The folks over at From the Rumble Seat weren't aware anyone was writing about Georgia Southern for Underdog Dynasty, so they already had a Q&A planned with another GSU personage. And here I thought Tech people would know how to use Google, being all smart and nerdy and such. You can read it HERE. They were still kind enough to answer some of my questions, though. You can read those, below.
1) How do you feel about Georgia Tech's offensive and defensive play so far this season? What are the particular strengths and weaknesses?
The offensive and defensive play has been hard to decipher so far. The oppositions haven't been very strong, yet Tech has still had some problems putting them away. The offense has been pretty good for the most part. Against Wofford, Justin Thomas threw for over 280 yards, and the passing game allowed Tech to score every drive in the second half and avoid the upset. In the Tulane victory, Georgia Tech got back to its ground game and ran for 344 of the 359 total yards gained.
Overall, the offense has looked solid and done its job. As for the defense, it has been underwhelming. Wofford gained 326 total yards in the opener, and Tulane gained 327 total yards last week. The defense seemed to finally find some form in the second half against Tulane and shut them out after halftime. The strength for the GT offense is obviously the running game. Justin Thomas is the fastest QB Tech has had since implementing the option. The Yellow Jackets have a plethora of backs that can get the job done at any time. On defense, there hasn't necessarily been a strength so far. The defensive line has potential but hasn't produced enough to call it a strength.
2) Who are the biggest playmakers on both sides of the ball Georgia Southern will need to watch out for?
Since I already mentioned Justin Thomas, I'll use another player on offense. Senior wide receiver DeAndre Smelter is a big playmaker on the outside for Tech. He had five receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns against Wofford, but he was held without a catch last week. Smelter has good size at 6'3" 225, and he has good speed and the ability to make guys miss after the catch. If Georgia Southern keys too much on the run, Paul Johnson won't hesitate to get the ball out to Smelter. On defense, it is the senior middle linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. He's the most experienced player on this defense. He recorded his seventh career interception and returned it for this third career touchdown against Tulane.
3) Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech have run similar offensive systems for the past few years, but Willie Fritz has changed up Georgia Southern's option a good bit. Do you think this will matter to GT's Defense (which is obviously very familiar with the option, as is Georgia Southern's) or will it likely just be a quick transition to figuring out the new wrinkles?
I don't expect anything to be too out of the ordinary for Tech's defense this game. If anything, Southern has expanded their playbook to make it a little tougher for a defense like Tech that is accustomed to the triple option. With that being said, Wofford had success against the Yellow Jackets defense with the triple option. With the additions and new schemes that the Eagles have added to their option offense, they could have some success against the Tech defense on Saturday.
4) How are Tech fans feeling about this game? Are there any that are even a bit afraid of an upset? What would it take for GSU to pull of that upset?
Tech fans are feeling a bit restless heading into this game. The team has yet to go out and take total control of a game in their first two contests, and there's a lot of hope that it happens for the first time this Saturday. The general fan base knows that Southern is completely capable of coming in and giving Tech everything they can handle. This likely won't be a cakewalk. For Georgia Southern to pull off an upset, I think they'll need to score 40 points, which isn't entirely unthinkable. I can't see the Southern defense containing the Tech option for most of the game, and I do think they'll be able to score fairly easily on the Eagles. If this ends up being a tight contest, it'll be a high scoring one.
5) I've been a huge Paul Johnson fan going back to his days as OC under Erk in the 80s, and I want him to succeed every week (barring this one). That being said, just how hot would PJ's seat get if he loses to Georgia Southern?
That seat would begin to get too hot to sit on for Coach Johnson. He has to avoid any upsets at this point to keep his support with the fan base. If that upset were to come from his former school and against an in-state opponent, it would be very tough to recover from. The criticism has been slowly growing upon some fans, but he still has support from most. His system is still effective and competes in the ACC every year, but a slip up to an inferior team or an inability to get some big wins could potentially get Johnson's seat really hot this season.
6) What type of crowd are you expecting on Saturday? I know Eagle fans will be coming in force. GSU sold out their allotment and plenty more have bought from GT's ticket office.
The crowd should be great on Saturday. I've spoken with some friends in Statesboro who weren't even able to get tickets from the school, so I'm expecting a huge turnout from Georgia Southern. The Georgia Tech crowd will also be great. Tickets have been hard to come by, and fans around Metro Atlanta seem to be really excited for this game. An in-state matchup like this always draws a good crowd, and we should be seeing a great atmosphere at Bobby Dodd Stadium for this game.