Earlier today, I answered a few questions for From the Rumble Seat, the SB Nation site for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Read it if you want, but I make no apologies for any of the inarguable, non-negotiable facts that I dispensed.
Thankfully, their own Josh Brundage returned the favor, and answered some wide-ranging questions for us. Check out his responses about Tech’s season so far, what UNC’s path to victory on Saturday looks like, and why on earth does Paul Johnson despise Louisville’s defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder? Oh yeah. After years of being outfitted with Russell Athletic, he’s also pretty thrilled with the new Adidas uniforms.
Georgia Tech is 4-4 with huge offensive explosions mixed with surprising duds. Why the Jekyll and Hyde scenario?
We’re not sure there’s even one thing you could point at besides offensive line play. The O-line has looked surprisingly good the last few games, so maybe they’re turning a corner? Who knows. Both Marshall and Oliver have had their ups and downs behind center, and the skill position players around them are all veterans, so really the play up front is the only thing we can say has contributed to the vast swings in output. Laying an egg against Clemson’s front is understandable, but I have no idea why we couldn’t move the ball against Duke at home and then torched Virginia Tech on the road. Your guess is as good as mine.
Paul Johnson is nine years removed from the 2009 ACC title. Georgia Tech has averaged 7 wins a year wince 2010. At this point, is that enough to satisfy most of your fans?
In general, no. In 2014 we beat just about everyone, won the Orange Bowl and finished ranked 7th. In 2016, we won 9 games and beat basically every team we care about beating, but in 2015 and last year we were awful. So... it depends on who you ask. Johnson has given us higher highs and lower lows than his predecessors who basically won 7-8 games consistently but that was it.
If we don’t make a bowl this year for the third time in four years, I think him and the school come to a mutual agreement where he retires on good terms. I also think this would be an excellent year for Georgia Tech to be hiring a new coach, so I’m sort of hoping this is his last season at this point... and I’m actually still a supporter of his.
What is the backstory on Paul Johnson’s beef with Lousiville DC Brian VanGorder?
It’s long and hilarious. You can read our summary of it here. Not included in that summary is that Kirby Smart hired VanGorder as an “option consultant” ahead of our game with them in 2016... which they lost also by blowing a 13 point, 4th quarter lead. So all of that, plus the Louisville game this season, has truly brought some joy in Paul Johnson’s life. The cameras caught him laughing on the sidelines with our QB that game for much of the 4th quarter.
Other than your two QBs TaQuon Marshall and Tobias Oliver, who is the most important player within your offensive system?
The answer to the question most every other year would be whoever our #1, big-play receiver is, but we haven’t really had that this season. The passing game has been weaker than usual, but we’re still moving the ball pretty well on the ground. Right now I would say it’s a combination of A-backs Clinton Lynch and Qua Searcy - they’re the ones either busting a big play on the outside, or throwing a block to spring the other for a big play. They’re integral parts of the offense, and without experience at that position, this offense grinds to a halt.
What is your biggest concern about UNC?
My biggest concern would be that their backs are against the wall and that Fedora feels like he’s coaching for his job. Any time teams get in that scenario, anything can happen. I’m also afraid of which Georgia Tech will show up in Chapel Hill this weekend. I know UNC only has 1 win, but couple the current mindset in Chapel Hill with the Jekyll and Hyde of this Yellow Jacket team, and there’s a lot of things that make me worry about this weekend.
What has surprised you the most, positively or negatively, about this year’s Yellow Jackets?
I would say their resiliency. They’re playing with a coach on the proverbial hot seat, and they’ve bounced back from a 1-3 start that included 2 really, really ugly losses in games they should’ve won. It’s been encouraging to see them not mail it in the rest of the season and be on the upswing for the second half.
What is UNC’s path to victory? Do they have one?
If bad Georgia Tech shows up, UNC certainly has a path to victory. Bad Georgia Tech is turnover-prone, and that makes Johnson start getting cutesy and panicky in his playcalling and it all kind of snowballs. Our defense hasn’t stopped much of anything this season unless they create a turnover in the process, so if UNC can play a clean game and start putting some doubt in the Yellow Jackets and force them into a mistake or two, UNC could easily get win number 2.
This season, the administration finally shed the Russell Athletic brand. Have you been happy with the new Adidas partnership, or is to early to form an opinion?
I love, love, love our new traditional home uniforms. They unified the athletics’ gold, and the little tweaks they made to our gold pants, white jersey, gold helmet uniforms are perfect. Our white, road unis are fine. They’re nothing exciting. I can’t say that I love the navy pants we’re wearing for the second time this season against you guys. I get wanting alternates, but the navy pants just don’t look like Georgia Tech to me. They’re fine every now and then as a throwback, but with us wearing them the 2nd time this season, I can’t say I’m a fan of that. It just doesn’t look like us.
Otherwise, our basketball uniforms look great as well, so in general, we’re very pleased with Adidas so far. Literally anything would’ve been an upgrade over Russell, though.