A Q&A With GT Publisher Jonathan Leifheit

Scout.com Georgia Tech publisher Jonathan Leifheit of GoJackets.com answered a few questions that GenesPage.com subscribers had pertaining to Georgia Tech football.

GP Subscribers: Is the team still using the triple option to the affect you did last year. If so, how is it working?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: We are still running the base triple option play, although slightly less compared to last year. It's still early to get a true gauge on how it is working relative to last year. But, overall, it appears to be working a little better. The real key is that there have been additional elements installed (like the counter draw that was run vs UNC). So, when the base triple option play isn't working, there are other options.

GP Subscribers: Do you know why Georgia Tech sent back 4,000 tickets to the game?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: I'm not so sure that is an accurate statement. From what I've learned from the GT ticket office, we sold out the allotment we requested from Mississippi State. Now, it's possible we requested some number less than what other teams do. But we sold out what we had.

GP Subscribers: Do they feel that some teams may be beginning to figure out the triple option since Miami stopped it and Clemson did in the second half?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: This is really a myth that lots of people seem to repeat. You don't figure out this offense any more than you figure out your spread offense (that Dan Mullen brought with him), a pro-style offense, or the wishbone. You beat your man and make a play. You avoid the block and make a tackle. Clemson has a very athletic DL and they caused some problems because they were able to beat the blocks - not because they figured out the offense. GT still rushed for over 300 yards on their defense. And, while they did make some adjustments, Georgia Tech was able to make 2 drives when they needed it to win the game. Against Miami, it was an issue of execution and dead legs. This was the 3rd game in 12 days vs Miami's 2nd in 10. And, Georgia Tech did a very poor job of blocking in that game and Miami was able to make some plays. Something Paul Johnson has said on numerous occasions is that physical superiority cancels all theories. That means that if you are better than your opponent, you will likely cause him trouble in running even the best-called offense in all of college football.

GP Subscribers: How have they been able to modernize their stadium since it is even older than Mississippi State's. Did it take a lot of extensive restructuring?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field (the official name) has been extensively remodeled over the years with the most recent (and possibly largest) coming in 2003. In 2003, they added the upper and lower deck in the north end zone (a massive structure), rebuilt the lower east stands, and rebuilt the south end zone stands - about a $75M renovation. The original structures from 1913 are long gone having been replaced over the years. But, the lower west stands remain from the 40's and the upper decks are both over 40 years old (the upper east being opened most recently in 1967). Here's a link to a nice pictorial of Bobby Dodd - Click here

GP Subscribers: Which type defensive end gives the triple option the biggest problem, a speedy or a big defensive end?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Like any offense, it's the big, speedy ones that cause the most problems. One without the other can be beaten. With a speedy defensive end, you can bait him with the option plays and let him run himself out of the play or use him as an option key. With a bigger defensive end, you can use speed to get around him and also use him as an option key.

GP Subscribers: Which team is Georgia Tech's primary in-conference rival?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Without a doubt, that would be Clemson. They are the closest in-conference team geographically and there have been some really classic battles between the 2 teams.

GP Subscribers: Due to the easy win over Mississippi State last season, is there a sense of over confidence among the Georgia Tech fanbase?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Not really. Georgia Tech beat Miami very soundly last year and then had the score reversed on them this season. So, they know that the previous year's results aren't necessarily indicative of this year's game. Plus, MSU came within a foot of beating LSU. Given what LSU did to us in the Peach Bowl last year, that will get anyone's attention.

GP Subscribers: Was the Georgia Tech fanbase split over the hiring of Paul Johnson when he was first hired? If so, how long did it take for them to overcome that feeling?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: I would say that there was no split at all. Coach Johnson came with a strong resume from the Naval Academy and also from Georgia Southern (where he won 2 national championships as head coach and 2 more as the offensive coordinator). So, he was accepted almost across the board. There were some folks that did ask a lot of questions and there was a learning curve when it came to his offensive style. And, the offensive ineptitude on display at the first spring game raised some eyebrows. But, by and large, almost everyone gave him a fair shake from the get-go.

GP Subscribers: When it comes to recruiting, what do you coaches use to convince wide receivers to sign with Georgia Tech?
Jonathan Leifheit GoJackets.com Publisher: The idea of being in 1-on-1 coverage a significant portion of the time is very alluring. Also, Demarius Thomas (our best WR) has shown that you can put together some decent statistics, get consideration for post-season awards, and be considered a strong NFL prospect. To support that it's working, we landed a 4-star WR this past class in Stephen Hill and also got a 4-star transfer recently in Chris Jackson (from Alabama). So, recruiting wide receivers appears to be less of a problem than folks seem to believe. Also, an unheralded quality that the NFL values strongly in a wide receiver is the ability to block downfield. Playing for Coach Johnson's offense requires the receivers to do this or they will sit on the bench.

GP Subscribers: Does Georgia Tech have higher academic entrance standards than most SEC schools? If so, how does that affect recruiting?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Yes, they do. Georgia Tech also has higher academic admissions standards than most of the ACC as well. Specifically, they require recruits to have higher than the minimum math scores (although its not a set number) plus 4 years of math in high school in order to get admission. This has been a problem in years past for in-state recruiting. The good news for GT fans is that Georgia high schools also now require 4 years of math to graduate (a recent development). So, that is going to help recruiting (and it's already being reflected in the past 3 classes).

GP Subscribers: Which feels better to Georgia Tech fans, beating Georgia or winning a bowl game?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: I think that winning a New Year's Day/BCS caliber game certainly would feel better. But, winning a lower tier bowl is probably not as enticing. Also, beating UGa this past year took on a LOT of significance given the long losing streak going into the game. So, the answer is "it depends".

GP Subscribers: Who is Georgia Tech's most NFL-ready player?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: There's really 4 players that I'd have to consider in this question - Jonathan Dwyer (RB), Demarius Thomas (WR), Morgan Burnett (S), and Derrick Morgan (DE). It's hard to say which of those is the most NFL-ready. Still, coming into this season, a lot of pundits had listed Jonathan Dwyer as the highest rated running back from an NFL perspective. So, you'd probably have to pick him if you had to pick only one.

GP Subscribers: Do you feel the ACC is down this year compared to year's past?
Jonathan Leifheit, GoJackets.com Publisher: Not really down any more than very recent history. The ACC has really been a solid conference from a top to bottom perspective. The problem in the past 4-5 years has been the incredible lack of a marquee team at the top - a team to give the ACC identity. The SEC has Florida and Alabama (or LSU), the Big 12 has Oklahoma and Texas, the Pac-10 has USC, and the Big Ten has Ohio State. The ACC hasn't had a team step up and make a splash nationally like those teams. So, any weakness the ACC has has been purely at the top. For the ACC to regain some credibility, they need a team to step up like FSU did in the 90's.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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