The Syracuse Orange continue their longest ACC road trip Saturday when they visit the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium (12:30 p.m. on NBC3). The Orange (3-3) will be playing their third ACC contest looking to steal a game it was not projected to win at the beginning of the season.
Is a victory possible? Will this
triple option spread option offense give SU's defense fits? I didn't know the exact answers, so I reached out to SB Nation's Georgia Tech blog, From The Rumble Seat, and its editor Joseph Weaver for a search for the truth.
By the time you're done you will know a lot more about the spread offense than you probably wanted and get a feeling that GT is very desperate for a victory. (Hey, we know that feeling well.)
FTRS answers are below, meanwhile, I answered their questions here.
1) The Yellow Jackets started the season pretty strong winning three in a row, however, since then you guys are 0-3. I'll admit, a week ago I didn't like this match up on the road but the way GT looked last Saturday I am feeling better about SU's chances. How are you guys feeling about your team right now (I see you predicted them to go 5-1 at this point)?
To be quite honest, we're struggling with the squad right now. In my perspective, I don't mind too much when Georgia Tech loses. I get really upset, though, when Georgia Tech plays like crap, which they have each of the last three games. Now, to the Jackets' credit, the teams they've lost to are a combined 15-3, and certainly not slouches. However, what we've seen are games that the Jackets had opportunities to win (Virginia Tech and BYU especially), and just were unable to make the plays necessary. We're disappointed because we know that this team has the potential to make those plays, and we don't really know why it's not happening.
We're under new management on offense (Vad Lee is a first-year starter replacing Tevin Washington, who started about 30 straight games between 2010-2012), as well as on defense (Ted Roof is in his first year as Defensive Coordinator, replacing Al Groh). Still, we're at a bit of a loss for why we've looked so bad the last couple of games.
2) So, about this spread option? (Feel free to plug whatever in here because we don't know much about this offense other than you guys run a lot.)
Let's start with the urban myth, which you've already beaten and I'm impressed with. This offense is frequently called a "triple option offense", because I guess that's easier for people to comprehend. Really though, it's a flexible system with a lot of moving parts that a defense has to account for all of, lest they get burned. One play might be a legitimate triple option, another might be a misdirectional reverse of that (fake the handoff one way and option back the other way), another might be a toss out wide, and another might be a straight dive play.
You've got 3 RBs in the offensive box that you have to account for on each play, which can be very tricky. This is nothing novel, but on option plays, a defensive lineman is intentionally left unblocked, thus becoming the QB's "read". He's left to pick a course of action and hope the QB screws up that read, which is the only way of stopping the play in its tracks outside of straight-up domination up front (which isn't as unusual as it should be).
Oh, and we do throw sometimes. With so much running though, a lot of defenses commit an 8th guy to the box, thus leaving 2 CBs and a Safety to defend the pass. This is a problem because we love big WRs that can reasonably defeat single coverage AND block on the perimeter. (For examples, look at Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill of the Broncos and Jets, respectively. No, Calvin Johnson was before we started running this system, but yes, he would have had a field day in it.)
Again, lots of moving parts, and there's more to it than a simple, "My guy is better than your guy" on either side of the ball. We try to make up for a talent differential with coaching differential -- though that can also be an Achilles' Heel. Properly defending this system involves very disciplined assignment football and good tackling. We do a lot of cut-blocking, which takes guys out of the play, meaning there are only a few guys available to make a tackle when this is done right. If you miss your tackle, you don't have a lot of guys behind you that are available to clean it up.
3) This season Syracuse has had issues covering wide receivers because of poor play in our secondary. We know GT relies on the run, but is there any way the Yellow Jackets decided to air it out a bit more Saturday or does GT usually stick to what they do best?
Truthfully, the passing game might be the most disappointing part of the Jackets' offense this season. Vad Lee is recognized as the best passer Paul Johnson has had at Tech, and yet things have just been bad the last few games between dropped passes and poor decisions by Lee. Lee's got this tendency to throw to the deepest receiver on the field, regardless of whether he's covered, and that's been a major downfall of his so far. Defensive backs for Syracuse need to focus on the one-on-one matchups with receivers that are 6'3", 210lbs, and bigger. If you can win that one-on-one matchup, you're well on your way to making us one dimensional and that much easier to stop.
My guess is that we air it out more if we're behind, which has been the trend so far, and only stop if it's not working or if the running game starts to really hit its stride -- and each of those is equally likely, I'd say.
4) Enough with the football talk. Lets get to know each other a bit better. I've asked this from the other ACC blogs, so I'll ask you guys. Tell me what Georgia Tech fans like, what you don't like and what you really, really don't like?
Likes: Proper grammar and spelling (and knowing my luck, I've misspelled something in here and will be crucified for it in the comments), alcohol, statistics, winning, reminiscing about the last time we beat uga, reminiscing about our last national championship, reminiscing about how Joe Hamilton got screwed out of the Heisman (we're a nostalgic bunch), making excuses when we're not very good, and bragging when we get the opportunity to do so (not that I personally do, but we as a fanbase are pretty terrible about it, to be honest).
Dislikes: Capitalizing the letters in "uga" (why show them that respect?), losing, hearing the terms "triple option offense" or "high school offense", being laughed at (we have a nasty superiority complex in just about every other facet of life), stupid urban myths perpetuated by the media that are blatantly untrue, and the lack of major selection our school offers.
Really, Really Dislikes: uga, their fanbase, Miami, their fanbase, losing to either of them, losing recruits within the last 10 days before National Signing Day, seeing those lost recruits play for our rivals, being reminded of the Middle Tennessee State game last year that definitely never happened, and the SEC.
I can elaborate in the comments on any of these if need be.
5) What up with Clemson fans? They're a bit edgy huh? Any other ACC fan bases we need to not be sarcastic with because those guys didn't like our jokes.
You know, it's weird. We don't like being laughed at too much, but it's more in a "trolling" context. We're all about self-deprecating humor, so long as it stays within bounds anyone else would want it to stay in (i.e. it's funny the first and second time, not the twentieth and thirtieth times). Clemson fans, though, definitely seem a little sensitive to that stuff, and I have no idea why. Could it be that they just didn't "get" the jokes? (Which, if you ask me, would be my guess...)
6) I know Syracuse was down in your area this Spring with the Final Four and such, but if we're in town this weekend near the GT area and want beer and food (something we all love) where should we go to get the real GT experience?
Food: A few of my favorites locally are Marlow's Tavern and Tin Lizzy's Cantina. Marlow's has some great food over there, with my favorites being the asparagus fries (sounds gross, but they're amazing) and their prime rib French dip. Tin Lizzy's has some fantastic Mexican food -- quesadillas and tacos and queso dip, all to die for (especially when hung over). Five Guys Burgers & Fries is a national chain but gets a lot of great attention nearby, and if you're looking for good barbecue I'd have to recommend Fat Matt's or Daddy D'z -- Williamson Bros and Fox Bros are also phenomenal as well.
Beer: Near campus, a few of your best options will be Taco Mac (100+ beers on tap at all times), Ormsby's (a "hole in the wall" place, but a really nice and fun bar), Cypress St Pint and Plate, and Yard House at Atlantic Station (probably 100+ beers on tap as well). Local cuisines in beer are generally three-fold.
--Sweetwater is the most popular craft brewery in the area and continues to rapidly expand. Hope you like your hops, because they sure do. Grab a 420 (Extra Pale Ale) or an IPA, their two specialties. If not, try the Georgia Brown Ale, or hopefully you're lucky enough to be around when they're serving the Exodus Porter.
--The other main player locally is Red Brick Brewery, also known as Atlanta Brewing Company (ABC). The Laughing Skull Amber Ale is fantastic, as is the Hoplanta IPA. They do a ton of seasonals as well, which are also great.
--The newest player in the market locally is Monday Night Brewing, which is supposed to be hitting 2 years within the next month or so. My far-and-away favorite of theirs, and one of my favorite beers ever, is the Draft Kilt Scotch Ale -- it's dark, it's heavy, and it's oh-so tasty. Their only other brews as of now are the Fu Manbrew Belgian Wit, the Eyepatch IPA, and the Blind Pirate Double IPA.
7) Understand that your offense is a bit run heavy, how in the heck did you get NFL wide outs Calvin Johnson, Stephen Hill and Demaryius Thomas to come to your school? Any more of those guy laying around right now?
As I alluded to earlier, one of the things receivers are forced to learn here that they don't get much of an education on elsewhere is how to block -- their role in the offense is so skewed that direction as compared to other offenses, and so it's a unique skill they've picked up by graduation time. We also target big, athletic guys who are tough to cover one-on-one, and consequently translate well as #1 or #2 receivers in the NFL. The two guys we're starting right now, Darren Waller (6'6", 235lb) and DeAndre Smelter (6'3, 220lb), both fit that mold and both have NFL potential if they continue to develop through the end of next year. Smelter in particular has a steep learning curve, as this is his first season of football since his senior year of high school (2010) because he's been a pitcher for our baseball team the last couple of years. He's quickly become our go-to guy this year though, which is interesting when comparing him to Waller.
8) Prediction time. Tell me, how are you guys going to beat us?
Georgia Tech is going to win this game, because they HAVE to win this game. If the Jackets can't get this season back on the rails this weekend, they never will considering their games remaining against Pittsburgh, Clemson, and uga. The offensive line needs to show progress from its struggles over the last few weeks, and the running game needs to work the way that it was functioning decently against BYU, especially towards the end.
Syracuse will also have the challenge of scoring early and often against Georgia Tech's defense as BYU did -- Georgia Tech has this weird thing where they don't really allow second-half points on defense, even though the first half is a complete circus defensively. Outside of the Miami game, Georgia Tech has allowed a cumulative of 17* second-half points dating all the way back to last year's ACC Championship game. (* This does not include BYU's pick-six.) I don't think Syracuse has the weapons, especially passing (our weak spot on defense), to get it done on Saturday.
Georgia Tech 27, Syracuse 17