OK folks, y’all asked a lot of great questions. I hope the answers are as satisfying. Either way, it’s something to tide you over until 7 p.m. tonight when the basketball team takes on North Carolina in the first round of the ACC tournament.
These are real questions from (I hope) real people.
Let me preface by saying that some of these answers are my opinions, some is stuff I’ve been told by coach Paul Johnson, and some is just guesswork.
Depth charts haven’t been released yet, so questions about specific positions, specifically on defense, are my guesswork.
Here we go:
Q: Who do you see fulfilling the different LB roles in the new 3-4 defense?
A: Good question. I can see Brad Jefferson and Julian Burnett (not Peterson as he was called by the questioner) in the middle linebacker spots, with the outside linebacker spots featuring a competition between Steven Sylvester, Malcolm Munroe, Brandon Watts and Albert Rocker. Kyle Jackson is a wildcard after missing last season with his broken foot. If he comes back and looks good, I can see Burnett sliding over to outside linebacker, which is his more natural position, even if he doesn’t fit new defensive coordinator Al Groh’s physical guidelines.
Q: There’s some messageboard chatter about Daniel Drummond and his 2010 status. Can you enlighten us?
A: Drummond is on the spring roster.
Q: Any status on J.C. Lanier? I know he was injured at some point last year and he took a redshirt, but I was hoping to hear about the possibility of him contending for the nose tackle spot.
A: I believe he is still rehabbing the shoulder he injured last season, but I think he will be at spring practice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get snaps at nose tackle.
Q: With the recent departure of [Jaybo] Shaw from the back up role at QB. Who do you seeing filling in?
A: This is going to be one of the interesting things to watch in the spring. Tevin Washington should be No. 2, with Jordan Luallen and David Sims pushing for time. Don’t forget that Quentin Sims played some QB last year, and early enrollee B.J. Bostic could end up there, as well. And, of course, there’s signee Synjyn Days, who has the size, speed and experience in the offense in high school. He will be at Tech this summer.
Q: There is a rumor out that PJ may be considering installing some shotgun in his offensive package? Although I find this hard to believe, I thought I would ask about this.
A: Doubt it. I half-joked about this with him last season. First time I made him laugh. But, who knows? Imagine a scenario next season in which Tech has the ball, a small lead and the opponent has a three timeouts left. If Tech lined up in its usual formation and then switched to the shotgun, I could see the other team panicking and burning a timeout. But, that’s just my silly little theory that would probably wouldn’t work
Q: Will B.J. Bostic start out on offense or defense in the spring?
A: I don’t think he’s been penciled in anywhere yet. I could see him at a variety of places until the coaches figure out where he fits best.
Q: Who would you pick right now to be the offensive and defensive surprises (positive surprises) in the spring?
A: On offense, I would say Chris Jackson, the transfer from Alabama. On defense, I would say Jemea Thomas at safety.
Q: Any talk of Tech trying to balance out their schedule?
A: Not likely, at least within the conference. It’s out of Tech’s hands. They hoped that Georgia would agree to playing in the Dome, and then resuming in Athens, but the Bulldogs declined. That would have switched Georgia off a home rotation that has included Clemson and Virginia Tech every other year.
Q: Who do we anticipate starting at A-Backs this year?
A: R oddy Jones and Embry Peeples (he was Tech’s second leading receiver last year).
Q: Who is most likely to find themselves starting on the offensive line come the Spring Game?
A: From left to right: Phil Smith, Nick Claytor, Sean Bedford, Omoregie Uzzi and Austin Barrick. But that’s just a guess. Will Jackson could be in there. Ray Beno could be in there, Chase Hudson could be in there, Zach Fraysier…competition will be deep.
Q: What is the health status of Ben Anderson, Kyle Jackson, Phil Smith, JC Lanier and Chris Jackson? Will any of them participate in spring practice?
A: Anderson won’t. Jackson might. Smith should. Lanier should. Jackson will (I believe).
Q: What weight is David Sims? Is he a viable candidate to become the second string QB?
A: No idea. Honestly, the weight question is one I hear more than any other and I’ve never understood the importance, except in a couple of circumstances.
Q: If a team has 4-5 weeks prior to a bowl game to prepare for Tech’s spread option, what do you think CPJ can do to add a wrinkle that will be enough of a change to counter that defensive preparation? Or will he always rely on matchups and athleticism to win in the trenches?
A: The last two defensive lines Tech faced in bowl games featured multiple NFL players. Tech’s offense, I believe, is much more about timing than smashmouthing (made that up). When you don’t play for a few weeks, things get thrown off. And yes on matchups and athleticism. That ability to get to the defense’s second- and third-levels helps the offense do what it do.
Q: Why does Coach Johnson feel the 3-4 will be a more effective defense on the flats than the traditional 4-3?
A: I don’t think he gives a hoot which system is run, as long as the people running it understand what to do when things are going wrong.
Q: How fast will Anthony Allen be able to pick up that chemistry when he (most likely) moves to b-back this season?
A: Don’t think it will be an issue, but it will be interesting with a few quarterbacks taking more snaps than they probably would have before Nesbitt’s surgery and Shaw’s transfer. Don’t be surprised if you see a few fumbles.
Q: What has Groh done so far to evaluate players and what will his process be for doing so once spring practice starts. What expectations does he have for players by the end of spring practice (e.g. how much of a depth chart will be in place, how much will they understand about the defense, how much will they know v. where he expects them to be by the first game).
A: No idea on this one. Hope to come back to it soon.
Q: What is the fix to the evident problem against bigger D-lines?
A: A bigger o-line?
Q: Have Joseph Gilbert and Clyde Yandell officially transferred out of the program?
A: Tech hasn’t officially announced anything. Yandell wrote a letter to fans explaining why he was leaving (to pursue grad school opportunities). The same is true for Gilbert, but it hasn’t been officially announced.
Q: I trust Nesbitt to continue working on his accuracy, but are the backs expected to improve their catching this season?
A: I would think everyone is expected to catch catchable passes. Sometimes mistakes happen.
Q: Who are the most promising redshirt freshmen to watch this spring?
A: Good question. I would look for linemen on both sides to push for time, including Emmanuel Dieke, J.C. Lanier, Will Jackson and Ray Beno, to name a few.
Q: Who will coach the special teams this year?
A: Hope to find that one out soon.
Q: Will Coach Speed coach all four linebacker positions or will Coach Groh coach the outside linebackers himself?
A: Speed will coach inside linebackers, Groh the outside.
Q: What do you think the passing game will be like without Bay-Bay?
A: I think it may be more balanced than last year, when Thomas caught 59 percent of the passes. Whether it will have the same big-play capability will be something to watch. Thomas was so strong and fast that he was often able to hold off defenders as he ran down the field. There’s not a wide receiver on the roster that can do that this season.
Q: Where is transfer Chris Jackson projected to play? A-back or WR?
A: A-back, I hear.
Q: Of the 18 or so players that Tech signed this year, how many of them will redshirt?
A: Really too early to say. But, I would bet more than half will.
Q: Will Cooper Taylor be on the field this spring after dealing with his heart issue?
A: He’s good to go.
Q: How many scholarship seniors are projected to be on this year’s team?
A: A rough count of 20 or so.
Q: Have they hired a new strength and conditioning coach yet? If so, who?
A: Neal Peduzzi is doing the job right now. Don’t know if he’s got the gig full-time yet.
Q: Does Al Groh plan on flip flopping his DEs and CBs in his base 3-4 packages?
A: If he did it at Virginia, I can see him doing it at Tech.
Q: We’ve heard a lot about NT, who are the top candidates to start at tackle in the 3-4?
A: This will be an interesting competition between Anthony Egbuniwe, Emmanuel Dieke, Jason Peters, Osahon Tongo, Logan Walls and Ben Anderson to name a few. I wish I could provide more insight into this one, but I think it’s going to be wide open for a reason.
Q: Which freshmen are more likely to play this season and skip redshirt?
A: Charles Perkins, an early enrollee, is being talked up at B-back. I could see the two cornerbacks, Louis Young and Ryan Ayers, on the field, as well. Oh, and kicker Justin Moore could get some chances.
Q: Will we ever install pass plays that are short to medium range (5 – 15 yards) out in the flat or over the middle?
A: There were a few last year. I wouldn’t ever count on seeing too many 5-yard pass plays. Johnson has said if he wants 5 yards he’ll just run the ball.
Q: What do you think CPJ’s top 5 goals will be for this upcoming season?
A: He leaves that up to the team each season. I could see something like: defend the ACC championship, win every home game, win a bowl game, etc.
Q: Does Coach Johnson consider 2010 to be a rebuilding year, considering the loss of 3 key players on offense?
A: I would be stunned if he ever said anything close to that. He said he expects to win every game he plays.
Q: Do you know what kind of recruiting class that Tech is going to land this year?
A: Bookmark this page and check early and often: http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/