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Mailbag 9/28

Are you #TeamSoup #TeamStew or #TeamPie?

Daily Life In Edmonton During The Covid-19 Pandemic Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

gtbadcarma: Great to get the win against Wake. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think BG is a good team but Wake came into the Tech game undefeated having struggled on both sides of the ball against “lower tier” teams. BG comes in 1-3 and has struggled against teams that may show to be the best teams in the MAC, C-USA, and the B1G. Any worries that this could be a trap game as Tech is coming off an important win/High and gets caught unprepared for the BG game because everyone is looking forward to the Miami game?

Ben: Honestly, this is the first time I’m looking at Bowling Green’s football schedule. Their lone win is against Eastern Illinois, and they have a 34-24 loss to Liberty (4-0), a 31-6 loss to Michigan (4-0), and a 38-7 loss to Ohio (4-1). Looking at the stats, they haven’t just lost, they’ve also played pretty poorly, mostly on offense. They have one good running back in Terrion Stewart (averaging over 7 yards/rush, 0.27 EPA/rush), but their overall rushing numbers get dragged down by the rest of the team. The quarterback Connor Bazelak has thrown 4 interceptions to just 3 touchdowns and taken 5 sacks. The struggle here for Tech will be containing Stewart. Looking through their game-by-game stats, it seems like they prefer to pass the ball and use different running backs throughout. If Tech can contain Stewart, I think they’ll be fine. I do think it’s important that they don’t overlook Bowling Green, though.

Jack: No.

Logan: Worry is my default emotion when it has come to GT over the past 3 years. Under a different coach who shall not be named it would not be weird for us to struggle in this game. I do not expect that to be the case Saturday. I think we will win by at least 2 touchdowns even if we struggle. BG is just not in a good position to challenge us as Ben points out, and if we look halfway competent on offense and defense this game should be in hand.

GTSMURF: My gut tells me a problem we have on the offense is co-OCs CCW & CBF are not anticipating our opponent’s halftime adjustments well. What do our 2nd half and, in particular, our 3rd quarter stats tell us?

Ben: It’s not just the offense! The defense also deserves some blame here. I calculated per-down, per-quarter success rates for the whole season. Let’s look at the offense first.

Data calculated using play-by-play data available on Georgia Tech’s website.

So the first thing that should stand out to you is the nearly -12% swing in success rate between the 3rd and 4th quarters. That’s really bad and speaks to the observations in your question. The offensive coaching staff is not doing a good job of adjusting to halftime adjustments from the opposing staff. That number gets skewed a little bit by how well Georgia Tech performs in the second quarter. I don’t know if that’s due to making initial adjustments, or if the team just takes a little while to warm up. Even so, the offense is still regressing to below the mean in the second half.

Georgia Tech’s defense features that same 12% swing in success rate allowed! The hits here are more easily identifiable. The defense is notably worse in later downs in the second half. Again, the number gets skewed by how well Georgia Tech performs in the second quarter, but even if you look at the swing for later downs from the 1st to 4th quarters, it’s still significantly worse.

So to answer your question, neither set of coordinators is doing very well with halftime adjustments (at least from the perspective of success rate).

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: The savory season is almost upon us, are you:

#TeamSoup

#TeamStew

#TeamPie

I’ll go with Shepherd’s Pie although I recognize the sublimeness of a Grilled Cheese dunked in Tomato Soup, or a “better the next day” reheated Beef Stew.

Ben: Can I be #TeamAllOfTheAbove? I love all of these things! I made a beef stew a couple of weeks ago with some homemade beef broth, and it might just be one of the best things I’ve ever made.

Jack: I’m a stew guy. Can’t go wrong with a very hearty beef stew.

Logan: Like that stew for my savory meals. Pie is a sweet thing for me and I struggle with savory pies, even though I do enjoy them. Soups are no good for me, I don’t like a meal that is 70% liquid. Stew is a great in between and makes for a fantastic meal.

Dinowizerd: 2-2 after 4 games. it’s still early in the season, but I know there were concerns about how the first 4 games would go under the current coaching staff. How are you feeling about the coaching staff currently? Are you still in wait and see mode or do you have a strong opinion on our coaches, for better or worse?

Ben: I would say that generally, I am more okay with the coaching staff now than I was when they were announced, at least the offensive coaching staff. With the defensive staff, I am still a little frustrated that there has been such regression. I know they lost several key players, but the fact that before the game against Wake Forest, the defense had created almost no havoc is incredibly concerning. As a whole, they’ve struggled mightily against the run too. I’m not pulling out my torch and pitchfork quite yet, but I don’t know that I want them definitely here next year (at least Thacker).

Logan: I guess my strong feeling of coach Key is that he is definitely a better coach than Geoff Collins. He seems to motivate the team, he is stern and wants to make the players improve but doesn’t prevent guys from having fun, and we were competitive in 3 of our 4 games with him at the helm. I’m not sure if Key is the best option long term, but as someone who can build the program back up from rock bottom I think he is doing a good job. As far as the other coaches, I’m in wait and see mode. I’m not a coach so I can’t really call guys out for play calls or strategy, but I think most of the fanbase is in agreement that some of our late game choices on offense and the defensive performance overall has been in question this season.

GTSMURF: Have the OL trimmed down a bit from last year? Without going back and looking at the numbers, it seems our linemen are about 5-10 lbs lighter. If so, who is driving the change, and do you think that has any positive effect on their play?

Ben: Interestingly, the average weight of starting OL (comparing the depth chart for this week to the depth chart from the UGA game last year) is exactly the same at 304.8. Now, Weston Franklin (5), Jordan Williams (8), and Joe Fusile (14) are all noticeably lighter this season. The number in parentheses is the weight lost. I think as a whole the unit is playing better, but I don’t know that the weight is the reason.

gtbadcarma: I think King has played very well and believe he has command of the offense. It has been noticed and asked in the game threads, unless we are mistaken, why are we only seeing a handful of plays being used/what would be the reason for such a limited play book?

Jack: I’m not trained in the ways of the football, but conceptually, for a guy that just is beginning to be a starting quarterback at a new team, getting a solid foundation of plays they run well I think would be better than throwing the whole thing at him all at once. Also, you don’t want to reveal all your tricks early on. Big game at the end of the year I’m sure the offense has some plans for.

Logan: I think Jack’s points are well put and accurate. If you want to dig deeper, this is a new offense so the coaches could still be feeling out what works and what doesn’t. Many of our players are transfers so coaches need to determine where these guys fit. There is of course the obvious stuff about a run game opening up the pass and burning clock. My experience is limited but these tend to be the concepts coaches consider with their play calling.

Ben: To further both of these points, anytime you bring in a new offense, you want to start off simple so you can be productive immediately. The longer King is in the system, the more complex everything will get. We also have not really gotten into the meat of the schedule, so there’s a lot of stuff that is not on film yet that coaches may be holding onto for ACC games later this season.

GTSIGUY: I am a defensive guy; with that being said I had high hopes for this unit pre-season and have been very underwhelmed. We are still allowing way to many yards defensively & there doesn’t seem to be any adjustments going into the second half! The plays we do make at corner are typically because the receiver doesn’t catch the ball, not because our corner was there! With hardly any adjustments in play calling or substitutions how can we get through a whole season like this? Also, where is Kenyatta Watson II? We see him on special teams hauling ass and tackling but when it comes to him playing his position he isn’t out there. Yet we see the same 2 guys on the field the entire game getting ran past and run over! Please tell me someone has an answer to this or knows who to ask for that answer. This is game 5 and getting old already!

Logan: I understand that there is a question in here, but it feels more like a statement made out of frustration. I don’t disagree with your assessment, the defense has been the weak point for GT so far on the season. Wake Forest gave me some hope because I did see that at least the play calling shifted to fit the opponent. We put more pressure on a QB who has been known to make mistakes in an offense that is overly reliant on the pass. You can call into question how the turnovers occurred, but there was certainly a method in place which our guys were following. As far as what the team can do to improve

Ben: I am also very underwhelmed by the defense this year! And I agree that the defense has done a poor job of making second-half adjustments (go look at my answer to GTSMURF’s question). If the coaching staff doesn’t start doing better, then yeah, it’s going to be a long and horrible season. As for Kenyatta Watson, I would imagine the answer is that he has not done well enough to beat out either of the starters. Just because a starter plays poorly doesn’t mean the back-up is any better.

tyler_pifer92: The basketball schedule got released yesterday and I’ve got to say it’s rather favorable. The ACC schedule is front loaded with most of the contenders out of the way in the first half.

Given the schedule and new roster, have y’all’s expectations changed now that we’ve seen the schedule?

PS, CDS landed the first top 50 recruit in a LONG time in Jaeden Mustaf. Exciting times ahead for GT basketball!

Jack: I do like this schedule. Getting Virginia at the end isn’t the greatest, espcially if we’re playing to get out of the first day of the ACC Tournament. Personally, I’m not going to invest that much energy in what to expect until I see Damon’s team actually get through some games. It’s going to be new, even with the familiar faces of Miles Kelly, Lance Terry, Deebo Coleman, and Kyle Sturdivant. What I like about that group is that we have a group of highly experienced guys to mesh with the guys that are next. Remember this past NCAA Tournament? All the older teams made it the furthest.

Logan: I am optimistic for our basketball team given the talent we have and our schedule. That said I’m not marking us in the NCAA tournament yet, maybe the NIT if we can win the games we should on our schedule.

Frodo Swagginz: Offensive Line: It’s hard to get a read on this group, so I’m curious what y’all’s thoughts are on their performance thus far.

Ben: They aren’t perfect, but I’m pleasantly surprised! They have done a good job specifically of letting Haynes King stay upright. I wish there was a little more consistency in run blocking, but it’s a process.

Logan: They have done better than expected, but their one real challenge against Louisville left a lot to be desired. Right now I’m around C+ to B- territory. It’s been a better than average performance but not by much.

Frodo Swagginz: WR/TE Room: Some early season drops in crucial moments have hindered my ability to discern if this unit is legit or not. They’re physically a capable group, but the transfers have largely been underwhelming. Jenneh is 6’3” and should be a size mismatch for most DBs. Leary is supposedly extremely fast and Blaylock is just a solid receiver. Are they being under utilized? Failing to perform? Or are they just not living up to their potential?

Ben: I have actually been pretty happy with the wide receivers thus far. I don’t have the catch rates here in front of me, and with the ESPN pbp data broken, GameOnPaper doesn’t have accurate ones either. Still, though, King is completing 65% of his passes, and at least from my experience, I don’t feel like a lot of them are on the receivers, more just throwaways or good defensive plays. I might be misremembering, though. I think there’s an argument to be made the individual guys are being under-utilized, but that’s because King does a good job of spreading the ball around.

DTGT: What is the perfect gameday? The absolute perfect sequence of events that make for the best on or off campus experience. What is your ultimate breakfast, tailgate, cocktail and post game go to that makes for a great Saturday? Besides Tech winning of course.

Logan: I wake up early and well rested with my wife in tow as she is coming with. I get a six pack of some type of Octoberfest style beer that I bought the night before and make my way to tailgating at my fraternity, although if it has to be a cocktail I’ll get a moscow mule (less on the moscow side nowadays). I drive up early and find parking on campus, or I get a drop off from a friend or an uber.

I’ll usually grab a biscuit on the way down from either chick-fil-a or McDonalds depending on my mood, if it has to be a restaurant then Waffle House or flying biscuit near campus works. I hang out with some of the Alums from my class and play some beer pong or Beirut while waiting for the game to start, meanwhile my wife is talking to some other wives in the corner and shaking her head in embarrassment as I shout nonsensically. If it’s homecoming we will take a short walk to watch the wreck parade and check out some spots on campus I like to see. For lunch I’ll usually find a place to get chick-fil-a or the Varsity... Moe’s or Tin Drum works in a pinch.

Once the game is about to start we walk down into the stadium with all the other chanting and cheering fans. I get loud at the game and we find a way to win an exciting match. By then I am usually quite drunk so I catch an uber to wherever everyone is hanging out, most people seem to enjoy Cyprus but some people go to Vortex or Taco Mac. I spend some time there, but usually I am pretty worn out after cheering for a game so I go back to where I am staying and crash. My wife says something along the lines of “That was fun, but I’m glad you don’t behave like you did today on a regular basis. Love You and good night”. I think we can sprinkle some extra stuff in there, but generally that is the perfect gameday.

Lx_Un1c0: How do you feel about GT wearing black uniforms? I’m not a fan of it at all, but I’m curious to see what other people think.

Ben: Honestly, I think the whole thing is just a little weird. Not even talking about the uniforms yet, the fact that they decided to debut “glow in the dark” uniforms when kickoff is at 3:30 is absolutely hilarious. They also called them ghost uniforms, which I thought was odd. Ghosts are traditionally white in color, or maybe a glowing blue, not black. I think they just wanted an excuse to wear the black jerseys. Now, how I do I feel about black jersey? Honestly, I don’t think they really work for Tech. I never think of black as one of Tech’s colors, and certainly not a primary color, so I don’t understand why it’s being used in this way. Truth be told, if they were going to do these ghost uniforms, I wish they would just come out in all-whites for a home game and do a full-on white-out. But hey, I’m not in charge here.

Jack: [cracks knuckles, puts down the Tangerine La Croix] It’s bad. It’s real bad.

For one, black is not a Georgia Tech color. You can’t find it in the main style guide, and it traditionally only gets worn by Buzz. I’ll concede I wasn’t alive for the Black Watch days, so I have no emotional attachment to that era. I don’t mind a throwback here and there, but these are not the Black Watch uniforms. They are called the “Ghost” unis, so it doesn’t count as a throwback. They glow in the dark? Cool, the game is at 3:30 p.m. You’ll need 12 OTs for us to be there long enough to see the effect on field. If Tech is going to wear black in a non-throwback setting, the only loophole is to wear a Buzz uniform with yellow hoop stripes and market it as such. They did not do that.

So, considering this is not a throwback, has a base color that is of another very particular school, and doesn’t use their own self created loophole to wear black, this is a big time fail if you ask me. We have a very clean uniform set that already has a classic look, deviating from that does not make sense to me unless the GTAA is confident they are going to sell a ton of these jerseys, if there’s an anniversary, or for a good fundraising cause. But, they likely won’t sell enough, as they still haven’t sold out of the previous Black Watch stock.

Even further, Georgia Tech right now is not in a moment of resting on their laurels. They’re pushing forward and restarting in every way they can, and in athletics actually making real strides right now to get into a healthier place. This jersey does not reflect that. I see a poorly executed gimmick that ultimately is a distraction. 0/10 rating...3/10 because they actually look ok ignoring everything else I just said.

Logan: I’m not a fan of how they look. I think it’s fine to try new uniforms, I just want them to look good. I wonder who designs these uniforms and if the players have any input in the design of them. I guess if the players like them its fine.

Submitted via email: Hey guys,

Hope this week is treating you well. Great win against Wake Forest last weekend, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. By that I mean hopefully more good things on defense, I could do without the turnovers.

Question this week, not sure what the plan is for the ACC “primary opponents” now that Stanford, Cal, and SMU are joining. Our current division had me a bit confused because we lost regular rivals like Duke and VT ( although maybe not playing Duke this year is a good thing). I believe our current primaries are Clemson, Wake Forest, and Louisville which gives us a bit of a difficult lineup on a year to year basis if we look at Clemson from the past decade and Louisville from earlier this year. Assuming Primary opponents get reassigned, is there a set of teams you are hoping we get grouped against for the future?

Frankly I wouldn’t mind playing some of the nerd schools out west, but mainly I’d like to get VT back on the lineup since I have fond memories of some of those matchups (also, you know, free win right now). What are your thoughts? Have a good week.

Sincerely,

Man in a Buzz Costume

Ben: I think there will definitely be a shake-up, and I hope that Georgia Tech can pull in schools like Virginia Tech and Duke. I miss playing them every year.

Jack: In my fantasy college sports world, I’d have no permanent conference opponents. I know it’s insane and there’s a lot of history in having permanent opponents, but I want us to play everyone at home and on the road all the time!

Speaking realistically, the ACC of course does have to rethink the permanent opponents. If they keep the current structure, the three newbies of course are going to play each other, but that only accounts for two opponents. I honestly wonder if they just let the rest of the ACC volunteer for the third slot before they assign it. For Tech, I would’ve been alright with keeping the Duke game every year instead of Wake, but honestly I don’t feel a particular pull towards any of the other ACC schools. Stanford I actually think would be cool to replace any of our current three with, which is probably related to the fact I want to see Buzz tackle their tree.

Logan: I think it would be cool to have a matchup against Stanford and Cal. I do miss some of our rivals but I don’t know if there is a single scheduling group that would make every fan happy. Tech seems to have gained many strange rivals over its lifetime. Is FSU a rival? How about UNC? Duke? VT? ND? Auburn? Wait is Auburn even in the ACC? My bad, got a bit carried away. Guess my point is someone gets left out at some point so you might as well not worry about your old rivals and just focus on making new ones. I officially hate Louisville after that first game on the year, so I hope we kick their butts next year.