Good morning, all-
Hope you are well. We’ve got an update on Tech basketball player D’Andre Bell and some thoughts from the last spring practice.
Looks like Tech hoops will benefit from the addition of six players this fall: 5 recruits (including Derrick Favors, who signed Wednesday) plus senior wing D’Andre Bell.
Bell missed last season and underwent a laminoplasty five months ago. It’s a procedure to fix the narrowing of the spinal canal. Now Bell is working out and doing individual drills. He hasn’t scrimmaged yet, and probably won’t until school is out.
“Right now the doctors are telling us to proceed as if he will be back next year,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “But we’re going to go slow with him.”
The team is waiting for the surgeon, Dr. Robert Watkins of Marina del Rey, Calif., to review a recent X-ray of Bell’s spine.
“We just want to err on the side of caution,” Hewitt said.
I think I’ve said this before, but I think the running game will be better. The coaches have been moderately pleased with the offensive line’s development in learning the scheme. It might be a bit hard to believe, but I think Tech ran as well as it did despite the offensive line not doing that good a job last year. I think the things that Paul Johnson preaches — staying low to the ground, coming off the ball fast — are the product of muscle memory and also having the right people to do it. It looks and sounds like that’s coming along.
Said co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak, “There are times we show signs of understanding what we’re supposed to be doing” with the proper technique, which is fairly high praise coming from him.
“They’re always on us about [staying low and coming off the ball fast],” offensive tackle Austin Barrick said. “They’ve really been stressing it this year. We’ve really tried to focus on getting the first two steps. Some guys have gotten a lot better. That’s one part we’ve been working really hard on. … We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve definitely made improvement.”
A lot of what Tech does on the offensive line in the running game isn’t drive blocking, but being quick enough to either cut block a defensive lineman to the ground or to move or turn a lineman just enough to take him out of a play, which is why those first two steps that Barrick mentioned are important.
Coaches and players talk a lot about linemen getting to the second level, which means quickly getting an initial surge or push on the defensive line and then finding a linebacker to cut block. If you’re going to the T-Day Game, it might be something worth watching, how often a particular lineman is able to get defenders on the ground. It is definitely something the coaches are looking for and counting.
I think one thing that means is that a better running game – and remember, Tech was fourth in the country last year in rushing – will give the Jackets a little more breathing room to develop its passing game, which will probably be very much a work in progress. One thing you’ll hear about over the summer and fall is how much has the ACC adjusted to Johnson’s offense. Georgia Southern and Navy’s records while Johnson was there indicate that opponents never really caught up. I’d have to think that coaches become better at teaching their players how to defend against it, and the players who play against it two or three years get a little more used to it. But the other thing, and I imagine this is why the offense continually has success, is that the players in the offense get more adept at running it. For instance, Barrick said that the offense put in somewhere between four to six running plays this spring. Further, Johnson and his assistants get a better feel for their opponents.
Anyway, just my thoughts.
About the T-Day Game
To answer a question from Wednesday, my understanding is that it will not be broadcast. You’ve got to be there to see it. Game starts at noon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
My guess is that Josh Nesbitt won’t play. He was in a gold jersey again Wednesday, meaning he was non-contact, and I’d think coaches wouldn’t see a real good reason to put him out there. So Jaybo Shaw will run the first team and Tevin Washington the second.
Linebacker Kyle Jackson may not play, either. He was in a red jersey Wednesday, meaning he was injured and not practicing, I believe for the first time this spring. I didn’t find out the nature of his injury, but again, it would seem not worth the risk at this point.
A couple links
Larry’s story about Derrick Favors’ signing Wednesday.
A story I wrote for Thursday’s paper about a Tech tennis player who became the No. 3 12-year-old in the country, didn’t play for the next six years because of a back injury and was told he shouldn’t play sports again and is now on Tech’s No. 2 doubles team. Tech’s men’s and women’s teams start the ACC tournament today in Cary, N.C.