#52 R.P.I. Georgia Tech @ #21 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech football returns home -finally- to Lane Stadium Saturday afternoon for a pivotal Coastal clash with pseudo rial Georgia Tech down in the New River Valley down on the Worsham Field turf.
This is a critical football game pending the Duke/U.n.c. outcome at the time of this typing. As we/Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University can nil afford a slip up and get cut down to size here, with the Heels nipping at our divisional heels in the A.c.c. standings. This segues us neatly into toady’s word of the day…
Today’s word of the day is… levant
intr.verb. le·vant·ed, le·vant·ing, le·vants Chiefly British
- To leave hurriedly or in secret to avoid unpaid debts.
- A cheap way out in a game notorious for happy hour or inexpensive shots themselves; depending upon your rooting point of view.
Head Coach: Paul Johnson: age=59, (5-4 year; 173-87 overall); has a rep’ for running, running, and running some more. P.J. is a lot of things, among them he is a FlexBone been there, done that, doing it again tomorrow wizard of ground assault if you will. Accordingly, one could dare say he is the Gen. Rommel of college football from his U.S. Naval Academy to Georgia Southern to Georgia Tech days (which may be numbered). And despite his throwback version of non TV or facebook savvy modern era ball; he’s done pretty well for it; as Johnson’s Georgia Southern won back-to-back NCAA Division I-AA Football Championships in 1999 and 2000. As of October 10th, 2016, Paul Johnson has the fifth most wins of any active coach in D-1 College football. P.J. is a xix time conference titlist; a three time A.c.c. Coach of the Year and a once National Coach of the Year (2004) award winner.
2015 record: 3 up 9 down and 1-7 in the A.c.c. (dropped a whopping five games by one full play or less last year after the Orange Bow victory in 2014)
Georgia Tech Defense: (starters back=5)
- 64th in total D. 66th vs. the run and 74th vs. the pass.
- 124th in opposing Qb’s sacked and 113th in runners Tackled for a Loss (TFL); i.e. GT does not often play in your backfield.
- DEAD, freakin’, LAST, in 3rd down conversions allowed. 128th best!
- Still playing d-Coordinator Ted Roof’s oddball 4-2-5 stack.
- GT’s dLine is 79th in Havoc. Right-side dLine is the strength here. Though that’s almost a relative statement in terms of actual coach God given talent. A little more physical and a bit larger/stronger at the point of attack; more experienced with two r-senior starters too. Three total starters did return although the 2015 part tank part bell-cow stud and gargantuan Ng, (Gotsis); left. Thing is three of those three have a rep’ for inconsistency and/or underachievement. Said to be a very thin and inexperienced second-unit here, bringing late-game fatigue into inspection for the Jacket starters or the 1’s.
- The Wreck’s second-layer (Lb’s) are 115th in Havoc. Undersized 3-year starter and senior year 5’10” 233 lb. Lb P.J. Davis is said to be the truth; he does play harder and taller than his metrics suggest. I’d say coming up on 300 total tackles in three seasons testifies adequately to that. GT does have a forty-three or more traditional 4-3 set they showed vs. double Te or run heavy teams and vs. Boston College to start the year. Though what does that matter when you do not really have a rook-card as a layer goes in your front-6, or front-7? Lb’s almost key or do lateral hook-zone drops, east-west I mean. Which I’ve never seen before? And they tended to do it to the Sam or short-side. Not sure I get that one, either?!? Slightly deeper Lb depth and they will overplay the short-side as well.
- The Jacket secondary is 118th in Havoc. The GT secondary plays the man not the ball and tries to keep the man in front of them; hence 111th best in passes pilfered. Young, inexperienced secondary on paper and it plays it on film. Leverage is wanting, ditto size on the edge as both Cb’s go 5’10” and that has to give Bucky and Ford and Philips a go make a play rulebook advantage here. Lotta variable and semi-variable man looks with high Safety help to form tirades and triangles on the Will or wide-side here. Lottsa toggling the strength or the depth of the man-looks as well. And with five full-time secondary guys; you -at least in theory- you have at least 25 combinations you can work here. More if you toggle the Fs/Ss zoning as GT uses a full-time Nickel and not a third Safety as did Duke.
- Some refugee al groh run-blitzing still going on here; though it looked just plum soft at times to me. I saw GT defenders quite literally, even turning their backs to the oLine on hits. Almost like this current d-Coordinator (Roof) is already, gone. Consequently, very poor army looking tacking. Including the 2nd-layer. Not a very good D, may be a lame-duck already stung and therefore already playing for 2017 or next years D –nonetheless, it is a very quirky defense schematically speaking. Lotta moving parts here, even if they are not moving all that, well.
Yellow Jacket Offense: (returning starters=6)
- Total O=70th. Run O=12th, Throw O=121st.
- Team Passing Efficiency=11th best! (RECALL: “flex” is the throw game element in any wishbone system that honors both)
- 66th on 4th down.
- 28th on 3rd down.
- 27th best in Sacks allowed; and 49th best in TFL allowed; the first one is expected when you run so much and accordingly, 49th ain’t too shabby for such a heavy ground-game tilt.
- 4th best in offensive explosiveness! (a veritable slew of BIG plays)
- 20th best in POWER success rate! (think: short yardage & goaline)
- GT has the 2nd best 1Q O, and the 9th best O in the final stanza (4Q). File that one away if this one is close men.
- GT is 8th best in breaking tackles! As six different guys have 28 or more carries this season. The alpha Rb (Hb) is 578 yard rusher (5’10” 217 lb. t-fresh.) Dedrick Mills; and the Fb (0r B-back to P.J.) is 299 yard rusher (5’1o” 212 lb. t-soph.) Marcus Marshall –who has been dinged up for weeks. With Qb Justin Thomas just a few yards behind with a 561 rushing total of his very own so far. Halfback D.Mills was said to be a better scholastic Linebacker than he was running-back. So he prime posting here is curious to some. M.Marshall only had 2,198 rushing as a senior stud Rb in high school, so his move to the bludgeoned workhorse position of Flex-bone Fullback is curious to some. 6′ 186 lb. r-soph. A-back one #22, Clinton Lynch is one of the more explosive players in the whole darn A.c.c. Clinton is a one-man big-play trump card who is averaging 17.2 yards per touch! As Clinton has 298 yards rushing on 28 carries; 12 grasps for 389 yards, and Clinton has tallied TD in each of the past four games. Someone might want to do something about #22.
(UPDATE: GT Rb Dedrick Mills, the team’s leading rusher, has been suspended for two games for an undisclosed violation of team rules)
- Qb Justin Thomas (no P.G.A. Tour relation), as said above, is a nifty 5’11” r-senior 185 lb. string-bean buggy-whip running Qb with metric tons of experience in learning and now deploying the Flex-bone offense in full. Thomas only won a AAAAAA (six-A) title in Alabama H.S. ball; he was only all-region in hoops and he only won the Alabama state 4A-6A combined T&F championship in the 100m as a 17 year old with scorching time of 10.78 seconds! Or in other words this kids a freak and he’s a burner of a speed freak at that. Thomas is 54.8% passer this year with a stingy looking 7:1 passing ratio. And that is way way up from his 41% passing of a year ago. He does only have 2 TD’s passing as a visitor and has been a hot and cold hit or miss totally streaky passer all year. Well, if he plays that is. Godspeed here.
p.s. the back-up Qb only has a 438.4 Qb rating! And “no”, I doubt that means much of anything from what very little I could find on tape. That being said, Matthew Jordan (6’2” 2o8 lbs. r-soph.) has a very explosive element to his game; even if it is (forcibly) a year premature. Matt’ is an all-A.c.c. Honor Roll kid himself; he played a lot of Wr/Cb in H.S. before turning Qb his final year. 28th ranked scholastic baller in ‘Bama who did have a good final campaign. Total dual threat Qb, with 1 State title ring to show for it. Seems to have a big-play or broken-field knack to his game; lacks no confidence in self whatsoever.
p.s.s. (spy’s say Thomas has a facial laceration, stitched-up, *should* play; the starting C is less certain; though he is “possible” to play; the game film on Thomas however looked suspiciously like a stinger)
- Leading Wr Ricky Jeune has 21 catches though only a lowly 50% catch rate; and only two other Jackets are in double-figures as grabs go. The catch corps looks a bit down to me, as GT does not have that one freak Wr who could do well to be playing somewhere else this campaign. That said, there is an occasional long and I do mean long-ball HR hitting element in this pass crops this season thanks to Thomas’ bionic arm. GT has hit two passing scores >81 yards for a reason. And #22 Wb/Wr Clinton Lynch is the Babe Ruth HR hitting stretch threat here.
- Left-side oLine is 36 years of age or immaturely 100% t-freshmen rookie year starters! The GT oLine is small, as in very by power-conference standards. Even by D-1aa standards for that matter. Three starters did return and the best is the “hike” catalyst Center Freddie Burden who is dinged up here. Johnson added a second offensive line coach in veteran Ron West to help address the 2015 issues upfront; although an A.c.l. blow-out to right-G Chris Griffin really nixsayed the critical synchronicity of this chop/cut blocking front. Nonetheless, the program to combat body-fat worked; as this is one lean leaner leanest oLine; seriously. oLine still has the airplane wing-Center offset extraordinaire, and the G’s are still in 4-point stances. Very narrow splits too. Which is exceptionally odd, as bantamweight as this GT oLine is in the wallet.
- Always loved the Flex (passing) element on the belly-play play-action to the Fb. Although it has gone trans-directional on film. With the Hb (A-back to P.J.) banana’ing out to the sideline as the Qb drops-back. Freaky little visual relative-motion mind-bender on tape. This included double wheel-routes (Fb and that sides hb) to the very same side. Fb being deeper of course. Neat little wrinkle that is just very unusual on tape.
- 78% run:pass 22% mix.
Wramblin’ Wreck Special Teams: (both return)
6’3” 210 lb. Sr., Kicker Harrison Butker surely fields a football name. And he ain’t half-bad as a leg-swinger goes either. 78% on the year and he is perfect at 40 and beyond. Two time state (Ga.) soccer titlist in high school and a member of the all-A.c.c. Honor Roll as an Industrial Engineering major are no bad things. Has okay leg strength out to very high 40’s or maybe very low 50’s (long=53) with a favorable wind. Experienced, reliable, solid, 4-year starting Kicker; perhaps not great-great, although you can find a number of less solid FG-kickers in college ball right now.
r-senior 6’2” 2o7 lb. Punter Ryan Rodwell is 65th or perfectly average in net punting (37.42 ypp) thanks partially to a modest 72nd best punt coverage crew. Ryan Rodwell is the holder on field goals and PATs as well. More of a hang-time punter with a career long of just double-nickles or 55 yards in as a 2.5 year starting punter. 25th ranked (place) Kicker outta high school from ESPN.com. Has never had a punt blocked at any level. Did fake one and get a 1st down rushing last year vs. Miami. A solid if not spectacular punter.
Georgia Tech is 75th in KO coverage on the suicide squad. Georgia Tech is a sporty 9th best in punt returns and a more centrist 51st in KO returns. Georgia Tech has snuffed out two opposing kicks so far; though no opponent punts have been blocked just yet. Georgia Tech has allowed one FGA to be blocked, with no punts of their very own sent back.
Special Teams letter-grade: a downright solid lowest possible B—.
- motive: All VT and the control your own Coastal Destiny here. Plus it’s a Lane home-game or so last time I checked. EDGE=VT.
- weather: clear, sunny, 3mph winds. As inviting as late fall, gets. EDGE=Even.
- health: both teams have dings and dents, tough call here. As I’d R.A.T.T. say it is more about respective capabilities to exploit said respective dings/dents than said dings/dents themselves. And if the GT Qb1/Center do ball vs. a beat-up and suspended VT D? EDGE=GT.
- penalties: only 3 teams are less penalized than GT and VT ain’t one of ’em. EDGE=GT.
- intangibles: GT owns TOP every year in their FlexBone O. So the coin-toss is about as objectively intangible as you can get. As you need, that extra offensive set here and you need it badly, too. EDGE=3:29pm or TBD.
- fatigue: VT seems more worn down thanks to extra FlexBone preparatory practice week hitting; although GT seems less amped up mentally or clinically speaking. EDGE=push.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
The takeaway here is… Georgia Tech’s Jim Morrison ‘esque, “fragile, eggshell” D has allowed a staggering 1,195 yards in the last fortnight, and nearly an unheard of 2k -or 1,937 if you are keeping score at home- in the last month of play! wow! This wreck of a defense just gave up 9.1 yards per play against North Carolina and has surrendered 35 points or more in four of the past five games. wow some more!
Conversely, the O&M Fu’fense averages 444.4 yards of total offense per game, topping 45o yards six times in nine games, and having scored 39 points per game in our seven victories. While committing a total of zero Hokie turnovers in the last 191 minutes of play. Do you see a trend?
Similarly, here is another trend for you total players, … as both stop-units are in reverse of late and Georgia Tech might as well have the ATL host the Winter Olympics this time, as the Jacket defense might as well be on, skates.
- the Hokie halt-unit has softened up by 76 yards per game in the last o&M three. It has significant dings and dents along its front wall, it has one Cb out and a Rover suspended for the initial 30 minutes.
- the Jacket stop-unit is, well, wrecked. As the other Tech’s defense has gone from worse to worst in its last three games or 1o5 yards to the bad of late. (511 ypg allowed in their last three with a gutting 234 allowed on the ground over the same)
Ergo, therefore, to wit, with two pretty serrated O’s on the field out there scrumming vs. one banged-up and suspended D (V.Tech’s); and another D that looks like it is looking for a levant or discount way out; you’d have to think that some points will get rung up in this one.
As I’m damn sure Tech wins here, and I’m pretty sure it’s our Tech at that.
Virginia Tech=37, Georgia Tech=23