Tech’s defensive line making progress

Logan Walls leads the defense through drills. JOHNNY CRAWFORD/AJC

Logan Walls leads the defense through drills. JOHNNY CRAWFORD/AJC

When Al Groh was hired as defensive coordinator and the switch to a 3-4 defense realized, many of you immediately began asking about the defensive line. Presumably for two reasons: Derrick Morgan wasn’t on it anymore and last year’s squad had its issues slowing down folks with four guys up front, how would they be with three?

So far, things seem to be looking up.

While Saturday’s T-Day Game (12:30 p.m.) will provide a much better measuring stick for progress, defensive line coach Andy McCollum said last week that he likes what he sees so far.

“It’s been a day-by-day process but I like the character of it, I like the worth ethic,” said McCollum, a Marietta native whom Paul Johnson hired away from N.C. State. “We’re eager and they want to learn a new system.

“We’ve got some older guys that are handling it a little bit better and some younger guys that need to get caught up.”

One of those older guys, defensive end Jason Peters, seems to be the spring standout, so far. He made a few more eye-popping plays during last Saturday’s scrimmage.

McCollum said nose tackle Logan Walls seems to be taking to the switch really well. He was disruptive on a few plays on Saturday, which can be tough to do when you are getting double-teamed. McCollum rattled off a few more names, including Izaan Cross, Euclid Cummings and T.J. Barnes.

“Izaan Cross, as soon as he keeps learning how to play hard, and play smart he’ll be good,” McCollum said. “Euclid Cummings is catching on. T.J. Barnes is a work everyday, but he’s lost 20-something pounds and he’s doing something every day that’s better. There’s still a long way to go but we’re getting there.”

Cross is running with the first-teamers at the other defensive end spot. He said the switch hasn’t been as difficult as one might think.

“Many of the things we do we were doing last year,” Cross said. “We’re doing a lot of slanting and a lot of moving. Last year we did a lot of staying on our block and pushing our blocker back.”

Cross said he did a lot of slanting in high school, so he’s enjoying playing an attacking style of football again. He’s also enjoying getting to know his new position coach.

He said the hardest part of moving from a DE in a 4-3 to one in a 3-4 is the positioning. He’s line up straight over an offensive tackle now, which he said makes it harder to pass rush (but points out that’s what the outside linebackers are for), but easier against the run.

How many of you will be watching the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday in New York?

I’m curious to hear where you think Tech’s big four will go in the draft, and what kind of pro careers they will have.

Derrick Morgan reminds me of a Patrick Kerney-type player, a guy who won’t impress you with flash, but will make you proud with his work ethic. Working on coverage skills will be his big thing.

Demaryius Thomas could be another Brandon Marshall or Terrell Owens, but without the mental fragility and me-me-me histrionics. He’s so big that he’s going to make plays.

Jonathan Dwyer could be another Michael Turner-type running back. A guy who will move the pile and break the big run when it’s there. Learning patience as plays develop will be the big thing for him.

Morgan Burnett, as NFL analyst Charles Davis told me a few months ago, will make his money on his second contract after he shows everyone that he’s a player that won’t have to be taken off the field when the offense motions into a spread formation.

67 comments Add your comment

Not Disappointed

April 20th, 2010
10:29 am

Great update Doug! Cant wait until the scrimage this weekend! Ramlbin Wreck!

Jim

April 20th, 2010
10:33 am

Enter your comments here

CJ

April 20th, 2010
10:35 am

2010 is going to be so much better on D. Instead of having to score 35 to win, we will only need 24. Big difference. Keep up the hard work guys. Another ACC crown is in the works.

BigTimeTechFan

April 20th, 2010
11:19 am

So DL is looking like?

1st team
DE Peters 6′4″ 273
NG Walls 6′2″ 286
DE Big (rush) – Cross 6′4″ 272
DE Small (pass)- Cummings 6′4″ 250
Nice size but hope TJ Barnes comes on big at 6′7″ 331

GT

April 20th, 2010
11:21 am

Look at the recruiting class at Tech going into the freshman class and then look at the guys getting drafted. I mean they might have been in the lower 20s in recruiting and now they are maybe in the top 10 in drafting. What happens? Is it coaching, or character or recruiting “experts” that don’t know what they are talking about? Do you get the feeling it is some PR firm telling ESPN or AJC to blow up a class to make their listener or readers buy copy. If they wrote about Tech they wouldn’t sell newspapers or if they talked about Clemson the Ohio State people would take their million dollar audience somewhere else. It is when people are spending money not trying to make money that the truth comes out and the truth is there is some pretty good talent at some schools that done get on the radar because of an agenda. Pub gets you a national championship as much as skill. If you can convince the voters there is no elephant like TCU or Utah in the room then they vote for Ohio State or Alabama. The real look at this PR machine will come out Thursday when the checks are writen. There is no Texas or Southern Cal or Alabama any more. Parity has become a bs contest and the press have become king makers with an attitude.

DirtyDawg

April 20th, 2010
11:56 am

Hi guys…don’t you just love it when one of us comes over to ‘crack wise’? I’m sure this info about your D-line is all well and good and you are to be congratulated, but I needed a place to comment about how well you folks are also doing at figuring out how to keep your people eligible. I mean it used to be that ADD-suffering kids and adolescents weren’t considered good candidates for engineering schools with high-academic standards, but I’m gratified to learn that young Mr. Dwyer not only was accepted but managed to remain qualified to play what with all those tough calculus courses and such. So just keep on coming up with those ‘break-through’ strategies – maybe you’ll share your secrets with us one of these days.

J

April 20th, 2010
12:14 pm

Hey Double “D”, it’s called character.

Wisconsin Jacket

April 20th, 2010
12:45 pm

DirtyDawg don’t be jealous that a kid with ADD can understand calculus and you can’t.

Druid Hills

April 20th, 2010
12:57 pm

I hope the Falcons can (somehow) pick-up Jonathan Dwyer.

That Guy

April 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

Hey Doug,

What have you heard about Emmanuel Dieke? He’s a big guy that I saw play end in high school. Has he made any progress? What have you heard about him?

Coach

April 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

Good luck to Izaan. Your old coach from Buford loves you. GO Dawgs!

Doug Roberson

April 20th, 2010
1:12 pm

Dieke is running with the second-team defensive line right now. If my memory is right, it’s a combo of Dieke-Barnes-Cummings or Lanier. They interchange a lot.

Reality

April 20th, 2010
1:14 pm

Doug…Why isn’t Barnes projected to start?

Doug Roberson

April 20th, 2010
1:18 pm

Why isn’t Barnes projected to start? I guess Walls is beating him at the nose tackle position right now.

Reality

April 20th, 2010
1:28 pm

Never mind Doug….i just thought he was projected to start.

GT3O

April 20th, 2010
1:29 pm

Great blog Doug, keep it up!

I think Derrick Morgan is going top 10 in the first round no doubt. I would compare him to Jared Allen. Derrick does not quit on a play, and neither does Jared Allen.

Thomas will also go in the first round. The WR pool is so thin this year as far as big names go. He may even go over Dez Bryant depending on who wants him. I am hoping that the Falcons take him at 19 because Jenkins is not cutting it anymore. Jenkins can block, but his wide-open endzone drops and 3rd down drops hurt bad last year and there’s no excuse for that. Bey-Bey would all but complete the Falcons offense, especially with Harry Douglas coming in.

Dwyer I hope sneaks into the first round, but I feel he will slip into the second. He will turn out to be better than most of the RB’s in front of him though. He’ll be the RB that an NFL team will say, “damn we missed out on that one”.

I agree with your assessment of Morgan Burnett. I am of the opinion it would have worked wonders for him to stay, especially in the 3-4. He could have had a great opportunity to shine. But that neither here nor there, he’s gone and he’s going to have wait to prove his worth in camp.

ZamBonE

April 20th, 2010
1:30 pm

Well played Wisconsin Jacket

I have been waiting for Draft day for a while and I can’t believe it is only 2 days away. Very excited to see where our Yellow Jackets land.

Derrick Morgan should go Top 10 and I can’t see him falling past the Giants at 15.
Demaryius Thomas should go first round. It’s hard not to fall in love with a guy with his combination of size, strength, and speed. His blocking ability will be a huge plus and teams will appreciate how he attacks the ball in the air instead of waiting for it to come to him.
Jonathan Dwyer will probably land in the second round. He has the talent to go first, but teams may be hesitant to take him since he played in CPJ Spread Option Offense. GMs and scouts have very little experience scouting RBs out of this system, but whoever gets him will be very happy.
Morgan Burnett will be a second day pick. Not sure whether he’ll go round 2 or 3, but he is a great athlete and has a nose for the ball.

Go Jackets

eh

April 20th, 2010
1:49 pm

TECH SUCKS!!!

What do GT and uG fans have in common?

April 20th, 2010
1:56 pm

They both love talking GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKET FOOTBALL on a rainy Tuesday in April, as DirtyDawg and his buddy eh have demonstrated.

You know, if my team had just lost a drunken frat boy of a quarterback, I don’t think I’d be talking trash about a rival player who’s about to make millions in the NFL Draft.

But that’s just me.

Georgia Tech For Like

April 20th, 2010
2:00 pm

dirtydawg- we already know what y’all do. Y’all buy Hershy Walker a brand new Trans Am just like in 1980. Remember that? Im sure you do, all UGAG fans are living in it.

Outside Observer

April 20th, 2010
3:22 pm

Doug, is Lanier having a slow recovery from his injury? He seems like he would have the size and speed to really make an impact on the D-line, but I haven’t heard much about him.

sharecropper

April 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

I will be happy with the defense if Tech can win scoring 30 points a game. It has to be a work in progress, and recruiting in progress, so let’s start with 30 and aim lower.

GT on schedule = UGA win

April 20th, 2010
4:55 pm

GT in the lower 20 in recruiting? HAHAHAH Maybe according to you, but according to Scout 41st. Note last year GT fans thought that Micheal Johnson was 1st rounder and ended up going second round. Good luck with your one star recruits thus far and now is the point that you bring up baseball because we got Football and basketball. GT on schedule = UGA win get use to it….oh wait you already are. NERDS!

Stinger

April 20th, 2010
5:20 pm

UGA gets the best high school players, but something happens to them when they get to college. They get coached down. PJ coaches our players up and that is why they will be top draft choices.

lucky21

April 20th, 2010
5:32 pm

yea doug what happened to jc lanier I thought he was going to be a monster

mwh6767

April 20th, 2010
6:12 pm

Just read an article on the UGA blog and read some of the comments. The leghumpers are moaning cause there is one gt fan on there. They say how worthless Tech fans are to be on their blog. So I come over here and yep sure nuff the crotchsniffers are already here in force. Look, I dont give a crap that they are here, its pretty funny to me. But stop crying when you get a little of you own medicine! Plain and simple the dawgs are worried about their season. Just enjoy the ride tech fans, going to be a great year. Hope to see you all at the T-day game!

NERD ALERT

April 20th, 2010
8:30 pm

BEEP!!!! BEEP!!!!! BEEP!!!!!

Doug Roberson

April 20th, 2010
8:47 pm

Regarding J.C. Lanier, remember that it’s been a while since he played football. I would guess that not only is he trying to work himself into shape, he’s working on football shape (a different thing) while also learning a new defense.

Texas Jacket

April 20th, 2010
9:12 pm

Dwyer will be the back that most teams will be wishing they took. It’s a shame the Texans don’t seem to be interested in the 1st round, because that is what they need, a big durable back with home run threat potential. I have said this over and over–at 240 lbs., I still never saw him caught from behind in college. At 225, he’s a beast. The Falcons should consider him if they are able to move up in the 2nd round and he’s still available.

Whoever gets him will be glad they did.

Old Gold

April 20th, 2010
9:21 pm

Uhhhhh….25-6…we run this state!

Stinger

April 20th, 2010
9:27 pm

Does UGAY still have a baseball team or did they cancel the season after the stomping we put on them? 25-6 BAABEE

techengineer

April 20th, 2010
10:41 pm

So DL is looking like?

1st team
DE Peters 6′4″ 273
NG Walls 6′2″ 286
DE Big (rush) – Cross 6′4″ 272
DE Small (pass)- Cummings 6′4″ 250
Nice size but hope TJ Barnes comes on big at 6′7″ 331

Don’t forget Robert Hall who went down in the Mia game last year.. He was damn good.

Tokyo jacket

April 20th, 2010
10:45 pm

I see Morgan going top 10. Bebe will go between 24 and 40 overall, with Dwyer being in a similar range but probably a little later. Look for Burnett to be picked up in the third round and starting by week 4. The only real knock on him was his speed. He ran a 4.4 for the scouts at his pro day. Tech will be well represented next year in the League.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

April 20th, 2010
10:57 pm

BeBe can’t catch catch ….. will go late 2nd round. Morgan will go mid 1st round. Is Tech going to play defense this season? Johnson doesn’t coach defense.

What do GT and uG fans have in common?

April 21st, 2010
4:11 am

They both love talking GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKET FOOTBALL on a rainy Tuesday in April, as DirtyDawg and his buddy eh have demonstrated.

There are currently more post on the UGA BLOG from GT fans than on this one.

I admit, I AM A MORON!

Coach PJ

April 21st, 2010
8:11 am

Our Defensive line sucks! I appreciate the nice article, but we are going to get our tail handed to us this year and I just hope I get to keep my job! All of you boosters need to understand that my way of coaching is only good for about a year or two. Sorry, but that is just how is. We are still going to lose to UGA and MIA and maybe 2 more. If you want, I will try and go punch someone in the face! I agree, you are a moron….

Stinger

April 21st, 2010
8:27 am

National Championship here we come.

Eassyy

April 21st, 2010
9:08 am

so does this mean they have a shot at winning their first bowl game in 6 years?

danno

April 21st, 2010
9:44 am

I love it how Ugay fans love to call GT guys nerds yet the also love hearing their band play the star wars theme 400 times a game. Ha! who’s the nerds.

Alphare

April 21st, 2010
10:00 am

Derrick Morgan is the best there is. He will be a top 10 draft pick. He is what Atlanta Falcons need too.

Alphare

April 21st, 2010
10:06 am

Tech recruited seven 4-star athletes in 2007 while UGA took 11 the same year.

Well, 4 of the 7 Tech 4-stars will drafted round 1&2. That’s 60 percent my friend. How many UGA 4-stars will be drafted in round 1&2? most likely nothing. Zero.

I cannot help but wonder what those UGA recruits are thinking now.

“If I signed with Tech back then, would I be drafted in round 1&2?”

pcb mike

April 21st, 2010
10:56 am

I always amused by the stupidity of UGA fans. Calling someone a nerd who is obviously more intelligent than you, ranks right up there with being proud of your ignorance.

TECH4EVA

April 21st, 2010
10:56 am

UGA got an IDIOT to be their DC. They are in trouble. Trust me there are no DWARE’s and Jay Ratliffs down there on the mutt farm.

Dacula Jacket

April 21st, 2010
12:01 pm

Can’t wait to see where our boys go on Thursday! Best of luck at the next level. By the way, I’d pay to read a blog without any BS trash talk. Any suggestions as to where I could find one. I’m getting pretty sick of this crap.

call em like I see em

April 21st, 2010
12:09 pm

Enter your comments here

call em like I see em

April 21st, 2010
12:11 pm

I dont neccesarily agree with your take on Demarius Thomas’ draft status. I think hes a good physical big-bodied WR, but the only reason he broke huge plays at GT was because he played for a team that ran the ball EVERY play (not MOST, EVERY) to me hes a late-second-rounder at best. he will be good but not Brandon Marshall, T.O. good.

Go Izaan (he went to my school)

ben

April 21st, 2010
12:12 pm

Some of you are real idiots —> Alphare. UGA had two draft picks in the top 12 last year I’m sure they are wondering “If i signed with Tech back then…nah nobody thinks about Tech” GT will always be trash. Sorry :(

ben

April 21st, 2010
12:15 pm

It amazes me that 1. I am on a GT blog 2. You guys (girls) talk about UGA more than you talk about Tech 3. You whine about Bulldog fans being on your blog and yet there are always Techies who sit around all day and wait for the next bulldog story to post so that they can run their mouth 4. You would think that your Defense wouldn’t be like your offense…a high school system…duh

call em like I see em

April 21st, 2010
12:21 pm

I say Tech goes 9-3 regular season, VT goes to title game, and they beat USC in Chick-Fil-A bowl

the defense looks weak to me and the Offense will have NO passing attack without Bebe and no Dwyer was a huge part of the running game, without him teams wont bite on the inside attack except for Nesbitt.

so yeah 10-3 final

call em like I see em

April 21st, 2010
12:22 pm

and I agree with everything ben said in those two comments