A preview of Georgia Tech on Tobacco road at Duke

First of all I would like to send my best wishes to Duke’s starting QB Anthony Boone who broke his collarbone early in their game last Saturday against Memphis.  Nobody wants to see any student athlete injured and having received a few of them myself back in the day I can assure you that watching your team play from the sidelines is very frustrating.  Even more so for this young man as he was taking over for a multiple year starting QB in Sean Renfree who set several passing records during his time in Durham.  I hope his recovery is swift and he gets back on the field this season.

Just a quick analysis of the Blue Devils season so far establishes that they are playing pretty good defense as they had a shutout in week one winning 45 to 0 over North Carolina Central from the FCS who are also located in Durham.  They defeated Memphis 28 to 14 on Saturday in a road contest but were only ahead 21 to 14 with about 6:30 left in the 4th quarter to make the final score a two TD advantage.  In doing a little digging I discovered that while North Carolina Central is no powerhouse (neither was Elon) they had their Head Coach Henry Frazier III (no relation to Joe) fired one week before the season started for an off the field incident.  He was told to leave on August 22, 2013 and I cannot imagine the turmoil that would inflict on a group of young men heading into play a football game against any team, let alone one from the ACC nine (9) days later.

The remaining members of the coaching staff was still intact from that shocking bit of drama but from an administrative vantage point the confusion created when the designated leader is terminated creates a ripple effect that was certainly felt immediately in their opening game against the Blue Devils.  Toss in the fact that Elon defeated North Carolina Central last year 34 to 14, and perhaps that will provide all of the Yellow Jackets fans a better insight as to that opening game shut out from Saturday August 31, 2013 in Durham.

While it was Duke’s first shutout in twenty-four (24) years, it’s only appropriate to provide further information in order to be objectively fair and balanced as to the totality of their goose egg win over an FCS opponent.  BTW, North Carolina Central won this past weekend in double OT defeating St. Augustine’s 23 to 20 (I never heard of them either) and I’m very happy for those young men as that will no doubt help them tremendously the rest of this season during this turmoil without a Head Coach.

Duke is a very well coached football team and David Cutcliffe turned down some nice offers to leave Durham the last few years to “bigger” football programs in the SEC.  However, give him credit for wanting to stay at a school that hired him after he was summarily dismissed from his prior job in the SEC.  Any coach that displays that type of loyalty is tops in my book.  The same can be said for Charley Strong at Louisville who likewise told the SEC no thanks when they came calling this past season after not hiring him when he applied often back when he was an assistant coach as the DC at Florida and winning BCS Championships under Urban Meyer.

Offensively Duke runs what Coach Paul Johnson refers to as the “NCAA offense” and they ran it effectively enough with their back up QB to get a win on the road this past game in Memphis.  It was the opening game for Memphis which is playing their first season in the former Big East Conference, now called the All American Conference.  It is hard to gauge much about Memphis as they might be a bit better as they lost to Duke 38 to 14 last season, and shaved ten points off that loss to open up the 2013 football season.

A much better indicator might be if you look at what happened to Duke against Memphis, then think back to when Georgia Tech was playing on the road in Blacksburg against the Hokies when Josh Nesbitt broke his arm and Tevin Washington was thrown into the game without any warning.  That is the same situation that happened to Duke on the road against Memphis last Saturday and they were able to come out with a win after that disaster occurred.  Now Memphis is not Virginia Tech but it speaks volumes about how good the players and coaches are at Duke under Cutcliffe.  So I expect that the Blue Devils will put up a very strong effort against the Yellow Jackets as this is the opening ACC Game for both teams and given that they both are in the Coastal Division it becomes an instant two (2) game advantage for the winner.

Vad Lee is from Durham and will have a bunch of supporters in attendance and I expect that he might be a bit amped up for this contest for that very reason.  However, I trust that Coach Paul Johnson and Vad’s teammates will provide the necessary support to make it easier on him by all doing their part to come out of Wallace Wade Stadium with a victory against Duke on the road to open up the ACC conference schedule.

More importantly though is that Georgia Tech has had two (2) weeks to prepare for the Blue Devils and no doubt that will enhance the tactical advantage for Coach Paul Johnson’s squad.  I’ve always read somewhere that when a team has a bye week prior to playing an opponent that it creates a huge advantage in their preparation time for a game.  Or do I have that all wrong and it only applies to when a team is facing Georgia Tech?  I guess the bye week mystery or fallacy will be cleared up next week in Durham.   Go Jackets!

 

  • Vincent Sakraida

    OK, from this article, it sounds like Georgia Tech is going to have a tough time with Duke. Has the Georgia Tech football program dropped that far that Duke is a tough game? Anyways, looking at the team and schedule, I have Georgia Tech going 5 – 7 with standard deviation being 4 – 8 and 6 – 6. I do have Georgia Tech beating Duke this week and North Carolina next week.

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hello Vincent Sakraida and welcome to isportsweb. I didn’t say Georgia Tech was going to have a tough time or easy time with Duke. I was just pointing out what Duke has done to date so far this season and complimenting them on keeping a good football coach who has shown some loyalty which is something in very short supply these days.

      Interesting anaysis of the season record and we will find out how close you are after September concludes with the wins and losses. I’m rather optomistic this season and looking forward to this contest against the Blue Devils.

  • http://www.ultimatesportsboards.org Spencer

    Vincent I think 5-7 would be a tremendous disappointment for this GT team. If GT’s defense is as poor as it was last year than it certainly is a possibility, but 5-7 seems like a worst case scenario even then.

  • bee

    “the confusion created when the designated leader is terminated creates a ripple effect that was certainly felt immediately”

    Reading this post gives me the same feeling…

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hello Bee and welcome to isportsweb. A win is still a win but once you look a little closer under the surface it tends to explain a few more factors that were not noticeable as significant factors in the victory. The Yellow Jackets will present a much more difficult challenge for the Blue Devils on Saaturday.

  • George Voelker

    Michael: The elephant in the room is the Jackets players being overconfident due to their lopsided victory over Elon. While I know that it’s the coaches’ (particularly CPJ’s) responsibility to ensure that doesn’t occur, I’ve seen too many teams fall into that trap — and after all, the players might think, “it’s only Duke”.

    Here’s hoping the play as sharp and mistake free as they did on opening day.

    Go Jackets

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hi George,

      I’m not concerned with the players getting overconfident about any opponent this season, and the fact they preserved the goose egg on the scoreboard against Elon sent a very strong message that they are primed to perform on all cylinders each and every game this year.

      in the past these FCS games wound up with the defense giving up too many points for my taste even though GT still won. What I saw against Elon gives me hope for the remaining games as I like the effort. Duke will be a good first step on Saturday..

  • Wreck80

    Michael, thanks for the article. To those worried about a let down or having a Tech team take someone lightly, it only comes from years of being a Tech alum or fan. We know too often the times when we have seen them lay an egg on someone they “should have” beaten.
    I think the big difference this year, as in the years when CPJ first came on board, is we have a large number of seniors. Having this maturity on your team year in and year out, hopefully, will allow the leadership on this team to keep the kids level headed…..
    We will see!!! Go Jackets!

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hi Wreck 80 and welcome back. Glad you enjoyed the article. You are right on the mark as those past losses under other coaches were very hard to understand. While the MTSU loss last season was a direct result of poor defense especially after the Miami hangover, I feel confident going into any game under Coach Johnson. Seniors and depth tend to erradicate much of those past experiences under other coaching staffs.

  • JasperJacket

    Michael:

    Great article as always. Seniors are important, but so is the athleticism of the entire team, starters to 2 levels beyond. This is the first time in my memory (grad 74) that GT has been 2-3 deep at almost all the critical positions on the filed. We finally have significant talent available to compete at a very high level IMO on a week after week basis.

    Our problem has been in the past that our starters spend too much time on the field week after week and wear down in the 2nd half when we lose, the general culprit being a lack of depth at key positions.

    I believe that even at QB we have a significant enough talent level on the roster now to compete week in and week out at a very high level. What this team is going to do with that talent is to get to the point where they expect to win and practice like they expect to win every week through out the season. This will remove the lost confidence in themselves when they do lose one. The total level of talent that exists on any football teams roster (this is a rough game and attrition is a given almost) has a great deal to do with keeping season long practices crisp, and fruitful.

    Paul Johnson knows that significant levels of upgrade in talent is what propelled the GA Southern and Navy clubs forward during his time there. You have been IMO on target with your comments about Johnson’s recruiting effectiveness regardless the # of stars his recruits have from the rating services for these last few years. He & his staff have done a great job IMO.

    I believe this will be proven out in the next 4 ballgames and will set a new standard at GT that requires that all the guys that are currently there and will be coming in, as long as Johnson stays here, have that inbread expectation that they will win and be a tier 1 team in the fast rising ACC.

    • Wreck80

      Great points Jasper Jacket…. I agree, it seems as though there is finally sufficient depth at most positions. The only two places that worry me are OLine and LBackers.
      This offense is rough on OLinemen and you need “good” quality depth to make it work…. CPJ. Is getting there and as an 80 Grad, I have always realized we at Tech needed to give the right coach plenty of time to build it the way he needed in order to compete at a School that is not a football factory. I believe CPJ is the right guy for ‘us’ and we need to continue to support him and the time it takes to build the depth.
      BTW, from Jasper Ga or Jasper AL??
      Thanks

      • Michael Goldfeder

        Hi Wreck 80, You make a very good point in Johnson being the right coach for Tech as I have felt the same way for quite some time. Looking back on his first two seasons he was able to win games with 245 Lbs. offensive linemen that had heart but a difficult time when they went against teams like LSU and Iowa who had NFL studs on their fronts and actually their entire defensive side of the football.

        This program is on the rise and the folks who were willing to give Coach Johnson time to BUILD this program up to the level it’s currently at today will soon reap the benefits of that trust IMO. My gut tells me that Roof will be the Coach who gets the defense fixed for this program.

      • JasperJacket

        jasper, ga. since escaping the hubub of Atlanta in 2002.

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hi Jasper Jacket, Welcome back. While everyone has been busy complaining about the lack of five stars recruits Coach Johnson has been busy building a Football Team with HS recruits who want to play at a major BCS school and obtain a degree that will mean something for the rest of their lives. Now the Yellow Jackets are at a point where you can plug in the next guy and he performs on the field. Look at the stable of A-Backs and B-Backs alone. Our back-up QB is going to be a real steal for this team throughout this season.

      On defense we have quality depth and I expect that safety I. Johnson will use his redshirt year this season as we have players who are doing well enough to let him heal up that knee some more before hitting the field. AT LB Tyler Marcordes made a significan play against Elon (I understand it was Elon), but most of the fan base knew nothing about him prior to that interception. This should be the season that all the ingredients are in place for a nice run moving forward on the Flats.

  • GT-Nuke

    Great write up, Mike. I think we will take care of business and start our 5 game gauntlet with an inspiring W. Hopefully, it will create some momentum and help carry the kids through this tough stretch. If we can clear this run with only 1 loss, I will be very impressed and very proud! Lets hope it starts on Saturday!

    VS DUKE – Win
    VS UNC – Win
    VS VT – Win
    VS Miami – Toss Up
    VS BYU – Loss

    Go JACKETS! THWG!

    • Michael Goldfeder

      Hi GT Nuke, I like your outlook at the present time and so long as everyone stays healthy going into and out of this big stretch of ACC games this can be a tremendous season for Tech as nobody gives Coach Johnson or this team much respect. Glad you enjoyed the article, now it’s time to get a start on winning the Coastal Division by going up to Durham and getting a W against Duke.