I know a lot of you are already nervously looking ahead to that pesky little November 7th game, but just to make sure we all stay focused, I need to remind you:
Tech is 2-4 on the season, having started the year with an upset of the then-promising Florida State Seminoles before losing 4 of their next 5 games, with those losses having an average final deficit of 33 points (skewed a little bit by their 66-point loss to Clemson, but still...they lost by 17 to Syracuse, folks).
Despite all that, Georgia Tech DID handily defeat Louisville 46-27 the week before the Cardinals gave the Irish a 12-7 shoot-out, and they’ve got a dynamic, star-in-the-making, young QB along with a few other weapons. Simply put, they can be dangerous, despite the bad losses.
So, per usual, I reached out to my extensive network of opponent experts, grabbing the attention of Josh Brundage over at From the Rumble Seat, SB Nation’s Georgia Tech site. I asked Josh all about Geoff Collins’ rocky start as coach, Jeff Sims’ promise at QB, defensive X-factors, how best to staff-up a haunted house, and more.
Let’s check out all the wonderful intel Josh has to offer us!!!
1. What are your thoughts on Georgia Tech’s 2-4 start to the season? Considering it’s just Geoff Collins’ 2nd year at the helm, was this about what you expected, or were Yellow Jacket fans more optimistic about this year, especially after the opening game upset of Florida State?
Josh Brundage, From The Rumble Seat: With the 2020 COVID-induced schedule change, I think we were all realistically expecting around 6 wins this year. The talent is there, and especially with Jeff Sims emerging at QB out of camp, we were all pretty optimistic after that win. But then again, no one knew how bad FSU actually was at that point.
The 2-4 start has been bad. And that’s not just because of the record, but because of the manner in which the team has lost. For a defensive specialist coach returning tons of experience and talent on that side of the ball, the defense shouldn’t have looked totally lost against bad Syracuse and Boston College offenses. The defense is somehow regressing as the season goes.
Tech is also one of the most penalized teams in the country, and they struggle with the most basic things like getting play calls in and substituting. The majority of Tech’s struggles this year seem to fall on coaching, and not on the players. So I’m frankly not impressed with the Collins tenure to this point, who seems to spend more time on “hype” and “branding” on social media than on-field coaching.
2. Despite the start to this season, it’s clear GT has a budding star at QB in true freshman Jeff Sims. What makes him so good so early in his career, and what areas of his game do you think he needs to improve upon?
Josh Brundage, FTRS: Sims has an effortlessly strong arm and is easily the best passer Tech has had at QB since before Paul Johnson. For a true freshman, he’s been poised in the pocket when given time to throw, and he’s a big threat with his legs, as you’ll still see a bunch of option concepts from our offense. He’s been pretty good at salvaging busted plays and keeping his eyes downfield when scrambling as well.
However, for every brilliant play he makes, he seems to make a true freshman mistake. There’s been a bunch of times in these games where he should’ve taken a sack or thrown the ball away, which has resulted in turnovers. Hopefully he matures out of a lot of that with more and more experience. He’s not to blame for that entirely though, as he’s having to drop back with a short clock due to how porous the offensive line tends to be.
3. How are the Yellow Jackets looking in the trenches this season? Is the o-line strong enough to run on what has proven to be a VERY stingy Irish defense, and how do you think the GT defensive front will hold up against that very talented and experienced Notre Dame offensive line?
Josh Brundage, FTRS: *exhales deeply* The trenches on both sides of the ball are the main areas Tech has struggled this season. The offensive line under Brent Key looks much better than last season, but it still has a long way to go. I would assume Sims will be running for his life much of the game when he drops back to pass, just like previous games. The Tech passing game largely lives on short, quick passes to keep Sims upright. This is an exaggeration, but I feel like we run mesh on like 75% of passing downs. So if I know that, I would assume your DC does as well.
On the other side of the ball, our pass rush hasn’t been great, to say the least, when rushing just our front 4. At DC, Coach Thacker has been pretty good at bringing creative blitzes to still get pressure, but our line has struggled with shedding blocks in pass rush and run-stopping situations all year. I don’t think Ian Book will have too much to worry about from them.
4. Who is (are) the X-factor(s) to know about on the Georgia Tech defense, and why?
Josh Brundage, FTRS: DL Jordan Domineck has been about the only one having any success in the front 7 getting to the QB and stuffing runs. He has 2 forced fumbles this season to go along with 2 sacks. Hopefully he can put some sort of pressure on Book and the O-line, otherwise the Georgia Tech secondary is going to have a long, long day in a season that they’re already struggling mightily.
Tech’s defense got absolutely torched by a bad Boston College offense last week, so I feel like I’m stretching even naming anyone who could feasibly be an X-factor this week.
5. FAN QUESTION:
Josh Brundage, FTRS: The Georgia Tech offense in this year of our lord 2020 will slant route, out route, and mesh route you the length of the field if given the opportunity. Tech actually looks good running hurry-up paired with the quick passing game and varying zone-read and option concepts. If they get on a roll and find some rhythm, they can actually move the ball pretty well. The offense also tends to stall promising drives in the red zone, however.
We’ve covered it previously, but Tech is not going to hold up well to the Irish along either side of the lines. Even if Tech pulls off a couple scoring drives early, I think the talent and depth of the Irish along the lines will overwhelm them as the game progresses.
6. FAN QUESTION*: How could someone be a Hell of an Engineer if their greatest achievement is building a Ramblin’ Wreck?
*tweet has since been deleted, but the question stands
Josh Brundage, FTRS: I mean, the car is a 1930 Model A Ford. You think it takes anything less than the best engineers in the world to keep a dang Ford running for almost a century?
7. FAN QUESTION:
Not a question, but remember this? This was awesome. https://t.co/H5f0ZtPh7i— Philip G OFD (@Philip__G) October 25, 2020
Josh Brundage, FTRS: Selective memory is great.
Here’s highlights of the Irish and Jackets 2007 game, which is also the largest margin of victory between the 2 teams :)
8. FESTIVE QUESTION ALERT: If you had to design/staff a haunted house using current Georgia Tech players, which guys would you choose and what would their spooky roles/characters/costumes be within the haunted house?
Josh Brundage, FTRS: WR Ahmarean Brown is David S Pumpkins - he’s everywhere in the haunted house and you know something bad is going to happen eventually. He burns you in the end.
LB David Curry is the “None shall pass” black knight from Monty Python. Also fitting since this week is “Black Watch Defense’’ themed! Scary to look at, but lets almost everything by him, except for maybe 1 big play per game.
QB Jeff Sims is a bat that’s flying around. You can probably deal with it, and it’s going to be a nuisance, but it also might bite you and have rabies and kill you.
Geoff Collins is the hype man at the entrance of the haunted house who has gotten you excited from social media presence and who charges you $40 for admission, but then it’s not even scary and you leave wondering what you paid for.
9. The Irish have a junior running back by the name of C’Bo Flemister. What are the best names on the Georgia Tech roster, and do any of them top our guy C’Bo?
Josh Brundage, FTRS: Everyone’s favorite player on the team is our glorious punter, Presley Harvin III.
Oh and our long snapper’s name is Jack Coco. That’s pretty good too. This was an excellent question.*
*Pat Rick Editor’s Note: the GT roster has an incredible assembly of great names and I want to make sure, in addition to Josh introducing us to the glory that is Presley Harvin III, all my personal favorites get their time in the limelight. Here they are: Justice Dingle, Wing Green, D’Quan Douse, Sylvain Yondjouen, Olin Broadway, Khatavian Franks, Juanyeh Thomas, Jaytlin Askew, Cade Kootsouradis, Akelo Stone, Jack DeFoor, Mikey Minihan, Chico Bennett Jr., Hinson Fowler, Peje’ Harris, Antonneous Clayton, Adonicas Sanders, Ahmarean Brown, Djimon Brooks, Will Scissum
10. Alright, prediction time: what’s the score, who wins, and explain your reasoning.
Josh Brundage, FTRS: Vegas has the Irish as a 19.5 point favorite right now, and I would say the Irish cover. The Tech defense has somehow gotten worse as the season has progressed, and I think they’re just going to get mauled in the trenches. I think this game ends up in the 38-14 range.
I think Tech will hang with the Irish for the first quarter or so, then you guys will pull away and get some second and third stringers some game experience in the 4th quarter.
I wanna give a major shout-out to Josh for answering all our questions, including my haunted house one — we all know from experience that not all interviewees are willing to tackle those hard-hitting topics, but Josh shied away from NONE of it.
Heading into Saturday, I highly encourage you all to go check out Josh’s work over at From the Rumble Seat (especially the questions he asked me and I answered, which should be up tomorrow). Furthermore, for any and all updates on Yellow Jacket football leading up to the game, make sure to give both FTRS and Josh some Twitter follows — you will not regret it.
That’s all, folks — GO IRISH!