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The Samford game was basically a controlled scrimmage for Georgia Tech, as it should have been, and the Jackets were able to practice some new wrinkles, like the no-huddle offense (interestingly, Samford also ran no-huddle for the day). A lot of the kids like Jake Blackwood, Tony Clark, and Jamaal "Thumper" Evans got some meaningful playing time. The 38-6 score should have been a lot worse, given the difference in talent between the teams, but I suspect Coach Gailey was trying to be a good Christian gentleman and not run up the score, which is fine.
The next game against Troy looks much more interesting today than it did last week, given that Troy took FSU to the wire and nearly beat them before falling by 24-17. Troy has done this before to heavily favored opponents, such as beating Missouri two years ago in a Thursday night game, so Tech's players should be careful about not taking this seriously.
That said, is the 17-point spread that most oddsmakers have put on this game realistic? Would you be out of your mind to take the Jackets and lay 17 points against a team that almost beat Florida State?
I don't think so, for one big reason. Underdogs who play over their head and beat, or almost beat, a heavily favored opponent tend to have a huge letdown in the following game. Montana State is a case in point. This I-AA school upset Colorado in its opening game, then lost the next weekend to Chadron State, a school so obscure I couldn't even tell you if it was a Division II or an NAIA program. There are many other examples I could cite.
Tech is also catching Troy in the middle of a brutal, three-game stretch where the Trojans go from Florida State to Atlanta to Lincoln, Nebraska next week to play the Cornhuskers. Between having a natural letdown after the FSU game and looking ahead to the Nebraska trip, Troy's players may not be in the best mental state for the sandwich game against Tech.
I don't think 17 points is necessarily a bad play, given those circumstances. I'm not sure I'd have the balls to put a lot of money on Tech, but that's just me.
One thing we can expect on Saturday is for Troy to throw the ball the entire game. Against FSU, Troy ran the ball 14 times (for a total of 24 yards) and threw 48 passes. I would expect roughly that same ratio against Tech, which probably means even more blitz packages and five-man coverage alignments from Defensive Coordinator Jon Tenuta. I hope Jahi, Kenny, Pat and the rest of the DBs get a lot of rest before the game.
Let's take a couple of questions –
Q: I know there's been a lot of talk about uniforms on the Hive, but have you seen what Oregon is wearing?
A: Among those who obsess about football uniforms (and you'd probably have to put me in that group), it's pretty much a unanimous consensus that those neon-lime-yellow monstrosities worn by Oregon are the worst-looking unis for this or any other season. All I can figure is that head Coach Mike Bellotti ingested a whole lot of hallucinogens and then sat down with a costume designer from Nike who was so drunk that he threw up on the floor and devised a color scheme that would match the color of his vomit. There's no other reasonable explanation for it.
The irony is that Oregon, back in the early 1970s, had an elegant uniform combo that was one of the classiest on the West Coast: green helmets, gold pants, green jerseys with white block numerals and Northwestern-style striping on the sleeves (a wide gold stripe flanked by two thin white stripes). That was back in the day when guys like Dan Fouts and Bobby Moore (who now calls himself Ahmad Rashad) were playing for the Ducks, and they looked great in those uniforms. Today – not so much.
As far as Georgia Tech uniforms are concerned, I've always been partial to the classic style popularized by Bobby Dodd in the 1950s and 1960s: gold helmets, gold pants with white-and-black stripes, and white jerseys with black numerals and three stripes on the sleeve (a gold stripe between two black stripes). Coach Dodd stayed with that style fairly consistently (with a couple of exceptions) for the last 15 or so years of his tenure, and Bud Carson kept it for his first season as coach in 1967.
After 1967, it seems as if Tech uniforms have been restyled and redesigned every other year or so. The last time the Jackets got even close to the traditional Bobby Dodd style was in George O'Leary's first full year as coach in 1995 – gold helmets, gold pants, and white tops, although the jerseys only had two stripes on the sleeve rather than three. Then O'Leary started mixing and matching and changing the number styles every year, so the redesigns continue. I'm an old-school, retro kind of guy when it comes to uniforms, but that's obviously a viewpoint no longer popular among coaches and athletic directors.
Q: You've talked about how good the early commitments in the recruiting class are looking. How does this group compare to other recruiting classes?
A: Tech purportedly received another commitment from a "four-star" player a couple of days before the Samford game – Greene County quarterback Josh Nesbitt. If Nesbitt sticks to that commitment, he joins a sterling group of four-star caliber players that includes another quarterback, Steven Threet, running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones, offensive lineman Nick Claytor, wide receiver Willie White, and defensive backs D. J. Donley and Mario Butler.
If all of those players actually sign their letters of intent in February – and there always seem to be those who change their minds – and if all of them actually live up to those four-star rankings, then yes, this would definitely have the potential to be one of the best classes in recent years. I am trying to be cautious here because I've seen too many players who are highly ranked by the recruiting gurus turn out to be a bust when they get to the college level. But certainly, this appears to be the most talented group Gailey has recruited yet.
When you talk about top-flight recruiting classes from the last 20 or 30 years, there are three that I think really stand out.
The 1975 class put together by Pepper Rodgers included Eddie Lee Ivery, who broke the career rushing record at Tech and later played with the Green Bay Packers; defensive backs Harper Brown, Don Patterson (a couple of years in the NFL) and Don Bessilieu (who played for the Dolphins and other NFL teams); Drew Hill (who played 15 seasons as a wide receiver in the NFL); Kent Hill (10 years as an NFL lineman); Al Richardson (several years as a Falcons linebacker); offensive tackle Mike Taylor (who had a brief look in the pros); offensive lineman Roy Simmons (several years with the Redskins and Giants); and Bucky Shamburger (not an NFL-quality player, but a good wingback in college).
Bill Curry brought in a superb class in 1982 that formed the core of the Black Watch defense in 1985: linebackers Ted Roof, Ralph Malone and Jim Anderson; Antonio McKay (didn't play much football but won a gold medal as a sprinter in the 1984 Olympics); defensive end Mark Pike (played 13 seasons with the Buffalo Bills); defensive end Pat Swilling (one of the best linemen ever produced at Tech and a star in the NFL); defensive tackles Ken Parker and Glenn Spencer; defensive backs Mike Travis and Cleve Pounds; linebacker Daryl Wise; and running back Chuck Easley (who didn't play much at Tech but scored the winning touchdown in the 1984 Clemson thriller where big John Davis earned the nickname, "The Refrigerator Mover").
Bobby Ross recruited a class in 1988 that became the nucleus of the national championship team in 1990: quarterback Shawn Jones, receivers Bobby Rodriguez and Emmett Merchant, defensive linemen Marco Coleman and Kevin Battle, defensive backs Kevin Peoples and Ken Swilling, linebacker Jerrelle Williams, and punter Bill Weaver.
If the class Chan Gailey is recruiting this year is even half as good as any of those three groups, it'll be a damn good one.
This week's picks –
Maryland at West Virginia (-16.5). After two losing seasons in a row, it looks like the bloom is definitely off the rose for Coach Ralph "The Refrigerator Eater" Friedgen. It's a good thing for the Fridge that he scheduled all those tomato cans like William & Mary, Middle Tennessee, and Florida International. Otherwise, this beating from the Mountaineers would leave Terrapin fans feeling even more discouraged about the team's outlook.
N. C. State at Southern Miss (-2.5). Wolfpack fans are also stuck with a coach who can't be feeling very confident, especially after that debacle against Akron. Could this be the end for Chuck "The Chest" Amato? It's obvious that Chuckie was lucky to recruit a great freshman quarterback, Philip Rivers, for his first year in Raleigh. He ain't done nothing since Rivers left. I'll pick Southern Miss to win and cover, pushing Amato one step closer to a job at Hooter's, where he'll finally find a good use for those man-boobs.
Brigham Young at Boston College (-6.5). A titanic religious struggle here between the Mormons and the Jesuits. BC should be in for a bit of a letdown after that overtime victory against Clemson, so Brigham Young may be the better pick with the points.
UAB at Georgia (-17). How does one head coach keep finding ponies in all that horse manure? Mark Richt didn't even have to come up with a lame excuse to bench Joe Tetrazzini in favor of Matthew Stafford at quarterback – South Carolina took care of the uncomfortable chore for him. Now Stafford can get some game experience in a relatively low-pressure setting against United Alabama Bank. Some guys have all the luck.
Wofford at South Carolina (no line). Things have really fallen apart for Steve Spurrier in Columbia. His team played like crap against Georgia, and now his starting quarterback has been suspended indefinitely after going to a bar at 1:45 a.m. with some underage girls and punching out a dude. I'd like to pick Wofford for the sake of my friend Matt, who's a Terrier alum, but even South Carolina couldn't blow this one.
Michigan at Notre Dame (-6.5) The Irish can't be as dominating as they were against Penn State, or as ineffective as they were against Georgia Tech. That should mean an Irish victory, but not by that many points.
Miami at Louisville (-4). The Cardinals should have beat Miami in that Thursday night game two years ago. If they do it now, and I think they can, Larry Coker will have to find some more assistant coaches to fire.
Clemson at Florida State (-4.5). This is always the game where you wish there was some way both coaches could lose. What a couple of sleaze-bags. If you put a gun to my head and force me to pick, I'll take sleazy Bobby Bowden over his sleazy son.
Florida (-3.5) at Tennessee. The Vols were obviously looking ahead last week, which allowed Air Force to come within a missed two-point conversion of beating them. Florida will finish the drill and cover the spread at the same time.
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