Today we continue @HokieGuru’s Ask A Blogger series with a look at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Past Ask A Blogger - ACC Spring Football Reports
Good evening from @HokieGuru. I’m here today to discuss the ACC spring football practice with each bloggers from each of the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams. What follows is our interview with@younglefhander on Georgia Tech football. He is Adam Brand, writer for The Victory Formation. He is an Atlanta native who bleeds white and gold. Here we go with our interview below!!!
@HokieGuru: Tell us about your spring game – how was the turnout? Was the team well received?
@younglefhander: Attendance was phenomenal. About 18,000 fans showed up, which is close to double last year’s attendance (also I’m fairly certain this outdrew the Hawks game just down the street that same night). The GTAA really went all out this year, and moved the event to a Friday night, and partnered with a local radio station to stage both a pre and post game concert. It was definitely an event for the entire fanbase this year, whereas in the past, it was little publicized, and reserved mainly for the diehards.
@HokieGuru: What are some of the major strengths coming out of spring practice?
@younglefhander: Depth is definitely the biggest strength I saw this spring. Talent abounds at the skill positions on offense, as well as in the secondary on defense. Not only are there a lot of talented athletes, but a lot of these guys are ready to contribute.
@HokieGuru: What are some of the major weaknesses coming out of spring practice? In other words, what do you think Georgia Tech will be working on in August before the first game? What are the questions that you think have to be resolved?
@younglefhander: The biggest question is definitely at the quarterback position. Tevin Washington is the incumbent, and has the starting job, for now. He’s been pushed throughout the spring by Synjyn Days and redshirt freshman Vad Lee. If Washington keeps the job through the end of summer, I still expect we’ll see plenty of Lee this year.
@HokieGuru: Fall will be here before we know it – what position concerns you the most?
@younglefhander: Again, we head back to the quarterback position. Washington is certainly capable, but he definitely has a ceiling, as the Jekyll and Hyde nature of last season showed. I want to see more of Vad Lee, but I also understand that experience and cohesion are big components of this offense, and Washington gets the nod on both counts. My hope is that Lee comes on strong in late summer camp, and earns some playing time.
@HokieGuru: Who are the new recruits that you are impressed with the most? Are there any that you think will get some major playing time right away?
@younglefhander: Paul Johnson’s offense is such that not many freshmen see significant playing time, as there’s so much to learn. There are certainly guys that can come in and carry the ball well right away, but as Coach Johnson says, they have to learn what to do when they don’t have the ball in their hands. The learning curve is pretty steep for new guys, so I don’t expect many guys to contribute right away on that side of the ball.
On defense, however, there are a couple that I look forward to seeing get on the field. Defensive end Francis Kallon is an athletic freak, and while he’s still raw (he’s only played organized football for a couple of years), his natural ability is off the charts. Another guy I’m looking forward to seeing is Adam Gotsis, a defensive tackle from Australia. Again, his football skills may be on the raw side, but his Aussie rules background gives him a good sense of leverage, and the perfect demeanor for a nasty tackle in Al Groh’s revamped 3-4
@HokieGuru: Based on what you saw/read from spring practice, do you think Georgia Tech will be better than last year? Why or why not?
@younglefhander: I think this year’s team will definitely be better than last year’s, although sometimes that’s not reflected in wins and losses. This year’s schedule is tougher, so it’s possible for the team to be better and yet not win as many games. There’s definitely more talent on defense than last year, and switching from a 2 gap to a 1 gap scheme should benefit the defensive line. On offense, a lot depends on what happens at quarterback. Tevin Washington can lead this team to 8 or maybe 9 wins, but that assumes maximum efficiency. Days and Lee both have the ability to make something out of nothing, and that’s something Washington simply cannot do.
Another encouraging sign I saw this spring was the evolution of the offense. Last season, Georgia Southern (coached by former Georgia Tech assistant Jeff Monken, and quarterbacked by former Yellow Jacket Jaybo Shaw) utilized Johnson’s base scheme with new wrinkles including pistol and diamond formations, and had great success. I also found some great information on Navy (coached by former Johnson assistant Ken Niumatololo) practice techniques wherein they utilize shotgun and pistol formations.
In the open Georgia Tech scrimmages I attended, the pistol formation was used a considerable amount, and while it didn’t appear at all in the spring game (the offense was as vanilla as you can get), I expect to see packages designed for Vad Lee that incorporate the new formations. The added wrinkles on offense give opponents something else to consider and gameplan for, while they don’t really differ that much in terms of technique for the offense.
@HokieGuru: Give us the pulse of the Yellow Jackets football program – what are the Georgia Tech bloggers/fans thinking right now on the status of the program?
@younglefhander: The Georgia Tech fanbase is always a difficult one to read. You can ask ten different people, and get ten different answers. For some, expectations remain absurdly high, and attaining anything short of the ridiculous goals this group sets is seen as abject failure. For others, the state of the program depends on the outcome of one game (and surprisingly, not just the georgia game. Ask those same ten people, and you’ll get “have to beat Clemson” or “gotta beat Virginia Tech”).
For me, I think this is an eight win team, with an outside shot at nine or ten wins. I can’t say that’s anything other than positive. I do think that there are certain benchmarks that the program needs to hit in order to be considered successful, and while Coach Johnson may be a little behind on a couple of them, on the whole, the program is headed in the right direction. That’s something I haven’t felt comfortable saying since Joe Hamilton was a junior.