Good morning, all-
I hope some of you made it out to the practice Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd. Jaybo Shaw looked pretty good running the offense after Josh Nesbitt sustained a shoulder injury. Nesbitt, if you’re wondering, should be fine. Paul Johnson was not worried, and Nesbitt stayed for the remainder of the practice and did not look like he was in any significant pain nor did it look like he was wearing anything to stabilize the shoulder. We should find out more this afternoon at practice.
Before I forget, there was a question on Wednesday’s blog about the offensive linemen who have been out. Clyde Yandell, Dan Voss, Nick Claytor and Cord Howard are all expected back for fall practice. To my knowledge, there isn’t anyone who has been out whose injury is more long-term than that.
Besides Shaw’s running the offense fairly well, the other main observation I had – and this is sort of related to Shaw playing well – is that the running game looked strong. Jonathan Dwyer didn’t play much at all, but Shaw, Anthony Allen, Roddy Jones, Preston Lyons, Richard Watson and Tevin Washington all had runs of 7-8 yards or more. I suppose you could also say that the run defense could be better. In fact, that is what Johnson said after, that he felt that the scrimmage was much like the rest of spring practice, the defense couldn’t stop the run and the offense couldn’t pass the ball.
Along those lines, there was some trouble with the passing game. A lot of incomplete passes, though I definitely wouldn’t put that all on Shaw or Washington. I confess I don’t remember having a strong feeling either way about the protection, so it was interesting to me that co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak was encouraged by the line’s play, both on the run and pass. Sewak is not someone who is easily pleased. He said he saw the linemen not panicking in the face of blitzes and defensive line stunts and keeping with their technique.
“That’s a huge plus,” he said. “It’s been a lot better.”
One other thing he pointed out was that he thought the linemen were getting tougher in terms of playing through pain.
“They fought through getting kicked in the ribs, getting kneed in the thigh and stuff like that,” he said. “They’re showing signs of mental toughness, and when you run the ball, you have to show signs of mental toughness.”
Again, given how much this staff (and I assume most coaching staffs) value toughness, this means that the line is getting closer to the standard that the coaches are setting.
One other point that Sewak made that I’d never thought about – the departure of Michael Johnson, Darryl Richard and Vance Walker hurts Tech not only on the defensive line, but also on the offensive line because those linemen don’t get the chance to practice against that sort of talent every day in practice.
I asked him about who he thought had made the most progress, and he demurred, in part because, usually, first-teamers go against first-teamers and second-teamers go against second-teamers, so it’s not always easy to know if a second-teamer is making real progress or is just in a mismatch. So the real answer on how far the offensive line (or defensive line) may not come until the Clemson game.
Kevin Cone has worked his way up the depth chart. The walk-on, a transfer from Shorter College and son of former Yellow Jacket Ronny Cone, started in place of Tyler Melton at wide receiver alongside Demaryius Thomas. Melton got a hip pointer on Friday and was out. It bears mention that Zach Fisher, the likely No. 3, is out after having surgery to repair what Johnson thought was a sports hernia. So Cone could be No. 4.
Both sides moved a lot of players in and out with the first and second teams, like guard Omoregie Uzzi and Watson working with the first string and a lot of mixing and matching with the cornerbacks.
“You try to move those guys around a little bit, because if you’re playing with the first group, it’s going to be different than playing with the second group,” quarterbacks/B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said, “To get a good evaluation, to see where everybody’s at, you move them around a little bit and see how they react in different situations with different groups.”
Anyway, I hope that’s of some insight for you. One more week of spring ball to go. You likely know, but the T-Day Game will be noon on Saturday at Bobby Dodd. I think we’ll try to touch more on special teams this week in the coverage. If there’s anything else you want to hear about, please ask.