From The Rumble Seat's Joey Weaver was kind enough to answer these here questions. We answered some of his over at FTRS. Check out both for your weekly dose of Wahoo pessimism!
STL: Goodness gracious did the Yellow Jackets bounce back last week. After three disappointing losses in a row, y'all took Syracuse to the woodshed. What did you see different in last week's game that keyed that kind of success?
FTRS: First was how clean everyone played and how focused everyone looked. All three of our losses, we were in the game with chances to win, but certain players just couldn't get their acts together. Blocks were missed, penalties were created (seriously, we had an offsides penalty against BYU...ON OFFENSE), and people generally weren't playing up to their potential. Against Syracuse, everyone played very much to their assignments and we weren't penalized the entire game. I also think there were a couple issues Syracuse had both talent-wise and scheme-wise, which definitely didn't help their case either.
STL: There seems to be two Georgia Techs this year: the one that won three in a row, and can hang 56 and shutout a conference opponent; but on the other hand, the one that lost three straight. Is there one thing you can point to that Tech MUST do to win, or one thing that opponents do to beat you?
FTRS: For Tech to win, they need to do three things...
First, they need to establish the running game. In their losses, they've gotten behind and had to rely on a subpar passing game (subpar for a variety of reasons, honestly). A lot of getting behind has also involved the inability to establish the run, whether that's caused by poor blocking or poor reads from the QBs.
Second, they really need to avoid those big mistakes like turnovers and penalties that kill drives or extend Virginia's drives. On paper Tech would look like the better team, but those types of mistakes are a great way to let an opponent hang around and eventually win.
Finally, Tech will need another big game from its front 7, both with stopping Kevin Parks and his band of merry men and getting pressure on whichever QB makes it out there for Virginia. Our defense has looked pretty stout this year (as you said, goodbye and good riddance to Al Groh), but they're also more than capable of sleepwalking through a game and getting completely trashed by an opponent (see: BYU before halftime).
STL: Vad Lee seems to present more of a passing threat than QBs in years past, but the Jackets are still 118th in passing yards and 78th in QB rating. Obviously the system tilts Lee away from the pure yardage stats. Does the system alone explain the poor efficiency rating, or are there deeper concerns when it comes to Lee putting the ball in the air?
FTRS: You know, I wouldn't really say the system has created the issues so much as other things. The only system-related issue I can see is that Lee in particular is so much more comfortable throwing from the pistol or shotgun, but he keeps getting put into situations where he's throwing from under center. That's largely a play-calling issue though, and therefore credited to Paul Johnson. As for Lee, he has definitely had his share of issues, but those issues have also gone beyond him. Lee in particular seems to have this mental block that keeps him from throwing a pass less than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. He loves him some deep passes, and damn it, if you're the only one deep but you're triple covered, I hope you can jump well because that thing's coming your way. Aside from that, he's thrown a number of on-target passes that have simply been dropped. Now, the biggest problem I see with that is that it's an issue we've dealt with in the entirety of Paul Johnson's tenure. I really don't get how we have so many Division I wide receivers who come here and can't catch the ball. So Lee hasn't gotten a lot of help from his supporting cast. Oh, and speaking of supporting cast, I keep mentioning blocking. The reason is, it's been pretty terrible in the past month aside from the Syracuse game. That includes pass blocking, where it's sometimes reliable but others can be questionable at best.
You can see that we're none too thrilled with what the passing game has looked like so far, and are hesitant to use it more than we have to.
STL: With only 19 points allowed per game, your defense looks like it's been vastly improved over the units from the last two seasons. What's made the difference this season? What should UVa fans look out for from that side of the ball?
FTRS: Honestly, I think one of the big differences was made in switching from the 3-4 back to a 4-3. Al Groh had a system that he ran well, but there were two major issues with how it was used at Tech. First, we didn't really have the proper personnel up front to make his 3-4 style operate properly. Without big-time linemen, we were pretty easy to scheme against. The other issue was that his system was exceedingly complicated. Players were spending more effort on thinking and remembering their assignments rather than just playing, which is a huge issue considering defense requires minimal reaction time and should have a major "instinctual" element to it. Ted Roof, on the other hand, has kept his system relatively simple, and promoted playing with high energy -- another major aspect of defense that often goes overlooked. One thing to look out for on Saturday is Virginia's second-half offensive output, especially if things are really churning in the first half. Outside of the Miami game, we've allowed 17 second-half points on defense all year. It's weird because in the first half, oftentimes we look like we're 2 or 3 steps behind the offense, before we look 2-3 steps ahead of the offense in the second half. Halftime adjustments have been a major strength for Ted Roof and his squad so far this year.
STL: The Hoos have had mixed results against Paul Johnson's GT squads, going 2-3 in the prior five meetings. But UVa is 10-3-1 all-time against Georgia Tech in Charlottesville; the 2011 win launched UVa's miracle run through its ACC schedule. With Tech looking to keep some momentum going and the Hoos looking to salvage any scraps of a decent season, both teams have plenty to play for. End of the day: Who ya got?
FTRS: Oh man, this is a tough one, and I mean that wholeheartedly. Here's the thing. Georgia Tech looks like a better squad at the moment. I realize that in these teams' last 4 games, they've combined for 1 win, but I would still venture that Georgia Tech is the deserving favorite. Now, things get tricky when you consider the location of things. As Tech fans, we refer to Charlottesville as the "Bermuda Triangle", because it's where our teams go to play their worst game every other year. I want to believe that things are different this year -- that we won't completely lay an egg because, well, why not, it's Charlottesville. I can't really know for sure though. I'm going to tentatively say that Tech comes out and takes care of business to build momentum going into the Homecoming game against Pittsburgh next week.
Tech 34, Virginia 20