Well, fellow Hokie fans, we're almost there. Football season is upon us. Less than a week away from Virginia Tech's Sept. 3 season opener against Georgia Tech, the excitement is palpable on both sides of the fence.
To get a better feeling of where Georgia Tech is at, as well as to discuss some recent history between the teams and the feelings for each other (and their musical tastes), we decided to have a Q & A session with SB Nation's own Georgia Tech blog, From The Rumble Seat. So dive in and enjoy the banter, and make sure to check out my answers to their questions here.
For the full Q & A with Matt Mills of From The Rumble Seat, continue reading after the jump.
During the Q & A I refer to myself as CM (ChicagoMaroon) and to Matt as FTRS or From The Rumble Seat to differentiate the questions and the answers. The full Q & A is listed just below.
CM: First off, we have to settle some serious business. Last week when PJ pumped Enter Sandman at a Georgia Tech practice, it became message board/Twitter fodder for Hokie fans. So, I will ask you, in a universe where neither was used by a team as its "pump-up"/entrance song, and any stigma related to the other team's song was erased from your mind, would you pick Enter Sandman or All The Way Turnt Up?
FTRS: Leaving all fandom aside I would have to pick Enter Sandman 100 times out of 100. Considering I have sat in the student section for 3 years right next to the band and heard All The Way Turnt Up at every home game I pray that I never have to hear it again. The quality of the two songs aren't even a fair comparison, Enter Sandman is a classic rock song and brings back memories of pretending to be WWE wrestlers in your basement while growing up. All The Way Turnt Up reminds me of standing on a busy, dirty, polluted street corner in downtown Atlanta. No comparison.
CM: What is the general feeling about the Hokies throughout the Georgia Tech fan base? Friendly, indifferent, dislike, disdain or hatred?
FTRS: Most of the Tech fans (Georgia Tech, that is) that I know are simply curious about Virginia Tech fans. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What is that bird/turkey they are always with? The games are always exciting and somehow that translates to respect for the fans. I know alot of the GT nation is excited to visit Blacksburg and experience the culture.
CM: What do you expect of GT this year? The Hokies?
FTRS: For Georgia Tech I expect us to compete for the ACC Coastal Title. 6-2 in conference would be a great job with hopefully no silly slip ups. Unfortunately I have to be realistic and say Virginia Tech should win the division and I would be surprised if they lose out to someone else this year.
CM: How excited/bummed were you that this game was moved up to the beginning of the season? Which team do you think that benefits (if either)?
FTRS: I enjoy the big opening games. I think they rile up the fan base and get everyone excited for the season. And also it's a great chance for both teams to get a national showcase. I am kind of on the fence about who it helps more. You never want to give Bud Foster a whole fall practice to get his defense ready for any offense. But at the same time hopefully our defense may be helped out by catching the Hokie's offense trying to break in alot of new starters. In the end I think the team that plays and executes better will matter way more than who got what breaks about scheduling.
CM: At this moment, where would you rank the Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech "rivalry" amongst Georgia Tech's rivalry games?
FTRS: For the last couple of years there has been no doubting the importance of this game for defining a successful Georgia Tech season. This is annually one of the most important football games on our schedule. But in terms of a "rivalry" I would say Virginia tech is in 4th place right now. Our instate rivalry game with UGA will forever be our most important rivalry game and our annual game with Clemson is 2nd most important for the majority of Tech fans. I would guess that Miami is in third, but Virginia Tech is quickly closing the gap. In my opinion most of our fans are more aware of Miami's program and also interact with more Miami fans on a day to day basis, even if their football product has been less than stellar. But, after this Labor day throw down I am sure most tech fans wouldn't agree with putting Virginia Tech 3rd.
CM: Is there any kind of heat under PJ's seat? After all, he did have 20 wins in his first two seasons and only 12 in the two years since. If not, what would it take for him to be run out of town?
FTRS: No way, no how. Virginia Tech fans may remember the 2007 Thursday night game when our own fans booed a public service announcement by then Head Coach Chan Gailey. If any of my Georgia Tech friends complain about Paul Johnson I simply show them the highlight reel from the Reggie Ball days and that shuts them right up. Paul Johnson has a great attitude for this program, evidenced by his many interview quotes (One of my favorite was this year Heather Dinich asked Coach Paul Johnson what Georgia Tech was going to have to do to win the ACC Coastal. His response, "Well, I guess win more games than everyone else") The only way I see him getting on the hot seat is another frustrating year with the option, and a complete collapse by the defense. And even then, at least to me, he has some time to turn the ship around.
CM: Do you think teams who play GT regularly have started to figure out how to defend against them or that they have caught up to the triple-option (like they do against other fad formations i.e. Wildcat, Spread, Pistol) or do you have an alternate theory on why GT has stumbled a bit?
FTRS: Teams may have started to become accustomed to defending the option, but no more so than we have defending each other team's distinct style. The biggest reason we have stumbled has been talent. In 2009 we had Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett, Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, Bebe Thomas, and a ton of other great college players. The past two years? Not so much.
CM: Does Tevin Washington hold hold down the quarterback position for the entire season in your opinion?
FTRS: I am so torn about this. I am one of the few who does not think Tevin Washington has what it takes to get this offense in full gear. He is a good runner with good instincts for the option but man he just is so inconsistent. Perhaps he has matured and will be able to hit the 12 yard out that is wide open every time this year, I don't know that he has or hasn't. I would love to see a younger QB get a chance, be it Vad Lee or Synjn Days, but that would mean Tevin is really struggling this season which I obviously do not want. If I had to predict anything I would say we only see the other QBs in mop up duty or special packages and Tevin will start every game.
CM: So we've heard some pretty strong rumors that PJ's pulling out his bag of tricks this year (or maybe just for this game). We're talking more passing, running option out of passing formations and special trick plays out of the Les Miles mold. Would you care to comment on that (just so those Hokies who didn't catch wind of these rumors won't be shocked out of their minds when you guys line up in the shotgun)?
FTRS: I don't think CPJ is doing anything extra than he has in the past years, but he has more of his playbook installed than ever before so he can really experiment in practice. Last year there was the same buzz (PUN!) about GT running shotgun and I am pretty sure we never saw it in a game once. I do believe CPJ will do some funky things to get his playmakers the ball and according to practice reports we are committed to using the Pistol, but y'all better get ready for 25-30 triple option right and triple option left plays, that will never change.
CM: Do you think those plays would give GT an advantage as they haven't unveiled them to date (so they're not on film), or do you think they might be getting a little too cute by going away from their bread and butter?
FTRS: Too cute. Catching teams off guard would be running simple plays that we know we can execute that fool the defense because they have been lulled into stopping the option every play. Draw plays to the B-Back are great, screen plays off of motion or play action catch teams completely off guard, those are the plays that will cause defense coordinates to really spend extra time NOT working on stopping the option. As much as I love a toss reverse pass to the QB streaking down the field, I just know we are going to pull a Dabo and mess it up.
CM: Does the team that wins this year's matchup advance to the ACC Title Game as well (as they have in all previous meetings since the ACC introduced Divisions in '05)? Even with it being the first game of the season.
FTRS: I believe so. Who knows what Miami is up to this year and with their extreme youth and lack of depth it would be hard for them to hang around for a full season. UNC could surprise some people but they are also breaking in a new coach so I don't see them playing consistent enough to win the Coastal. Both VT and GT could easily slip up after this game in the division, not to mention ACC games against FSU and Clemson, respectively. However I do believe the winner of this game will represent the coastal division in the ACCCG this year.
CM: Who would you see as the X-factor for Georgia Tech in this one? What about for Virginia Tech?
FTRS: It has to be Jeremiah Attaochu for us. He was a big player in the last game, until he punched Logan Thomas....., and is our only reliable pass rusher. He will be the guy forcing bad throws for our impressive secondary to hopefully turn the game with a big turnover. If he shows up big GT has a great chance of pulling off the upset. For VT it has to be the defensive lineman. If a defense can get consistent penetration in the backfield and disrupt the pulling guards and make Tevin pitch it before he gets to the pitch man on the edge then we are toast. Hopefully Collins and Gayle don't quite show up.
CM: Okay, time for the prediction. Who wins, by what score and why?
FTRS: Rational Matt says Georgia Tech comes out firing and jumps to a quick 14-0 lead. A stupid fumble gives VT great field position to close out the first half with a touchdown. Virginia Tech slowly works its way back on offense and their defense finally adjusts to the speed of our offense. While a late touchdown by GT makes it a close finish I see Virginia Tech controlling the second half and winning 31-24.
Irrational Matt just assumes we will win by 3 touchdowns just like every other game, GO JACKETS!
Thanks once again to Matt Mills of From The Rumble Seat for doing this Q & A Preview with us. My answers to their questions can be found here. For complete coverage of Virginia Tech football and the 2012 season, you're at the right place: Gobbler Country.