Archive for March, 2009

Spring practice, Day 5

Good morning, all-

We’re five practices through spring practice. Just two days after going 11 on 11 for about 100 plays at the Falcons’ facility in Flowery Branch, Tech put on the pads again and did a good bit of live hitting. The Jackets were in shorts and helmets the first two practices last week, then put on shoulder pads last Friday and could well be in full pads for the rest of the spring.

While doing the full-contact work potentially leads to scares like the one that defensive end Emmanuel Dieke got Monday, when the early enrollee down with a knee injury in 11-on-11 (Paul Johnson said he would be fine), it serves a few purposes. One, with a young team as the Jackets have, the players need as many reps as they can to develop. Second, watching players go against each other in game conditions is the best way for coaches to sort out the two-deep roster, which is a primary goal of spring practice. There’s only so much you can evaluate when players are in shorts and helmets …

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Sharpening the passing game

Tech ran the ball 79.5 percent of the time last season, and we know Tech will continue to be a run-based team.

But Saturday’s first full-pads practice showed there’s a determination to become more proficient through the air. (Tech completed just 44.8 percent of its throws last year).

Ken and I estimated that pass plays were called about 40 percent of the time Saturday.

“I guess coach wanted to see how the passing game was,” wideout Demaryius Thomas said.

Thomas caught a couple bombs, Tyler Melton caught a few short ones and had a drop, Roddy Jones had a long gainer but also a drop, and Anthony Allen turned a short throw into an 18-yard gain. Walk-ons Paul Reese and Jonathan Malone had big catches. On one scramble, Josh Nesbitt saw Allen get behind the defense and threw it about 50 yards to the end zone. The ball was just long, maybe because Allen hesitated for a split second after beating his man.

There were a few sacks, a couple passes knocked down, and other times when the …

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CPJ on a few topics

Two of 14 spring practices are in the books. We’ll learn more today when the Jackets put on shoulder pads, and tomorrow, when they do some real hitting in full pads.

Coach Paul Johnson addressed a few issues after practice No. 2.

Here’s what he had to say about the defensive line, which lost Michael Johnson, Vance Walker and Darryl Richard. (Currently, the first unit is Derrick Morgan and Robert Hall at DE, Ben Anderson and Jason Peters in the middle).

“In shorts, it’s hard to gauge defensive linemen. We’ve got some guys we’re excited about mixed in with some guys who have played a little bit. I think that will sort itself out. I think we’ve got to be a group of guys who really pay attention to detail and try to be fundamentally sound. We may not have the same type of physical specimens that we’ve had there, but I think we’ve got some good players.”

The backfield will be a lot deeper than it was a year ago. At B-back you start with Jonathan Dwyer and Richard Watson. At A-back …

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more from spring practice

Good morning, folks-

Hope you’re well. I have a few extra things from reporting the Georgia Tech spring practice story I did on Anthony Allen, mostly from A-backs coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Monken.
Hopefully you read it. Allen will be an intriguing piece of the puzzle in the fall, in that he’s a proven college player who will likely be ready to contribute from the first snap.
For what it’s worth, he has looked good in two practices thus far. He catches the ball well, has good speed and has size.
B-backs coach Brian Bohannon: “He can help us. He hasn’t done anything yet to take ownership of tha (because he hasn’t had the chance). We all are looking forward to the spring to see what he does, because he definitely has the tools and the mentality to be that.”
One interesting thing was that both Bohannon and Monken made note of Allen’s toughness. It’s a trait you’d need at either spot — at B-back because you’re taking a bunch of hits taking the dive into the line, at …

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Did injury cost Tech chance at history?

Say you’re a college basketball player. You play in a bigtime conference, maybe the nation’s best, and you’re the leading scorer and rebounder on your team.

You go through months of workouts, practices, 29 regular-season games. Your team wins 21 of those, guaranteeing a trip to the NCAA Tournament. With two minutes left in the conference tournament opener, a 12-point loss, you collide with an opposing player. The pain in your right knee is like nothing you’ve ever felt before.

That’s what happened to Alex Montgomery, Tech’s 6-1 sophomore.

When the Jackets lost 69-50 to top-seeded Oklahoma in the NCAA’s second round Tuesday night, Montgomery wasn’t in Iowa with the team. She watched on ESPN2 from her dorm room.

It made sense for Montgomery to stay behind. She has a dislocated kneecap, and is still on crutches. But it didn’t make it easier.

When Tech closed the first half on a 21-11 run, Montgomery started crying.

“I just wanted to be out there and I couldn’t,” she said in a …

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More from first day of spring practice

Some observations

1) For what it’s worth, the first-team defensive line was Derrick Morgan and Robert Hall at ends and Ben Anderson and Jason Peters at tackles. Line coach Giff Smith said they worked with the first team because they are the returners with the most experience. He said the depth chart is “subject to change” every practice.

2) There were a fair amount of center-QB exchange fumbles, which is partly due to some new parts of the puzzle. Without Dan Voss, who’s out for the spring rehabbing his shoulder, Sean Bedford stepped in with the first unit and Nick McRae played on the second line.

Speaking generally, coach Paul Johnson said, “It’s going to be a lot of guys playing this spring that haven’t played, but that’s what spring’s about.”

3) Some of the backs ran out of the A-back and B-back spots, including Jonathan Dwyer, Anthony Allen and Lucas Cox. I’m thinking we’ll write about this more later on in the spring. And I am most likely going to write about Allen after …

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Spring football priorities

Spring practice begins at 3:30 p.m. today. It’s the first of 14 practices before the T-Day Game at noon Saturday, April 18.

Ken picked five storylines to watch. Coley Harvey of the Macon Telegraph has five questions to ponder. And here’s the preview from Tech’s sports information office.

You also might have noticed this tidbit about Tech hosting an actor preparing for “The Blind Side” movie. If you haven’t read the book by Michael Lewis (”Moneyball,” “Liar’s Poker”), I can’t recommend it enough.

So how would you rank Tech’s priorities this spring?

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Spring football around the ACC

Before I get to some spring football links, Ken filed this note about Tech’s women’s basketball team, which plays Iowa in the NCAA tournament Sunday night:

I was curious about how Tech’s women do their scouting for the NCAA tournament, when they’re playing an opponent with which they have little familiarity.

Tech basketball video coordinator Sam Purcell gave me the low-down on how he and the coaching staff found video on Iowa, which will play Tech in a first-round game Sunday at 9:30 on ESPN2.
First, Tech has eight or nine DirecTV recorders that are pulling down college games all season long, men’s and women’s. It has that many because one machine can only record one game at a time and, obviously, there are often several games going on at once. Second, Tech shares its game film with all of the teams in the conference. Purcell basically shoots out an e-mail with the game film after every game, and the league uses a company that stores the video until someone needs it. In this …

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Random Tech tidbits

Good morning, all-

I’ve got a few things to toss at  you, including some notes from a conversation I had with Wayne Hogan in the athletics department and a Michael Johnson draft update.

1) Hogan, an associate AD, said that season tickets are coming in steady and at about the rate they expected. He said Tech has received about orders for about 10,000 tickets. Tech sold about 23,500 last year and hopes to get to 30,000 for 2009. He noted that, while the renewal date is April 1, he wasn’t that concerned at having received orders for 10,000 seats, as I imagine I would be. Hogan said that most orders come in at the last minute.

You can order tickets at www.ramblinwreck.com/tickets.

2) The department isn’t much closer to a 12th game for the 2010 football season. As he put it, “they’re still negotiating and bobbing and weaving.” I wrote awhile ago that my guess is Louisville.

3) The AA is going through its budget for the 2010 fiscal year, which starts July 1. I think a lot of what I …

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No. 3 in the nation

It should be an interesting next few weeks for the Tech baseball team, which just won its 10th straight.

The Jackets whipped Kennesaw State 11-0 Tuesday as Zach Von Tersch, Jed Bradley and Brandon Cumpton combined on a 2-hitter. Bradley retired the first 13 batters he faced. He struck out seven over five innings.

Matt Skole had three hits, and Jeff Rowland went 1-for-2 with three walks and two runs scored.

The teams meet again at 6 p.m. today at Russ Chandler Stadium, and we’ll be there to cover it. Look for more baseball coverage as the season progresses.

In the latest poll by Collegiate Baseball, the Jackets are No. 3 nationally. It’s the highest Tech has been ranked in three years. Tech held the top spot in 2006, which also was the last time the Jackets made the College World Series.

The Jackets are 13-1, and they’re averaging 12 runs over their last six games. Sweet-swinging Tony Plagman (.357, 5 HR, 19 RBIs, .732 slugging) is one of seven regulars hitting at least …

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