In anticipation of Saturday’s matchup with Georgia Tech in Atlanta, BDN caught up with Winfield and Bird of FromTheRumbleSeat.com. The 2009 ACC Champions have had a disappointing 2010 season and need a win against the Blue Devils to become bowl eligible. BDN’s responses to their questions can be found at their site. Check back later this week for BDN’s full preview of the matchup with the Yellow Jackets, and live coverage from Atlanta.
BDN: Coming off an ACC Championship, the Yellow Jackets lost some serious talent to the NFL in Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, and Morgan Burnett. The media picked Georgia Tech to finish 3rd in the Coastal Divison behind Virginia Tech and Miami, which is about where they are right now (half a game behind UNC). What were your expectations for the 2010 Yellow Jackets and how would you evaluate the season to date?
FTRS: Before we delve into our preseason predictions you must keep in mind that that typical Georgia Tech fan is forever the optimist going into the football season. In the beginning of the season, we discussed the September, October, and November schedules. Winfield boasted a potential 10-2 season while Bird said 9-3. Many thoughts surrounded our picks, mainly “returning starters” and “our defense can only go up from last year”. Man, we were wrong.
The season has been a disappointment, but if the Tech fan gives himself a reality check, the season makes sense. An example of taking a realistic point of view is Bird’s article from Monday where he evaluates the rushing attack from 2008-2010. The final paragraph summarizes it nicely: “What this tells me is that we're comfortable with our offense now as wins and losses are almost identical statistically. We're just not catching the breaks we got in 2009 (e.g. increased turnovers, poor field position, and bad special teams). We've lost as many fumbles as we did in 2009 in 29% less games. We've thrown one less interception than we did in 2009 and we still have 2 games plus a bowl game to go (hopefully). We're also punting at a higher frequency with a lower average than 2009. This all adds up to a down year compared to CPJ standards set in 2009. “
BDN: Paul Johnson inherited some pretty good talent at Georgia Tech and seemed to flawlessly install his flexbone offense, leading the Jackets to two Coastal Division Championships in his first two seasons. With a new coach, there's always the question of whether he can recruit and win with his own players. I know Johnson recently stole a good one out of Durham in Vad Lee, a player all 4 North Carolina ACC teams were recruiting. With the scholarship limits now behind them, what does the future look like for the Yellow Jackets?
FTRS: Two* Coastal Division championships (We technically tied in 2008. Won it outright in 2009). Depends on the positions. Paul Johnson will normally redshirt most freshmen so we as fans get to see our future come out as redshirt freshmen. It’s very rich for the A-backs with the likes of Orwin Smith and BJ Bostic.
BDN: Al Groh joined Paul Johnson's staff this season, and his defense seems to have had mixed results. What have been the significant changes to the defense this year? What has worked? What hasn't? Who has stepped up to fill the voids left by Morgan and Burnett?
FTRS: The significant change is the move from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense and we are trying to fit square players into circular holes. It just hasn’t consistently flowed all season.....
BDN: We know Duke will have its hands full with Anthony Allen, but Tevin Washington is filling in for the injured Josh Nesbitt at quarterback. Can you give us a brief scouting report on Washington? What should Duke expect with him under center?
FTRS: He’s tougher than we first expected. Still is slow at making reads but is a better passer than Nesbitt.
BDN: Georgia Tech has had the Blue Devils' number the past two meetings, with convincing wins in Atlanta in 2008 and in Durham in 2009. What do you expect from this year's matchup?
FTRS: The Jackets are stuck in a corner they haven’t been in for years and they need a morale boost before heading into Georgia. We expect (hope?) Georgia Tech to take a lot of frustration out on Duke.
BDN: Thanks, guys! Good luck on Saturday.