Thanks to From The Rumble Seat, the excellent Georgia Tech blog on SB Nation, for answering our questions. Be sure to swing over there for Yellow Jackets coverage, and check out our answers to their questions.
STL: Has everyone in Atlanta been walking around grinning for the last week? What was your favorite call of the final play against Florida State?
FTRS: I'd say it's definitely been a much different mood for Tech fans this week compared to how things have been over the course of the season. It's crazy to think how much one win to make a team 3-5 instead of 2-6 can have an impact on the fan base. But that obviously wasn't just any win and it wasn't against just any opponent. Special circumstances have people feeling a little better about an overall disappointing team in 2015. My favorite call had to be the ESPN call just because of the end. While Tech's radio call was great as always with Brandon Gaudin, the line "what a time to be alive" was pretty spectacular and had modern relevance with the title of the popular rap album by Drake and Future, and it has that ring to make people think about that play when you hear it.
STL: What a way to get back on the winning track. Before last week, Tech had been in total freefall after a 2-0 start to the year, and a 2014 season that ended with top-ten rankings. What's been the biggest stumbling block for the Jackets in 2015?
FTRS: From the very start, the biggest stumbling block has been the blocking. This extends out from the offensive line to the A-Backs and wide receivers. Nobody has been consistent enough to get the running game back to where it was in 2014, and the offensive line certainly hasn't been able to pass block so Justin Thomas can have any time at all in the pocket. It's pretty simply compared to most teams who are struggling. If Tech could somehow get the blocking to 2014 caliber, the team could be nearly as good in almost every way.
STL: Through the first 8 weeks of the season, Tech has faced three top-ten opponents, plus surprisingly strong UNC and Pitt teams. Going into the last four weeks of the year, y'all still need 3 wins to get bowl-eligible. Are there three wins in that stretch?
FTRS: I think you could definitely look at Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Miami as winnable since none of those teams have exactly been stellar this season. At the same time, Georgia Tech hasn't played well enough to consider any game a sure-win at this point. Every week should basically be looked at as a toss-up unless the Jackets suddenly play a couple of perfect games and look like what we expected again. At 3-5, it doesn't look good, but the FSU win has more fans thinking the bowl streak has a chance to stay alive. Obviously, a loss against Virginia this Saturday would basically end any hopes of that.
STL: Obviously Justin Thomas is the catalyst for success on the offensive side of the ball. Who's a less-heralded teammate who can break a game open? And which two or three guys on defense are the most important?
FTRS: The guy to look at to have a huge impact offensively is Marcus Marshall. Usually I've liked to go with receivers in years' past with this, but there just aren't any getting playing time right now that have that same ability that we've seen from some of the receivers in Johnson's option attack in the past. Marshall is a true freshman B-Back who looks to me like the most talented Tech has had since Jonathan Dwyer. He's shown the ability to break some plays open, and if the line can open up a few holes for him, Marshall can make some much needed things happen for the offense. After starting the year fairly far down the depth chart, he's taken control of the starting role in that lead back position. Defensively, P.J. Davis and Adam Gotsis are the two guys to look for. Gotsis is a defensive tackle who is really coming into his own as a legitimate NFL prospect. He single-handedly gave the offensive line for FSU nightmares last weekend. P.J. Davis is a linebacker who blitzes a ton and is really the key piece in the Tech defense. When he's getting pressure and making run stops, the Tech defense seems to follow that mold.
STL: Paul Johnson has had Mike London's number for pretty much the entirety of London's tenure. This is a do-or-die game for both teams. How do you see it playing out? Bottom line: Who ya got?
FTRS: Even if he has his number, many Tech fans called Charlottesville the place that Tech teams go to die. It just seems like the team always struggles to get it going on the road there and lays an egg. With that being said, this is a little different than usual where there should be absolutely nothing Tech is looking ahead to or worried about beyond winning this game. It's one game at a time and nothing else for a team that's sitting at 3-5 and just needs to win games to restore some pride and dignity with the program in 2015. Virginia's had a gauntlet of a schedule themselves, but the defense has definitely been weaker than I was expecting. I think both teams move the ball pretty well, but Tech controls the clock and edges out a close one, 34-30.