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Finally, the prelims are out of the way and Georgia Tech gets down to the meat of its schedule by traveling to Blacksburg for the second year in a row (thanks very much to all the a-holes in the ACC central office who made that happen) for a showdown with Virginia Tech.
This has been a maddening team for the Jackets to play in each of the last two seasons. Georgia Tech should have whipped their Virginia counterparts two years ago in Bobby Dodd, but let the game slip away in the fourth quarter. As for last year, let's just stipulate that it was a disaster and let it go at that. In the same way that Tech rebounded from a 39-3 loss to Clemson in 2003 by beating them the following year at Death Valley, let's assume that the Jackets will be more competitive against the Hokies this year.
Virginia Tech, as we all know, doesn't really beat you – rather, its defense and special teams force you to make mistakes that bring about your own downfall. That was certainly the case with Georgia Tech last year as the Hokies scored three times off a blocked kick and two pass interceptions.
The question for this year is: can defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta come up with the schemes that will pressure the Hokies' relatively inexperienced quarterback, Sean Glennon, into making more mistakes than the Jackets make against Virginia Tech's special teams? That, to me, is the key to the game. If you know the answer to that one, you know who's going to win on Saturday.
This premise has already been mentioned on the Hive message board and I certainly agree with it: Chan Gailey would be well advised to play more aggressively and have the Jackets go for it on short-yardage, fourth down situations. If they make the first down, they keep their drive alive. If they don't make the first down, I think the defense is good enough to contain the Hokies. In either case, the Jackets would reduce the number of times they punt and open themselves up to the possibility of a blocked kick and game-changing score by Virginia Tech's special teams. That sounds like a good tradeoff to me.
I'm not ready to predict a Georgia Tech victory on Saturday, but I do think the Jackets are capable of winning. Keep in mind that the situation in the conference this year gives Tech one of the best opportunities it ever will have to make it into the ACC championship game. Florida State and Miami are both having down years; Clemson is in the other division. If the Jackets beat the Hokies on Saturday, they are well-positioned to be the division champs.
This also is likely the best chance Gailey will ever have to prove that he's capable of winning more than seven games in a season. Georgia Tech has the edge over the Hokies with a fourth-year starter at quarterback (Reggie Ball), the best wide receiver in college football (Calvin Johnson), and a talented defense directed by one of the most innovative schemers around. If the Jackets are ever going to beat the Hokies, this is the year. If they do beat Virginia Tech, it's hard to see them finishing any worse than 9-3.
For a different insight into this Saturday's game, as well as on the Georgia Tech football program in general, I conducted a special interview this week with Yoda, the wizened teacher/mentor of the Jedi Knights in "Star Wars" (who was portrayed in the movies by the renowned Yiddish actor, Isidore Glickstein). Here's the transcript of our conversation –
Q: What do you predict will be the final score of the game?
A: Difficult to see. Always in motion the future is.
Q: Will Georgia Tech have to be especially stout on defense to defeat the Hokies?
A: Stopped they must be; on this all depends. Only a fully-trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Beamer and his Empire.
Q: Did Chan Gailey make a good decision in giving Patrick Nix the responsibility for calling plays?
A: You must unlearn what you have learned.
Q: Should Patrick Nix try to call more passes to the tight end?
A: No. Try not. Do . . . or do not. There is no try.
Q: Do you think Gailey needs to be recruiting larger offensive linemen?
A: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
Q: Is Gailey aggressive enough in his game decisions, such as whether to go for it on fourth down?
A: Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Vince Dooley's apprentice.
Q: I'm sure you've noticed that Tech has spent a lot of money to renovate Bobby Dodd Stadium, as well as upgrading the men's restrooms. Can you see the difference in the new restrooms?
A: Like Jabba the Hutt's rectum it smelled. Grateful for the new plumbing, I am.
Let's take a couple of questions from our readers –
Q: You've been giving Chuck Amato a hard time all year, but he seems to have done okay against Boston College after you told us he would lose. Are you ready to eat crow?
A: If I'm ever going to eat Crow, her first name had better be Sheryl. I joke. No, seriously, all credit to Chuckie the Chest and the Wolfpack. They could have folded their tents but they hung in there to steal a late victory from the Eagles. They saved Amato's job for another week – but let's see if he's still on the payroll come January 1.
Q: Tony Barnhart at the Journal-Constitution is already beating the drums for the SEC as the strongest conference in college football this year. Your thoughts?
A: Are you referring to the conference that includes Mississippi State, which was shut out in each of its first two games? Are you referring to the conference that includes Ole Miss, which was spanked by Wake Forest, traditionally one of the two weak sisters in the ACC? The Ole Miss that lost 27-3 to a Wake Forest team that was missing both its starting quarterback (Ben Mauk) and its best running back (Micah Andrews) because of injuries? The Ole Miss that couldn't stop a Wake Forest team that ran the ball 53 out of 58 plays? You mean the Ole Miss program whose head coach, Ed Orgeron, has a coaching style that basically consists of stripping off his shirt and offering to fight anybody on the team? The conference that includes Georgia, which trailed 13-0 in the fourth quarter against a winless team (Colorado) from a conference having a down year that couldn't even beat Division I-AA Montana State? You mean that SEC?
Yeah, right. They're a real powerhouse over there.
There are some okay teams in the SEC: Auburn, Florida, LSU, and sometimes Tennessee. But there's a lot of junk in that trunk. You've got the Mississippi teams, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, and a Georgia team that is, without question, the most overrated team in the country this year.
I'll acknowledge that it's a bit of a down year for the ACC. FSU has already lost, Miami has been drubbed twice, Maryland was clobbered by West Virginia and followed that embarrassment by barely hanging on to beat Florida International by four points. But if you want to talk about crappy programs, the SEC has as many as anybody else.
This week's picks –
Auburn (-14) at South Carolina. Gamecock quarterback Blake Mitchell apparently has stopped punching out nightclub bouncers, but that doesn't cover up the fact that Steve Spurrier's program has backslid a little from last year. Auburn is looking pretty unstoppable at this point, so I like them to cover that 14 points.
Maine at Boston College (no line). BC couldn't beat a terrible N.C. State team, but I think they'll have fewer problems with this Division I-AA opponent.
Alabama at Florida (-13.5). I don't want to be picky here, but it's obvious Mike Shula is not nearly as smart a coach as his dad was. He looked downright dumb against Arkansas in overtime last week. Florida should kick off a murderous four-game stretch by beating Alabama and covering the spread.
Louisiana Tech at Clemson (-33). Even with that overtime loss to Boston College, Clemson somehow has emerged as the most likely team to win its division. Maybe Tommy Bowden has finally adjusted to the salary cap. The point spread looks a little rich to me, so it might be a good idea to stay away from betting on this one.
Sam Houston State at Texas (no line). Good lord, Mack. This is the kind of team your brother, Watson, should be coaching against. At long last, sir, have you no sense of shame?
Ohio State (-7) at Iowa. Ohio State didn't look that impressive against Penn State. Is there an opening here for a Hawkeye upset? Could be.
Georgia (-18) at Mississippi. Maybe Ed Orgeron will rip his shirt off and challenge Mark Richt to a fight after the game. That's something I'd pay money to see.
Virginia (-6) at Duke. Coach Al Groh finally confronts a team that Virginia can beat, but it has to be embarrassing to be only a six-point favorite over the Dukies. Virginia should cover, but that's nothing to brag about.
Liberty at Wake Forest (no line). Here's where the Deacons grab victory number five and move one game away from bowl qualification. Unless, that is, Jerry Falwell shows up and calls down a host of fiery meteors to smite Coach Jim Grobe.
Rice at Army (-11). Here's an interesting factoid: Boss Ross and his Army team have one victory over a Big 12 team (Baylor) and came within one play of beating another Big 12 team (Texas A&M). How cool is that? The Black Knights of the Hudson should roll over the Owls.
Dr Football - Week 5
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