Yesterday, I had the chance to sit down with Josh Brundage of our Georgia Tech sister site, From the Rumble Seat, so I asked him about Georgia Tech’s new look offense, their quarterback situation, what’s different with new head coach Geoff Collins, and his go to Waffle House order. The Yellow Jackets have undergone as much change as any team in the country from last season to now, and Tar Heel fans will get a chance Saturday to see what’s different in Atlanta. Josh was...realistic, to say the least, about the Yellow Jackets’ first year under coach Collins.
THB: New head coach, new offense, new quarterback. No one knew what to expect coming into the season, what’s been the most pleasant surprise from the offense so far?
JB: I’m really straining here to pull something positive out of what I’ve watched so far, but I would say the A-backs’ transition to slot receivers has been really smooth. There are times the offense has looked competent and like we knew what we were doing, especially on run plays, but it seems like the coaching staff is so dedicated to the “rebrand” that they call less of what works and more of what they want it to look like, which stalls drives.
Our QBs have looked good in the spread-style run plays, but they’re largely running for their lives when they drop back to pass since our O-line is so porous, so it’s hard to judge them too much on passing ability.
THB: What’s been an issue that the Yellow Jackets need to get corrected on offense?
JB: The number one answer is our O-line, but I think it’s beyond help at this point. We were already thin and learning an entirely new system with new techniques before losing 2 starters to injury for the season. Compounding this issue is what I mentioned before, where the coaching staff is calling plays based on what they want to do and not necessarily what works and what the players are good at. It’s really frustrating to watch otherwise good-looking drives get stalled based on play-calling alone, but I’m assuming part of that is this season is a wash anyway and they’re trying to show what they want the offense to do for recruiting purposes.
THB: As someone who’s not close to the Georgia Tech program, the feel from the outside is that Geoff Collins is on a mission to turn Georgia Tech into Atlanta’s football program. As of this writing the Yellow Jackets have the 24th ranked recruiting class in the country according to 247 sports, and almost all of those commits come from Georgia or Florida. What’s been the biggest difference in the program in the shift from Paul Johnson to Geoff Collins?
JB: First, I don’t think any amount of branding or winning will make Georgia Tech into Atlanta’s football team… in addition to Georgia being down the road, Auburn and Clemson are both about 90 miles away, and the College Football HOF is located here, along with the Chick-fil-a Bowl and opening games. Atlanta is the capital of college football, but it will never really belong to any one team.
Recruiting has seen a slight uptick, but once the rankings shake out at the end of this cycle, we might land a little ahead of where Johnson was, but not by a lot. Johnson was hamstrung by the previous AD that actively tried to force him out by refusing funds to hire recruiting staff or even the defensive coordinators he wanted on multiple occasions. Collins was given a much larger budget and a larger recruiting staff, so it’s not at all an apples to apples comparison.
I do think Collins is the type of hire we needed following Johnson though, and his energy and focus on the brand and Atlanta is a welcome breath of fresh air… but having an internet meme as a head coach will get old pretty quick if it doesn’t start translating to wins.
THB: What would your response be if I told you I thought the best Georgia Tech has looked was against Clemson in the season opener?
JB: I might agree with you. I think it’s actually the best the offense looked, somehow, and the defense did pretty well considering it was against the defending national champions and our offense sometimes put them in bad situations. I would say we definitely looked better in that game than the last 2 losses, anyway.
THB: Due to injuries and other extenuating circumstances Georgia Tech has three quarterbacks that are all within six passing attempts of each other on the season. What’s the quarterback situation looking like heading into the Carolina game?
JB: Lucas Johnson sat out the previous game due to injury, but I would expect you will see both Tobias Oliver and James Graham in at QB. Graham has the highest upside of the 2, but I would be surprised if he gets the start since he has the least experience. However, I would almost rather Graham start and let him make the freshmen mistakes and get the experience now since this season is a wash anyway. Both are better at running the ball and making option reads than dropping back and passing, as you might expect.
THB: At 1-3 through the first four games of the season, with some winnable games on the schedule, what’s the feeling around the program regarding bowl eligibility chances?
JB: Oh, bowl eligibility odds are basically zero. Even if we had beaten Citadel and Temple, a bowl would’ve been a massive achievement this year. With those 2 as losses, there’s no way we find 5 more wins on this schedule with just conference play and Georgia remaining.
THB: How important is this game against Carolina for the rest of the 2019 season?
This is not a dig against UNC whatsoever, but it’s honestly not really… we’re not looking at bowl eligibility or winning the Coastal or anything. All we’re looking for this season is to see some improvement from game to game, though that may be even tougher now with all the injuries, and for the team to not give up. Wins are not expected the rest of the season, just progress.
THB: It’s no secret that Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins LOVES Waffle House, what’s your go-to order?
JB: An All Star Special, scattered, smothered, and covered, with a pecan waffle and my eggs scrambled… and then usually a nap.
THB: What does Georgia Tech have to do in order to win Saturday? And relatedly, what’s your prediction for the game?
They’re going to have to win the turnover battle by at least, like, 2, and find a way to pass block on occasion… so it’s going to take a lot for GT to pull a win out of Saturday. I think UNC wins fairly handily in front of a largely empty stadium in a game we’ll all be worse for watching, about 28-10.