Archive for April, 2009

Recapping Saturday’s scrimmage

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 …

Continue reading Recapping Saturday’s scrimmage »

A short hiatus from spring practice

2:16 p.m. - I neglected this morning to give a plug to a friend and colleague, Jim Hart of MTM Radio. Jim does a weekly radio show Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. at AM-WCFO, News Talk 1160. It’s Atlanta sports with a Tech bent. Tech fans, I imagine, will be interested to learn that Tech team chaplain Derrick Moore will be joining Jim as a regular on the show. Moore will be giving a weekly segment to young athletes on overcoming challenges in sports and life.

I encourage you to give Jim a listen. He has done several interesting and informative interviews with Tech football players and coaches, as well as other members of the Tech sports community, that are worth their time.

Good morning, all-

We’ll take a break from football for some basketball notes. I went Thursday to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Zelnak Basketball Center, the long-awaited basketball practice facility that will be built adjacent to the AMC.
Both Paul Hewitt and MaChelle Joseph were naturally excited about …

Continue reading A short hiatus from spring practice »

On moving players to new positions

Good morning, all-

Hope you are well.

I’ll answer a question that Patrick asked, as it was something that I had actually asked Paul Johnson about earlier in spring practice, about how coaches decide to move players. (By the way, if you have any other questions you’d like answered, keep them coming.) More or less, Patrick, you were on the right track. It’s a variety of reasons.

Some players move on their own. Correy Earls, for instance, requested to switch from wide receiver to defensive back, a position where he excelled in high school. Generally, it sounds like most of the moves, though, are made at Johnson’s request.

Before spring practice started, Johnson thought the team would have a shortage on the defensive line, so he decided on moving Jason Hill from the offensive line and Osahon Tongo and Albert Rocker from linebacker. He said factors such as body type, athletic ability and their chances for playing time at their old position vs. the new one go into the moves. (Things …

Continue reading On moving players to new positions »

Wait’s over for Ben Anderson

Good morning.

As a reader pointed out the other day, we haven’t written much about defensive tackle Ben Anderson. We aim to please, so…..

Anderson (6-1, 274) is the projected starter in Darryl Richard’s spot. He’ll be a redshirt junior this fall.

Here’s what I learned about Anderson:

He benches 460 pounds, most on the team.

He comes from the same high school, South Aiken (Aiken, S.C.) as Michael Dean Perry, the six-time NFL Pro Bowler, and current Florida State linebacker Dekoda Watson.

Anderson and Watson were classmates who, in the offseason, did extra weight-training sessions together. They’d do the regular sessions with the football team before school, then lift with the track & field team’s strength coach in the afternoon.

D-line coach Giff Smith likes to joke that Anderson has short legs. “He gives me a hard time about that. Its just the way I’m built. I’ve got a big torso and short legs,” Anderson said.

But Smith described Anderson as a better athlete than people …

Continue reading Wait’s over for Ben Anderson »

Auditions for punt returner

Auditions for punt returner continued Monday with safety Cooper Taylor, A-back Embry Peeples and wideout Daniel McKayhan getting their shots.

The front-runners still appear to be A-back Roddy Jones and cornerback Jerrard Tarrant.
Tech is trying to improve a unit that ranked ninth in the ACC, averaging 6.7 yards per return.

(Quick aside on kickoff returns, which were also sub-par. Tech ranked 10th in the league, 19.6 yards per return. The candidates for that job include Jones, Tarrant and Marcus Wright.)

Talking to wide receivers coach Al “Buzz” Preston, who also coaches punt returners, it was clear that ball security will be the most important factor in choosing a punt returner. He kept going back to it.
Tech lost fumbles on three punt returns last season: Tyler Melton at Boston College, Roddy Jones at UNC, and Andrew Smith vs. LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“No. 1, catch the ball and don’t fumble it,” Preston said. “If your guy can catch it, make quality decisions and get …

Continue reading Auditions for punt returner »

Marcus Wright emerges

Good morning.

At Saturday’s scrimmage, the starting lineup changed: Marcus Wright started at A-back instead of Lucas Cox. (Cox played mainly at backup B-back and ran hard up the gut, breaking tackles).

It’s too early to project Wright will actually keep that spot opposite Roddy Jones. But Wright is making a strong case.

Coaches have praised the 5-8, 175-pounder out of San Antonio for his blocking. He’s one of the fastest players on the team. And he showed great burst during the scrimmage. Wright took one toss for 20 yards, keeping his balance despite taking a clean shot.

I was more impressed with another play, one he messed up. Wright fumbled a pitch from Josh Nesbitt and it looked like DE Derrick Morgan was going to fall on it first. Wright came up with it despite being crushed by Morgan and someone else.

“Marcus has had a good spring,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I tell you, he’s a physical guy. I think he’s made a lot of improvement. I’m excited about Marcus, I think he …

Continue reading Marcus Wright emerges »

Looking at the linebackers

Linebacker was not a particular strength last season.

Inexperience was one factor: Tech entered 2008 with no returning starters at LB.

Injuries were another factor. Brad Jefferson missed games two through five with a dislocated wrist and didn’t regain his starting job until Nov. 8 at North Carolina. Kyle Jackson battled a sore Achilles (though he only missed one game). Shane Bowen’s career ended due to a neck injury. Sedric Griffin hurt his knee against Miami and missed the Georgia game. Anthony Barnes missed two games with a shoulder injury, then broke his leg against UGA. You get the point.

As a result, Tech played two linebackers and five DBs a lot. And speedy linebacker Tony Clark was used as a hybrid LB/safety called “Husky.”

We’ll see that again this season as Cooper Taylor moves from safety to what they’re now calling “Wolf.” Safety Mario Edwards, Barnes and LB Malcolm Munroe also could see time at the hybrid spot.

I asked linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary if we’d ever …

Continue reading Looking at the linebackers »

Spring practice, Day 6

Clever headline, eh?

Got some nuggets from Georgia Tech spring practice and a couple links to share.
A few things from the A-backs story I wrote for today.
1) Jeff Monken, the A-backs coach, took time to show me some film Tuesday from last season. He was pointing out what I wrote about in the story, A-backs pushing and shoving linebackers and defensive backs rather than cutting them to the ground. It was pretty obvious that several of the plays he showed me could have gone for far longer if the A-back in the play had gotten his man on the ground.
One of them, actually, was the play against Mississippi State when Josh Nesbitt tweaked his hamstring. It was a 21-yard run, but could have easily been a touchdown if a lineman and A-back had put their guys on the ground.

Of course, it’s very easy for me to sit here at my laptop and point this out. It isn’t so simple as throwing your body at a player’s legs and 10 times out of 10, he’ll fall to the ground. There’s technique …

Continue reading Spring practice, Day 6 »

Football and basketball notes

Good morning…

The men’s basketball team will play an early-season tournament in Puerto Rico, officially called the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off.

Eight teams will be in the tourney, which runs Nov. 19-22 and airs on ESPN. Each team is guaranteed three games.

Only seven teams were announced Tuesday, and pairings have not been finalized. It looks like a strong field: Villanova (in the Final Four), Dayton (reached NCAA Tournament second round), Indiana, Kansas State, UAB, George Mason and Tech.

In the 2008 event, Xavier beat Memphis for the championship.

This will be the Jackets’ third tournament off the U.S. mainland in the last four years. They didn’t go to one this past season.

On to football….

The secondary will be a lot more experienced this year, with everyone returning except Jahi Word-Daniels. It also will be deeper. Jerrard Tarrant, a 6-foot, 189-pound redshirt sophomore from Carrollton, is one reason why. Tarrant was impressive last spring and would have had a …

Continue reading Football and basketball notes »