Tech’s new guards hoping for similar results

Nick McRae and Omoregie Uzzi are doing their best to make Georgia Tech’s fans forget that the starting guards from last year’s ACC championship squad are gone.

And that’s not easy to do. All-ACC performer Cord Howard and Joseph Gilbert started every game as a tandem last season and helped pave the way for the Yellow Jackets to average an ACC-best 295.4 rushing yards per game.  Howard exhausted his eligibility and Gilbert is transferring to further his education.

Uzzi, a Lithonia native, got a lot of playing time last season after redshirting as a freshman. McRae, a Dublin native, also redshirted as a freshman but wasn’t able to crack the lineup as much as Uzzi last year.

But McRae is seizing his spot with the first unit this spring, consistently holding off challenges from redshirt freshmen Will Jackson and Ray Beno.

“Coach Sewak and I, with both guys [Uzzi and McRae] we see incremental development,” co-line coach Todd Spencer said. “They are making progress, grinding through the fundamentals. With that you’re getting better work habits. It’s been small victories, one on top of the other this spring.”

The hardest part is learning the plays, which Uzzi said he and McRae both know. Now it’s just a matter of improving their technique, staying low at the snap and trying to play as fast as they can.

“There’s a lot less thinking, a lot more playing,” Uzzi said.

Neither player said they’ve leaned much on Howard’s experience this year, though McRae said he is doing his best to follow the most important piece of advice Howard gave him last year.

“He would tell me to keep my head up and keep working,” McRae said. ” My time would come and when it comes to take advantage of it.”

Injury update

For the first time since the previous spring, linebacker Kyle Jackson was able to participate in some of the non-contact periods of Friday’s practice. Jackson broke a bone in his foot during a practice last spring and missed the ACC championship season.

Linebacker Brad Jefferson (hamstring), who has been out since Monday, should be back for Saturday’s practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium, which starts at 9:15 a.m. Linebacker Julian Burnett (ankle) will be a practice-time decision made by the trainers, Johnson said.

Johnson downplayed the significance of Saturday’s scrimmage, the last one before T-day on April 24.

Hill grounded

Wide receiver Stephen Hill missed Friday’s practice to compete in the long jump in the ACC track and field championships at Clemson. Hill fouled on each of his attempts.

Friday rewind

It’s the hit of the spring. During a third-and-4, down-and-distance drill, B-back Anthony Allen burst through the middle and flattened safety Jemea Thomas. Allen tried to fake him out at first, but then lowered his head and knocked Thomas backward. It was reminiscent of some of Jonathan Dwyer’s big hits last year and sparked one fan to say: “I don’t think we’re going to be giving up much at B-back.”

Johnson didn’t seem to impressed afterward. “It happens sometime,” he said.

Other highlights and lowlights during various drills in Friday’s practice:

• Cornerback Dominique Reese had three interceptions, including one when he snatched a ball right before it hit the ground.

• A-back Roddy Jones went up high to make a nice catch on a slightly underthrown pass down the right sideline.

• Nose tackle Logan Walls had a sack and defensive end Emmanuel Dieke had a tackle for loss.

• Middle linebacker Brandon Watts, pushing to make the first team, had a tackle for loss.

• Defensive end Jason Peters showed good lateral quickness to his right by pursuing down the line and bringing down B-back Richard Watson.

Jordan Luallen made a hard throw to A-back Robby Godhigh on a skinny post that he caught in stride. Otherwise, it was an uneven day for Tech’s quarterbacks.

• Safety Mario Edwards and B-back Lucas Cox had a big collision in a run up the middle. Cox continues to impress, bowling through the line for positive yards on most of his carries.

• Wide receiver Tyler Melton busted a long run on a screen play.

Albert Rocker tagged Allen in the backfield on the third-and-4 drill.

• As middle linebacker Steven Sylvester sacked him, Tevin Washington was able to get away a nice pass to Melton that he wasn’t able to hold onto.

• A-back B.J. Bostic wasn’t looking for a pass by Luallen on a seam route. The ball zipped right by him. Had he caught it only the wall at the other end of the practice field would have stopped him.

28 comments Add your comment

wesleywhatwhat

April 16th, 2010
7:01 pm

i think the old guard(s) will be forgotten pretty quickly.

POAD

April 16th, 2010
7:20 pm

And people say Tech doesn’t pass? Sounds like the guys are getting more in the playbook.

TechMan

April 16th, 2010
7:21 pm

So how does Roddy go up high for a pass that is under thrown…is he that short?

charles

April 16th, 2010
7:28 pm

TechMan, I’m guessing you can picture all of Reggie’s underthrown balls that Calvin had to slow down for and outjump people for…

Jacket Backer

April 16th, 2010
7:56 pm

go jackets!!…can’t wait to T Day…

Todd

April 16th, 2010
8:09 pm

LOL – charles, I think you missed the joke… Roddy might be short, but he’s a bad-ass!

jadams

April 16th, 2010
9:09 pm

Finally a good update. thank you. Keep them coming

juvenal

April 16th, 2010
9:55 pm

wish we had a play-off…we scored 9 more pts. on un than cu….

StingerSplash

April 16th, 2010
9:58 pm

You have Kyle Jackson as a backup offensive lineman and also as an ailing linebacker. I believe he’s a linebacker. Who is the offensive lineman in question?

Doug Roberson

April 16th, 2010
10:12 pm

Knew I was going to do that at some point. Will Jackson is an OL. Kyle Jackson is a LB. It’s fixed.

UgaMuthaFuga

April 16th, 2010
10:13 pm

Where all the posts by UGA fans on the Tech blog that all of you guys allude to when you are on our boards talking trash? Looks like I’m the first and this has been up for three hours.

UgaMuthaFuga

April 16th, 2010
10:15 pm

Best of luck to you guys on a repeat of the ACC next year, btw. Have a good night.

GTfan1963

April 16th, 2010
10:29 pm

First, Omoregie Uzzi is from Lithonia. Secondly, he played in 20-30 snaps last season, and played almost the whole bowl game against Iowa. Is this the type of lack luster coverage we are going to expect from the ajc when it comes to Tech?

collegeballfan

April 17th, 2010
8:40 am

Doug please update the linemen on both sides of the ball, say a two deep as you see it.

rainman

April 17th, 2010
9:36 am

collegeballfan – it’s tough getting much info, but I will speculate for ya:

O-Line: 1st team — Tackles – Claytor,Barrick Guards – Uzzi,McRae Center – Bedford
As mentioned, Beno & Jackson backing up at Guard, with Krish in the mix.
It looks like McRae and Beno would be the best bets backing up at center – they both have experience here.
Foster and Phil Smith are Tackles who will get a shot.

D-Line: 1st team — NT Logan Walls DE’s Peters, Cross
At nose tackle there seems to be adequate depth with T.J.Barnes, Ben Anderson, and J.C.Lanier, however, they were talking about using Lanier at DE – I haven’t heard how that’s working out.
The depth chart at DE is harder to figure. Will Robert Hall come back strong in the summer? Dieke has promise, but needs to stay lower. Cummings is a possibility. Rocker and Tongo are not the ideal size for DE in a 3-4, but will get some playing time somewhere. I wouldn’t be suprised if the freshman, Denzel McCoy, is worked into the rotation at DE.

ACC CHAMPS!

April 17th, 2010
10:05 am

I LOOK FORWARD TO ANTHONY ALLEN RUNNING OVER PEOPLE! GO RODDY AND GO GET’EM JACKETS!

Delbert D.

April 17th, 2010
10:38 am

Lucas Cox is a valuable guy. In 2008 he played as the backup to Dwyer at B, plus snaps in the rotation at A. In 2009 he played mostly at A. Big, tough runner and good blocker.

CarolinaJacket

April 17th, 2010
10:42 am

How is Kyle Jackson doing? He’s a monster, but stays hurt a lot. Is he getting any better?

techengineer

April 17th, 2010
11:40 am

Yeh, I always liked the Cox kid at B back. Why not use Allen as more an A back to take advantage of his speed on the outside? Maybe Allen is turning into a bruiser as well up the middle and the two would make a good rotation. Anyway, my biggest concerns are LBs and WRs. No way in hell to replace Thomas and the LBs seemed to be the weak spot all year last year. But maybe Groh can out scheme someone this year.

techengineer

April 17th, 2010
11:44 am

Consider this when thinking of the OLine. They are extremely important but remember how Navy had OhSt on the ropes last year with an OLine that may have averaged 260 lbs soaking wet.. That said over the past two years i’ve seen some DLines in the ACC and this past year GA just man handle our OLine. Not sure how Navy does it.

Um, ah, the um TWO BEST did not graduate??

April 17th, 2010
11:59 am

Um, ah, like, um, like ah, Tech’s two best guards either QUIT or transferred from the BONE???

I um, ah thought that tech graduated ALL of their scholar athletes. Um, ah, why did they LEAVE???

One even went to Ga State??? Wow!! Sort of like the former techer tight end that escaped, so as to play in the SEC for Bama. THAT HAD TO HURT tech’s pride. Dumped for the SEC.

Tech can’t sign top drawer HS prospects, nor can they get ACC all stars to stay. That says it all.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA Middle School offense is attracting them from all over the world. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHHA

wesleywhatwhat

April 17th, 2010
1:09 pm

oh, and just to be clear, 2-time all ACC guard cord howard DID graduate.

http://ncaafball.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/georgia-tech-starting-ol-moving-on/

so what was your point again, two best??? that u really wish u could have gone to GT?

Cuttysark

April 17th, 2010
1:42 pm

Will Jackson needs to get back in the rotation as we need to keep everyone healthy along the offensive line going inito fall camp. Paul Johnson is starting to get some beef up front which will start to show how this triple option offense can work when the offensive line is controlling the line of scrimmage.

For more Georgia Tech Football articles go to http:isportsweb.com. Go Jackets!

Cuttysark

April 17th, 2010
1:43 pm

vahokie

April 17th, 2010
2:36 pm

lame.what a bunch of cut blocking cheats .GO HOKIES!!!!!!

wesleywhatwhat

April 17th, 2010
9:02 pm

to the moron posting above as “vahokie”:

CUT BLOCKS ARE LEGAL IN THE NCAA.

http://blog.al.com/tide-source/2009/10/neither_saban_nor_mike_johnson.html

so what is your point again? still upset about losing to GT in 2009?

here’s an idea – stop complaining, and start improving. that is, if u actually play for VT.

if i had to guess, i’d say that you are an uneducated “fan” of the VT program who is embarassing other VT fans with your lack of knowledge. perhaps it’s time to leave the blogs alone and pick up a book?

vahokie

April 18th, 2010
1:05 pm

lol yeah im a idiot i guess ill just have to find something to do with this with MBA.have a good day you hick

wesleywhatwhat

April 18th, 2010
11:27 pm

so “vahokie” admits to being an idiiot. glad to hear it – the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting it.