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Mailbag 9/21

Would you trade Haynes King if it means Tech could have an average defense?

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Partywaggin: If HK keeps up his play all season (and hopefully all next season too) would he be the first GT QB to get drafted to actually, erhum, play QB since Joe Hamilton? Sean Jones? Or...?

Logan: I’m not sure he is at draft caliber yet, especially since there are a few good QBs in this years draft class on the west coast. If he stays an extra year it is possible, I think he needs to show some extra leadership ability on the field, but what we have seen so far this year is promising. I think he could angle to be a backup with what he has shown so far, but that could change as he continues to develop.

Chris: This year no, but maybe if he has a great 2024 yes? There are a lot of good QBs out there and even for 2024 he’d need to really up his stock quickly.

Ben: I don’t know that a team would definitely draft him based on just three games’ worth of production. That’s not to say he hasn’t been good, but he needs to continue playing like this. If his play continues on this trend, then yeah, especially if it goes for two seasons, I could see his draft stock rise.

Jeff: If he maintains his current trajectory for the duration of his career here I could see him being taken. He is listed as a redshirt sophomore this year so could stay as late as the 2026 draft. That would give him plenty of time to showcase his talent.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Can we “get on to” (some) CFB and CBB players now?

Thru history, there was an aversion to jumping on a player for a bad play, etc. “He’s just a 20 year old college kid, going to class, giving it the old college try, not a professional….”

With NIL, the Transfer Portal, and Social Media incomes; can we consider them basically Professional athletes and now open to criticism of stupid plays, missed assignments, lazy play; just like we would if they did it under an NFL or NBA contract?

As much as I hate to even bring this up; it is a part of this new environment that has coarsened our beloved games.

Logan: Personally I don’t like it, I think the idea of calling out a player in general is a rude thing to do. It’d be like someone on social media calling you out for making mistakes at your office job, everyone makes mistakes its just that the players on the field are more visible. To the heart of your question though, you are right that the players are getting paid so there is a higher expectation to be met on the field. I think as things move along it will become less of a taboo to criticize college kids for their play on the field, I just don’t feel good about it on a personal level and it doesn’t say great things about the people doing the criticizing.

Chris: I think there’s definitely levels to what you can say about someone, and I agree that a lot of the things you mentioned can lead to opening those up more. Right now I think they really only apply to a very select group of players though - the vast majority of players that we watch are still not much situationally different than they were 10 years ago.

Jack: I feel like every athlete’s situation is unique, but it’s impossible to track everyone’s stories and adjudicate how professional of a standard we should set for them. I think giving more grace than not is the way to go. As you say, they are just 20, they’re learning how to human among the many other things they’re doing at Georgia Tech, and they’re doing it with a massive spotlight on them. Fair criticisms of on field play are always fair, but at the end we have to be conscious of the fact this is nothing more than an entertainment product, let them live and be themselves. If they make a mistake, it’s fine.

Jeff: I'm going to take Logan's take and flip it around a bit. I think when it comes to their play itself you can certainly state when they made a mistake. This isn't peewee and are some of the best athletes in their sport playing at a top level before making a go at the NFL. Now I'm not for personal criticism, but if you take any other 20 year old who is working an average job he is probably going to get called out a time or two. It's not about insulting someone. Just making sure the mistake is highlighted for better performance. Now that is the coaches job in this case and they certainly do it but I think we baby them when a fan notices a glaring mistake.

GTalbatross: Any injury report updates for players? Seemed like we had quite a few people down throughout Ole Miss game.

Ben: I know Key mentioned in his press conference earlier this week that David Shanahan and Jordan Williams should both be good to go this weekend. Beyond that, I don’t believe anything has been or will be publicly reported. Coaches tend to keep that information close to the vest unless it’s a minor deal like Shanahan or Williams or a season-ender like Sylvain Yondjoeun.

gtbadcarma: Although wake is 3-0 they have not performed well on both sides of the ball against weak opponents. I see wake as a should beat. Do you believe that Wake is a must win if Tech is to have a reasonable chance to get 6 wins and is it a bad sign for the rest of the season if they lose?

Logan: Wake is absolutely a must win. I believe we had a question before the season started about what our record needed to be after the first 4 games for us to feel good about Coach Key’s performance. Pretty much everyone answered 2-2. We don’t have enough winnable games on the schedule to make a bowl game if we lose against Wake, and I think its going to impact the attitude of the team if we don’t find a way to win this one. This is a key (ha, puns) week for the Jackets football program moving forward as a whole and the team needs to do whatever it can to win. If they don’t you risk losing confidence, losing the fanbase, and not making a bowl game; we need this one.

Chris: Yes. Much like Louisville was, this is an excellent chance to bank a win that we will desperately need if we want to make a bowl game. Beyond that, it’s a big test of “can we perform against middling conference opponents”. Louisville you can maybe ignore a bit because it’s the first game of the season (and era), but now that we’re a few games in we should be making the right adjustments. A win here would go a long way to proving that Key was the right hire, and a loss would be damaging to that notion. We have to prove that we can beat these mediocre teams with consistency.

Ben: If Tech loses this weekend, they will be at 1-3 with eight games left. Sure, it would be possible to win five of those eight, but Georgia Tech’s defense has not proven that it can keep the team in many games, so it will be on the offense to make that happen. If Tech can win this week, it will be a lot easier to outscore 4 teams than 5.

Jeff: Outside the FCS game this will be the easiest matchup talent wise thus far. Wake has struggled on offense so we get an idea if Ole Miss was just clicking or if we are in trouble. I expect GT to hang points in this game so the defense should be able to slow them down just enough. If Tech doesn't get the win then a bowl game would be close to a wash. I don't see them stealing one needed to make it if they can't beat Wake.

BillOBrienEnthusiast: Would you get rid of Haynes King if the defense improved to 80th in total defense?

Logan: I’m not sure I fully understand the question, is this one of those “would you trade X for Y” scenarios? Personally I would not trade that. If nothing else, seeing GT be able to move the ball has certainly upped my attitude on the team. Something about having confidence that you can make a 3rd down conversion just makes me feel better. The defense still has a chance to get better, and the teams they went up against (aside from SC State) have talented QBs that can cause trouble for even good defenses. I think it is too early to say our defense won’t get better but even if they don’t I still wouldn’t make the trade.

Chris: Assuming Logan is right and this is a “one or the other” thing, I think no. 80th is not great; we’ve had defenses in the past hover around that mark and still be pretty bad (2022’s defense was 76th according to SP+ and 2020’s was 58th). King has been great so far this year and I don’t think I’d trade a solid QB situation for anything less than a very good defense.

Jack: Oh hell no. You never get rid of a functioning quarterback for any reason unless you get a more functional one in return.

Ben: This is tough for me because we don’t know just how good Zach Pyron is. My initial thought is that I would absolutely not trade Haynes King for an average defense (I assume that’s what you were going for with 80th). Now, we know that King beat out Pyron for the job, but Pyron showed a lot of poise and promise last season. Sure, he didn’t win the job, but that doesn’t mean that if he were thrust in that he would be the 130th-best quarterback in the country. I think it would be a clear step down, though, and my concern is that the trade would result in a net neutral, which I’m not a fan of. This is my long-winded way of saying, “Nah.”

Jeff: No because he can be here for an additional two year after this one. He is going to get better. We have a chance to have a really good offensive situation for the next few years.

Notwima13: How many draft worthy players do you think we have this season?

Logan: This is one of those questions that will make more sense next year. Personally I think we could see a few WRs, Haynes King, and even potentially Jamal Haynes get drafted. We could see it, but most of those guys won’t be big names this year as there is simply too much competition at their positions. Maybe we are looking at 3 to 4 on offense getting drafted with mid to late round picks in the future. Potentially there are more if the offense continues to perform. On defense... last year I thought some of our secondary players had a chance, but they have not shown the same flair this year.

Ben: This year? Not many. In general, the team is pretty young. There are only 10 players listed as seniors or redshirt-seniors. Of that group, I could see teams taking a chance on someone like Myles Sims or Jaylon King, but they would need to improve drastically by the end of the season to warrant a higher draft pick. I could also see a guy like Connor Scaglione get some draft attention if he continues to play well and shakes things up at the Combine (assuming he gets an invite). More than likely, though, I think you’ll see these guys get signed as UDFAs. Beyond that, I don’t foresee anyone leaving early to try their hand at the NFL, though I guess it isn’t out of the question.

Jeff: Brooks might get a consideration but it is hard to gauge anyone else at this point. Lot of young players this go around.

Frodo Swagginz: According to the internet, Georgia Tech’s defense is currently ranked 113th in the country. On the flip side, the offense is ranked 14th, but that’s irrelevant. Thacker really hasn’t put together a great defense in his entire time on the Flats. 2022 was his best year and even that was just statistically average, aided by a huge turnover margin. Does Thacker get shown the door this offseason (or before)?

Logan: Thacker certainly has the hottest seat, but Key made the decision to keep Thacker to my understanding. Depending on how we do against Wake you may see Thacker out before the offseason, but my current expectation is that Tech will wait till the offseason to make any Coaching moves.

Chris: If things don’t improve drastically then yeah, I’d certainly hope so. I’ve been looking at this year as an audition for him - can he cultivate a good defense now that the shadow of Collins is gone? So far that audition has gone extremely poorly.

Ben: If the defense literally and demonstrably loses Georgia Tech a winnable football game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thacker get shown the door. Otherwise, I think it’s something that will be revisited at the end of the season.

Jeff: We are nearly dead last in a lot of important categories and you just can't have that happen. I think he will get the benefit of the season though.

TkTheGoat: A couple of the top 25 teams struggled last week including UGA, FSU, Bama, and Texas for the first 3 quarters vs Bama. So as of right now, what team has played the cleanest ball, like what team has looked like a REAL top ranked squad in every week?

Logan: I think many of the “Experts” are looking out west to either Washington or USC to be at the top. I think it might be a bit early, but both of those teams have fantastic QBs and great talent across the board. As much as it pains me to say it, uga is still probably at the top. The dwags didn’t look great last week, but if they play the full game like they played the 2nd half against South Carolina then uga will be hard to stop. My other thoughts would be Michigan has looked great in every game so far, so they will be a tough team to beat, until they inevitably trip up against a team they should easily win against.

Chris: Maybe Ohio State or USC? Like Logan said though, the truth is that UGA is still at the top. They do this whole “look sleepy for a half against bad teams” thing pretty much every year, but there’s probably a 95% chance that they finish undefeated and a 50% chance they win it all.

Ben: Colorado. UGA has already been talked about, so I won’t mention them again. I also wouldn’t be quite ready to count out FSU quite yet. Teams have bad games. That’s one of the truly great things about college football. You never know what’s going to happen. Give it a few weeks, and a definitive top group will begin to separate itself.

Jeff: I hear good things from Washington but haven't got around to watching them myself. I've been impressed by Notre Dame. USC has the best offense and it isn't even close. There doesn't seem to be a completely dominate team so far this year.