Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech, Part One: When the Jackets Have the Ball

I was torn here. I’ve already written the GT offense and defense, and have two more columns before the first game. I am looking forward to the head-to-head analysis, so have decided to cut it in two sections. It was either that or touch on special teams and then regale you with a very provocative story about a recent hike I took. That story is Rated R. However, we’ll keep it family friendly in this column, or at the worst, PG-13.

So let’s just look at the opener.

Virginia Tech is really, really good. Year-in and year-out, they have great athletes. And the folksy Frank Beamer has proven himself a football genius. Bud Foster has, too. Therefore, we will be facing a team that is not only talented (three rows deep, in fact), but is also expertly well coached.

Worse still, Bud Foster has had a great deal of time to ready his troops for the Triple Option.

Derrick Hopkins

For Virginia Tech, the Brothers Hopkins (Antoine and Derrick) will be lined up on the interior. They are each better than 300 pounds, and between them they can squat a European car. Antoine is trying to come back from a knee injury and might be replaced in the starting lineup by Luther Maddy, who also squats cars. On one end is James Gayle. He’s about 270, really strong, and runs a 4.4 40. He’ll likely be playing on Sundays. J.R. Collins will be on the other end, and is strong enough that he’s started before at tackle. They’ll be facing a veteran Georgia Tech offensive line, the self-dubbed “Goon Squad”.

Tackle Morgan Bailey is the least experienced of the Goon Squad, but since he’s a possible physics major, we’ll count his thorough understanding of F=ma as an extra year of knowledge. At 300 pounds, he’s got the m-part down, and we hope if he’s lined up across from James Gayle that he’ll bring his best a. Will Jackson, an academic/athletic star, will be right next to him, and his mobile 285 pounds will be utilized in a number of complex blocking scenarios. At center, junior Jay Finch (also 285) anchors the line with his tremendous strength. Omoregie Uzzi lines up at left guard and has a shot at the NFL. Ray Beno, another academic/athletic star, will be at left tackle.

When the first option is taken, the handoff on Jay’s flank, we will immediately see middle linebacker Jack Tyler, a stout run stuffer who has replaced Bruce Taylor, who now mans the other inside linebacker position. Taylor headlines the talented linebacking corps (each is solid) for the Hokies and was an All-ACC Honorable Mention winner last season. We really like the ability and willingness of Georgia Tech running backs to block upfield, though. David Sims is our returning B-Back. He’s big and multi-faceted, and will deserve more accolades than he’ll get. We love this kind of player.

The second and third options come around the end. Georgia Tech linemen are smart and know their jobs, so the results of these end-arounds most often boil down to speed on the edges. Kyle Fuller, Kyshoen Jarrett, Antone Exum, and Detrick Bonner comprise the defensive backfield for the Hokies, and, you guessed it, they are FAST. Each runs better than a 4.5 40, and Exum appears to be the fastest. There’s limited info out there, but I do my research as best I can. And don’t forget that the Hokie linebackers can run, too.

Tevin Washington will lead the race around the edge, and any of a number of Yellow Jackets will be trailing him for the third option — the pitch. Tevin is fast, but is mature enough to know when to pitch to Orwin Smith. I like Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey in the holster here, too, but also would love to see some of the smaller, super-fast guys flying around the end. I am looking at Broderick Snoddy. 5-9 and nearly 200 pounds typically makes for a low center of gravity.

Since this is a down week, I will go ahead and propose a new measurement for scouts. It’s called “The Burdell Ratio”. Basically, you place a player in a cylinder full of water. The bottom of the cylinder is adjustable, such that you are able to dial it up or down to make the water level hit the player’s belly button. You measure the water displaced against the player’s weight and thereby assign a weight percentage of lower body to total body. Obviously this wouldn’t be a valuable measurement for all positions, but for some it would. It could probably use some refinement, too, but you get the gist. If it’s already been done, forgive me. If not, I call copyright.

At any rate, Orwin Smith will be the workhorse for the offense this year. He’s a dedicated player and took up yoga recently. I found the yoga interview (here: http://espn.go.com/blog/ncfnation/ post/_/id/63774/qa-georgia-tech-a-back-orwin-smith ) interesting, and I also hope that Orwin didn’t start using patchoulli, because patchoulli is gross. Increased balance is a huge plus for a running back, and we remain happy that Orwin’s already got good hands. Speaking of catching the ball, none of our returning wide receivers caught a pass in a game in 2011.

But don’t let that statistic fool you. I can guarantee that Bud Foster knows exactly how fast Jeff Greene and Darren Waller are. He is also aware of the fact that Vad Lee may be called on to throw the ball, and that Tevin Washington has certainly improved. Foster’s backfield won’t be cheating up a step.

To sum, this is going to be a fun, hard-fought contest. Paul Johnson and Bud Foster are fine coaches, and what they bring at each other will be interesting to watch.

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