The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets face the insurmountable obstacle of a six month bye to open the football season

The ACC Conference brain trust shifted around the schedules of both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech so that they could open the season against each other in a nationally broadcast game on Labor Day in Blacksburg.  Given the normal scheduling preference for any BCS college football team whereby they generally open the season with a few nonconference games to bolster their resume prior to jumping into league games, this will be an entirely different start to the season for both squads as they usually square off in November with the Coastal Division on the line.  With this novel change order, the magnitude of this game is even more noteworthy with the inordinate amount of time the Hokies now have to prepare for the triple option offense; the entire offseason if you will.

Putting aside the bowl performances of the Yellow Jackets under Paul Johnson when their opponents are given extra time in order to prepare for his unique offensive scheme, this season opener will really bring out the dolts who just hate on the triple option should the Hokies prevail in this game.  Forget the fact that Virginia Tech got slammed by Stanford in the 2011 Orange Bowl to the tune of 40 to 12 who had a mere month to prepare for the Hokies, or their recent loss in the 2012 Sugar Bowl to Michigan 23 to 20 who also had thirty (30) measly days to prepare for the game, none of that ever comes up in the conversation for any other team except Georgia Tech.  It’s only when the Yellow Jackets lose a bowl game does that issue constantly surface.  Or worse yet, lose a game at any point in the regular season when their opponent has an extra bye week to prepare against the triple option offense.

What is even more puzzling is the lack of symmetrical balance when any other football team in the post season bowl schedule loses their game.  For example; this past Orange Bowl pitted the Clemson Tigers against the West Virginia Mountaineers with the ACC Champs favored in that contest.  So after an embarrassing 70 to 33 drubbing by West Virginia that wasn’t even that close, I failed to detect even the remotest hint that the Clemson offense can be throttled if an opponent has extra time to prepare, or the Tiger defense can be completely dismantled with some additional practice time. 

Now I will admit that after Baylor trounced the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl 67 to 56, the talk of the town was that the entire defensive staff of the Huskies was fired by the head coach even before the team had dressed and left the Alamodome.  So apparently that negated the obvious question of how could a defense give up that many points when they had nearly a month to prepare for their opponent?  Was it somehow different because the Baylor Bears had the Heisman Trophy winner at Quarterback?  Or perhaps with Robert Griffin, III running the NCAA spread option offense it can be considered an aberration that somehow trumps the extra time to prepare card.  Apparently we will never know as it flew well under the radar screen given the sudden increase in the coaching unemployment line. 

So apparently if you can hold your opponent under 60 points in a bowl game and still win, that is an acceptable accomplishment in the post season given all of that extra time defensive coaches have to prepare.  My recollection is that the full defensive staff for the Baylor Bears returns intact this season.  The same cannot be said for the Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele who allegedly resigned a week later to; “pursue other coaching opportunities.”  My hunch is that was the genteel way to ax an assistant coach even though the end result remarkably followed the lead of the Washington Huskies who just outright canned all of their defensive coaches based on an abject failure to use all of that extra time to shut down the Bears offense.

Taking into account the foregoing bowl game disasters encompassed merely one month of additional preparation time, what devastation awaits the Georgia Tech triple option offense when faced with a six (6) month ticking clock for Frank Beamer to prime his team? Yikes!  No doubt the Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster has already contacted the NCAA Offices in Indianapolis to ascertain the current record for “3 and outs” in a BCS college football game as that will certainly be shattered in this contest given the half a year to retool his troops for this contest.  Not to mention the record for punts in a game by one team will certainly be broken by Georgia Tech in this season opener after the triple option is completely stymied due to the stalwart defense of the Hokies courtesy of that six (6) month gift.

How fortuitous that Paul Johnson just hired a special teams coach last month.  He will be working overtime on the punting game since that is all the Yellow Jackets will be doing in Blacksburg, save for one kickoff to open the game.  The true freshman punter that was signed in this past recruiting class will have to step up and punt too as Georgia Tech’s returning punter Sean Poole won’t be able to handle a season’s worth of kicks in a single game.  There goes his redshirt year before the season ever begins. 

It will also probably be best to only bring the scout team offense for this game to lessen the sting (pun intended) and load up heavily on the defensive side of the ball as they will be playing at least 50+ minutes in this one.  Perhaps it might even be best to forfeit this game as a 2 to 0 loss will look much better than the certain catastrophe that is guaranteed with the ridiculous amount of time Virginia Tech has been granted to thwart a high school offense.  This way Georgia Tech can be assured that the all time loss by Cumberland College will forever remain intact in the NCAA record books.

While I don’t want to burst the bubble of any Yellow Jacket supporter after a successful recruiting class signing period, and first time ever Friday night spring game, it’s best to hear it now since this six (6) month span of time to face the Georgia Tech triple option will be the mantel piece of discussion from this moment until 8:00 p.m. September 3, 2012.  That is why it will be just that much sweeter when Paul Johnson and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets open their 2012 ACC season on the road with a Coastal Division victory over the Hokies at Lane Stadium.  Enter Sandman and all!  What will they say then?  Not enough time?  Go Jackets! 

 

 

  • Buckeybs8

    wow angry much? someone is taking having a unique offense really personally.  GT’s offense is a curiosity so people naturally ask if it is stoppable with more time.  They do it with all teams, even with “normal” offenses.  Sounds like you’re focusing on a lot of negative feedback.  jackets will do fine and be competitive just like always

    • Michaelgoldfeder

      Hi Buckeybs8,

      Welcome to isportsweb.  Come back often.  I’m not angry at all, just making a point that never comes up with any other team.  For example; How about Utah (Post Bowling Green) when Urban Meyer started playing his spread option offense and they played Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to go undefeated.  Or when he went to Florida they initially said the spread option will never work in the SEC, but stopped after winning the conference and a couple of national titles.  Or perhaps now that he is back in Columbus I have yet to hear any comments that it (spread option) won’t work in the Big Ten, or is it the Big Twelve?

      At best the only analogy is along the lines of Houston or Texas Tech under Mike Leach who never have their QB’s drafted because they are in a “system offense.”  While granted Georgia Tech’s offense is unique in the BCS as they are the only team outside of the Commander in Chief Service Academies to run the scheme, every other team that uses the NCAA spread option offense never have to hear all of the commentary that with enough time their offense can be shutdown in a bowl game. 

      The Yelow Jackets will be fine and have another winning season but by comparison will still have to endure the same old worn out analysis after any loss whereby their opponent; had ample time to prepare.

      • Buckeybs8

         fair points, but I just think those public attacks do come up with other teams.  We’re talking about new offenses in new situations just like the yellow jackets.  Many schemes come and go, and most get dismissed early on.  If the coach finds surprising success early they can ride a wave of momentum from a lower school (Bowling Green, Utah) all the way up to Florida and beyond (ESPN and OSU).  It’s just the perspective of expectations.  If GT can win some BCS bowls then I’m sure they will have a bunch of schools stealing their offensive schemes just like Urban Meyer and his Utah/Florida/OSU coaching staff had people knocking down their doors for winning when, as you put it, people never thought it would work in the SEC.  15-20 years ago people would have scoffed at the notion of a spread offense.  Heck, just beating Georgia on a regular basis would turn some heads for GT’s scheme.

        College football fans seem to hate change, hanging on to what they know and what they saw work at some point in time.  I applaud GT’s uniqueness, as well as the service academies, and think they can prove people wrong while simultaneously proving their supporters to be right.  If undersized college athletes with less practice time and more strict academic standards can stand up on the grid iron to schools who major in football (great job Navy, a.k.a. Paul Johnson’s old squad), then who are we to say a bigger school with a bigger athletic reputation can’t do the same? Or even take it to a whole new level? Worth a shot at least. Stick SEC funds and blind fanhood and passion behind any school logo, and your scheme has a chance to catch fire.  Maybe if Auburn went to a spread offensive they would be a media darling, beats me. 

        Gt has a quality coach with a different idea.  I just think they get a little more respect than you perceive.  Sure some people think they have a style that can be stopped with more practice, but people say that about every “new” idea until it beats the teams they say it won’t.  GT fans think they lose bowl games every year due extra prep time for their opponents, but so do VT fans about their team (horrible BCS bowl record), and so do most ACC teams.  In fact, we all just walk the line of excitement and pride for our team as wins build until that bubble bursts over an inevitable loss that sucks and is bound to come sooner than we hope, whether that be the 5th game of the year or a BCS bowl game.

        GT has stepped up their football play, and now have to deal with the backers of traditional college football powers.  Fans of traditional powers tend to bitch a lot and tell you that you can’t do something different to get where they are.  Who knows who is right, but it’s fun to watch.  Keep your head up GT fans. Some are gonna hate, some are gonna appreciate.  Shit happens.  Enjoy the ride.  

        • Michaelgoldfeder

          Hi Buckeybs8,

          Welcome back and thank you for the detailed analysis.  What I will say in conjunction with the “perspectives of expectation” is the majority of the college football media world are in the business of reaching to out to everyone in a wonkfest more reminiscent of a presidential debate than a football broadcast of a game.  They are extremely careful so as not to offend any team’s fan base because every week is an adventure in this sport and todays zero can be next week’s hero.  It wasn’t too long ago that Oregon was strictly known as a track and field school providing nothing more than an instant win every year for USC, although Dan Fouts back in the day at least made it entertaining to watch.

          Now the “O” is perceived as a national contender each season with improved facilities, a ton of donor money from Phil Knight/Nike, and a fan base as crazed as any SEC team with maybe the best home field advantage in college football;Autzen stadium.  However, the year they played OSU in the Rose Bowl (2009 season) and lost 26 to 17 all that I heard leading up to and after that loss was that Oregon is hurt the most from these extensive bowl layoffs as their spread option offense is based on such timing that the long layoff always works against them.  Therein is the distinction that I was alluding to in my article.

          I agree that the industry of college football is very adverse to change, but so quick to jump on the bandwagon once the trend starts to evolve with the rest of the schools emulating that same formula of success.  I grew up in the era of the Oklahoma and Texas wishbone and the Houston veer offenses and never recall anyone bagging on Oklahoma or Texas when they lost a game.  The orginal game of the century; Oklahoma v. Nebraska 1971 turned on a memorable punt return having nothing to do with the Cornhuskers having additional time to prepare to stop the wishbone.

          This season is the culmination of Coach Paul Johnson’s vision of competing at the BCS level with the triple option offense.  He has the tools in place on both sides of the line of scrimmage for the first time since he arrived at Georgia Tech.  His success his first two years was due in large part to winning despite obvious shortcomings in the trenches that were exposed by both LSU and Iowa  transcending the argument of extra time to prepare.  Beating UGA on occasion would go a long way to assisting the cause, but Clemson v. South Carolina has not proved to be much of a bellringer either in the argument of SEC superiority. 

          But I enjoy watching something new just like Bill Yeoman at Houston, Chuck Fairbanks at Oklahoma, and Darryl Royal of Texas back in the day.  All the Yellow Jackets need now is a fullback like Earl Campbell and a halfback like Greg Pruitt in the option offense and all will be fine.  Throw in a Jamelle Holieway at QB and the sky is the limit, no matter how much time is provided.  The best part of college football is that it goes on year round even though the season lasts for only 4 and 1/2 months.  Can’t wait for the season to begin in Blacksburg.

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  • FoarteBuna

    Being a fan for over 55+ years when I saw the likes of Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma run this offense they has superior players. Guy who would have started for any team running any offense. PJ does not have those players. His recruiting has been sub par and teams with better athletes will put a loss on Tech. Most teams in the ACC have had 4 years to understand his offense and to make adjustments, a few teams like FSU have only seen it twice but they have superior athletes. Paul Johnson is a stubborn coach who puts his ego ahead of the team. Example Techs loss to NC State a few years back Johnson ran the same play 5 yes 5 time with virtually no gain. He persisted and of course Tech lost. Heat may have been a factor but both teams were on the field and enduring the heat. Johnson should be held accountable by the higher ups and should be told to reassess his staff and make change to both his D and O where necessary. 

    • Michaelgoldfeder

      Hi FoarteBuna,

      Welcome to isportsweb.  You make some interesting points and let me address them.  Every team in the NCAA is trying to get the best student athletes all the time to attend their school.  Georgia Tech is no different other than they have far less academic choices to offer applicants compared to most of the other schools in the NCAA.  In many ways they are more akin to a service academy as far as academic measurables; i.e engineering degrees for the most part.  The reality of that is lots of kids want to play football and have an easy pass on the “student” side of the equation in their choice of college.

      Outside of Calvin Johnson and perhaps Jonathan Dwyer and the two Morgan’s, I don’t remember Chan Gailey bringing in LSU or Alabama type of recruits every year.  However, the real problem facing Georgia Tech is the lack of size in the trenches on both sides of the line of scrimmage.  It appears that for the first time this season, barring injuries, the Yellow Jackets finally have some beef to effectively, or better operate this offense.

      As far as better athletes, North Carolina had a bunch of them and GT has been able to beat them more times than not since Paul Johnson has been at the helm.  The argument that every team has seen this offense for four (4) years and thereby it has become ineffective is equally unavailing.  Everybody has seen Virginia Tech’s offense for the same number of years yet they keep winning.  Better athletes?  Better scheme?  How about Oregon in the Pac Ten?  They still lose games too.

      The triple option is no different from any other offense in that it requires precision just like the NCAA spread option, the west coast offense, the wishbone, or the wing T.  Currently the Yellow Jackets have been retooling both sides of the line of scrimmage and for the first time under Paul Johnson are in position to start to show the ACC what this triple option can do much like when Tracy Ham was running it back in the day at GSU.  As far as Paul Johnson being stubborn, perhaps his players are not making the right reads on the play, or somebody didn’t block down in the line.

      I’ll take Paul Johnson over the prior staff and judge him on his body of work as a coach.  Looking forward to 2012 on the Flats, stubborn coach and all.

  • FoarteBuna

    I appreciate your comments on my post. But gota say UNC has been beaten by almost every coach Tech has had not just Johnson. You are correct that Tech has a limited curriculum but other coaches have been able to recruit and win. Do I expect Tech to win 12 a year, not really but the greatest coach in my life time did win a MNC as did Ross and the crystal is in the museum at Tech. Tech has to get the right coach, get the right assistants and players not just try to scheme all the time. I disagree that teams are not catching up to the O scheme Johnson is running. Both Maryland and NC State were stopping Tech near the end of the games last year and had the game gone a little longer we could have lost both games. Again thanks for responding but I assume we can agree to disagree on a few points.

  • Michaelgoldfeder

    Hi FoarteBuna,

    Nice to hear back from you and and I’m always interested in everyone’s opinion about the Yellow Jackets.  The Maryland game was more of an offensive line issue since nobody could block a 280 Lbs. DT that made 22 tackles on the day and was a one man wrecking crew.  He reminded me of Rich Glover from Nebraska.  As for the NC State game, that was a blowout until the back up QB put the ball on the ground for 2 TD’s in the last 5 minutes of the game to make it look like it was competitive.

    This should be an interesting season on the Flats and I’m looking forward to seeing what Al Groh can get going with the 3/4 defense.  If we get a few more stops, I’m expecting good things to happen.  Can’t wait until September 3, 2012.  Go Jackets  

  • George Voelker

    Michael,

    As always, it’s great to read your articles and begin to get excited about Georgia Tech football.  I’m behind on getting back to football, having just finished watching and writing about the Capitals post-season play.

    From my perspective, the real deciding factor in this game — the ‘hostile’ crowd in Lane Stadium notwithstanding — will be which team makes fewer mistakes.  All one has to do is look at the first game or two for every team in the country to see that execution early in the season is not as sharp as it is once the players have a few games under their belt.  This is true on both sides of the line of scrimmage.  

    So, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Jackets are sharper than the Hokies in this critical contest.  If that’s the case, based on history there’s a good chance the Jackets will be playing in Charlotte come December.

    Go Jackets!

    • Michaelgoldfeder

      Hi George,

      Great to hear that you’re ready for Yellow Jackets football as am I.  Great series with the Caps and Rangers and a very tough game 7 by the way.  At first I was a bit miffed about the schedule change, but after having time to think about it a little more in my opinion it favors GT as the Hokies are replacing their entire offensive line and had a few juniors declare early for the draft that leave some big holes too fill as well.

      Georgia Tech returns quite a few starters from last season so what the heck, let’s get started with our Coastal Division rival first game and see where we stand! 

      FYI, I also wrote an article regarding my favorite subject; Five stars recruiting that is listed under the NFL category on this site.  Here is the link for your convenience;

      http://isportsweb.com/2012/05/03/will-the-real-mr-relevant-of-the-2012-nfl-draft-please-stand-up-five-stars-recruiting-at-its-best/