Posted: 11:39 am Monday, August 25th, 2014

Tech’s 5 preseason questions (partially) answered 

By Ken Sugiura

georgia tech, acc, gatech, yellowjackets

Georgia Tech nose tackle Shawn Green missed several days in the preseason with an injury, but has evidently made it to the season healthy, a positive development for the Yellow Jackets. (GEORGIA TECH/DANNY KARNIK)

Last month, at the start of Georgia Tech’s camp, I posed five questions for the Yellow Jackets preseason. Here’s the answers, four weeks later. (Spoiler: Not all questions have really been answered completely.)

Q: Who will emerge out of the defensive line group to earn a spot in the rotation?

A: There were no great surprises here. The starting four will be Adam Gotsis and Shawn Green on the inside, Tyler Stargel at strongside defensive end and either Roderick Rook-Chungong or KeShun Freeman at rush defensive end.

The fact that there is uncertainty at that spot would indicate that the two are close enough to both merit playing time. On the inside, Patrick Gamble has had a strong preseason and will be the No. 3 tackle. How much Francis Kallon plays as the No. 4 tackle is unclear. Coach Paul Johnson said last week that he’s working hard, but has a long way to go. In the non-conference schedule, Stargel’s backup Tyler Merriweather figures to get a chance to prove he is a capable backup. Regardless, Gamble’s improvement and Green’s going into the season healthy are probably the two biggest developments of the preseason on the defensive line.

Q: What shape will the offense take?

A: The honing of the option offense continued and seemed to progress well. Coach Paul Johnson has largely been pleased with camp, and I suspect the development of the offense is one particular reason.

The team’s work on no-huddle was evidently successful. Like a lot of these questions, the answers will only reveal themselves with the actual season, but it sounds like it’s on the right path. As I mentioned in a recent video, I think one of the biggest benefits of the no-huddle work for the offense is the simultaneous training that the defense received at that tempo.

Q: Is there an A-back or wide receiver ready to be a consistent playmaker?

A: It’s still to be determined. However, A-back Charles Perkins stepped forward to claim one of the starting spots along with Tony Zenon. Both have played plenty and earned praise in the preseason, but whether they can produce over the long term will only be answered this season.

Those two will be interesting to watch. Perkins, you may remember, came to Tech with considerable hype as the successor to Jonathan Dwyer. We may finally see his considerable ability put on full display this season. As for Zenon, he has been a “player to watch” type, particularly on word from teammates, as far back as his freshman season. If he can be the player he has shown himself to be to them, it would be a big boost for a team that needs playmaking from that position.

At wide receiver, Micheal Summers and Darren Waller appear to be the most likely candidates to pair up with DeAndre Smelter. I heard a lot of good things about Waller in the preseason, although he’ll miss the first two games due to a suspension.

Q: Can Tech make it through healthy?

A: This was perhaps as important a question as any. Various players were dinged, but I believe there were no long-term injuries coming out of camp. Credit goes to strength and conditioning coach John Sisk and his staff for preparing the players to get to camp in shape and to the players themselves for being in shape, and to whatever divine force it was that granted them healthy passage through camp.

Advisor, Georgia Tech training staff

Advisor, Georgia Tech training staff

Q: Which true freshmen will step forward?

A: The answers were not a great surprise. Lance and Lawrence Austin, the twin cornerbacks from Lamar County, have earned spots on the two-deep depth chart. Defensive end KeShun Freeman may not start in the season opener, deferring to Rook-Chungong, but is expected to be a contributor. (Johnson indicated last Wednesday that Rook-Chungong would start.)

Offensive tackle Trey Klock may be the only one of the six incoming freshman offensive linemen to make the depth chart. Merriweather came on to win the backup strongside defensive end job behind Stargel.

80 comments
GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 "Why? What is the ACC doing to help GT?"

If we moved to the Big 10 we would have had to pay $50 million dollars to become a partial member of the Big 10 making about half as much as the full members for several years. On top of that we would have had drastically higher travel expenses. On top of that we wouldn't have a road game within 700 miles or any games against any teams that we have any history against. On top of that most of our athletic programs would be nearly destroyed by the move. Think about our baseball program in the Big 10. We would suffer tremendously in recruiting for all sports. Yeah, im not sure with all of that known why we didn't jump all over it and become the only team in the south playing nothing but northern teams. Im sure it would have been great.

GTRay
GTRay

And Ken, one more question.  What's the story on Antonio Simmons, a Parade Magazine All-American at defensive end, but a 3 star recruit according to Scout and Rivals?  Were the Parade people (along with, apparently, your pictured GT training staff advisor) smoking something?  ;-)

I know he was relatively light at 210 lbs, but can he (will he) play this year?  You didn't mention him as a possibility to play this season in your article from Wednesday re: the redshirt picture.  My bad if you've already discussed him previously.

GTRay
GTRay

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket @BigCrimson75 @forexbomb  et al

I would have been very disappointed had we jumped to the Big 10.  BTW Birmingham Jacket, would it be possible that Radakovich wasn't asleep at the wheel, but that he wanted to be sure that we remained in the ACC to provide (at least in his mind), fodder for the Tigers, assuming he knew then he was leaving for Clemson?  Not claiming conspiracy, just a thought.

We shouldn’t consider ANY game a gimme.  MTSU, 49-28.  Need I say more?

Ken, I understand the questions about the defensive line, but I’m just as concerned about our offensive line, especially if we are going try to use the no-huddle consistently -- do we have the depth to run it WELL for more than just spurts here and there?  Obviously, if we can run it well for a significant portion of the game, one thing it should accomplish is to wear down the defense, but if we don’t have enough quality depth on the offensive line, then it’ll be OUR guys running out of steam.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

There aren't 8 gimmes but there are 8 winnable games.  Of course all of the games are winnable if we play hard, don't make mistakes and get a few breaks.  That being said:

Wofford, Tulane & GaSou better be wins, otherwise its a long cold winter.  I think GaSou will be more difficult than Tulane - simply because Chuck Oliver said we would struggle against Tulane.  

VT, Miami, Duke & UNC - I hope we can at least go 2-2 against those 4.  We should have been 4-0 against them last year.

Pitt, UVA & NCSt - Should be 3-0 here.  PITT in Pitt might be tough.

Clem&Sons & UGA - Well, you know.  Can we finally catch a break.


I'm ready for CPJ to show me something.  The luster from '08 & '09 is worn.  He needs to buff it back up.



forexbomb
forexbomb

@GTBob 


Well exclude UGA, Clemson, VT, and Miami...  The rest are pitiful excuses for football teams...  Yeah Duke played in the Championship game last year...  You might add Duke to the other, but we have their number like UGA has ours....

GTBob
GTBob

@Born2Buzz I would put it like this. 

Gimmes: Wofford and Ga Southern

Should wins: UVA, NC St, Tulane

50/50: Duke, UNC, Pitt, VT, Miami

Likely Losses: UGA, Clemson

I think our season rests on how we do in those five 50/50 games.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb So UNC, a team that is ranked going into the 2014 season is a gimme game for GT, a team that isn't ranked?

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@forexbomb @GTBob

The ACC is pitiful with the exception of FSU and Clemson.  VT and Miami are mediocre at best.

Louisville not bad.

But otherwise, just an awful excuse for a football conference.

GTLee
GTLee

Bob, I would put Duke in the "should win" category.....

forexbomb
forexbomb

@GTBob @forexbomb I have NO idea why UNC gets the status they do every year... They haven't been any good since Coach left... and yes they are a gimme.

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

@Birmingham__Jacket @forexbomb @GTBob 

well somebody (espn i think) made a comparison of sec vs acc schedule and acc had a much difficult schedule last year.

we also has 11 teams play in bowls. more than the  sec is my memory is correct.

problem was we didnt win enough games to improve the perception of the acc  although....

FSU DID A GREAT JOB AT HELPING OUT!

hasnt the sec been pretty much a one trick pony the last few years? remove bama and the sec aint all that.

i wouldnt go so far as to say the acc is crummy at all,. we held our own wrt the  nfl draft.  we have a slew of young talented qbs this year. more than the sec.

i like the direction the acc is going in,

but hey i admit i am a homer that has good old fashioned hate for anything uga and anything sec related.

go jackets

forexbomb
forexbomb

@Birmingham__Jacket @forexbomb @GTBob Well Birmingham, I had to give them the benefit of the doubt....  VT and Miami still recruit very well, and could, well probably will be our best competition...  The ACC is a very soft league football wise....  but we will see soon...

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket Three ranked teams, 11 teams coming off of bowl games, the #1 team and defending national champion. Yeah, what an awful conference. 

GTBob
GTBob

@GTLee You might be right on that one. Especially with a couple of key recent injuries. 

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@forexbomb 

You need to revisit 2013 and see how UNC fared over their past 6-7 games, and how good the back-up was vs. their "all-world" SR. QB. 


They are anything but a gimme in 2014 ... and it's on the road!

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb Yeah, im sure we will be resting our starters for the last three quarters of the UNC, Duke, and Pitt games. Those awful teams don't deserve to be on the same field as a juggernaut like us.

GTBob
GTBob

@charlestonian77 Im not sure what the ACC can do to change that perception. When Clemson was beating SC every year no one cared. SC starts a winning streak and Clemson gets bashed, and the ACC gets laughed at. Same with FSU and Florida. The media ignores anything negative that happens to the SEC and ignores pretty much anything positive that happens to the ACC. Im not sure how that can be turned around.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@charlestonian77 @Birmingham__Jacket @forexbomb @GTBob

Well, the SEC did have Auburn, LSU & SC last year, so it wasn't just Bama.

Still, the ACC is improving.  Hey, the ACC is one of the big 5 conferences that is getting ready to have autonomy from the NCAA so it's big boy football.

Now the questions is whether GT wants to play big boy football.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb Maybe if you guys keep pretending the ACC is the most awful conference in the history of sports some people will start believing you. That is sure to help GT, right?

forexbomb
forexbomb

@D-Sheets @forexbomb Those are my picks, and I am sticking to them...  I think we put the wood to them, so to speak...  Go Jackets!

forexbomb
forexbomb

@GTBob @forexbomb I didn't say we would be resting our starters..  I said they should be W's...  I called it last year, and I am pretty confident about this year...  Time will tell...

RocketCity_Jacket
RocketCity_Jacket

@GTBob @charlestonian77 Just think of the SEC as the Democrats, and the ACC as the Republicans with the perception controlled by the MainStream Media and you've got the picture perfectly.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@GTBob It's almost like ESPN is in bed with the SEC or something.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @forexbomb

Just the other night I was reading about UMD in some preseason magazine and the author made the comment that "...Maryland will no longer enjoy the comfort of an ACC schedule."

ACC and Swafford blow.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb Should be W's aren't gimmes, and im not sure you can even put Duke or UNC into the should be W's category. The only two gimmes on out schedule are Wofford and Ga Southern.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

I hate to break it to ya Counselor, Disney showcases the ACC just as much as they do the SEC. Y'all get several Sat night games and the 3:30 Sat afternoon time slot each Sat all on ABC.

The SEC gets 2 Sat night broadcasts on espn.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb Our conference just won the NC and two BCS bowls which no other conference did. We sent 11 teams to bowl games, which no other conference did. Im not sure why you want to keep bashing the people around you when there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to do so.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@GTBob @forexbomb  .......,and y'all still went .500 against the SEC when the SEC was the weakest its been in the BCS era.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb An FBS bowl team from last year isn't a gimme. Plus they are opening up their new stadium against us. Sorry, but you seem to think we are the Seattle Seahawks. We aren't.

GTBob
GTBob

@charlestonian77 No, he is just being BHAM. One minute he hates GT and everything about it, the next minute he actually seems like a fan. WnE always hates GT.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@BigCrimson75 @GTBob @forexbomb 

You're better than that, BC75. 


Plus, it sounds better when you excuse-out the SEC and say "they didn't want to be there" for the games they lost. 

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 So the fact that we went .500 against the SEC means the ACC is terrible?

forexbomb
forexbomb

@GTBob @forexbomb Oh for goodness sakes Bob.. Have you seen their 2013 schedule.. The played in the New Orleans bowl and LOST to UL Ragin Cajuns...  You are a funny guy...

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@GTBob @BigCrimson75  W/O having looked it up, I think you were actually less than .500.

Bama > VT

uga > GT

SC > Clem

FSU > Fla

FSU > Aub.

What'd I miss?

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb They beat East Carolina, a team that killed UNC and NC State, and barely lost to VT. They aren't a team that we will win against just be showing up. 

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 Clem > UGA, Ole miss > GT, Miami > Fla, probably several others.

forexbomb
forexbomb

@GTBob @forexbomb We had better beat a team that got DESTROYED by a terrible Syracuse team... Just sayin...  UNC, and NC STATE were terrible... VT was average at best..  Come on Bob... You make it too easy.

GTBob
GTBob

@forexbomb We have lost to some bad teams over the years. Losing to a bowl team from last year that will be filling up a brand new stadium and will be as amped up as they have ever been isn't out of the question. They aren't a gimme. Once again, I don't think we are the unbeatable juggernaut you seem to think we are.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Why?

What is the ACC doing to help GT?

Where is the Institute on Swofford's pecking order?......8th, 9th maybe 10th.