’t need or get one. I think the “greatest transformation in the history of ever” is overblown.

Chris: Year 2.

Jeff: Sorry, but there aren't freebies in my book. It is Year 3. Saying Year 0 makes it feel like you just wasted a year and nothing gets going until next year. If it wasn't for the previous option offense Collins would be getting Hot Seat commentary by now.

With Pitt, UVA, and BC opting out of bowl season, what are Tech’s chances of making a bowl, and which one? - jabsterjacket

Ben: If I were a betting man, I would bet a whole lot of money that Tech is not going to be in a bowl game at this point.

Jake: Uh, I’m guessing this is an older question. Based on their announcement, zero.

Chris: Like Jake alluded to, we’ve officially said we aren’t bowling, a move that I am plenty happy with.

Carter: I was fairly certain the coaches would accept a bowl invite if only to get some extra practices in. Clearly they heard me and opted out only to make me look stupid.

What grade you give this season? - thebugman10

Ben: This is hard for me to give the whole team an overall rating, because I think the different facets performed at different levels. I would give the offense a solid B. There were still some OL issues, but Jeff Sims and Jahmyr Gibbs proved to be godsends, and I was actually thoroughly impressed with the work that Dave Patenaude has done with the offense. There were some rough patches, but I’m a whole lot more comfortable with Davey P leading the offense than I was at this point last year.

On defense, it gets a big fat F, except for Marco Coleman and the defensive ends, whom I’ll give a B+. The defense was BAD this year. And quite frankly, there is not an excuse for it. What was supposed to be the main strength of the defense (the secondary) ended up being one of the worst position groups. But Coleman did an incredible job with the ends, especially Jordan Domineck.

Jake: C. The offense looks promising, and definitely a step up from last year. The surest parts of the defense seem to have regressed, and, in general, the lack of discipline and fundamentals in various parts of the team and in certain repeating situations was a red flag.

Chris: I wrote a lot about this this week, but the tl;dr is that improvements in the offense were largely nullified by a regression in defense and special teams. Like Jake said, the lack of sound fundamentals is a red flag in my mind. Given the relatively easy schedule we were given (FSU in a down year, Syracuse, terrible Duke, mediocre BC and Pitt, etc etc) I’m disappointed that we didn’t eclipse our 2019 win total. If we’re doing letter grades I’d go with a D+.

Jeff: I wanted to see progress and there was some on offense and I expect that to grow next year with Sims and Gibbs. The transfers coming in for defense have to be difference makers because something is not clicking on that side. Special Teams were one of the worst in the country despite having possibly the best punter. C-

Is your program outlook better or worse than 1 year ago? - thebugman10

Ben: I think it’s a net equal, but maybe slightly better. Offense got a whole lot better, but the defense got a whole lot worse.

Jake: Better. But only a bit. Three years of Sims and Gibbs is a great thing, though.

Chris: Same as Jake: slightly better. I feel very good about the young core we have offensively, but boy do we have some work to do defensively.

Jeff: From a personnel standpoint I feel better but I'm certainly worried about some positional coaching.

Carter: Better offensively, but the defensive regression brings things close to a net zero.

What’s your favorite Christmas/Holiday tradition? - thebugman10

Ben: Not having traditional Christmas foods (e.g. Ham, etc.). My family normally does something different every year. We’ve done low country boil, smoked a pork butt, all sorts of things, and it’s always a great time.

Jake: Going to the grandparents’ house in rural Central Illinois on Christmas Day for beef tenderloin and Bloody Mary’s. Close second though would be taking an early, early flight home and being downtown for stereotypical Chicago Christmas sites (ice skating, German market, etc.) as soon as finals are done.

Chris: My family also does beef tenderloin on Christmas Day Jake and it’s fantastic. Tradition-wise I’ve got a few. Opening one present on Christmas Eve was always exciting as a kid. At Tech, Club Tennis did a Christmas party and Yankee Swap that was an absolute blast. This one sounds dumb, but I always wear pajama pants on Christmas morning (literally the only day a year I do so) and I quite enjoy that for some reason.

Favorite Christmas movie? - thebugman10

Ben: Honestly, I don’t find myself watching a whole lot of Christmas movies, so I don’t know that I really have a favorite. I wouldn’t even consider it good, but one I like to think about is Christmas with the Kranks. A couple years ago, one of my friends came up with a conspiracy theory about that movie that Dan Aakroyd’s character was like this demon lord prince thing. It was really fun.

Jake: Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. Easy.

Chris: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by a mile.

Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn’t allow it! 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me - I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing... I’m booked.

GOD this is a good movie.

Carter: Mostly agree with Chris, but if Thurl Ravenscroft isn’t singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” it’s the wrong Grinch.

What’s on your wishlist this year? - thebugman10

Ben: Stuff to furnish my new apartment in Savannah!

Jake: A set of well-loved, not-expensive golf clubs. Or a good book.

Chris: I always like a nice hoodie or pullover.

Jeff: My waistline tells me new jeans

Carter: What’s on my registry, again? Other than that, a headset with a mic.

How do you decide which question will warrant the photo for the article? - Notwima13

Ben: I typically will find something interesting that is touched on in the mailbag and search it in our photo editor. I’m pretty limited on that, since SBN only has agreements in place with Getty and USA Today, and we don’t have any access to non-sports things from USA Today.

Jake: That’s a Ben Question.

Chris: Ben Question :tm:.

Carter: Just be glad it’s not me picking the header photo for the mailbag.

Can you do a best of 2020 mailbag for the final mailbag? - Notwima13

Ben: I’m definitely down for something like that, but I’ll need to brainstorm it with the staff to see what the best way to do this is.

Jake: I am interested in that, but we’ve done a lot of mailbag writing so I think this would take more research than my usual contribution to these, lol.

Chris: I am also interested in this....@Ben how could we go about this? Staff vote?

It’s been 6 years since that night in Miami when we won the Orange bowl (holy cow time flies). Just a gut feel, when is the next time we are in the ACC championship game? - popehats

Ben: I would like to think Tech can do it while Jeff Sims and Jahmyr Gibbs are still in school. At the very least, I don’t think there’s a good excuse for why they shouldn’t while both of them are in school.

Jake: 2022, I think, if things break right and we keep making improvements.

Chris: **siiiiiighhhhhhh** making the trip to that game was easily one of my favorite college experiences. Honestly, if we see the improvements we think we will and the team plays at its potential, I don’t think 2021 is out of the question. The Coastal is still pretty weak overall, even with a surprisingly competent UNC. More realistically though I think 2022 makes sense.

Jeff: I’d hope we would be competing for it by 2022.

Carter: If we can’t get there with Gibbs and Sims it’ll be a shame. I’m not sure we’ll get there with Gibbs and Sims, btw.

Ben: I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually seen this game. I had something else going on that night, but from what I’ve heard, I would just spend the whole game yelling at the tv.

Jake: My favorite was the bogus roughing at the beginning of the game. Really was a nice sample of what was in store for us the rest of the way!

Carter: The two-point conversion is where I started swearing out loud, so probably that one.

Hello Guys,

Hope all is well. I know football didn’t go the way we wanted to end the season, but at least we had some positives this season. Hopefully next year is better. The rest of this weekend had some good games. I don’t fully understand what happened to UF against LSU, that was strange. Makes things easier for the playoff picture though.

Speaking of the playoff picture, I’m not gonna lie, I am super pissed that both the playoff committee and the BIG 10 are bending over backwards to get Ohio State in the playoff. I mean, I understand that they are probably still one of the best teams in the country, I just have problems with a team playing half the number of games as the other playoff contenders essentially getting a free pass for showing up. Also a slap in the face to Indiana who had a great year that they don’t get to play for the Big 10 title.

So my question this week is what is your least favorite (or favorite I guess) “WTF moment” of a team getting a championship, advantage, or disadvantage under unusual circumstances. I imagine most of us will pick Colorado with the 5th down, but I also have recollection of the NBA commissioner stepping in to Veto the Chris Paul trade as upsetting me from a point that I felt the Association had no right to interfere with the trade. Sorry, kind of lengthier this week, I just get upset thinking about stuff where history turns on refs, or organizers of the sport either screwing up or straight up stepping in where they have no business being. Thoughts?

-Frustratingly

Scott Sterling (submitted via email)

Jake: Moving Detroit to the East just as the West got good and the Blackhawks were at their pick. If you want to duck a rivalry, that’s just cowardly.

Chris: Bending the definition of “team” to provide a tennis example. Marin Cilic, a guy you’d only have heard of if you follow tennis, won the 2014 US Open as the 14th seed because Nadal withdrew due to injury right before the tournament started and both Federer and Djokovic were upset (granted, Cilic was the one who beat Federer), as were two other top seeds. Cilic is a great player and all, but we’re talking about a guy who’s career winning % is 65% and who’s ranking has hovered around the 10-30 range for most of his main career. His US Open title is a wildly out-of-place Grand Slam in the Big 3 era because he had an absolute dream tournament out of nowhere.