The guys over at the From the Rumble Seat blog asked us to give our perspective on this week's game between Carolina and Georgia Tech, and in turn they answered some questions as well. The questions they asked us and our answers are here. Here are their responses to our inquiries:
THF: How is Al Groh doing switching the Jackets to the 3-4? And as a follow-up, can the Jackets generate enough pressure up front from that look?
FTRS: The transition has not been seamless. The defense looks like it is better coached in that they're not consistently giving up huge chunks of yards. The problem is more so that our experience isn't very talented while our talent is young. After watching Michael Johnson and Derrick Morgan over the past 5 seasons on the Flats, we're definitely missing a disruptive defensive lineman. The nose tackle is definitely the weak point and Al Groh's defenses absolutely require a monster at nose.
We are definitely generating pressure. We gave up 7.3 yards per pass attempt in 2009 while we're only giving up 6.0 yards per attempt in 2010. This is definitely attributable to not letting the QB sit back and pick us due to lack of pressure. Against Kansas our defense racked up 4 sacks. And run-stopping wise, we're slightly improved over 2009 but we've not really played a good running team yet and probably won't until Clemson or VT, which should give our defense plenty of time to shore up some of the major issues.
THF: How much does the offense miss Jonathan Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas?
FTRS: Concerning Dwyer, we miss that second burst after he hits the hole. Anthony Allen is a smart back and had some good carries against Kansas but we didn't see the speed or explosiveness that we're used to with Dwyer hitting the hole, bouncing out, and taking the ball up field 20 yards.
Not having Demaryius Thomas is probably the biggest issue right now on offense. There is no solid go to receiver. Last season, Nesbitt completed roughly 57% of the passes thrown to Demaryius. Right now, Stephen Hill has only caught 4 of the 14 passes thrown his way. There is a noticeable discrepancy between the two receivers physicality on the field. Hopefully, Hill will become a more punishing blocker and physical receiver soon.
THF: Last week at Kansas: Fluke, or evidence of trouble to come?
FTRS: Panicking Tech fans think the Kansas game was the end of the season. I think it was evidence that anyone can play with anyone (unless you're Bama/Ohio State). We outplayed Kansas in almost every aspect of the game but they kept the game close and obviously had a well formulated defensive scheme. Watching Kansas' defense, it was obvious that Turner Gill had circled our game on the calendar and not practiced at all for North Dakota State. The Jayhawks had exotic blitzes, odd defensive fronts, and the best option defense I've seen since CPJ's been at Tech. They weren't very talented, which was how we scored but they knew how to slow us down enough to win.
THF: Can Tech win week in and week out on the arm of Josh Nesbitt?
FTRS: Yes, we can win without Peyton Manning under center. Nesbitt doesn't need to pass for Tech to win. In 2009, we beat Virginia Tech with one completed pass. Nesbitt has to be able to run. The real issue with Kansas was that Nesbitt only picked up around 2 yards per carry. If the QB and fullback aren't gaining 4-5 yards per carry consistently, then the offense will not move. This happened against Kansas and it was terribly frustrating.
THF: How menacing does the ACC Coastal Division look now? What do you think it will look like at the end of November?
FTRS: I think the division is still tough but definitely weaker than I initially thought. Miami and Virginia Tech aren't quite the menacing behemoths that we thought in the preseason. I think it'll come down to who has the tiebreaker wins with a 5-3 conference record to win the Coastal. I wouldn't be surprised to see UNC, GT, and VT all knotted up at the end of the season. UNC has VT and GT at home so I'll give the edge to UNC.
THF: Who will win this week's game and why?
FTRS: I think Tech wins because Paul Johnson rarely loses games back to back. I also think the depleted defense (particularly at cornerback and DL) will kill the Heels. If you can't stop our dive and our A-back rocket sweeps, then you won't get us off the field. I have a feeling it will be like last year's game. I don't expect the Heels to pass 24 straight times against us and win. The Heel running game just hasn't come together since Butch has been at UNC and I don't think Draughn will be a factor either. Time of possession will end up in Tech's favor and you're shallow depth chart will dry up. Tech wins an ugly one 17-14.
Big thanks to Bird and the guys at Rumble Seat for a great Q&A.