With Pitt’s upcoming game against Georgia Tech tomorrow, we talked to Josh Brundage of From the Rumble Seat, SBNation’s Georgia Tech blog. He gave us some insight of how Georgia Tech is handling its first coaching search in a long time, where the team is at, and who to watch out for tomorrow.
1. Georgia Tech is obviously going through a huge transition after the departure of Paul Johnson, which Pitt fans can appreciate after its coaching carousel before Narduzzi arrived. How has the fanbase responded to Geoff Collins so far? Johnson had a pretty defined personality. How would you describe Collins?
Collins is the total opposite of Johnson in about every way, for better or worse. Collins has worked hard with marketing to promote the Ga Tech brand and the city of Atlanta in ways that CPJ never did, which has certainly given the program some much-needed energy, or “juice”, as Collins would say. Collins has also put a larger emphasis on recruiting, and he has been given a larger budget and staff to do so than Johnson ever was, so we’re excited to see what our recruiting ceiling really is under the new regime.
The biggest difference, which is even more glaring after 11 years of Paul Johnson’s interviews, is that it doesn’t seem like we can ever get a candid answer out of Collins about anything. He only exists in catch phrases and coach-speak to this point. So that’s been frustrating, especially after losses to The Citadel and Temple, when all he can talk about “progress” and “his vision for the future.”
2. Most outside of Georgia Tech essentially wrote this season off for the Yellow Jackets with the coaching and offensive system change, but the upset of Miami two weeks ago was I’m sure a pleasant surprise. What were Georgia Tech fans’ expectations going into the season? Where is the team at in achieving them? What’s the ceiling for the team this year?
Our expectations going into the season were 3-4 wins, and making a bowl being wildly over-achieving. The Vegas o/u had us at 3.5 wins I think, and the losses to Temple and Citadek definitely hurt our chances of hitting the over.
The biggest thing we want to see as fans this season is improvement over the course of the year. I want to see an identity on offense and some sort of coherency of where this is going. Against Miami, we saw flashes of it… the offense put together a couple longer drives, something we had not seen this season, and they utilized the ground game more than they had in the past, which was driving me crazy. There’s a lot of square peg / round hole happening on this offense, so leaning on the ground game against Miami was refreshing. Our RB, JP Mason, played out of his mind, so we’ll hopefully see more of that in the coming weeks
3. Who are some players for Pitt fans to watch out for on both sides of the ball?
At QB, the staff settled on RS Freshman James Graham as the starter, and it’s been fun watching him improve and grow in the role week to week. He has an incredibly high ceiling. Both RB J.P. Mason and WR Adonicus Sanders have been making places also on the offense, and we’re exciting to see them grow under the new staff.
On defense, our whole secondary has actually been pretty dynamic and made some really good plays so far this year, despite our general lack of pass rush. Both Tariq Carpenter and Juanyeh Thomas seem to be all over the field, and will probably have their names called several times on Saturday.
4. What group has struggled the most in the offensive transition? You mentioned the OLine in your Q&A to us.
Easily the O-line - it was going to be a thin and inexperienced group this season even if Paul Johnson had stayed. In addition, the line has lost 2 starters to injury for the year and are routinely playing walk-ons, so it’s been a bit of a mess. We poached OL Coach Brent Key from Alabama, and he’s generally had to be a miracle worker there. They honestly look pretty good, all things considered. They’re just going to have a lonnngggg day against Pitt’s defensive line.
5. Pitt fans have always kind of felt a respect for Georgia Tech because we feel they share a few similarities:
College team based in a city overshadowed by an NFL team. Much larger and more well known rival state school less than a few hours away that gets much more attention. In a fertile recruiting area, but have to fight off some large blue bloods to keep kids home.
Have Georgia Tech fans ever thought Pitt this way, or what is their impression of Pitt if not?
I haven’t but we do share a lot of similarities there. Tech is hurt in recruiting across all sports by academic standards more than anything else, but we’re also with you on having to try and fight off neighboring blue bloods and trying to maintain a competitive edge while operating off a much smaller budget.
Tech even overshadowed as much by the Falcons or UGA in Atlanta as they are as college football as a whole. Between the kickoff games, bowl games, and SEC Championship being hosted here, being the home of the College Football HOF, and then having so many teams within like a 90 mile radius, Atlanta will never belong to just one team. Atlanta is the home of college football as a whole, and that’s what Collins is trying to both embrace and compete with as he seeks to promote the Georgia Tech brand in the city.