Georgia Tech Q&A with ACC blogger Jeffrey Fann

You can follow Jeffrey @TalkinACCSports on twitter.

What are your thoughts on Georgia Tech so far this year?

After three games we know who Georgia Tech is. Solid on offense, dreadful on defense. Justin Thomas is the best dual threat QB [Paul] Johnson has ever had.

DeAndre Smelter at WR has NFL ability, and there is good depth and quality talent at RB. The problem with this team is defensively. They are awful. The defensive line is thin and inexperienced.

There just isn’t much talent to speak of anywhere on defense. Johnson has not recruited well there.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

 From the Georgia Tech side, I think you have to hope the defense gives you something/anything on defense. Georgia Tech will be able to move the ball, and Virginia Tech will be surprised at the raw speed Justin Thomas has at QB. Think Tevin Washington but a much better athlete.

I think Georgia Tech’s defense will cure what ails inconsistent Virginia Tech offense. There won’t be much of a pass rush from the front 4.

Is your team featuring any new players or running any different schemes that we haven’t seen in the past?

Actually, Georgia Tech will run more traditional triple option than you saw last year. No more pistol, no more shotgun. Paul Johnson is going back to his bread and butter. We’ve already mentioned Justin Thomas. He’s young, but he is a 4 star talent, that was recruited to play DB at Alabama. This is his first year starting, and he has a ton of potential.

Georgia Tech elite return man Jamal Golden returns this year missing 2013 with injury.

What is your prediction for the game?

Georgia Tech’s only chance in this game and in most games the rest of the year is dominate the time of possession. The Jackets need to hold the ball at least 35 minutes and keep their defense off the field. If Georgia Tech’s offense can’t dictate the tempo of this game it could become a route. That said Thomas hasn’t seen anything close to the defensive talent the Hokies will bring. I expect Foster to try and bring pressure much the way he did against Ohio State.

It’s not a good recipe for the Jackets especially playing what should be a a really mad group of Hokies. I’m seeing 28-14, 31-17 type game in favor of Virginia Tech.

Grading the unis – ECU game

Helmet: B+

It’s exactly what it should be for Military Appreciation day. The VT is there but it is also honoring America and our Armed Forces with the waving flag motif. I like what they did with this helmet and with all the tacky helmets we’ve had over the years, this one was a pretty good effort.

Jersey: B

I like that we didn’t feel like we had to do a new jersey for this game. I feel like this uni would have looked bad if we tried to apply the waving flag motif to the jersey too. I like that we switched up the helmet but left the rest of the uni largely the same.

Pants: B

Would be an A if they had gone with the O&M stripes on the side.

Overall: B

They did a solid job putting this uni together. Significant improvement from the atrocities we’ve put out there the last couple of years. I hold to the fact that we should only ever wear maroon jerseys at home (no white, no orange). We lost to JMU wearing white at home. We lost to ECU wearing white at home. I’m over it. Let’s find a way to support the military and/or Herma’s reader while wearing maroon.

Momentum and how it swings – The ECU story

There were two key plays in the game that clearly swung momentum and were critical to the outcome. One play was at the beginning of the game. One was near the end of the game. The first was 3rd and 2 from the Virginia Tech 27 yard line when Shane Carden went back to throw and the ball was batted up in the air and was caught by ECU’s Jimmy Williams and taken 22 yards for the first down. If that ball had been batted down, ECU is in a situation where they probably attempt a 50-50 FG and there is no major shift in momentum. Two plays after the batted ball, ECU scored a TD, once again to Williams and the offense kicked it into high gear. By the end of the 1st quarter, ECU was up 21-0.

Luckily, over the course of the next three quarters, the defense clamped down and the offense found its rhythm to tie the game at 21-21 with 1:20 left in the game. That’s when Joey Slye kicked the ball out of bounds. Before that, all of the momentum was on the Hokies side but once that ball sailed out of bounds, the Hokies momentum was on life support. And lo and behold, ECU quickly marches down the field not for a game winning FG, but they went ahead and put it all the way in the endzone. Fairly easily, in fact. And that was that. Game. Set. Match.

Overall, I felt like the Hokies played fairly well. Seriously. ECU made A LOT of plays in the first quarter but those plays were mostly made against tight coverage. Great throws. Even better catches. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. And on offense, going into this year, we all knew that the offense was going to continue to be a work-in-progress with so many young players. Unfortunately, going on long scoring droughts is not going to be uncommon for this team. I’m proud of the way the Hokies fought back but sometimes the ball simply does not bounce your way and on Saturday it did not bounce the Hokies way.

Tip your cap to ECU. That’s a really good team. Possibly the best in the state of North Carolina. They beat us fair and square and are likely on their way to a 9 or 10 win season. The Hokies will learn from their mistakes and get better as the season progresses. It’s just one non-conference loss and hopefully it will propel the Hokies to accomplish great things in ACC play.

ECU Game Prediction

If ECU were in the ACC, they’d be a middle of the pack team and would probably finish fourth in either division. ECU will definitely give the Hokies a test but the offense should be able to move the ball against their defense both on the ground and through the air. Look for the Hokies to have a balanced attack just like they did against Ohio State. Shane Carden (QB) and Justin Hardy (WR) will be a challenge for the defense but I think the Hokies have enough talent in the secondary to limit their passing attack. Ultimately, I think the Hokies come ready to play after the big win at Ohio State and they are able to beat ECU in a relatively close game.

Prediction: VT 28, ECU 17