As we prepare for Saturday’s matchup with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, BCI wanted to get an insider’s perspective on our opponent. Josh Brundage from “From The Rumble Seat” chatted with us about Justin Thomas, Paul Johnson and the tricky triple option offense.
1. Justin Thomas has the potential to be an elite ACC quarterback, but seemed to take a step back last year as almost all of his statistics declined in 2015. Was this due to his struggles, or was it more due to the situation around him?
He’s an incredible athlete, and most of his struggles last year started with the situation around him. After sending 2 WRs, 2 RBs, and an O-lineman to the NFL, we knew there would be some drop off, but then that got compounded with injuries, and the offense never got going. Tech was absolutely ravaged by injuries last year, to the point where in the Miami game, we were starting 8 freshmen on offense alone. It got ugly. Our line and A-backs couldn’t block anyone, and Thomas tried to do too much himself to compensate. He had almost no pass protection whatsoever last season and gradually lost trust in his teammates around him.
2. BC is a high flying, aggressive defense. Can you talk a little about defenses that have been successful against GT? What have they done to bottle up the option?
The defenses that have been the most successful against the flexbone have been seemingly the most aggressive – it’s not necessarily an alignment or scheme or anything. We always hear about opposing coaches wanting to “keep it simple and play assignment football” against this offense, but then when Coach Johnson figures out their defensive assignments, they get torched. Virginia Tech (maddeningly) always puts together a solid defensive plan against us, with blitzes designed to disrupt the mesh point and the timing. Bottling up the option entirely starts up front – if your front 7 are in our backfield regularly, it will be a long day for the flexbone.
That’s an especially solid gameplan if Tech can’t get any sort of passing game going. The years we’ve had the most success have been when we’ve had standout WRs to keep defenses honest and from doing the things I described before. However, I feel like loading the box and challenging Tech to complete some passes first is a solid place to start for a defensive scheme.
3. The option depends on speed and quickness. Other than Thomas, who are some of the offensive weapons that BC fans should be aware of?
We’re all very excited to see what our freshman B-Back, Dedrick Mills, can do. He has apparently unseated Marcus Marshall for the starting position, who ended up being one of the most exciting players to watch play last season. So if Mills is better than Marshall at B-Back, and possesses the same breakaway speed, then he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
Our fingers are also crossed that WR Ricky Jeune will come to his full potential and become our next big-play guy on the perimeter. This is his second year starting in the offense, and we need him to step up in order to help keep defenses honest.
4. BC's offense is the big question mark going into this game. Talk a little about GT's style of defense, and some of the playmakers we should look out for.
We’re a base 4-3 defense, but are almost always in a 4-2-5 to counter the spread teams on our schedule. Against BC, I’m sure we’ll be in more of our base set.
Tech’s style of defense is a (often frustrating) bend-don’t-break that relies on turnovers to truly excel. In 2014, that worked out great… but not so much last season. You’ll see our corners playing way off the WRs on the outside to keep everything in front of them. You’ll see Ted Roof, our DC, seemingly only rush more than 4 on 3rd and long. We’ve lacked a successful pass rush for years and years now, so we give QBs a lot of time to throw… which probably explains why our secondary plays so deep.
As far as players to look out for, safety AJ Gray has garnered more praise from Coach Johnson than I can ever remember him giving out. He played in back-up roles last season, but has apparently been so good in camp, that CPJ thinks he will go down as one of the all-time greats in Tech history before he graduates.
5. Finally, prediction time. What have you got
We won 11 games in 2014 and 3 in 2015, so trying to predict this season for Tech is best represented by ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For this game, I think the both teams’ offenses struggle, but the Yellow Jackets win a low-scoring game 21-10.