I’d feel much better about the pick if given the 7.5 points that Vegas is offering, but I still like the Jackets’ chances straight up. I see this game already in my mind’s eye, and it is a slugfest. It is a tug-of-war for physical control, and GT has the edge. Five reasons for making this pick:
1. O-LINES. People want to believe in this Tech O-line, and I get that. They’re big (well, outside of David Wang, who makes up for it with technique). They’re athletic. They’ve got potential. I think those guys will be good…eventually. But I’ve seen too many struggles out of that unit over the years to believe they’ll just click immediately. Maybe a crisp spring game performance could have allayed some of that doubt. We’ll never know.
Contrast that with GT. If you read any of Andy’s outstanding previews of Tech’s opponents over the summer, you’ll remember he asked Atlanta Journal-Constitution beatwriter Ken Sugiura if this is the best O-line Paul Johnson’s ever had in Atlanta.
Here is what Sugiura said about a unit that returns 82 combined starts: “It should be, given that Johnson finally has linemen that he recruited who now have considerable experience, and I believe it is. Guard Omoregie Uzzi is a two-time All-ACC pick. Center Jay Finch has plus athletic ability. Tackle Morgan Bailey, injured much of his first two seasons, had a solid spring. Guard Shaquille Mason, who earned playing time as a true freshman, has All-ACC potential.”2. MITIGATION OF TECH’S STRENGTHS. This is related to the O-lines. Ask knowledgeable Tech fans (like Chris Colston earlier this week) why the Hokies will win this game, and what are they likely to say? Defense and Logan.
The defense should be great, and can be in this game, but how long will it have to be on the field? Can Tech move the chains consistently enough to be competitive in the time-of-possession battle? I’m thinking no. GT, meanwhile, can take its typical methodical approach down the field and ultimately wear out the Hokies’ D.
(Interestingly, the Hokies were third in the nation in time of possession last year at 34:06 per game while working behind a veteran O-line. Georgia Tech was ninth.)
Logan Thomas will have plenty of highlight moments this year, but I wonder how many will come in this game as the line gets its sea legs.3. THE LANE STADIUM MYTH. Tech’s home field advantage is significantly bloated by Vegas. I prefer Tech on the road. Don’t you? The Hokies’ only regular-season loss last year (Clemson) came at Lane. The two regular-season losses in ’10 were at a quasi-home field (Boise State) and at Lane (JMU). The Hokies lost as a 14-point home favorite against UNC at Lane in ’09. The atmosphere in Blacksburg is unbelievable; the actual boost it gives Tech is debatable.
4. SLOW STARTS. Much has been made of Tech’s extra time to prepare for the Jackets’ offense — and that’s a significant, proven advantage — but we must not forget that Tech usually gets better as the season goes along. Sharpness early in the season has not been a strength.5. LAST YEAR. If the Hokies are to be wary of Clemson because of what happened last year, then they should be equally concerned about the Jackets. GT had that game won before an incredible personal foul penalty breathed life (and more than a little anger) into Thomas and the Hokies. Doesn’t mean the win didn’t happen; just means the 37-26 score easily could mislead somebody who didn’t watch the game.
I see a lower-scoring game this time. Punts. Field position. Defense. Games like that typically favor the Hokies. I just don’t feel that way this time. Not in Week 1, at least.
Your college football TV schedule for this evening: South Carolina at Vanderbilt (7 p.m., ESPN), Towson at Kent State (7 p.m., CSN Plus), UCLA at Rice (7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network), Washington State at BYU (10:15 p.m., ESPN), Minnesota at UNLV (11 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
-My column on Chris Colston chasing his longheld aspiration with the Hokie Football Annual.
-Randy’s profile of VMI quarterback Eric Kordenbrock.
-Ray’s story on two more players leaving the Radford U. hoops team.
-Doug’s college notebook, leading with Cave Spring alum Josh Woodrum battling for the Liberty QB job.
JUST GONNA COPY AND PASTE…
…this AP lead because fact is stranger than fiction here: LOS ANGELES — A professional tennis referee beat her elderly husband to death with a coffee cup and used the broken handle to repeatedly stab him before judging a tennis match and getting a manicure, prosecutors said in court Wednesday.
NATIONAL HEADLINES: NFL to open season with replacement refs…Edwards denies rumor that he’s moving to Penske…Kim Clijsters retires…Harper goes deep twice as Nats break 5-game skid.IDENTIFY THE MOVIE:
Nobody got yesterday’s: “Top Secret!” Val Kilmer’s first-ever flick, a comedy in the mold of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun.” Vastly different genre today:
“All right, Dobson. It’s about time what we came here to do to what the good lord says in the good book is “a cleansing of the wicked.”
“Sir, you think we’re gonna die here today?”
“Dyin’s not an option. Now, you stick that back in that gray matter of yours and you make that stick. ‘Cause any other thought is gonna get you cold slabbed, toe tagged, and mailed home to your mamma in a plastic bag. Are we crystal?”
“Gentlemen, let’s do what God made us to do!”
NAME THAT TUNE:
Come get some of this
Don’t forget the innuendo
Play me like Nintendo
Never ever let go
Screaming so loud you’ll be hitting the crescendo
Do re mi fa sol la ti do