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Posts Tagged ‘Al Groh’

Checking In, A Few Thoughts, Etc.

Hey, miss you guys. Just wanted to say hello, how’s it going, how’s everything, how’s your team doing, how’s your coach, how’s your quarterback, etc. It’s been a wild year so far, right? Alabama is what we thought it’d be. Not so much with L.S.U., however. But count me among those folks who think that the Tigers will be fine; from my vantage point, I think that L.S.U. is keeping a ton under wraps, and that come November, you’re going to see a few wrinkles appear with a national title berth on the line. Florida should scare Les Miles and pals, on the other hand – the Gators can play a little defense, it seems.

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    No. 27: Georgia Tech

    Remember when the forward pass came to Georgia Tech? Now, it didn’t last long: four games, give or take. But the passing game’s arrival lent another supremely dangerous dimension to Paul Johnson’s already potent running attack, and for the season’s first month and change, the Yellow Jackets had as good an offense – as productive, explosive and frightening – as could be found in college football. But then it was gone, as the Jackets returned to recent tradition once the calendar turned to A.C.C. play. In a perfect world, perhaps, Johnson could keep the forward pass as a permanent part of his offensive philosophy from September through December. Or from September through January, should Johnson and Tech return to B.C.S. play. It wasn’t that long ago that the Jackets were taking on Iowa in the Orange Bowl: In 2009, Johnson’s second season with the program, Tech beat Clemson to earn that marquee date with the Hawkeyes. To get back there, Tech must be dangerous through the air not only during non-conference play but over 12 games – or 13, rather, if not 14.

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      Jackets’ Spring Centers on WR, NT, QB

      Christening spring practice today: Georgia Tech. Last seen blowing a second half lead in the Sun Bowl against Utah, the Yellow Jackets open the spring with two primary concerns, one on each side of the ball, and one looming question. What does this program need to do in order to return to the 2008-9 level — you know, playing for the A.C.C. crown and a B.C.S. berth? Some strides were made last fall, when the Jackets added two wins to a disappointing 6-7 finish in 2010, but to reclaim its spot atop the Coastal division, the Jackets need to find a new weapon in the passing game and a new anchor in the middle of the defensive line.

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        The Year in Review: Virginia (8-4, 5-3)

        Virginia brought Jimbo Fisher to his knees. Crumpling to his knees, to be exact: Fisher fell, head in hands, devastated, defeated. The Cavaliers had this effect on people — and teams — in 2011, Mike London’s second year with the program. Slippery eels, these Cavaliers, and unpredictable. Georgia Tech saw a team that barely escaped Idaho in overtime and licked its lips; Virginia derailed the then-undefeated Yellow Jackets, perhaps convincing this team that it could hang with the A.C.C.’s elite. Two weeks later, the Cavaliers broke Miami’s will. Three weeks after that, Fisher fell to his knees. Heading into the final weekend of the season, the Cavaliers controlled their Coastal division fate.

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          Positive Early Returns for the Jackets

          Georgia Tech was 1-1 through two games last fall, thanks to an ugly loss to Kansas. Ugly pretty much sums it up: K.U. was terrible, not just in September but all season, and the then-No. 15 Yellow Jackets shouldn’t have lost that game nor several others in October and November. It’s clear that the bitter taste last season left in Georgia Tech’s mouth led to a winter, spring and summer of meaningful soul searching. The result? Through two games, you’ve seen a more polished, explosive and potent offense from Georgia Tech — a development few expected following another substantial roster overhaul after last season.

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            No. 43: Georgia Tech

            Only Ponzi schemes and the N.C.A.A. can turn $312 into a $100,000 loss. That sentence does come with an asterisk, however: Georgia Tech saw $312 worth of clothing and a secondary violation turn into a $100,000 fine, a vacated A.C.C. title and four years of probation, but the N.C.A.A. took greater umbrage with how the program flouted one of the governing body’s cardinal rules – it failed to “protect the integrity” of the N.C.A.A. investigation. How did Georgia Tech do that? According to the N.C.A.A., the university “prepped” a student-athlete on the nuts-and-bolts of the ongoing investigation. Yawn. Is that what draws probation and vacated wins these days? If so, I shudder as to the N.C.A.A. penalties should it be unearthed that a university was, say, paying players to sign on the dotted line. If a $312 misstep nets a $100,000 fine and probation, would a $180,000 transgression lead to a $57,692,308 fine and the end of college football as we know it?

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              Spring Storylines: Georgia Tech

              So much for the belief that Paul Johnson-coached teams take it to the next level in year three: though his previous stints at Georgia Southern and Navy made this a nice thought, last fall’s disappointing finish at Georgia Tech put a hole in this theory. So what happened to this offense? The running game was a bit more potent, leading the nation in rushing at an average of 323.3 yards per game — about 30 more yards per game than in 2009. It was more about a distinct drop in explosiveness, which may be tied to — of all things — the lack of a deep threat in the passing game. Is the fact that the Yellow Jackets were less effective on offense because of a diminished passing attack stand as the definition of irony? I think I’m trying too hard. On a whole, however, Georgia Tech’s six-win finish stood as one of the larger disappointments of the 2010 F.B.S. season.

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                Who’s Next at Vanderbilt?

                This picture works. Johnson retires, leaving Fulmer one of many coaches ready to step in.

                Bobby Johnson’s abrupt retirement opens up one of the least forgiving jobs in college football: head coach at Vanderbilt. If my math is correct, the Commodores are roughly three weeks shy of opening fall practice, which makes hiring a current F.B.S. — or even an F.C.S. coach — relatively difficult. In this case, you’d think that Vanderbilt has two options: one, promoting offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell to the top spot on an interim basis, thereby waiting until the conclusion of this coming season before making a national search; or two, hiring a known commodity — a former F.B.S. coach, for instance — currently out of work. Of course, the university could also look towards several current assistants. Let’s throw some names at the wall and see what sticks.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.