clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mailbag 10/19

When the weather gets colder, will Brent Key keep that short-sleeved hoodie?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Duke at Georgia Tech Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ole yeller: Dontae Smith may be the most explosive back we have, Why is he not getting more touches?

Ben: It’s curious for sure, but Hassan Hall has played very well the last couple weeks, so it could just be a case of playing the hot hand.

Chris: Yeah I’m also intrigued by his absence. I’m with Ben, my guess is that Hall has been pretty solid and the staff is maybe trying to stick with one main guy rather than doing a rotation.

Logan: My guess is it has to do with Hassan being the senior running back. Hassan has been a good rusher and he is the senior so he gets the majority of the runs. If Hassan was outright bad it would be another story but since both running backs have done well I think Hassan keeps the spot because he is the Senior at the position.

Jake: I’ve wondered that too, but assumed it was to use Smith to get different looks, i.e. taking advantage of said explosively. It seems like that lines up with how he was used last year somewhat, too, if I recall correctly.

Drew: I’m going to disagree with the others. Hall HAS looked pretty good the last few weeks, but based on last year and this year it’s clear to me that Smith is the best back we have. Look at the Clemson. He turned short runs into solid ones including juking multiple Clemson defenders out of their shoes. But neither Collins nor Key is giving him that many touches. Maybe he’s a bad blocker? If he wasn’t getting any play I might think there’s off the field issues, but they wouldn’t be giving him a few touches per game if that was the case. I’d love to see more of him coming up.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: It is halftime in the 2022 CFB Season.

What are your First Half observations from across the CFB landscape in toto and writ large??


Ben: Uhh Tennessee, do your thing!

Chris: Everything is pretty normal and to-plan for the most part. Not really boring per se, but not any huge shakeups so far.

Logan: The first half has been a slow build, but if TCU, Tennessee, and UCLA keep winning you could be seeing plenty of new playoff teams in CFB. It’s still a bit early to guarantee such an occurrence, but the potential is there. Get hype for the second half.

Jake: I’m not sure Chris watched the Tennessee game, based on that comment, but I would generally agree. Clemson, Ohio State, the school out East, and Alabama are all in the mix, but it is also nice to see some spark in TCU and Tennessee.

Drew: The top few schools might be boring, but I think this season has been a blast. The G5 is way down this year except for the Sun Belt, but I love to see some teams having big years. Syracuse, Kansas, Tulane, Illinois. I love to see it.

CTJacket: Hey everybody,

I’m still salty that my signature is gone. Now I have to go back and find it because I love that quote. (not a question, I know)

I want to ask about Key, but not about whether or not he gets the job or not. He has the opportunity to interview no one else has over the rest of the season so I believe that will play out as it should. My view on Key’s job so far is this:

Pitt week - keep the team together and prevent a splintering/spiraling effect from losing the head coach. Grade: A+, not only did that but picked up an unexpected road win. By all accounts, he also eliminated some poor practice stipulations (for lack of a better word - I mean going to full contact etc.)

Duke week - not let the team read too many press clippings, keep it together and get one of the few expected wins. Grade: A-, minor quibbles with game management etc. but we did get the win so hard to go less than an A (at this stage of the season).

Bye week - start putting some of his stamps on the program. Scheme changes (which can’t be very major without spring or summer), player evaluations, that sort of thing. Grade: Incomplete, no way to really judge this yet.

Virginia week - put together a solid gameplan and beat a team that we are favored (!) over.

So my question is, when the weather gets colder does he keep the sleeveless hoodie? Or you can tell me how wrong I am about the grades and his job. Up to you!

Ben: Brent Key strikes me as the type of guy who would wear shorts when it’s 20 degrees outside for the hell of it. Anyway, regarding your grades, I think it’s pretty spot on. He’s done everything you could hope for in an interim, and sure, there are some issues with game management, but he’s been a head coach for two games; that’s gonna happen. I’m very curious to see how he does the rest of the season.

Chris: He’s an offensive lineman, of course he’s gonna keep the sleeveless. And I totally agree with your assessment - I’m really excited to see what we look like coming out of the bye week.

Logan: like the assessment. The hoodie… if he loses I think he stops wearing it. I hope he wears it all the way to the end of the season.

Jake: Random, but something in my mind tells me that your signature quote was one from one of the old Rearview Mirror columns, right? I have the entirety of Rearview in a really long Google Doc, so I can get that for you pretty quickly with a good old Control+F if you give me a keyword or two. As for the sweatshirt, I get very similar vibes from him as an old gym teacher of mine that used to plow the sidewalks outside the middle school in shorts after big snowstorms, so I’m going to bet he sticks with the same vibe. For the sake of the Section 103 edition of the sweatshirt, I hope so, at least.

gtbadcarma: Some outlets are now projecting Tech making a bowl game, which seems a little fanciful at the moment , bringing this question to mind. If you were able to sponsor a lower tier bowl game and you got to choose the location and the name, what/where is your bowl game. (Always thought the Varsity Orange bowl had a good ring but probably too close to a top tier bowl)

Ben: Give me the Charmin Toilet Bowl that pits the two worst teams in the country against each other. It’s located in the worst place you can imagine: Shreveport.

Jack: If there’s gonna be an Atlanta themed bowl, I’m going with the JR Crickets Lemon Pepper Wet Chicken Flat Wings Bowl sponsored by Shaq’s Krispy Kreme.

Chris: The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Bowl, located in the hottest place in the country: Valdosta, GA.

Logan: The Guinness bad decision Bowl… hosted in St. Louis

Jake: I know that there’s been talk of this maybe happening, but I would love to bring a 6-6 Big Ten team to face a MAC team at Wrigley Field in the middle of the winter. You could even call up old low tier bowl favorite Elk Grove Village to bring back their Makers Wanted slogan much closer to home, but a Menards Wrigley Bowl would be a perfect setting for Wisconsin vs. Central Michigan in a freezing rainstorm.

Drew: I would make there be two Bahamas Bowls and then the losers have to play the next week in Utqiavik (Barrow), Alaska. The northernmost football field in the world.

GTBuzzed: Thank you very much for the “Engineering a Program” Series. It was well written and I learned a lot about Ma Tech.

Your articles had some recurring themes about competing for eyeballs in a crowded Atlanta market, the failures of outreach and identity in regards to ATL, and the general lack of fans in the stadium and in the donor pool. Then I saw this ESPN video titled “Why is UCLA football struggling to fill the stadium?”

I see some parallels between UCLA, USC, and GT as: a) Highly regarded academic institutions; b) Very saturated urban media markets, and c) Terrible traffic to reach the stadium. One key difference is that USC is a private school.

This leads me to the question: How does USC still draw large crowds and donor pools in the super saturated Los Angeles market? Are they “LA’s team” or do they even claim to be? Is this mainly continued momentum from the very good ‘01-’09 Pete Carroll years? What can we (or our new AD) learn from USC’s success and UCLA’s struggles?

Supplemental info:

During the 11 seasons of CPJ’s tenure (‘08-’18), median FEI rankings were 20 for USC, 39 for GT, and 55 for UCLA. The best two seasons were ranked 4,9 for USC (Pete Carroll’s last year and Helton’s first full year), 11,12 for GT (both Orange Bowls), and 14,24 for UCLA (Jim’ Mora’s first two years).

Ben: I can think of a few rea$on$ why U$C can pull that off and Tech can’t.

Chris: Money and momentum, which have a lot to do with each other. If I had to pick one thing to harp on in that series it’s this: since around 2005 we have been been severely underinvesting in football compared to pretty much every other P5. USC on the other hand has an insanely valuable athletics brand and has kept up with their investment in it.

Jake: I don’t know enough about USC’s marketing to know if they market as LA’s team a la the infamous Northwestern is Chicago’s Big Ten Team ads, which were decidedly more cringeworthy than Tech and its recent 404 emphasis, but I do know that they are far closer to the city than the Rose Bowl and UCLA. I plugged all parties involved (USC, UCLA, and Tech) into good ol’ Google Maps, with the city reference pin (generic Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA) serving as my zero points. Results are as follows:

USC (LA Memorial Colesium): 3.2 miles from the Los Angeles, CA pin, stadium is campus-adjacent and surrounded by neighborhoods.
UCLA (Rose Bowl): 9.9 miles from the Los Angeles, CA pin in Pasadena, stadium is 20.3 miles from campus and cut off from campus/LA by a bunch of mountains and surrounded by parking and golf.
Tech (Bobby Dodd): 2.2 miles from the Atlanta pin, and the location comparison with USC seems more or less apt.

Despite USC’s private status that one might think would shroud them from the larger alumni bases and higher exclusivity perception seen by a lot of other private schools, they have a long history of success and have played in LA’s most historic venue close to the geographic center of the city and have attracted fans through proximity and success, along with their air of prestige. Ironically, UCLA shared LA Memorial with USC for almost fifty years, and despite the stadium being adjacent to USC’s campus, it was still half the distance from Westwood as the Rose Bowl is today. Essentially, to be in UCLA’s shoes, it would be like having a campus at Agnes Scott in Decatur and playing games at Truist Park, but with mountains in the way, and in the middle of the route there was a school both more successful on the field, as well as richer. It’s tough sledding.

GTSMURF: Thoughts on new ADJB’s initial press conference with PAC? They wouldn’t say what their goal for the long term expectations of the Football program are. I would think that would be an interview question.

Chris: It was fine, I didn’t really have a ton of expectations for the first presser - its pretty much just a chance to get his face in front of people and there’s never gonna be a ton of substance to it.

Jake: He said enough and in the right ways for me to be confident at least that he isn’t getting out over his skis. We will hear more concrete in the coming weeks, I am confident of that.

GTSMURF: Also with PAC being a soccer fan and ADJB being a former soccer student athlete, soccer may finally be seriously considered once the ship is righted with our revenue sports and if fundraising is sufficient. Do you want soccer to become a varsity sport?

Ben: I would love to see men’s and women’s soccer become a thing at Georgia Tech. With the rising interest in soccer since Atlanta United became a thing, I think you’d have an instant hit.

Jack: For one, Tech still needs to add a women’s sport to become fully Title IX compliant. Without introducing you to all the scholarship math, women’s soccer does the trick to bring Tech into compliance. Knowing how healthy the soccer culture is in Atlanta and at Tech (I spent many an afternoon watching Champions League matches at the student center with total strangers), it would be an instant hit. At the J Batt press conference, the soccer question was raised. While they of course couldn’t make any specific comments, President Cabrera was incredibly enthused at the idea. I think this happens at some point. When? Who knows.

Chris: Yeah, it feels kinda like a no brainer in a lot of ways. As others have mentioned, soccer is hugely popular in Atlanta and is growing in general popularity around the country.

Jake: ADTS had hinted five or so years ago that beach volleyball was in the works, but given that the school wouldn’t really gain a ton of scholarship athletes from that given the overlap with volleyball, and golf teams are small, I have long thought that Tech adding women’s soccer in particular would make a lot of sense. In fact, Tech is the only Power 5 school to not sponsor the sport. I think it would be a great add in particular given the exposure that many students have to playing at the youth level, more than half decade of exposure to Atlanta United, or growing up in an international, soccer-mad country making it a good entry point to the rest of the athletics program for someone that may not be as versed or passionate about football, basketball, baseball/softball, or volleyball. As with everything, I think it mainly comes down to the money.

GTalbatross: Does Bergmann catch Brambilla in kills?

Jack: Yes, and probably in the next 3-5 matches at the pace she’s at.

Jake: Certainly by the end of November. She’s seeing an outsized share of opportunities on the attack, and I don’t foresee that changing.

GTalbatross: Who leads bball in PPG this year?

Logan: Luka Doncic

Drew: Best guess is Deebo Coleman, but it could any of five people and not surprise me. Rodney Howard made really good progress at the end of the year, but it’s hard for a center to be the big scorer. Kyle Sturdivant has been okay, but we’re still waiting for a leap that I’m not sure is going to come. Jalon Moore and Miles Kelly have a lot of potential and a lot of behind-the-scenes people are hyping them, but we haven’t seen it yet. So give me Coleman.

Jake: I think it is going to be Threebo Coleman. I saw a lot from him last year that made me excited.

GTalbatross: Who is the breakout pitcher this year?

Logan: Alek Manoah

Jake: There’s a few incoming freshmen that I am excited about, but I am wary of putting too much stock in first year college players out of the gate. I think we would be well-served to have a breakout season from Cody Carwile this year, given the flashes he showed last spring, if we want to keep things rolling on the diamond.

GTalbatross: What play will surprise you the most in the UVA game?

Ben: I think Tech’s defensive line will have a big day. UVA’s offensive line is hot garbage, so I am curious to see what Thacker draws up.

Chris: I will be pleasantly surprised if Sims has a second strong game in a row. The biggest knock on him so far has been his consistency so I think stringing a couple good games together would be huge.

Logan: If we actually get one of those veer option looks to work that would be a great play.

Jake: In the vein of strong Sims games, seeing him thread the needle on another deep pass or two would be an absolute delight. It felt so improbable the last time around, after all.

Ding0: Thought experiment:

Had Todd Stansbury taken more time to select CPJ’s replacement, who from that cycle of the coaching carousel would you have liked to been his replacement?

Had Todd Stansbury not stuck with CGC after his 3rd consecutive 3-win season, which coach from last year’s cycle would you have liked to be the head coach?

As always: Up with the White and Gold, and THWg

Ben: At the time, I’m pretty sure we were all on the Tony Elliott bandwagon. My other big choice would have been Scott Satterfield. That hasn’t necessarily worked out super well for Louisville, but I think it could have been a better option to transition away from Paul Johnson’s offense. It also could have opened up the opportunity for Nate Woody to continue as the defensive coordinator. He had a rough first year, but I liked a lot of what I saw. He has also been pretty successful at Army, so I think it’s reasonable to believe he could have done well here. If TStan pulled the plug last year, I think my choice would still be the same: Jamey Chadwell.

Chris: I think Brian Bohannon would’ve been really interesting in 2019. He’s been hugely successful, and his brand of offense would’ve been a natural transition from CPJ’s. And agreed with Ben, probably still Chadwell. Bill Napier was also an interesting name last year, but I think the jury’s still out on him at Florida.

Jake: Brian Bohannon for the former, and for the latter, I keep forgetting Lance Leipold is in his second year with how late he was hired. I think for that, I would want to have taken a look at Napier, as well.

thirdbitfromleft: Need to nerd out on an “Anatomy of a HC Interview” article. What questions should be asked? What questions would you ask? Who’s involved in the interview?

Ben: I’m probably not the guy to ask about interview questions; I’ll leave that to the professionals. However, one thing I would want to see asked is that the prospective coach brings a data-driven approach and can demonstrate how they have done that.

Chris: I think I would try to pry at how flexible a coach is. Time and time again we’ve seen a coach struggle to break through with a team and it feels like they’re just beating their head against the wall trying the same thing over and over again (case in point: Collins). It’s great to have a system that you’ve put time into and think works, but I want to see a guy willing to change what he does based on personnel, results, etc. to maximize success.

Drew: I’m not super knowledgeable, but I’d probably ask why they think that others in their position have failed when moving to a P5 head coaching job. It’s probably an interesting look to see if they understand some common pitfalls.

Frodo Swagginz: Continuing the theme for one game at a time, what are your expectations for the UVA game? Other than winning when we’re supposed to.

Additionally, we know Key wanted to make some small tweaks during the bye week. Any ideas what we should expect?

Ben: I am cautiously optimistic about the game against Virginia. I think the atmosphere will be nothing but great for Georgia Tech. I do worry a little bit that this has an opportunity to be a bit of a coming-back-to-earth moment, but I remain hopeful. I hope Key has had some sort of conversation with Chip Long about not letting up off the gas.

Chris: Yes, my expectation is that we win. I really think we should be able to win this game by 10+ points as long as we keep things on the rails. I’m hoping to see continued defensive improvement (please improve run defense especially), and a bit more offensive consistency. My biggest requested tweak would be not semi-collapsing in the fourth quarter: lock down on defense and play smart, time-consuming offense if we’re ahead.

Logan: I think we go for more big pass plays which could be good or bad depending on if they succeed or not, but I expect decent defensive play to win the game for us.

Drew: I’m a little more cautious than the others. Vegas has us as only a 3 point favorite for a reason (so basically a toss-up if we weren’t at home). A home OT win against Duke isn’t exactly impressive and I think the Pitt win is not as good as other people think. If Pitt caught a handful of balls in the first half then it’s a blowout going the wrong way. I like what Brent Key has done getting the team ready to play, but this isn’t a team that can breathe easy against anyone. I still predict they win, but Virginia is in the game until near the end.

Jake: I have hope again, and that makes me simultaneously apprehensive. My expectations haven’t hit the point where I am in the “expect wins” camp, but I think what is throwing me is the dichotomy of being excited, but not wanting to get too excited, if that makes any sense. As for tweaks, I must’ve let the weekly coaches show go in one ear and out the other, because I definitely listened, but cannot remember a single thing. Whoops.

Submitted via email: Hello Guys,

Simple question this week because I don’t have a whole bunch of time. My question this week is if you could insert a super power into a sport to make it more interesting, what super power would it be? I guess you could just give super healing to football players, although that won’t really make things more interesting but it might make people more comfortable watching it and letting their kids play it. If they added super jumping ability to volleyball they would have to raise the nets really high up. In baseball the players could have super reflexes... but that might get boring for the defensive side of things. I dunno. Went with a dumb question this week for no reason. Later


Ben: I’m trying to think of something that would make the game more interesting without breaking the game itself. So with that being said, I’ll say superhuman reflexes in football, but everyone has them. Imagine watching a game of football, but everyone has a Spidey sense. That sounds pretty dope to me.

Chris: I honestly can’t think of anything. Plenty of superpowers would be great for one player to have, but I feel like if it’s a level playing field where everyone has the same power you don’t gain a whole lot entertainment-wise. I think a big reason high-level sports are interesting to watch is that you’re seeing athletes on the edge being pushed - if everything is perfect then it isn’t as interesting.

Logan: part of what makes the game fun is that they are normal humans doing things that seem superhuman. I think adding superpowers generally take away from the game instead of adding to it. That said, I think it would be cool if some of the unique plays from backyard football, backyard basketball, or backyard baseball were real. If a baseball player can hit the ball underground or if a RB can turn himself into a spring to go over all the linemen that would be cool.

Jake: This is an easy one, I would want to see breath holding in swimming. So many strong swimmers lose a race or never hit their full potential because they have a hitch in their stroke. Almost like the concept of designing the perfect marathon run, I would love to see the perfect mile in the pool. I was a distance swimmer, though, so I might be alone in thinking this would be cool.