Pre-Game Takes: Georgia Tech

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Think back six months ago. It was early May, and nothing was going on in
Hokie football. Spring practice was over, and although there was a little action
going on in recruiting, what you really longed for was the midseason, being in
the thick of the race, and playing games that mattered.

We wait through the long offseason for games like tonight’s contest in
Atlanta. We follow Hokie football 365 days a year, but there are really only
three or four days that really matter in any given year. This is one of those

Tonight, the story of Hokie Football 2011 will take a big turn. By midnight,
we’ll know if the Hokies will still be on course for an ACC Championship Game
appearance in Charlotte, a possible clash with Clemson looming on the horizon,
or if the 2011 ACC Championship will realistically be out of reach.

Win or lose, tonight will write another chapter in the rivalry with Georgia
Tech, a series that has determined the Coastal Division champion since the ACC
split into divisions in 2005. The conference games against Miami have been some
great ones, but it has really come down to the Techs to wage the games that
matter in the Coastal, and to decide who gets to represent this half of the ACC
in the championship game.

But let’s face it, the rivalry isn’t really with Georgia Tech. It’s with Paul
Johnson, the surly, smart-alecky, mad scientist architect of the Jackets’
infuriating, cut-blocking, not-normal-football, catch-me-if-you-can,
nah-nanny-boo-boo spread option attack. Or flexbone, or triple option, or
whatever the hell you want to call it. It drives GT opponents crazy because it’s
not the same football everyone else plays. Georgia Tech is successful because
they refuse to fit in everyone else’s box. They’re either really clever to do
that, or too gutless to line up mano-y-mano. It depends upon your perspective.

When you beat the spread option, you can puff out your chest and talk about
how smart and talented you are, because you unlocked the secret of that
once-a-year puzzle. When you lose to the spread option … well, most people
resort to stomping around, complaining about chop blocks, and wishing they could
slap the smirk off Johnson’s self-satisfied face.

Whatever emotion Paul Johnson and his offense inspire in you, you’re not
bored, and you’re certainly paying attention.