FSU vs. GT Q&A: Chatting with Yellow Jacked Up


The FSU vs. GT Q&A consists of a series of questions I posed to James Fitzgerald, the editor over at YellowJackedUp.com, our Georgia Tech sister site, in advance of tomorrow’s ACC Championship Game between the Jackets and the ‘Noles. His responses are included below. 

DV: Georgia Tech’s option offense has been quite successful this season, and is the No. 4 ground game in the country. How do you think they fare against an FSU defensive line that just had its best game of the season against Florida?

JF: Running the ball is what Georgia Tech does. Paul Johnson will eventually figure out what works and run the ball accordingly, no matter what defense is on the field. Georgia Tech will run the ball effectively against Florida St. For what it is worth, preparing for Georgia Tech’s running game is different than preparing for most other teams, and that really is an advantage that Tech has going into most of its games. Tech will be fine running the ball against FSU.

DV: GT wideout DeAndre Smelter (seventh in the ACC in receiving yards per game) is out with an ACL. Considering the substantial role he plays in the Tech passing attack, is there a danger of the Jackets becoming too one dimensional? Do you see anyone else being able to step up against the Seminole secondary?

JF: Not having Smelter for this game hurts. He is Thomas’ favorite target and was huge on third downs when a pass was needed. He is a big loss, but in the end, Tech has only thrown the ball 161 times on the season, so being one dimensional is what Tech does best. Darren Waller and Michael Summers are capable of picking up the slack, along with Tony Zenon, who has shown himself to be a solid receiver out of the backfield.

DV: Tech’s secondary has been opportunistic all year, hauling in 17 picks, which is tied for 10th, nationally (it’s also how many Jameis Winston has thrown this season). How confident are you in the Jackets’ DBs ability to generate turnovers against Jameis Winston, who’s coming off the only four-interception game of his career?

JF: The turnovers are a big reason why the Yellow Jackets are here. Turnovers help, and it would be nice to get a few from Winston, but I would rather see Tech get defensive stops and force FSU to punt. Forcing teams to punt is just as good as a turnover in my world, but if Winston wants to throw a few picks or cough the ball up, that works, and I am sure Tech can at least get a turnover or two in this game.

DV: Florida State freshman running back Dalvin Cook is getting the start on Saturday, as Karlos Williams is out with a concussion. Considering Cook gashed the UF run defense, ranked 13th in the country, for 144 yards, how well do you see Georgia Tech’s 72nd-ranked rushing defense holding up?

JF: I am always concerned about Georgia Tech’s run defense, though Ted Roof does a great job of making adjustments to stop the run. Last week Georgia’s Nick Chubb was running all over Tech in the first half and got shut down just as quickly. The truth is that Tech is playing its best defense against the run as of late. If Roof makes the adjustments fast enough, Tech will be okay against the run.

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DV: Finally, how do you see this one playing out, and what’s your final score prediction?

JF: I truly answer this question without bias every time I have to answer it in these Q&As. I say this every week: Georgia Tech is resilient, and that is the biggest reason why it’s here. The only other team in the nation that I have seen being as resilient as the Jackets is Florida State. You just don’t win 28 straight games without resiliency and mental toughness.

With all that said, I am taking Georgia Tech because I feel like the Jackets are on an upswing while Florida State has slowly been declining. Watching Boston College and Miami give the Seminoles issues did not sit too well with me, and I really think the style of offense that Tech will bring is going to give Tech an advantage throughout the game that those other teams did not have. It is tough to adjust to the triple option when you don’t see it often. Georgia Tech 37 Florida State 31.