Friday mailblog

You asked, I answered. And I screwed up:

Warren in Raleigh, N.C., writes: Hey, it looks like you left NC State-Central Michigan off your predictions this week -- what gives? Is the Pack just that depressing this season?

HD: Sigh. No, I just accidentally missed it. My apologies to the Wolfpack. I went back in and added it to the original post. Sorry, guys.

Mik in Seattle writes: HD, every year we end up talking more or less about the same thing: the perception that the ACC is a cupcake conference. Would simply not losing (as much) to OoC opponents be the remedy? Better bowl performance (playoffs please, thanks)? Scheduling AQ OoC opponents? If for instance GT or Clemson went undefeated this year, at least outside of the ACCCG, would this mark a turnaround? Or is the entire conference waiting for the revival (every year) of VT/FSU/Miami in order to be respectable? Go Jackets!

HD: D, all of the above? It's not just beating OOC opponents, Mik, it's not losing to the Richmonds of the world. The ACC has to beat elite competition to be considered elite competition, and for each of the past three seasons it's lost to an FCS team. Yes, it also needs a winning bowl record in BCS games. If GT or Clemson went undefeated this year, it would certainly be a tremendous boost for the ACC.

Chris in Atlanta writes: Heather, can we please quit making a big deal about the preparation time for teams playing Georgia Tech? Guess what ... EVERY defense is better off with more time to prepare, regardless of what offense they go up against. There's nothing special about the triple option that more time to prepare only makes the defense better against it.

HD:I disagree. I think it IS a unique offense that teams don't see a lot of, and like anything else, the more you practice for it, the more prepared you'll be. If you have a piano recital, and you've got a new piece of music, odds are it will sound a lot better if you practice it for two weeks instead of one, right? Here's where I think you can make the argument that Georgia Tech should be winning more of those games -- it's not like the Yellow Jackets don't usually have a similar amount of time to prepare for the opponent (talking bowl games). So yeah, LSU and Iowa had more time to prepare for Georgia Tech. But guess what? Georgia Tech had the same amount of time to get ready for them.

Julio in Shenzhen, China, writes: Hi HD have you noticed that Clint Trickett, in less playing time and against tougher opponents, now has almost as many passing yards as EJ3? He also has more TD's (passing and rushing), and half the interceptions. I can't remember the last time that I saw EJ play well. He had a bad outing in the spring game and two not so impressive performances against some very bad teams to start the season before Okla. I can only think of two occasions in which he's had more than 10 pass attempts and didn't give up at least 1 Int in his career. Plus, I've never seen him throw more than one TD against an AQ opponent. When you consider the fact that Trickett outplayed EJ with far fewer passing attempts and that he outperformed Manuel in the spring game this year too, is it possible that we may have ourselves a QB controversy at FSU if EJ3 doesn't improve his numbers soon? I'm kind of ready to bail on Manuel to be honest.

HD:Trickett has no doubt been convincing, Julio, and if he hasn't made Jimbo Fisher think twice about who his starter is, he should have. Jimbo isn't going to go there, though. No way, no how. He hand-picked Manuel during the recruiting process. He's Fisher's guy, and he's the undisputed starter. Fisher has made that very clear, and in talking with Trickett, he's cool with that. Manuel is not a bad quarterback, and he's still early in his career. Let's see what he does with it.

Tim in Jacksonville Florida writes: Heather, Clemson or Ga.Tech, which will end the season ranked higher and play in the more prestigious Bowl game ? Thanks, TimP.S. Really enjoy your view and insight...

HD: Tim, I've been giving the nod to Clemson the past two weeks in the bowl predictions. Their strength of schedule beats Georgia Tech's, and I think the Tigers can win that head-to-head game this year.

Ryan in Annapolis, Md., writes: Hey Heather! I've got a question for you about my beloved Wahoos. What do you think the chances are of UVa upsetting Georgia Tech? Trying to put my homerism aside, I would say that GT is not unbeatable. They have a defense that gives up yards and points. That's probably closely coupled to how quickly they score, but it's true nonetheless. A couple of things lead me to think we might have a chance: 1. It's homecoming weekend, we're welcoming in a possibly top 10 team by the time the game hits, and it's Al Groh coming back to Scott Stadium, so I think attendance won't be as dreadful as it has been. 2. We are coming off a bye week after a sloppy win. The staff will work extra hard to get these guys motivated after what was an awful game.3. As much as we seem to struggle, somehow our is offense actually one of the better teams in the nation in gaining yards. We're currently ranked 36th in Yards/Game, but 74th in Points/Game. If the team can figure out how to make those yards into points over the bye week, I think this team goes from ACC bottom-feeder to middle of the road.

HD: I like your spirit and optimism, Ryan, but I just don't see it happening. UVA needed overtime to beat Idaho. C'mon, man. The Hoos need help, and they've got issues at quarterback. I agree that Georgia Tech's defense is vulnerable, and the Jackets are beatable, but I don't think Virginia is the team they'll fall to.