I asked From The Rumble Seat's BirdGT some questions about this year's Yellow Jackets. His answers below, along with some drinking recommendations for anyone making the trip to Atlanta. That's the important stuff. My answers to their questions should be up at FTRS later today.
1.) How is the transition to Al Groh and the 3-4 working out for the defense so far? Is this group better than last year's?
Right now, the jury is still out on any talent comparisons. Isaiah Johnson (true freshman safety) and Brad Jefferson are playing solid football but we're not sure if this defense has the NFL talent that we had the past two seasons under Wommack.
The biggest difference I've noticed isn't in the schematics but rather the execution. Our defenders are playing relatively sound football. We are making good second half adjustments and tackling is a bit better than 2009. Two BCS quality games into the season doesn't really give us a whole lot of data to pour through otherwise we'd have some greater detail in this answer.
2.) I'm going to go ahead and assume we'll see a few running backs carrying the ball on Saturday. Aside from Nesbitt, which guys figure to get the bulk of the work? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
The A-Backs or slotbacks are getting a good amount of work this year. They are the smaller running backs on the wings of our Wreckbone offense [Editor's note: Wreckbone? Outstanding.]. The two primary big play guys at A-Back are Roddy Jones (crusty veteran) and Orwin Smith (speedster). Roddy has been making all of our big receptions in the passing game and has been fairly clutch as 6 of his 15 carries have been for first downs or touchdowns. Orwin Smith has runs of 15, 12, 15, and 73 yards this season. Once he gets in the open field, he's good for at least 10 or more yards. Unfortunately, Orwin has fumbled twice on options.
Anthony Allen is our primary B-Back or fullback. He may not be the fastest guy on the field but he still punished UNC for 115 yards at 5.8 yards per carry. He has the strength to take hits and keep running. Allen's still struggling in the passing game and has dropped a couple easy receptions this season.
3.) There are a lot of terrifying aspects to Tech's offense, but I think the sneak attack passing game scares me the most. Do the Jackets have a go-to pass play or two? Who's filling Demaryius Thomas's shoes these days?
The big pass plays we've seen this season have been dump routes to the A-Backs. They give Nesbitt an easy route to hit when he scrambles and the defenses, in an effort contain Nesbitt, have given up huge chunks of yards on the plays (check this video at 5:35). Definitely not much of a pro style passing game but we're not really asking for a pro passing game.
4.) Concerns about the Jackets seem a bit overblown after the Kansas game. What do you guys think? Anything in particular really worrying you?
I'd say the concerns are still somewhat legitimate as Kansas followed up their humbling of the Jackets with a dreadful performance against Southern Mississippi. We have issues concerning consistency. We have issues concerning a lack of offensive and defensive play-makers. And we definitely have issues stopping anything and everything on defense.
Jacket fans are worried about the fact that NC State is the first challenge we've faced this season. State has a much better offense than Kansas and UNC and our defense gave up 52 points and 672 yards of offense to those two subpar offenses. That is what Tech fans are worried about.
5.) If I make it down to Atlanta this weekend, where should I drink?
Friday afternoon should be spent at Sweetwater Brewery getting a tour of the facility and drinking some of the best beer in ATL. Tours start at 5:30pm and you can get a good buzz before you head out later.
On Friday or Saturday night, anywhere in the Highlands neighborhood is a guaranteed win. There will be a good mix of people and bar atmospheres. If you want a good view, check out Park Tavern on the corner of Piedmont Park. I'd avoid Buckhead or Downtown (neither are my cup of tea).
The best sports bar in town is the Taco Mac in Midtown. If you wanna watch games after the Tech-State game, this is the best place to hit up. It may be crowded but it's totally worth it - great beer selection and in close proximity to Tech.
The closest beer vendors to campus, I believe, are Ribs & Blues (barbeque joint in Tech Square) and Rocky Mountain Pizza (Hemphill and 10th). Ribs & Blues may not hold up to your NC barbeque standards but it has pretty good beer prices and it's right on campus.