Editor's note: Brian did a Q&A with our Georgia Tech friends at From the Rumble Seat. You can read Brian's answers on their site. LilBroey700's answers to Brian's questions are below. -- Joe
TKP: One big knock on the Paul Johnson era (other than the crew neck sweat shirts and hiring Al Groh) has been the team’s lack of performance in games where the defense has had time to prepare for the triple option (primarily in bowl games, where they’re winless). Does that worry you, as Bud Foster has had months to prepare his guys for the triple option?
FTRS: My jury is still out on how much of an effect that "time to prepare" thing has on other teams' success against us. One thing Johnson likes to point out is that when we have such issues in bowl games, it's not against bush league teams. Outside of 2010, when we played Air Force in the Independence Bowl but were a generally unimpressive team altogether, our Bowl opponents have been LSU, Iowa, and Utah, all of which had really good defenses (I know that 9 of Iowa's starters that year are now in the NFL, for what that's worth). Also, something that a lot of fans have picked up on is that the longer we go between games, the more "off" our offense seems to be. The timing suffers a little, and they just seem to struggle hitting their rhythm. This will be interesting though. Coming out of camp, it sounds like the offense isn't having any trouble executing in scrimmages, meaning the timing shouldn't be an issue. That being said, I also think that they'll take this season to throw in a couple of wrinkles that Virginia Tech is yet to see on film. I guess we'll say I have reason to be worried, but I'm not worried yet. I'll be most worried if we get through the first quarter without any significant offensive output.
TKP: Since replacing Josh Nesbitt during the 2010 Battle of the Techs, Tevin Washington has seen his ups and downs. Personally, I do not fear him in the way I feared Nesbitt. Is that a common thought around the program? Do you think that Washington will finish the year as the starter?
FTRS: "Personally, I do not fear him in the way I feared Nesbitt. Is that a common thought around the program?" Yup, sounds about right. Let's just say that nobody was begging for Nesbitt to leave so that we could get Washington in there. Not that he's been bad -- he's won 14 times in 2 years. But I think the entire fan base recognizes that Washington isn't the guy who will take us to the promised land, whereas guys like Vad Lee and Justin Thomas have more ability to do so. However, Washington is the best we have at what we're going for right now. Whether or not that will still be true come November, time will tell -- but I wouldn't be shocked if we entered November with Vad Lee as our starter.
TKP: Stephen Hill is gone to the NFL. You guys do not have a receiver that has a collegiate catch. Is that a problem? Or is there someone else in the seemingly endless supply of tall fast receivers that come out of Georgia Tech? Does Paul Johnson just make them in a lab on campus somewhere?
FTRS: It's interesting because while we don't return any receivers with a reception, the biggest potential issue that could arise as a result is in the ground game. I say that because in our offense, the receivers play such a huge role in the ground game through their blocking. A 4-5 yard play can turn into a 20-30 yard play with a couple of well-placed and well-executed blocks. Sure, it sucks that our receivers are all without a reception prior to this season, but I think any problems that creates will be in the ground game. Let's be honest, it doesn't take game experience to run a fly, post, hitch, or drag route, and it doesn't take game experience to catch a ball in single coverage against a guy half a foot shorter and 50 pounds lighter than you. However, knowing where your blocking assignments are and understanding your role in the offense is a bit more complicated.
TKP: From what I watched last season, the Georgia Tech defense seemed inconsistent to say the least (For example, shutting down Clemson, but giving up 37 to the Hokies). Is there any reason to think that that will change this season?
FTRS: Inconsistent is a good word for it. One thing I'll point out is that our defensive strength by far last year (and this year) is in our secondary, which bodes well for stopping Clemson's spread-based, passing heavy offense, and not so much for stopping Virginia Tech's run-heavy, "our QB might be Dr. Bruce Banner's alter-ego" offense. However, I think with improved, better-fitting personnel on defense, and another year in the system, our front 7 will see some improvement, meaning our defense will overall be more consistent.
TKP: As a follow-up to that question: are you learning to hate Al Groh as much as everyone in the state of Virginia? Great for unintentional comedy…not as great for "success".
FTRS: Not at all actually. Something about being a fan of a Paul Johnson-coached team means you love when a head coach has a few asshole-esque tendencies, but at the same time with Groh as an assistant coach (as opposed to a head coach), he doesn't see much face time anyways. I don't think anyone has any complaints with how he calls a game or coaches a defense (after Dave Wommack, literally anyone would have been an improvement) -- but I will say the biggest gripe anyone had was leaving Utah's receiving corps in single coverage on 4th-and-long late in the 4th quarter, resulting in Jemea Thomas having no help and getting beaten for a game-tying touchdown. In retrospect, if we come up with a sack, Groh's a genius -- but when it's 4th and 14 with under 2 minutes to go and you're up a touchdown, there's no reason to not have deep help available. Anyways, I hated that call but really can't complain about anything else. Maybe you can get a completely different answer out of me in a few years though...
TKP: Now more of a general question; in you’re esteemed opinion how good is this team? No matter their record, they always play well against the Hokies but how about the rest of the conference? Is this a team that could make a run to the ACC Title Game, maybe even the Orange Bowl? Or is it more of the 4-5 loss team we’ve seen over the past two years?
FTRS: In all honesty, I'd say that the ceiling for this team is very high. We're loaded with talented guys who can make a big impact, and with a win in Blacksburg I think an appearance in the ACC Championship Game is well within reach. My concern is a loss in Blacksburg, followed by another loss or two before we make it to October (our schedule's VERY front-loaded), which could end in our team never really getting started and our season being derailed. Long story short, I think September will set the pace for this team's following 8+ games. I'd imagine it's more realistic to say that we hit about 9 wins (finishing second in the Coastal), with anything past that being icing on the cake.
TKP: Since this game is in Blacksburg, I know what I am going to do next Monday night. The question is, how will you be watching…and what beverages will be involved?
FTRS: A student myself, I'll be spending the weekend in Panama City, coming back Monday and watching the game at my fraternity house. I'll probably be downing a 6-pack of Sweetwater or some other local craft beer -- I have class at 8am the next morning, so after a long weekend of partying I gotta keep it somewhat under control.