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Mailbag 6/18

You asked, we answered!

VIRUSLAECONOMY William Widmer for The Washington Post via Getty Images

How many scholarships remaining for the ‘21 class can the coaches give out? What positions/players are the coaches really coveting to fill the remaining roster?

Ben: Well Gavin Barthiel makes 15, and I think there are less than 15 seniors on the team, so it will probably be another larger class between 20 and 25. As for what they need, I would say interior linemen on both sides and probably a couple linebackers and defensive backs.

Who is your surprise player on both sides of the ball for the upcoming year?

Ben: On offense, I think Marquez Ezzard will definitely be a surprise player. I think by the end of the season, he could be one of Tech’s top receivers. On defense, I’ll go with Tobias Oliver. I think he’ll be pretty good at corner.

Levi: Momentum is picking up for Charlie Thomas. Word has it that he’ll be stellar at Nickel Corner. On offense, I still think that incoming QB Jeff Sims has a laser, he should and probably will start.

How will the coaches improve on short yardage plays as well as goal line plays?

Ben: The easy answer is beef up the lines. Both lines are on the smaller side, and you need some big nasties on both sides on the goal line, which Tech is severely lacking in.

Akshay: It’s not specified if this is on offense or defense, but in either case, the answer is the same: improving performance in the trenches will lead to better results in these situations. With Devin Cochran and Ryan Johnson on board, I think we’re going to see a much better offensive line for James Graham (well, him or any of the others in the QB room) to operate behind. On the other side of the ball, getting Antonneous Clayton back after his transfer year will be a huge boost for the defensive line.

Levi: If you open a gap well enough, anyone can run it in. Getting those linemen plus a better strength program for our existing linemen will help. I think we could shock some people.

I saw on Twitter where Tech fans have come up with their own versions of how the new turf field at Bobby Dodd should look. Do we know if there will be options to interchange the end zones for different looks? Someone went way out of the box with an all Gold field. Interesting.

Akshay: I don’t know if GTAA has announced interchangeable turf, but I’ll come out and already say that gold turf is probably not happening — that definitely requires another entirely new turf installation. However, it’s been said that the football gridiron lines will not be sewn into the turf, which is potentially big news if you are an Atlanta United fan wanting to see soccer at Bobby Dodd again or an unaffiliated lacrosse/soccer/etc fan (disclaimer: this is just conjecture — I know nothing about future sport additions or partnerships). There’s a lot of stuff you can do on a plain turf field if all you have to do is paint on the lines.

Jake: I think an all-gold field would make me blind, but would absolutely be on brand for this staff. I’m a fan of the gridiron lines not being down, since that’s promising for varsity lacrosse and soccer potentially, which since AI 2020 seems to be a decent amount ahead of schedule, might be theoretically possible? I wish I could give more of an insider take on this one, but this is just speaking as a strong “more sports” guy.

Levi: Turf also allows for more stuff like concerts and money making opportunities for the AD. Please god no gold turf, we’d get blasted for being the team with a “brown” field and you know it.

There is talk about some NBA players not wanting to play this season due to the current climate with social injustice. Are some college football players thinking of doing the same to focus on these issues?

Ben: I wouldn’t be too surprised to see something like that happening, especially if it was a player who is expected to be a top draft pick, like Trevor Lawrence, for example.

Akshay: It sounds terrible to say, but I’m actually not so sure it happens. College athletes are starting to recognize that they have a platform for widespread change, but if you are an athlete that has aspirations to go pro, getting good tape for colleges by playing through the season seems like the most optimal way to get there. NBA athletes (especially at Kyrie Irving’s earnings level) can get away with sitting out because their financial futures are secure, but college athletes (and for that matter, the NBA players bouncing between the first-team roster and the G-League) aren’t in a similarly secure position. However, I do agree with Ben: if big-name players sit out, then I think the dynamic at play changes.

Best beaches?

Ben: The place I’ve gone the last few times is Port St. Joe, or the Forgotten Coast. It’s on the Gulf and isn’t nearly as crowded as a Panama City Beach or the like.

Jake: Visit Cocoa Beach: The Official Beach of Your (Still) Reigning Two-Time National Champion Georgia Tech Swim Club™

Seriously, though, we do our training trip there every spring break and it’s affordable for a college club sport team, solid restaurants and things to do, good hotel selections, drivable from Atlanta, and not annoyingly crowded. Also, of course, a great lap pool, if that’s your thing.

Akshay: I don’t go outdoors much, but when I do, I’m more of a fan of hiking around/to rocky beaches rather than lounging on sandy ones. In that vein, I strongly recommend Lands’ End and Ocean Beach in San Francisco, CA, as well as Discovery Park in Seattle, WA.

Levi: I love the white sand beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Pensacola, Destin, or even Gulf Shores is where I go.

What’s your weird(est) favorite food?

Ben: Oh geez, that’s a tough one. Do oysters count? I freaking love raw oysters.

Jake: I get more flack for the random Midwestern things I enjoy (pork tenderloin sandwich, cheese curds, various Chicago-style things) than I should, but I am also perfectly content eating dill pickles or green olives straight from the jar, and criticism of that is probably more than deserved.

Akshay: Jake’s lying to y’all — his actual answer to this is Chicago-style pizza casserole.

Levi: For a grown adult with my own place and an adult job, I eat hot dogs way more than I should. I like shredded cheese, relish, and mustard. Claussen Pickles on the side. Speaking of which, I’m hungry...

If the men’s basketball teams doesn’t make the NCAA tourney this season does Josh Pastner get fired?

Ben: I’ll believe it when I see it. Also, if we’re being honest, I doubt Tech can afford to fire him and fund a coaching search for another couple years.

Akshay: Should he? Maybe. Will he? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Jake: You know, the basketball program has a lot of good mojo around it right now (be it from best conference finish in years, starting a nationwide movement to get student-athletes involved in exercising the most important duty of an American citizen, or whatever else) that I choose not to jinx it. Good on Malachi Rice, Coach Reveno, and the rest of that program for making that happen.

Drew: If we have the money for it, absolutely. This is the year things have to start happening.

Levi: Pastner is like being in a bad marriage. He is one or two missteps away from making an ugly divorce worth the money out of our “joint account”.