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Mailbag 12/7

What are the way-too-early expectations for next year’s defense?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Georgia Tech at Florida State Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Frodo Swagginz: What kind of offensive scheme would you like to see Tech run next year?

Ben: I have long stated that I would love to see Tech run an air raid offense. They tend to put up a lot of points, and you can adapt your offense to the personnel to run the ball or pass the ball.

Chris: Something fast-paced and innovative. I’m tired of whatever the heck “pro style” seems to be - give me something fun to watch that actually plays to personnel strength and creates opportunities and advantages.

Logan: West coast offense. More passing out of the backfield and short passes downfield. Granted our players have to be able to catch the ball if we go that way.

Jake: Key has already quoted Bill Walsh in his short tenure, so maybe the West Coast is doable. That said, I’m not sold on any idea in particular, but I would like something distinctive/with an identity, if possible.

Frodo Swagginz: With the expected departure of Thomas, Eley, and White, what are the way-too-early expectations for next year’s defense?

Ben: I fully expect the defense to take a step back, especially the rush defense. I’ll get to this in a little bit, but I hope Tech finds someone to help Trenilyas Tatum at linebacker to help ease the burden of the loss.

Chris: It’ll certainly take a hit. Hopefully some strong coaching in the offseason makes up for the lost talent though.

Logan: I think the secondary could get better as the players at those positions are developing (if they stay). Definitely a step back in pass rush though, so that may offset things.

Jake: Development and the portal could help, but those are all big losses. I envision it’ll take a few games to get used to the new status quo next year, despite my higher expectations for the Key off-season regimen.

Frodo Swagginz: What positions would you like to see Key’s staff fill through the portal?

Ben: Three positions: quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker. I love Zach Pyron, and I think he is absolutely the QB of the future. Broken collarbones can be a pain to come back from, though, so I would love to see a veteran QB come in to help bridge the gap until Pyron is back up to full speed. There is no reason to rush him back. As far as wide receiver and linebacker, I think those are pretty self-explanatory.

Drew: Georgia Tech hasn’t had a true difference maker on the defensive line in years. The last one was who? Maybe Adam Gotsis? You probably won’t find a star defensive lineman in the portal, but some more help on the defensive line would be much appreciated.

Chris: QB and WR. I’m totally with Ben on the idea to get a veteran QB - get someone with strong experience who can mentor Pyron and give him some breathing room before we put it all on his shoulders. Receiver-wise, we desperately need someone to step into that go-to role and be a dependable outlet for the QB.

Logan: Linemen on both sides of the ball. We need better blocking and better penetration in the opponent’s backfield. It’s the non-sexy option but I think it’s the one that would help the most. Other than linemen… we had good success with Eley transferring in, maybe another good linebacker could come our way.

Jake: I like Pyron a lot, but I think he would be well-served to have a veteran to mentor him and work with in general. Other than that, I don’t think any position is truly in a position where an upgrade or two wouldn’t be appreciably an improvement.

Bill Brockman: Shouldn’t Tech have a PR guy who makes sure NFL announcers coming to Atlanta know when a player is from GT? I was so appalled when Presley Harvin’s backwards bouncing punt inside the 5 doomed the Falcons Sunday and the announcer talked about him being the only punter drafted that year but didn’t seem to know he’d played college football a mile or so away.

Ben: As was already mentioned in a reply to this, the announcer did mention that he was from Georgia Tech. I would also like to say that announcing games is a lot more work than it looks like. You have to have in depth knowledge of not just the teams playing but various storylines going on with both teams. I took a broadcasting class when I was in college, and I was blown away by how much work went into it.

Chris: Announcers definitely mention where people went to college pretty often, but I don’t really think we should expect much more than that (unless maybe they also grew up in the Atlanta area). They’re also gonna lean on that more when it’s a huge star in their first couple years right after college (e.g. Joe Burrow).

Logan: Earlier answers aside (yes it was mentioned in the game that PH3 was a GT grad), getting a PR guy who could include some famous alumni our current pro players into our school commercials and advertising would be cool. GT has plenty of famous alumni (in pro sports and outside of sports) and it feels like I never hear about any of them in our school advertising. I feel like GT could have a cooler perception if more of our famous alumni get highlighted.

Jake: Great idea Logan, totally agree. This gets close enough to something I notice a lot that I can mention this, too: the banners on the Fifth Street Bridge are a great idea, just replace the outdated ones with current athletes a bit more often.

aknartebna: Does CBK have a particular scheme preference? Or is he someone that is going to make the pieces fit as they are? What scheme do you think we should run given the talent that is on the team now?

Ben: I don’t think Key has an offensive scheme in the same way Paul Johnson had an offensive scheme. He probably has something in mind he wants to run, and that is probably tailoring the offensive coordinator search. But any good OC is going to tailor his offense to the personnel available.

Chris: ditto to what Ben said.

CTjacket: What do you say to your friends/family/co-workers who are still whining that their choice wasn’t the one for head coach?

Ben: Take this from someone who didn’t want Brent Key to be the guy. At the end of the day, what has happened has happened. There is nothing you can or should be to do to change the fact that Brent Key is the head coach at Georgia Tech. So instead of [Boston]ing about the search, get your [ARS] in gear and get ready to root for your Yellow Jackets!

Jack: This only really happened with me with people who wanted Deion, and I then asked who last looked like that guy and coached at GT...

Chris: Anyone can succeed and anyone can fail. There are no easy answers and at the end of the day you just have to trust that the guy with the job will do what he thinks is best for the program.

Logan: What has (insert name of their favorite coach here) done for us? Meanwhile Key won us 4 games last year. That’s more than your guy won for us last year… In all seriousness there’s not a great answer. If they wanted another coach the only way their mind will change is if Coach Key wins games next year. So be ready for about 8 months of whining and possibly more.

Jake: Key wasn’t my first pick, but he certainly wasn’t my last. Not everyone needs to be fully on board with blind optimism (some skepticism or apprehension is okay, look where blind optimism got a lot of us with the last guy) but it is important to at least buy in to give the guy a chance. At this point, he’s the guy, and there’s no need to rewrite history and focus on the unchangeable past.

YankeeJacket: Why should I be excited about the hiring of Brent Key? Going 4-4 was a definite improvement over 1-3 and he personally is better than Coach Football Not Found, but anyone would be. Tell me something that would convince me this was an inspired hire and not just a cost saving one. I want to believe.

Ben: I think this is a good question to ponder. I think Brent Key is easy to root for, even if he wasn’t the guy you wanted. Regardless of what you wanted to happen, this is what happened, and Brent Key is the coach. I don’t know that I can point to any meaningful data to say that Key is a worthwhile hire. Actually, I know that I can’t. All I can do is keep cheering for Georgia Tech. At the end of the day, I care more about this team than the guy coaching, so I’m going to cheer for them.

Chris: If I’m the PR guy for this, I think I’d spin it as “Brent Key is what Collins pretended to be”. Remember how excited we all were that we had “our guy” with a passion for the school and a vision for the future? This time it’s for real; Key is going to approach things differently than some national hire guy and he’s made it very clear that his main priority is doing what’s best for the program and the Institute as a whole.

Logan: For me it’s not about the x’s and o’s if you’re looking to get excited. When Key took over as head coach, we saw a locker room that had the life snuffed out of it be rejuvenated. Under Collins the players at GT seemed like playing a football game was the equivalent of a dead-end job you just want to finish so you can go home, play video games, and forget the past few hours even happened. When Key took over, the players got excited. The players went from looking like a bunch of dead fish to being happier than kids at a carnival to get out there and play for our program. I guess that’s what I turn to, he has a lot to prove but almost all the players love him and want to play for him. It’s probably not the answer you want to hear, but that’s why I’m willing to believe in Key even if he wasn’t the coach I was hoping for.

Jake: He certainly seems to be bought in, and his players are bought into him.

RamblininAlb: If we were to get Littrell as OC/RB coach, who could we potentially target for OL and WR coaches?

Ben: I mentioned Mike Thornton in the article about Key connections, and that is still something I believe could happen. Looking through Littrell’s coaching staff at UNT, it looks like there are actually some experienced guys there. For instance, look at Co-OC/WR Coach Tommy Mainord. He was previously the WR coach at Texas Tech and Kentucky. His OL coach Randy Clements fits the bill too. He has 11 years of experience at the P5 level, though it looks like he was at Baylor throughout the Art Briles era, so I would hope proper vetting is done if Tech pursues Clements.

GTBuzzed: Alas, Coach Eric Reveno returned home to the west coast. It certainly seemed like a big loss on the field, with his development of bigs Lammers, Banks, and Wright, and off the field with his spearheading the NCAA election day off for students.

We added Brian Eskildsen to the staff. My questions are: 1) Is any coach specifically responsible for the C/F positions? 2) How’s the C/F development this year so far? and 3) What is your evaluation of Eskildsen?

Drew: I’m not connected enough to break out which assistant coaches get credit or blame, but big man development has been mixed at best so far. Rodney Howard looked significantly improved at the end of last year. His season has been a disaster so far. He went from being a clear starter to barely getting any minutes. Due to his size (and everybody else’s lack of size) he is critical to this team and he looked a lot better against Northeastern, but he still has been very disappointing.

Javon Franklin has been really solid, but I don’t think you can credit GT coaches for that. Jalon Moore has definitely improved, but I still don’t think he’s a player that would play much on a good ACC team right now and I think he has that talent.

gtbadcarma: I have a couple questions when it comes to the expanded playoff that is coming. Everyone seems to have their “reasons”, 450 million, to expand the number of college football games. It wasn’t that long ago teams played a total of 9 - 11 games which included a bowl game(16 or so total bowl games at the time). Conference championships, playoffs and expanded playoffs added (sure there will be further expansion), players are up 50% increase in games, 15-16 games. (If you have played football you know how much just one more game can take out of you.)

1. If the NCAA and everyone else that likes to expound that these “kids” safety and education is paramount, wouldn’t the logical choice be to reduce the number of games and reformat within the limited games vs continued expansion?

Ben: The NCAA is going to go as far as they reasonably can to make money.

Chris: Yeah but money. I think eventually we’ll see the phasing out of FCS/low FBS buy-games for the upper echelon of programs, but who knows if that’ll actually mean one less game a year instead of swapping for another conference game or something.

Logan: The NCAA is deciding to give the fans what they want so The NCAA can make more money. I think most fans wanted this because it either gives their team a better chance to be in the championship and somehow pull off a March madness style upset or gives them one more chance to see their team play. So that’s cool, but to your point I did not mention players once in that statement. Player safety and education is not really being considered.

Jake: I hate to point only to money, but that’s a big driver, and it hints at the underlying current that the demand exists for more football. I think a lot of college football fans would eagerly sign up to get another Saturday to tailgate and be at the stadium (or another opportunity to make it in, if they live out of town). The NCAA doesn’t control the CFP, there isn’t even the thin and precarious veneer of the student-athlete on it. Playoff expansion is not about safety, and it’s not about the best interests of the athletes, because that extra money certainly isn’t going to them, at least in the direct compensation kind of way.

2. Oklahoma has at least 4 or 5 starters not playing against FSU and there have been questions on whether the bowl should be played. More and more players are opting out of post season, as they realize preserving oneself to be able to make big money in the NFL is more important than helping cut conferences and schools big paychecks (I can see this happening to playoff teams as truly whats in it for the “big time” players other than sacrificing their money). If the NCAA doesn’t do something, how long do you think it is before the players force the NCAA’s hand on number of games played?

Ben: I don’t have a problem with players sitting out, personally. They are doing what is best for them.

Jack: It is a conundrum. The schools need the bowls to make some extra, if not very important, cash. The players don’t need the so they can avoid disaster and hurting their draft stock. My preference is to do away with any bowl that doesn’t directly impact the outcome of the national championship. So many of the historic ones already are gone or are going to be part of the future playoff system anyways, it feels like a waste of time.

Chris: I think it’s somewhat a product of the current CFB era. Today’s CFB machine is so hyper focused on THE P L A Y O F F at the expense of anything else; if you’re sending the constant message that the other 40 bowls are insignificant then you can’t expect the players to care about them. Why should I risk my future career just to go play in a random Insert This Year’s Sponsor Whatever Bowl that no one cares about? I think the answer is to make the entire postseason matter and to create significance. How? I dunno. Stop changing bowl names every year because a new corporation writes a big check. Stop adding new bowls in bad travel locations. Lower the number of bowls and make better matchups. Provide more incentive to the school and players. Make the games more accessible to fans so they actually show up.

Logan: I don’t think much will change in the near future. The starters might be sitting out, but my guess is the second-string players are super pumped that they can show their stuff off and earn some NIL money. As long as there are players available to take the field and money is changing hands, I think the bowl games will keep happening. Some players might fight against playing more games, but the players just got a big win with the NIL so I don’t know they will have the motivation/leverage to push for less games for a few more years. Not to say it won’t happen, I just think it might be a while before we see a serious push back against playing more games.

Jake: 4 or 5 starters is a lot, but it’s also understandable considering it’s an exhibition game and they have the rest of their lives and livelihoods in front of them. I don’t envision this as being something so widespread and profound that it would restructure the season, though.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Are you satisfied with the Football Final 4? Matchups? Any switch outs of 3 and 4?

Ben: I couldn’t even tell you who, other than Georgia, is in the CFP.

Jack: I am! We got the most entertaining four I think that were available. Alabama sneaking in would’ve been annoying for the rest of the country, regardless of the fact the committee saw them squarely at #5. New Year’s Eve will be a very fun day with those games.

Chris: Sure I guess. I honestly don’t really care, at this point another UGA championship feels inevitable and the light feels dimmer and further away. I’m just glad we’re moving closer to a system that’s actually objective soon-ish.

Logan: Yeah, I’m glad TCU is still in despite the loss, and the matchups seem pretty promising. I like to see a TCU offense led by a Heisman caliber QB go up against a great Michigan defense (even if I’m not so sure about TCU’s defense). I also think that Ohio State (assuming most of their starters decide to play) will be the most talented team uga will play on the year so I will be interested to see if the dwags can maintain luster against a team like that. Glad Bama stayed out. No offense to Bama fans, but I don’t think a 2-loss team should be jumping TCU. It should be a good set of games.

Jake: The best four teams (as much as I hate to say it) made it in. Alabama was certainly not one of them, and while I dislike that OSU can miss the title game and not make it, the committee has repeatedly shown that two loss teams won’t make it in. I think it will be entertaining, but I would love for the national title game to not potentially bring gnashing of teeth yet again.

Knipp30: Probably wont get in before the mailbag cutoff. But what do you make of the fact that N8 Mccollum apparently isn’t actually in the transfer portal yet?

Ben: I’m going to err on the side of not speculating and just say that I think he rethought it and decided (at least for now) to stay at Georgia Tech and see it out.

Chris: It’s certainly interesting. My assumption is that Key and others are working on keeping him.

Logan: Let’s give this time and see how it plays out. Cautiously optimistic, and hopeful about what this could mean for Key being able to recruit.

Jake: I would love to get my hopes up; I don’t know enough to be certain it isn’t just a blip on the path to his eventual entry.

Jellopacket98: Why did CBK get rid of the strength and conditioning coach? I thought the players loved that guy.

Ben: As the new head coach, he should have full autonomy over his staff, which means if he wants to let someone go for whatever reason, he should be allowed. It looks like the two did not see eye to eye on something (philosophically probably), so Key decided to move on. Caralla bounced back incredibly quickly, getting the job at Charlotte days after his dismissal. Georgia Tech also did not wait very long, hiring USF’s strength coach who worked with Chris Weinke at Tennessee.

Jake: I’m not sure how much of the gimmicky workouts and weights were his idea, and I’ll leave discussion on that for another day. In general, it makes sense that Key would want to go

RamblininAlb: Does the offensive foul call in the Basketball matchup, make up for the turf top touchdown call from Football?

Jake: No, the football call was objectively terrible, the offensive foul could have gone either way. Props to Smith for getting down the court and drawing it.

Logan: No, it doesn’t make up for the call, but I’ll still take what calls I can get for GT.

Submitted via email: Hey guys,

Hope everything is treating you well this week. Tough week for questions... we’re kind of in between things with the end of the football season. This might be a bit of a stretch since I don’t know how much research time y’all have on a weekly basis, but are there any targets in the transfer portal we should be looking at or have hopes to make their way to GT. I don’t expect us to pull any big names, but are there any positions we need players and might see some mid-tier guys jump over to GT?

Let me know, later guys,

Nathan Drake

Ben: As I said above, I want to see Tech add a quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker. I don’t have any names, really, but one guy to keep an eye on could be Ole Miss LB Jaron Willis, who was previously committed to Tech. He had a lot of drama around his recruitment, but he has engaged with current Tech players on Twitter, so there’s probably interest (at least on his side).

Chris: I’d take any of the QBs I guess.

Logan: Kobe Pace from Clemson could be a nice add for RB. Would Tommy Brockermeyer from Alabama be too much to hope for to help out on the O-line? It feels like almost every backup QB in the country is in the transfer portal so I feel like we’re bound to get someone who makes a decent backup or potential starter at the QB spot. Not familiar with Linebackers in the portal, but it’d be nice to pull a few of them too... I’m hoping we get a few big transfers to help out. At this point pulling players from the Portal is almost as important as recruiting highschoolers.