In the excitement of our homecoming game, we had a sit down with writer Joseph Weaver of From the Rumble Seat to get a few insights of the upcoming match-up.
VTF: Despite going up against #14 Miami and V Tech, the Yellow Jackets have had an impressive season rushing, spreading 1,500 yards amongst 14 different runners (4 of those hitting 150+ yards each) securing the number 7 spot in rushing in the country (all from ESPN). Who of these (if any) do you expect to give the Cougar's Defense the slip?
FTRS: In the last 2-3 years, it's become increasingly apparent that our offense's success hinges almost entirely on how well we're blocking, and that's more than just in the box. A lot of our offensive scheme also involves backs and receivers blocking outside of the tackle box, which is the key for success to a lot of our A-Backs. Personally, I'm waiting on either David Sims or Zach Laskey to break a long run from the B-Back position, and Sims in particular hit his stride early last week against Miami. However, if BYU's D-Line is as successful as it was last year, we'll be relying more on either Quarterbacks Vad Lee & Justin Thomas, or on any set of A-Backs Robbie Godhigh, Deon Hill, BJ Bostic, Tony Zenon, Dennis Andrews, Synjyn Days, Charles Perkins...the list is very lengthy. So basically it'll all depend on how we're blocking in different areas. One thing worth noting is that since last year's UNC game, only Robert Godhigh has gone for 100 yards in a game, and that was in this year's UNC game. We've been very good about spreading the ball around, no doubt.
VTF: With the greatest question coming into this season for BYU's defense being the corners and considering the similar completion percentages between both team's quarterbacks (around 43%), how much do you expect Vad Lee to pass the ball at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night?
FTRS: Vad Lee is recognized as the best passer Paul Johnson has had at Tech, and early this season he showed it. However, the last two games have seen our passing game (what little there is of it) completely out of whack, but we've kept passing because we were behind. A lot of teams use their running game to open up their passing game -- I think you guys at BYU understand when I tell you that we use our passing game to open up our running game. Paul Johnson would be perfectly content rushing on 90% of plays or more, but when teams start cheating towards the line he uses the passing game to keep them honest and back them off of the line.
The answer to your question is going to rest entirely in how well our running game is working. If it's working well, then passes will be pretty intermittent. If not, and especially if Georgia Tech is losing, the passing will become much more frequent, although even then there's no telling how successful it will be.
VTF: Where are the biggest improvements from last year’s team, and how will that change the game this year?
FTRS: Honestly, our defense is a LOT better, especially in the rushing game. They give up a lot of passing yards, but have tended to be a "bend but not break" group in the red zone. They gave up a lot of rushing yards last week to Duke Johnson, but were pretty straight-up outmatched in that matchup. Other than last week, they've been fantastic against the run, especially against teams like Virginia Tech and Duke that want to run the ball. Being such a run-oriented offense, BYU's crew will see a new challenge in Tech's 4-3 defense led by DC Ted Roof. It's clearly going to be a couple of groups whose strengths match each other, and it should be a really fun matchup to watch.
VTF: What aspect/who on the Cougar's team is the greatest threat to victory this weekend?
FTRS: The answer here has to without question fall within the front 7, which performed pretty darn well last year if I say so myself. The consistent theme over the past couple of years has been, again, how well Tech blocks, which oddly enough seems to correlate with how good the opposing defensive front is. You mentioned in your answers that there have been a couple of pieces to replace on the defensive front after last year, and so how well those replacements perform will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. I should also include here that Kyle Van Noy could be the single biggest difference-maker in this game if he can shed blocks and create havoc against the Georgia Tech attack.
VTF: Who are the key Georgia Tech players that can stop Taysom and Jamaal in the run and push through Bronco's defense?
FTRS: I'll start with the linebackers, all of whom are very talented. Jabari Hunt-Days plays in the middle, with Brandon Watts playing on the strong-side. Both are very talented, with Jabari specializing in run-stopping, and Watts being wildly athletic and able to track the play from sideline-to-sideline. Quayshawn Nealy plays weak-side linebacker, and is backed up by true freshman Paul Davis. Both have a lot of range and tackle well, but probably won't do a whole lot of plugging up the middle. There's actually been some speculation that all 4 of these guys could see the field at the same time this weekend, with Ted Roof possibly trying to give 4-4 looks to trip up the BYU offense.
On the D-Line, Jeremiah Attaochu is the one everyone knows at WDE, but Adam Gotsis at NT and the tandem of Euclid Cummings/Shawn Green at DT have been really good in the middle as well. They're flanked by the team of Emmanuel Dieke and Anthony Williams at SDE, both of whom are pleasantly surprising me as run-stoppers.
Again, I think this weekend ends up very much a strength-on-strength matchup, and it should be a very interesting one at that.
VTF: What are your reasonable expectations for the rest of the season coming off 2 big losses against Miami and Virginia Tech? Assuming Georgia and Clemson clinch a victory, is 8-4 enough to be considered a successful year?
FTRS: To be honest, this game will set the tone for how we finish out the year -- and that worries me quite a bit. As we sit at 3-2, we'd have to go 5-2 from here on out to achieve 8-4, and with Clemson (on the road) & uga looming, that'll be tough to achieve if we can't win here. I personally would be happy with an 8-4 finish, especially given the current situation, but I'm worried as to whether we'll hit that mark. I think there's a certain set of fans that would not be happy with an 8-4 finish (they probably wouldn't be happy with an 11-1 finish either, but that's besides the point), and would be up in arms over a 7-5 finish. All that to say, we're at a very fragile crossroads in our season, and this weekend's game is our chance to save the season.
VTF: How is the Paul Johnson experiment going? Are fans satisfied or starting to shift in their seats?
FTRS: You know, it's funny, a lot of folks complain about his offense, and think that the spread option is a thing of the past and completely unsuccessful, when truly his offenses have been in the top quarter of the country in scoring each of the last few years. This year, they were held to 10 points against Virginia Tech and have played some tough competition over the last month, and yet sit 40th in the country with over 35 points per game. All anyone actuallycares about is winning, and since the 2009 ACC Championship run, Georgia Tech has failed to win more than 8 games in a year (6-7 in 2010, 8-5 in 2011, 7-7 in 2012). That's where folks are getting restless, and the word "folks" is starting to refer to a larger and larger portion of the fanbase all the time. I personally am still a believer, but will also be really disappointed if we can't win 8 regular season games.
VTF: Finally, game prediction?
FTRS: After two straight losses, Georgia Tech is desperate for a win and will have to be extremely focused to beat a talented and well-coached BYU team. It's going to be a physical, hard-fought, old-fashioned type of game, and it's very much to BYU's advantage that the game is being played in Provo. I'm scared. I want to believe in my team, but I realize BYU is at an advantage in a couple or three ways here. I'm going to go against my gut and be wishful here, and say that this becomes a signature win for Paul Johnson, springing the team to an 8-win finish.
Georgia Tech 27, BYU 24
If you could ask Joseph (@FTRSLilBroey) any question what would it be? He could just pop in to our comments or hit you up on Twitter to give you the answer you're searching for. Include us so we can see what you have to say!
FTRS wasn't just interested in answering our questions though. They had a few of their own for us, including the question of Bronco's extended future with BYU, weather or not his 3 year contract will be his last. You can peruse those questions at From The Rumble Seat
. What would you add to our answers?