The following is an email conversation I had with FTRS reader dhbartlett concerning this team and how it will compare this fall to last fall. Many thanks to him for contributing his thoughts! My end is in bold italics, his are in plain font.
One of the biggest things I look at in accuracy of NCAA Football games from year-to-year is the relative changes in unit ratings within a team -- by which, I mean looking at how Georgia Tech's offense last year compares to this one, and the same with defense.
That said, last year's game rated our offense at an 86, where this year's game rates it at an 83. I understand a bit of a drop-off considering the team lost its starting quarterback and 2 of its top 3 rushers (Tevin Washington and Orwin Smith), but considering their replacements I'd say that the drop in rating is most attributable to the wide receiver situation. Tech lost Jeff Greene, Jeremy Moore, Chris Jackson, and Anthony Autry, not to mention Smith being its leading receiver. As you look at our offense this fall, where are your concerns in potential "drop off" from last year, and where do you think we may be pleasantly surprised?
Well I think offensively the drop is well justified. At WR obviously we are missing a lot of people. But I don't think our passing game will suffer as much as others think it will. Darren Waller will be Stephen Hill 2.0, the other spots are huge question marks, but we have a lot of athletes on this team (I vote we "Denard Robinson" Justin Thomas and move him over to WR for three years, then move him back when he's a senior, but that won't happen.) Also we have three running backs on each play and those guys can definitely catch. So I expect Vad to have plenty of open receivers this year. (How many drops though???????)
AB will be missing the game changer Smith, and I don't expect anybody to be him this year. (I see Dennis Andrews being that guy in a couple of years though.) Having David Sims for a whole year will be HUGE, I expect great things from our most important RB position.
Offensive line we will be missing Uzzi. I don't think we will miss him all that much because I think Mason will do just fine, and when you add in that Bailey, Finch, Jackson and Beno are all a year older, I don't expect much of a decline. But in reality I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to offensive linemen. At best from Vad Lee I see potential Heisman candidacy, at worst he is better than Tevin. I expect him to be better than Nesbitt. So basically...
WR: Loss, but not as much as others think (Surprise)
BB gain (surprise)
I agree with you on a few of these points. If it's me, I'm adding the "not as much as others think" tag to the A-Backs, where Godhigh is extremely talented and others have plenty of potential. (I've heard a ton of good stuff about Dennis Andrews there.)
And the best part about the ABack position is that it is really deep. Hill and Zenon are not much behind Bostic and Godhigh, but I think PJ has the depth chart correct.
On the other side, NCAA '13 has our defense rated at an 84, while NCAA '14 has it rated at an 88. With 8 returning starters, I'd say that this makes sense. (Not to mention that 8 is conservative considering one is Rod Sweeting, who didn't start a number of games last season.) Working under a new coordinator and new system is a little concerning, but do you see this defense taking a considerable leap forward this year as compared to last?
Yes. I'm very excited about the defense. Our DLine should be much better (Gotsis seems uber talented and huge), our linebackers all return, I think our CB's are both lock-down guys, and the safety position at worst will improve minimally (but will Holton remain healthy?) I think Rod Sweeting will not be missed. I would put our defense at about 91 (I haven't looked at UGA's defense but maybe higher then them (they are very young). My only question is can Jerry play DE like a DE? (I have no doubt he will contribute and be a great player, but is DE right for him?)
Having a first year defensive coordinator should not be a problem. Charles Kelly was a first week defensive coordinator and that certainly wasn't a problem. I'm willing to bet PJ made TR study what Charles Kelly did last year if he didn't do it voluntarily. The players really seem to like TR's aggression. (But do I? I don't know yet.)
NCAA '13's rating of 84 going into the season seemed accurate, Al Groh just didnt tap all of that 84. Will Ted Roof tap all of the 91/88 or whatever you want to give them? I think yes.
Most importantly just based off the players tweets, the returning starters are loaded with confidence. Our losses to KU, UVA and MTST the last two years will teach us not to lighten up against anyone. Louis Young, Jemea Thomas will make sure we beat Duke, Syracuse, Pitt, Elon, A&M, and UVA. Everyone knows we have the potential to be anyone on our schedule, even the trash heap.
And and I see Jamal Golden made the depth chart. He's not just a return man in my eyes.
I really think we have a lot of talent on defense, and it'll be up to Ted Roof to harness it, as you said. Gotsis should be a real monster down in the trenches, and I'm not particularly worried about Jerry -- he's going to be able to focus on what he does best. I really just look across our defense and see a lot of talented, experienced guys that will work well in an aggressive system. Then, I look at the guys backing up a lot of them (such as Golden) and I don't have to worry about depth. If someone gets a little winded or suffers a minor injury, it's good to know there won't be a huge drop-off.
Having discussed both units, which one would you trust more to "come through in the clutch"? As in, would you rather the defense need to make one last stop against a strong offense, or the offense need to score once more? (I realize that's a bit of a loaded question -- obviously you want to have the lead -- but hopefully the gist of it got across.)
Exhibit 5: The 4th Play of Tech's Last Drive
I hope that answers your question.
I'd say it does. Thanks for a great discussion, David. Hopefully we see some good stuff on both sides of the ball this fall. Go Jackets! Ramble On!