It says right here that the Falcons, Georgia and Georgia Tech all have a good chance to win this week. Wait. What am I saying? I’ve already guaranteed all three are going to win in this week’s financial (though occasionally jammed) locks!
But I have questions. You have questions. Each team has questions.
In the interest of keeping this to another short-attention span blog, I’ve narrowed it down to one question each.
They’ve played two solid home games, defeating Miami and Carolina. The offense is improving — Matt Ryan was off the charts last week, save an interception — and the defense has been better than expected. But this week they go to New England. The Patriots are struggling but they still have an offense that starts with Tom Brady and Randy Moss. The rebuilt Falcons went 4-4 on the road last season. Three of those wins (Green Bay, San Diego, Minnesota) came over quality opponents (the other came over a sidewalk chalk outline, Oakland). But they did not play well in the playoff game at Arizona. It’s a younger team this season. Winning over a veteran bunch like the Patriots, while fighting a loud crowd in Foxborough, will not come easy. Ryan and the offense can handle it. The defense? Not so sure.
It’s not that Willie Martinez is unpopular. He was unpopular at least three or four touchdowns ago. The problem is he’s advanced to arch villain. Martinez is “coordinator” of a defense that ranks 97th in the country in yards allowed (406.3) and 112th against the pass (285.33). Georgia also is 108th in scoring defense (34.0). Now, I realize these stats can be skewed by the fact the Bulldogs have played a tougher schedule than a lot of other teams. But it says something when the only 12 teams in the country behind you are (ready for this?) Washington State, Nevada, Utah State, Maryland, New Mexico, San Jose State, Western Kentucky, Toledo, Florida Atlantic, Tulane, Miami (Ohio) and Rice. Mark Richt has made a big issue of turnovers and penalties, and justifiably so. But even with quarterback Joe Cox now shredding defenses, the Bulldogs’ season will remain an average team if Martinez can’t fix the other side of the ball.
Yellow Jackets (2-1): Is this the best option?
Georgia Tech has its own problems on defense. But of greatest concern — or at least surprise — is the offense. Jonathan Dwyer doesn’t have to look like a Heisman Trophy candidate. He just can’t be mediocre. He ranks third on the team in rushing with 168 yards in three games, behind quarterback Josh Nesbitt (213) and running back Anthony Allen (190). That’s not even the worst news. Dwyer had a 74-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the season against Jacksonville State. Since then, he has 29 carries for 94 yards (3.2 per carry). He was five for seven in the loss to Miami. Five for seven would be great if this was baseball. All we’ve heard is how the Paul Johnson option offense gets better in year two. But the word “flow” doesn’t come to mind, so far. This week’s opponent, North Carolina, handled Tech better than anybody last season. The Tar Heels won last year’s meeting in Chapel Hill, 28-7. They’ve allowed less than 200 yards per game this season in wins over The Citadel, Connecticut and East Carolina. Not a good week to try to step up.