Hello again, Canes fam. We’re back with another opponent Q&A to get a view other this week’s opponent from behind enemy lines.
Joining us for this week to talk about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets is Josh Brundage of our SBNation sister-site From The Rumble Seat.
Here’s my answers to their questions over on FTRS.
And now, let’s talk about the Ramblin’ Wreck with Josh:
Q1. GT’s season has been up and down. What has changed to get the Yellow Jackets rolling as of late?
Josh Brundage: I was asked a similar question last week, and I said the offensive line, but I think it’s more than that right now. The O-line has certainly been part of the success, but QB play has been much better since Tobias Oliver has started to take over and get more comfortable with the offense. Taqoun Marshall, the starter at the beginning of the season, has had a nagging injury that’s kept him from going full speed, and Tobias has provided a welcome change of pace in the offense and is certainly the future at the position. We’re very excited about the future with Oliver at the helm and he’s slowly adding more and more of the playbook.
Another thing that’s helped is that the defense’s havoc rate is way up and is forcing more turnovers. They’re still not great in standard downs, but the improvement in havoc has been dramatic from last season.
2. What’s up with the QB position? Has Marshall lost his job?
Brundage: We don’t know. Oliver has had the offense moving great when he’s been in, but Marshall still started last game against UNC, even though he was very obviously not at 100%. Marshall certainly has a better grasp of the whole offense and makes better reads, but he’s not entirely healthy.
We obviously don’t know what goes on in practice during the week, but I would expect to see Marshall start again this weekend, and then be spelled by Oliver. If Oliver is moving the offense well when he goes in, I would assume he stays in again and Marshall moves to the backup role. Johnson is probably just going with the hot hand at this point.
Some of that will also come down to Miami’s defense - Oliver can only run a limited playbook… he’s still not great at triple options, but he runs speed really well, so it will also be determined by how the Canes are trying to defend the flexbone.
Q3. New year, same question: Who are the A-backs and B-backs to know for the GT offense this year?
Brundage: We’ve had the same starters at A-Back for 3 years now. Qua Searcy and Clinton Lynch are both killers on the perimeter, whether they’re blocking, running, or receiving out of the slot. They’re 2 of the most reliable players on the team, and both had really good games against UNC last week.
Q4. I loved Ted Roof as your DC. It was fun and relatively easy. Nate Woody is in there now. How have things changed on that side of the ball this season?
Brundage: Geez, we’re so glad to see Roof gone. He was awful - I know y’all enjoyed him. Biggest difference is we moved from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, and it’s a lot more aggressive than it was under Roof. Like I mentioned earlier, our havoc rate is way up already this season in Woody’s first year, and we’re finally winning turnover battles.
I thought Roof should’ve been fired at the airport after the Miami game last year, where he let the Canes offense run one play the length of the field on the final drive without adjusting. I’m not a professional football coach, and I was watching on TV, so if I can see the adjustment that needs to be made, I don’t know how in the world he couldn’t. I was screaming at him through my television that drive. Good riddance.
Q5. Who are the top 3 defenders to know for GT heading into this game?
First would probably be DE Anree Saint-Amour who has 35 tackles on the season, including 10.5 for loss. He’s been raising hell in the backfield this season, and he’s been a lot of fun to watch. He even has 2 interceptions on the season.
Next up would probably be Malik Rivera, who’s been everywhere at the safety position with 45 tackles. Our secondary is young and inexperienced, and he’s been a relief at the position. He’s learned the new scheme quickly and just seems to always be around the ball.
Also keep an eye out for LB Brand Mitchell, he will have to have a good day if we’re going to be able to beat the Canes. He’s been pretty good at run stuffing this season, but he seems to be going backwards in pass defense. I would assume he’ll get picked on in the short passing game on Saturday.
Q6. Which QB do you want to see under center for Miami on Saturday night?
Give me Oliver the whole game, and Marshall only if the offense starts stalling. Oliver has a much higher upside, has had the offense moving in every game he’s been in, and has showed that he can hit the open passes. We’re already at 4 losses this season, so get him some experience heading into next year in a big, night game environment. He’s 6’2” and quick, but not afraid to run someone over. He’s a prototypical option QB, and I’m excited for the future with him.
Q7. Prediction time: who wins this year’s Miami-GT game?
If this was on the road, I would give the nod to Miami. I can see Miami jumping out to a lead in this game, most of our opponents score on their first drive for whatever reason, but I think Tech holds onto the ball for most of the game and gives the Canes only 8-10 possessions. If Tech can get a couple turnovers or stops, I see the Yellow Jackets winning the white out game about 31-21 and giving Richt his first loss at Boddy Dodd… maybe ever? I don’t know, it makes me sad to think about.
Thanks to Josh for joining us in the opponent Q&A this week. You can read his work, and the work of other talented writers, over at From The Rumble Seat