Less than a week to go to the start of the season. I, for one, am glad, because I’m not sure I am creative enough to come up with ways to re-phrase the same questions I’ve been asking about the depth chart. Anyway, three thoughts.
1. I believe one of the more intriguing matchups will be Georgia Tech’s wide receivers vs. Virginia Tech’s cornerbacks. Perhaps Georgia Tech’s most glaring weakness, or at least area of inexperience, is wide receiver. None of Tech’s receivers has played significant snaps there or has a catch, as I’ve written before. It doesn’t mean they can’t play, of course, just that they haven’t shown it on the field.
Virginia Tech has experience in cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum. However, Fuller could move to the whip linebacker spot, as he has done in the past for Georgia Tech. I’m told the Hokies won’t use Fuller at whip as much as they have in the past, although Fuller said at ACC Media Days that he expected to be there for Georgia Tech. Further, Exum moved to cornerback from safety in the spring. According to the depth chart, true freshman Donaldven Manning would be next up at the field corner position.
It would appear that Virginia Tech would have the edge on paper, especially if Fuller ends up at corner, but it’s hard to say how much. Starting a true freshman in the opener isn’t typically a move any coach wants to make. How much Jeremy Moore, Jeff Greene and their cohorts can work free to open up the passing game will be a factor, as will how well they can block to clear paths in the running game.
2. I’ve noticed a lot of handwringing about the B-back spot, with David Sims still apparently returning to full health and questions about how ready Zach Laskey, Broderick Snoddy or Charles Perkins will be to handle the load if Sims can’t. It’s a reasonable concern, although coaches have applauded Laskey and Snoddy in particular over the preseason. It sounds like Laskey has done the right things, play fast through the mesh and running hard.
It might be worth pointing out that Virginia Tech has some of the same issues. Michael Holmes, the likely starter at running back, is a redshirt freshman. His backup, J.C. Coleman, is a true freshman and the No. 3, Martin Scales, is a converted fullback who has mostly played special teams. Further, they’ll be playing behind an offensive line that’s considerably less experienced than Georgia Tech’s.
3. I had a note last night about Paul Johnson conceding the unlikelihood of playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in the future because Tech will have 10 games locked in, only half of which will be home games. To get to seven home games, which is fairly standard, Tech would obviously need the two remaining non-conference games to be played at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Johnson dismissed playing in the game as “not a big deal to us” because of Tech’s location in Atlanta. However, the game brings national exposure, which has obvious value for recruiting. Tech had actually agreed to play USC in last year’s kickoff game before USC’s new athletic director (Pat Haden) put the plan on ice. The national platform is one benefit of Georgia Tech playing in Blacksburg on Monday. For teams coming to play in Atlanta, there’s the added advantage of playing in the heart of the state’s fertile recruiting grounds. Georgia Tech, in fact, will play against a Hokie (split end Christian Reeves from McDonough) who was influenced by Virginia Tech’s appearance in the 2009 kickoff game.
That said, adding another top-flight opponent and giving up a home game is a pretty big ask for Tech. I imagine the ACC moving to a nine-game schedule will make it tougher for the Chick-fil-A Bowl folks to bring ACC teams to the kickoff game, particularly Clemson and Florida State, who are in the same boat as Tech with annual games against South Carolina and Florida.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog