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Mailbag 11/10

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What Premier League coach would you pick to coach Georgia Tech’s football team?

27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Photo by SAGAwards2021 via Getty Images

End of season, both coordinators are gone. Who are your dream hires? Realistic hires? - CTJacket

Ben: Dream hires? Is Kirby Smart available to coach the defense? How about Lincoln Riley for the offense? Realistically, I think you almost have to go with a high-upside FCS guy. Tech isn’t rolling in money, so you’re going to have to go with cheaper guys.

Jake: Dream hires? Have Saban coach the defense and Kiffin coach the offense. Can that ever happen? No way. More realistically, I’d just like to take a chance on some promising FCS-types. That seems like a low risk, high reward situation.

Stephen: Ideally, you get a high-upside, high-ceiling pick at a bargain price. That looks like a G5 or FCS Coordinator currently running circles around their peers. I’ve done the homework for you Geoff. Here are your best offenses and defenses in SP+ at the FCS level this season:

Offensive Coordinators:

Greg Stevens (SELA), Ian Shoemaker (EWU), Cody Crill (Incarnate Word), Jason Eck (South Dakota St), Ryan Carty (Sam Houston St), and Kevin Cahill (Yale)

Defensive Coordinators:

Jeremiah Johnson (Northern Iowa), David Braun (NDSU), Freddie Banks (Montana State), Scott Larkee (Harvard), Jason Petrino (South Dakota) (cousin of Bobby - so maybe not), and Matt Coombs (UC Davis)

After a brief resume glancing, give me Greg Stevens or Ryan Carty on Offense, and Matt Coombs on Defense.

Chris: Gimme Brent Venables and Lincoln Riley.

Logan: I would hire Dwayne the Rock Johnson on defense and Coach Eric Taylor on offense. I did my homework 5 minutes before class started by the way.

Sammy: I realize Todd Grantham has had his issues but it would be a step up for us... Not sure we have the payroll to get him though. What about those guys at Bishop Sycamore?

Jahmyr Gibbs transfer portal? It hit me reading the Q&A with the University of Miami correspondent wherein he spoke of his only fear concerning Georgia Tech was Jahmyr Gibbs. So I know no one wants to entertain this as a possibility, but if you were advising Mr. Gibbs on his best strategy for reaching the NFL how would you argue against him transferring to a program that has an offensive line, a coach that is not a meathead, and an actual winning culture? Bonus Question: If Jahmyr Gibbs leaves can we finally turn out the lights? - YankeeJacket

Ben: I have no reason to believe that Jahmyr Gibbs would transfer out. People are only saying that because he’s the best player on a bad team. He has given absolutely no indication that he’s even thinking about it. He still comes out every game and seems to be giving his all. Talk like this is only going to look bad.

Jake: I’m not going to speculate, because I just don’t have that kind of knowledge. It would not, however, be a very good look for the program, and would hurt a lot of fan interest, I think.

Stephen: Agree with Jake, it’s not great to speculate. But I certainly hope Jahmyr stays and finishes out his degree at Tech.

Chris: He’s going to be the feature back and play a huge role in the passing game here. There aren’t a lot of other places where he’d have as big of a role or get as many touches.

Logan: Fine, I’ll play devils advocate. I’ll say if Jahmyr leaves to improve his chances he would need to go for a roughly equivalent or better school in talent level and media coverage. Gibbs is from Dalton Highschool, so if he wanted to stay close to home he would need to pick a low tier SEC school like Vandy or Tennessee, maybe Kentucky, Auburn, or South Carolina if he really stretches his reach. The high tier SEC teams (and Clemson) probably wouldn’t need Gibbs, although they might take him and just not use him to keep him from other teams. If Gibbs can put up good stats at a school like Tennessee or Kentucky then it is possible he could get a mid tier draft spot; but I don’t think he’ll be a top pick for the NFL unless he just takes it to another level. For GT, If Gibbs leaves I think the biggest impact to GT is the morale loss. I don’t mean that from the sense of “Gibbs isn’t great” I mean it more from the sense of, we aren’t currently getting as much from him as we can, but having the fans and the rest of the team see him leave is the soul crushing part for everyone. So while it would suck to loss his on the field performance the worse part is the vacuum him leaving creates in the locker room. So... that’s depressing to think about.

Carter: If Gibbs transfers you can start getting your shovels ready. Graves don’t dig themselves, after all.

Sammy: “I’M A PEACOCK YOU GOTTA LET ME FLY!!!” I wouldn’t blame Jahmyr for leaving one bit. I think it’s a good thing that players have the freedom and ability to move around nowadays.

Austin: Losing one of our best offensive weapons in back to back seasons (I know Ahmarean Brown is not exactly making a splash at SC-East, but he certainly left his mark on [the] Tech [record books]) would be very telling for how the athletes within the offense feel they are being utilized in the current system.

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said CGC, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?” Looking at the past, (1 really bad season with a really bad loss to Citadel and a home shut out, the next season a really bad season setting a new worst loss), the present (really bad season with small losses but less wins over FBS opponents, despite the ACC coming back towards Tech), is the future a foregone conclusion for CGC at this point or is there some glimmer of hope for Tiny Tech to live and thrive? - gtbadcarma

Ben: I think it would take some immediate and severe improvement on the field for Collins to save his job. I think he currently is fielding his best team right now, and things aren’t looking great right now.

Jake: Nothing is certain, it’s a long contract. That said, to borrow a phrase, it is time to turn the “proof of concept-o-meter” back down.

Stephen: Never say never, but I’m skeptical we make a bowl next year, which will likely cue the curtains on our boy.

Nishant: I think what it comes down to is this: the worse this year goes, the better Collins will have to do next year to save his job. The athletic department will be hemorrhaging ticket sales next year, because shockingly enough, nobody wants to watch a team that loses 70% of the time. Had Collins gotten this team to even 5-6 wins this year, something that was well within reason, I think all his talk about progress and development would have sounded less empty, and incremental progress would have been easier to stomach. And I guess in theory it’s still possible to get to five wins. But at this point I think the only way he survives past 2022 is to get this team to 8-9 wins next year. Even just getting back to a bowl won’t be enough to win over the swaths of the fanbase who have just lost interest.

Chris: I think either we make a bowl next year or he’s fired. The hope is that the OL really is the linchpin of the offense and that starts to get going in 2022. If that’s not the case then no, I don’t see a lot of hope. Same thing for the defense: if we don’t see at least a slightly above average defense next year I don’t see how we can ever move forward. Recruiting will dry up if the results don’t come in.

Logan: I feel like we answer a different version of this question each week at this point.

Carter: I briefly touched on it in my column yesterday, but I have little to no confidence in Geoff Collins being able to turn it around at Georgia Tech. It’s theoretically possible, but I think he’s simply incapable of doing so.

Sammy: I don’t expect us to win any more games this season, and somehow I feel like that will make watching them more fun. I’m not sure if that answers your question.

Austin: Contrary to Collins’ statements, I want to see the progress this program has made in his tenure. Based on actual results and overall play, we’re in the endgame.

Best Bond villain? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Jake: I like Le Chiffre and Mr. White, but I also just like Casino Royale. It is refreshing to have a question that isn’t about football. Watch any basketball last night? WBB got off to a good start. If you’re reading this, that means the men’s game is done. Wonder how that went...

Chris: Hmmm my first thought was Scaramanga because Christopher Lee is awesome. Zorin is pretty good in a meme-y way because of Christopher Walken.

Logan: Hank Scorpio from that one episode of the Simpsons. Best non-Bond Villain Bond Villain.

Sammy: Alex Trebek. RIP.

Austin: Javier Bardem in Skyfall, recency bias be damned.

Is Brent Key actually good or did he just coach at Alabama? And does he teach offensive linemen how to snap the ball? - Namrebeil

Ben: I think he’s a good coach. I remember him doing well at UCF as the OL coach under Brent Key. He was an abysmal offensive coordinator, but I think he definitely got overhyped a little because of the Bama boost.

Stephen: Undecided at this time. But the snaps coming from Franklin I’d attribute to nerves more than anything. Going up against a talented DL from Miami doesn’t help things one bit. I’m going to see how OL recruiting finishes up this class before drawing any more substantial conclusions on him.

Chris: I am SO torn on this. I really would expect such a highly-regarded coach to be able to do more with what we have. But on the other hand Bama has always been a head above everyone else talent-wise so who knows.

Logan: Wait, he coached at Alabama? how? what? seriously?

Sammy: It’s definitely interesting how people think Tuscaloosa somehow bestows magical abilities to those who pass through. Learning under the great Nick Saban (and he is GREAT) certainly has its benefits, but his most successful proteges are pretty damn good in their own right. Jimbo helped LSU win a natty before taking over at FSU and winning one there, as well. Lane Kiffin, with all his quirkiness, was an accomplished offensive mind prior to landing at Alabama. And Kirby was arguably the best defensive coordinator Nick Saban has ever had. Not really sure where I’m going with this, but I think having Bama on your resume is more of a shiny sticker than anything else. Not to mention - you’re playing with kings and aces over there...

Austin: What does your gut say?

If Gibbs transfers, it will destroy future elite recruitment. Also, where are the offensive line recruits??? Please advise!! - Rbissman

Stephen: See above?

Chris: P A N I C

Logan: I like how your first question isn’t a question. I can tell you where the offensive line recruits aren’t. They aren’t at GT.

Austin: Expanding on Logan’s last comment, their new homes are on our schedule each and every year.

What are the offense and defense supposed to be? What is the “north star” vision of identity that our coaches are striving for the team? “Recruitment and effort” are process, “elite and win” are outcomes. I’m asking about identity because what I see now is disjointed with no clear goal. - GTBuzzed

Ben: Other than “pro style,” “spread,” “effort-based,” and “havoc,” I don’t know what those clear goals are. This coaching staff likes to use a lot of buzzwords, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t know that this team has an identity.

Jake: I find myself asking similar questions.

Stephen: I like that you make that distinction, but I haven’t given that much thought as to what this staff is trying to be. It’s certainly multiple, which for some is an identity, but for others means you don’t know what you want to be.

Chris: From what I’ve seen and heard from the staff, the defense is supposed to be built on “havoc” - essentially getting multiple TFLs and sacks and having aggressive DBs. On offense I absolutely cannot tell you because the staff doesn’t really use real words. In lieu of that, here’s what I want: up-tempo play highlighted by quick passes, tosses, etc. Basically a super fun G5 team that can really kick into high gear with top talent.

Logan: I think they have a pretty clear Identity of “Try to get a first down, then stall out and punt the ball”

Carter: After 2.75 years the offensive identity is and always has been “not what Paul Johnson did”. It’s working out great, as we can all see. The defensive identity is, in theory, “mayhem”. I don’t know what you’d call it in practice, but it’s not that.

Why did CGC use a Miami player’s quote “big time players make big time plays” to try to motivate our team last week? Was this to troll? I’m honestly confused. And if he’s been using it all season, that’s news to me. Just heard him quote it during the Miami post game. - Jacket4Life

Ben: I don’t think it was intentional, but I absolutely wouldn’t be surprised to find out it was intentional.intentional.

Jake: Honestly, not sure, but it certainly sounds like something that he would say, so it rings something of a bell. I didn’t make the connection until this weekend.

Nishant: Lest you think it was a one-off, he said that phrase it five times in his weekly presser yesterday, and on two other occasions he referred to Gibbs and someone else as “big-time players.” Pushing that phrase in the immediate aftermath of a loss to Miami is... suspicious timing, but this staff has also been trying to make #biGTime a thing for forever. So it’s probably a little of both.

Chris: I honestly think that football coaches have something wrong with their brains that leads them to think that they can ONLY get a message across if it’s in some super on-the-nose or catchy saying. Just use words and sentences man.

Logan: First off, I think that is something he has said in the past he just uses different adjectives depending on the situation. The “Big Player make Big Play, Boom Tough Actin’ Tinactin” is kind of the money down mentality just phrased more specifically.

Second off, It doesn’t seem like that uncommon a saying, so I don’t think he even realized it came from a Miami player.

Third, I’m pretty sure everything he says in his postgame pressers are him trolling the media. So everything I said in parts 1 and 2 could be completely wrong.

Carter: This is overthinking it. Half this dude’s vocabulary is catchphrases, which is what the above has become. That’s all it is. The irony of this one originating from a Miami player is pretty great, though.

Sammy: Yeah. Along with a few others from the site, I pointed this out in a group chat earlier this week. Miami used to be really good, and they aren’t anymore, so maybe he’s trying to subliminally convince viewers that we just played the early 2000’s version of Miami, thus making a 3-point loss more palatable.

Would it make sense at this point to start Yates and use Sims only in the red zone or for late game desperation time? Yates seems to handle things outside the red zone pretty competently. I know a 2 QB system isn’t ideal, but we’ve kind of got one anyway between Jekyll and Hyde. - chilidogringsFO

Ben: If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Commit to your quarterback if you want to use him. If you want to make a switch, fine, but commit to it.

Jake: I’m the volleyball writer, so take what I say about scheme with a grain of salt, but I certainly have been wondering something similar. I know there’s only one “bring in Sims surprise” that we already used on UNC, but I feel like the last few games have been a lot of the same.

Nishant: That sounds strikingly similar to what Collins and co. tried in September 2019 with Tobias Oliver and Lucas Johnson, and... yeah, that didn’t work. Pick one and commit to him. But if you must use both, don’t rotate them out in the middle of a series.

Chris: I hate to say it, but yeah, I’m kinda in favor of starting Yates at this point.

Logan: I’ve said before how I really like Yates. Honestly it would be cool to try. From a leadership standpoint though, the team can’t do that now. You’ve given the ball back to Sims and kept it with him all season through the ups and downs. If you take the ball from Sims now Sims is never gonna be respected as starting QB in the locker room in the future. Unless they want to burn the bridge of Sims being QB next year, or however long he wants to stay afterwards, The coaching staff is gonna keep Sims at QB.

Sammy: I don’t think it would make sense. Although Jeff has had some bad turnovers this season, he has improved in that area and still gives the offense the best chance at explosiveness. I love Yates, don’t get me wrong, but I agree we just need to stick to a 1-QB system. Tech’s problem is on the other side of the ball anyway. So if you’re going to shake things up, do it there. Imagine the confusion on Stetson Bennett the Fourth’s face when we line up 6-1-4 on first down and then 2-2-7 on second......

From this point would it even really make a difference defensively if we were just to blitz every play? We are giving up historic yards anyway, why not just go for the extra reward along with the extra risk? - chilidogringsFO

Ben: I don’t hate this idea.

Jake: Nishant posted this in the writers’ room earlier today, so instead of giving you a real answer, I encourage you to read this piece from the glory days of EDSBS.

Chris: I [Foghat] with the vision, let’s build.

Logan: It works when I play NCAA 13. From a purely logic standpoint I agree and think blitzing every play is the fun thing to do. That said, from a coaching standpoint you have to make players feel like even if things are going poorly they can’t give up on the gameplan or just say “forget it, since we suck anyway lets try something crazy”. So even if we are doing badly coaches have to stick (at least somewhat) to what they know and have taught all season so they can present an air of leadership to their players. That is my best answer for logic behind both extremes of the decision to blitz every play.

Carter: .....I mean, why not?

Sammy: Get after ‘em, Charlie.

Austin: It would play into the Havoc/Mayhem moniker...

Thoughts on the John Lewis Student Center at GT? A place to get into GOOD TROUBLE? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: I love this.

Jake: Tech has a long and (mostly) consistent history of naming things after deserving people that have impacted the Institute, rather than rich dudes with lots of money. I guarantee D. M. Smith didn’t make “building donor” money as a Tech math professor for life. Naming the Student Center for John Lewis honors a man who represented the school for several decades and had a landmark legacy that spans far greater than just that; naming the Student Center in his honor is a good decision.

Logan: I’ve never been the type to look much into who buildings are named after. From what I understand John Lewis was a good man who (to vastly oversimplify) put efforts into improving things not just at Georgia Tech, but for the state of Georgia and to an extent the world at large. I’m sure people could get into semantics about his direct association with GT (to my knowledge he wasn’t a GT graduate), but I think using John Lewis given what he represented and his involvement in the area is a good choice.

Sammy: Yes.

Austin: During my time on at Tech, one of the things I’m most proud of was getting to work closely with Tech Administrators to advocate for a renovated Student Center on behalf of the student body. Adding things like more and better meeting spaces, centralizing Campus Services, and overall realizing the role of a Student Center as a Student Union, a place that unites our student body and campus and is the hub of campus. There would not be a better way to represent this rejuvenation of the space than naming it for John Lewis, one our city’s and country’s best civil leaders. Yes, 1000% yes.

We’re 3-6 for the season

- 5 losses by single digits

- 4 losses by a TD or less (1 would need a 2pt conversion)

Is this progress from last season? How can the current coaching staff improve the players to get these as wins next season and not losses?

Thanks,

Niall (submitted vial email)

Ben: I think the offense is better than it has ever been under Geoff Collins. I also think Special Teams is better than it has been in past years. However, the defense (I would say) is at its worst in the Collins era. I’ll let you determine if that’s progress or not.

Jake: This is the non-stats-y gut feel answer, but it feels like some progress, but those Duke and Louisville wins last year felt legitimately dominating and fun. I guess North Carolina was a similar vibe this year, but a lot of the close loses have been decidedly less close than the score indicates. I’d call it a wash.

Stephen: Chris highlighted my exact sentiments on this in his Tuesday Thoughts this week. There’s a difference in improving and “closing the gap”, as Geoff continually says. We’re improving compared to 2019, but we aren’t closing the gap in the slightest in my opinion.

Chris: Thanks Stephen - I did in fact write about this very thing on Tuesday! Here’s the TLDR: We are making micro-improvements on paper but that’s about it. We’re still pretty far from actually winning conference games.

Logan: sigh... deep inhale... sigh even harder... Is this where we’re are? we have to be happy with the fact that we are losing by slimmer margins? I struggle with this because I just listened to Ryen Russilo’s podcast from this past Monday where he talks to Trent Dilfer. Trent makes a good point about how no matter how good you feel your team plays or how bad your team plays, those feelings are rarely if ever reflective of the actual play. Of course he was talking about the pros, QBs specifically, but the point stands that just because I feel this has been a bad season doesn’t mean there isn’t improvement being made on the field. But I also feel like giving your team the mentality of “We’re getting better and that’s what matters” is not a mentality you can use to garner a better future for your team. Sorry I rambled there, I guess the short answer is yes there has been progress and I don’t know what the coaches should do because I’m not a coach. Admitting that does not make me feel any better about our situation though.

Sammy: It’s actually kind of amazing that those are the margins despite a defensive downfall the past three weeks. Be on the lookout for some Collins Spin next press conference. “We’ve given up 1,700 yards in three games and we’re still almost winning.” As a reminder, one of those games only resulted in an 8-point loss thanks to Jude Kelley’s magic foot. I think penalties have killed us lately, so improvement there would potentially have given us 2 more wins. No social media if you get a penalty in the game? Idk... In the Miami Report Card, I talked about how I believe progress is being made, and I do still believe that, but it certainly doesn’t feel much better. Something to think about at night - georgia’s defense has only given up 2,079 yards all season... Since the Duke matchup (4 games), Tech has given up 2,179 yards.

Hello,

I’m a little late to the party but I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso. Not as good as the first, but still pretty good. I liked the episode which focused purely on Coach Beard. That one was very funny and I related to his general frustration and distaste for Thierry Henry.

For my question this week we are going to ignore finances and ignore the will of the coaches (because of course we can’t afford them and of course they would say no, but this is for fun people). If Georgia Tech needed to pull a reverse Ted Lasso, and hire a Premier League Soccer coach to coach GT as a replacement for CGC who would be your top pick?

I think Brendan Rodgers could do a good job... no basis for that. I literally looked at the name of coaches and though “Yeah, Brendan Rodgers sounds like a good name”. If anyone has better insight to Premier League coaches feel free to tell me why I am wrong. Have a good one guys.

Later World,

The Buddha (submitted via email)

Stephen: I too like the Coach Beard episode. My favorite line in the whole series thus far is probably in the opening press conference when Ted is asked to name any footballers, and replies “Well, yeah, you got Ronaldo, and the fellow that bends it like himself.”

The writing throughout the show is quick, concise, intelligent, and seemingly conveys that everything is going to be okay, which is a nice thing to nuzzle yourself in to in this day and age. God, I really just said “in this day and age”.

Back to the question: I’ll take Marcelo Bielsa from Leeds United all damn day to coach Georgia Tech. He’s an innovator, he’s unconventional, he’s crass, and frankly doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. If that sounds like somebody you might know - you’re projecting.

Chris: All I know about English soccer comes from the excellent Suderland Til I Die on Netflix, so I do not have a real answer to this but I would still like to plug that show.

Logan: Nuno Espírito Santo guided Helped the Wolverhampton Wanderers reach the premier league and got them consecutive 7th place finishes. I think he’s the guy you want if you’re trying to turn a team in a positive direction.

Sammy: Does this guy count?