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 doing bag drills.
Some notes from Monday’s practice. A group of players spent about 15 minutes at the start of practice handling kickoffs and punts, and the team also did some punt/punt return team work. Among the returners were Roddy Jones, Cooper Taylor, Jerrard Tarrant, Marcus Wright, DeRon Jasper, Daniel McKayhan, Quentin Sims and Embry Peeples. As was the case last year, there were plenty of starters working out on the punt team.
Center Nick McRae, who could challenge Dan Voss for the starting job, moved over to guard with the second team. Zach Fraysier worked at center Monday. Johnson said that was because guard Cord Howard was out. With Howard out, guard Zach Krish, a walk-on, moved to the first team, leaving a hole at guard on the second team. How long McRae stays at guard bears some watching.
Linebacker Sedric Griffin made a play that had the roughly 25 fans watching and many defensive players cheering. In 11 on 11 work, he penetrated the line of scrimmage to intercept a pitch from quarterback Jaybo Shaw in the backfield, a great piece of anticipation and quickness.
I watched the receivers work against the defensive backs in one on one drills for a little bit. Not surprsingly, the player who stood out the most was receiver Demaryius Thomas. He invariably got off the line without a problem, but the more impressive thing was that when he made a move, he almost always came out of it with another step on the cornerback. Other receivers might make a cut and would still have trouble getting separation. Not so with Thomas.
Defensive lineman Albert Rocker, who moved down from linebacker for spring practice, was working at defensive tackle. Rocker is listed at 6-1, 225, which is fine for a linebacker but not so a tackle. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack and line coach Giff Smith both have said they’re going to rotate ends into the tackle spot over the course of spring to get a look at what they have.
A couple links:
Former Jacket TE Colin Peek making his debut at Alabama.
Dan Radakovich was honored back at his alma mater last weekend.