We end our ACC football Q & A sessions today by taking a closer look at the ACC football opener between Georgia Tech and Virginia Teh. Joining our panel of ACC football experts today is Brandon Rink of ACC Blogger and TSE’s own Jimmy Shivers.
Question # 5: Georgia Tech is a 9 point underdog in Blacksburg, Monday, September 3rd in the ACC opener for both teams. Who would you bet on and why?
Brandon Rink – ACC Blogger: It’s a fun game that on the surface doesn’t set up well for the Yellow Jackets – the Hokies getting the offseason to prepare for GT’s spread option for a Labor Day at home and at night.
But Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson has had his fair share of success against VT DC Bud Foster’s crew, winning just once (2009, 28-23), but just a score away from making things interesting in two games at Lane (20-17 and 28-21 losses in 2008 & 2010) and leading in the third quarter last year before the Hokies got on a roll after a punch by GT linebacker Jeremiah Attoachu.
On the flip side, personnel favors the Hokies, especially on the d-line with the entire two-deep back and ready to disrupt Johnson’s unique triple-option scheme.
I’d give a slight edge to the Hokies to cover, but it’s far from a lock.
Jimmy Shivers – The Saturday Edge: I’ll take the points. If you read my posts earlier the week when I called GT an ACC sleeper and VT overvalued then this selection is not a surprise. It’s only June, but it’s not too early to get into why (as always, I reserve the right to change my mind).
I see this match-up strongly favoring both defenses, which makes the nearly double-digit points more valuable. The Hokies are extremely talented and experienced up front. Discipline has been crucial versus GT since defending the option is all about staying in your lane and keeping assignments and VT matches up well. VT returns their entire starting front 7 and if they can force Tevin Washington to keep the ball on his carries the offense will sputter.
GT doesn’t return any pass catching experience but they have done a good job at developing stars considering the role passing takes in this offense. Since Washington has over a year starting experience under his belt Paul Johnson has him fully enrolled in his masters level playbook and the word out of Atlanta is that they are experimenting with more shotgun formations and may finally try to develop a worthwhile compliment to that ground game.
For Virginia Tech, I just don’t see the offense being ready to click right off the bat after replacing 8 starters (including the heart of a very stout ground game) on offense. Similar to how GT seems to find deep threats, VT has always been able to produce a strong rushing attack. I just don’t know that they will have it figured out from the jump, especially against a GT defense returning 7 of their 9 top tacklers.
Virginia Tech will start a trio of talented wideouts that I like (Coles, Roberts and especially Davis) but I think that if the line struggles Thomas can be made uncomfortable and may struggle to adjust. Not to mention it could lead to a lot of low percentage long yardage situations which allows Al Groh to get a little more aggressive in his blitzing packages.
This is a match-up of the only two teams to win the Coastal, and since Paul Johnson has been here, he is 3-1 ATS against VT. In fact, according to my records, Paul Johnson’s Jackets have only gotten this many points two times! (3-0 ATS when getting 7 or more under PJ) These are two tough programs who match up well and are well-coached with plenty of time to prepare. Expect a war.
That is it for our ACC football Q & A sessions. I would like to thank Brandon, Chris and Jimmy for their participation. Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comment section below. Thank you – Pez.