Looking at Tech, post-spring

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said when he first arrived he would ask the players who did well after scrimmages.

Some would say “offense;” some would say “defense.”

“No,” he would reply, “Georgia Tech won.”

That the team is doing well and on track to defend its ACC title seemed to be the feeling among the players after the spring practice culminated with last Saturday’s T-Day game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The re-engineered defense seems to be coming along. Players are getting used to the four new assistant coaches. Anthony Allen’s transition from A-back to B-back continued without a hitch. Most importantly, the team found out that there is life after the big four of Derrick Morgan, Demaryius Thomas, Morgan Burnett and Jonathan Dwyer left early for the NFL.

But that wasn’t the only question entering the spring practices whose answer started to be found:

1. Installing defense’s front seven. The defensive linemen and linebackers raved all spring about how much fun they were having learning new defensive coordinator Al Groh’s 3-4 system. Of course, one wouldn’t expect to hear anything but hosannas when playing time is up for grabs. Several players stood out, including defensive end Jason Peters, middle linebackers Brad Jefferson and Brandon Watts, and outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe. Competition at the key nose tackle position may increase when Ben Anderson (knee) returns from injury in August.

One player won’t be asked to make up for Morgan’s 12 ½ sacks. The defense hopes as a unit it can step up and improve on last year’s averages of 360.3 yards and 24.8 points allowed per game.

2. Rebuilding the offensive line. Replacing three starters from last year’s line was paramount this spring. The search may not be over yet. Sean Bedford at center and Omoregie Uzzi at guard may be the only two locks heading into August. Phil Smith will return from injury and will compete for the starter job at one tackle. Returning starter Austin Barrick missed some spring practices because of classes. He will look to secure his spot  at the other tackle. Nick McRae will continue to try and hold off Will Jackson and Ray Beno at guard. The good news is that many players who redshirted last season got a lot of time with the first- or second-team units in April. The second-unit in the T-day game was composed entirely of freshmen. They led the Gold team to one touchdown against the second-team defense.

3. The backup quarterback derby. Tevin Washington seemed to lock down the No. 2 job behind Joshua Nesbitt. Washington, a redshirt freshman, had a solid spring that culminated with him leading the White team to four touchdowns in the T-Day game. His passing, while not consistent, has improved from the fall. Johnson said challengers David Sims and Jordan Luallen also impressed in the spring. Sims looks to be the better runner and Luallen the better passer.

4. The wide receiver race. While it’s doubtful that just one player can make up for the loss of Thomas’ 1,154 yards, there are enough solid receivers that they may be able to equal his production as a group. If you’re looking for a standout, freshman Stephen Hill turned some heads at the T-Day game with a 70-yard touchdown catch that was “Bay-Bay” like, and he also took a sure interception away from cornerback Dominique Reese when he wrestled an underthrown ball away from him at the 5-yard line. Tyler Melton, a tough blocker, seemed to secure his starting spot on the other side of the formation.

5. Spotting the secondary. Johnson said the secondary may be the deepest part of the team. The cornerbacks and safeties are not only somewhat interchangeable – Jerrard Tarrant, Mario Edwards, Rashaad Reid and Reese can move back and forth,which is important as more teams try to spread the field with three- and four-wide receiver sets. Once the freshmen enroll, the unit could have as many as 10 players who could see time. Though the first- and second-units were somewhat established, Johnson said don’t be surprised if there changes in August as the competition heats up.

Looking at freshmen

The three early enrollees — B.J. Bostic, Charles Perkins and Isaiah Johnson — looked sharp throughout the spring. Perkins’ momentum slowed down after he was switched from B-back to A-back, but it’s obvious he has talent.

Johnson and Bostic caught Johnson’s eye. He said after the T-day game that Bostic can do some things once he gets in the open field, and that Johnson plays so fast.

I’ll be curious to see what Ryan Ayers and Louis Young can do in August. Both came in highly touted.

As noted above the position is so deep that I would be they are going to have to really impress to avoid being redshirted.

Pass rush

Because the spring practices are mostly focused on certain aspects and there are few open scrimmage periods, it was hard to discern if Tech’s pass rush will be improved from last year’s, when it was Morgan or mostly nothing.

Egbuinwe would seem to have the size to be a physical rusher. I’m curious to see if he has the speed to get around the edge. Playing defensive end last year, he didn’t get the opportunity to come around the corner too often.

Groh is a smart, efficient blitz play-caller. One of the players said he estimates they put in six of the base plays in the spring. He has no idea how many Groh has in his hip pocket, but I would guess there’s more than can be taught in any one season.

I could be wrong, and as y’all know that happens fairly frequently, but I would bet Steven Sylvester ends up at outside linebacker. He played there last year, and then was moved to inside for the spring. I’m not basing my opinion on anything other than the plays he made in the Orange Bowl.

Of course,there are a few freshmen coming in who could provide a pass rush, including outside linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Quayshawn Nealy.

Upcoming events and a query

How many of you are going to tonight’s baseball game at the Ted? As noted in the paper and online, Tech is going for its first sweep of the Bulldogs since 1994.

How many of you are going to the Spring Caravan at the Galleria on Thursday?

Lastly, would you be interested in a post-spring mailblog, similar to the one we did pre-spring?

83 comments Add your comment

Jacket Backer

April 27th, 2010
11:58 am

Go Jackets!!

SouthBendJacket

April 27th, 2010
12:03 pm

Second!?! That’s as close as I’ve ever come!

SouthBendJacket

April 27th, 2010
12:04 pm

Thanks for the update. I’m flooded with Notre Dame info, which stinks, but these updates make me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Born2Buzz

April 27th, 2010
12:17 pm

Great job Doug. And really good article about Bay-Bay Thomas.
Not going to the baseball game tonight although I wanted to. Family commitments. But we better win. I have a standing bet on this game and we haven’t seemed to win it too often.

GTFAN

April 27th, 2010
12:24 pm

Good article..All info is appreciated and yes a post spring mailblog would be appreciated.

GTpak

April 27th, 2010
12:34 pm

What is a mailblog? If it is more info on the Jackets, then I’m all for it.

Thanks for the good post spring write up!!

gtm

April 27th, 2010
12:38 pm

What position is Bostic playing?

Brian

April 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

Nice wrap-up. It will be interesting how all the defensive players fit together. Seems every spring or summer a group of freshman turn heads only to still be red-shirted. We’ll see if having a new scheme and Groh in place may alter that stance a bit. I agree that Ayers, Johnson, and Young look the part (especially Johnson as he has shown after enrolling early), but let’s see if they really stick at that deep position going into the year. That said let’s get out the brooms tonight at the Ted!!!

ExecutiveStinger

April 27th, 2010
12:49 pm

gtm…… B.J. has been playing A-back.

GT BABY

April 27th, 2010
12:50 pm

Good article….Doug, how do you really think the Tech’s 4-3 defense is going to be. I was really dissapointed in the defense last year and I hope we can bounce back.

Cuttysark

April 27th, 2010
12:54 pm

Nice article as the Yellow Jackets get ready for fall camp late this summer. Georgia Tech should once again be in the hunt for a Coastal Division and ACC Championship.

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

StingerSplash

April 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

Doug,

Count me in for a post spring mailblog, if you’re so inclined to do one.

StingerSplash

April 27th, 2010
1:01 pm

Doug,

One other thing … are you going to be hitting any other Caravan stops (it sounds as if you will be going to the one at the Galleria)? Because I would be interested to know the fan base’s take on Hewitt now.
I might go to the one in Savannah (and it’s about time they deigned to come down this way again) to judge for myself.

Jesse Stone

April 27th, 2010
1:47 pm

Doug (or anyone that knows),
I’ve asked many times without response about Julian Burnett. He came in and did some good things for us as a Freshman, but I’ve yet to hear anything about him since the season ended. Where is he on the depth chart?

Jesse Stone

April 27th, 2010
1:54 pm

I just read on a previous blog that he may be held out of the T-day game.

GTGreg

April 27th, 2010
2:01 pm

Thanks for the recap, Doug. Go Jackets!

Doug Roberson

April 27th, 2010
2:14 pm

Burnett was running the second-unit in the spring. He was a tackling machine when he was in last year, though he did make some freshman mistakes. There’s still a lot of football to be played.

Jesse Stone

April 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Thanks Doug. I taught Julian in middle school and have since moved out of state. I try to keep track of him the best I can.

GT BACKER

April 27th, 2010
2:27 pm

Doug, excellent write up. I will also point the special teams improvemnt, as it may play a key role in 2010 as well, with road games at VT, UNC, Clemson,and UGA, all with the types of defenses that has slowed us down over the past few years.
1. Punter: Anderson lead acc in net punting last year. Had a good spring, looks to be getting off ball a little quicker this year. Other punter, Poole looks to be pushing him. Good depth and both have great hands for FG holding.
2. Long-snappers: We have 2 (Lentz and the Morgan) that split time last year which gives us good depth. Both are very good. Both had good springs
3. FG’s: Blair finished 9-11 with a 48 and 49, and looked very good in scrimmages going 2-2 with a 51. Looks like he has some things figured out. Tanner with game experience as a solid back-up, also looked good in spring, plus a new guy coming in
4. Return teams and coverage teams: Have returners back with several more adding good comp. I think we have plenty of good coverage guys that want to make plays.
5. Coach Kelly: I think he will change the kickoff team coverage to the way he ran it 3 years ago when we lead the country in covergae most of the year. I think blair only made 2 tackles that year vs 11 and 7 the past 2 years. He will also bring a greater sense of enthusiasum to the group
6. CPJ: with the O more stable and the D in good hands, I think we will see him involved with SP next year…which is always good.

Techmaninathens

April 27th, 2010
2:47 pm

I wonder why Dwyer was picked so late in the draft. I know the drug thing didn’t help, but he must not have been as seen as that valuable a back. I thought his size and speed would make him go much higher.

old Tech fan in NC

April 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

Glad to see good news.
Up here, the forecast is (seemingly always) the same…FSU & VT listed as tops.
Hopefully Tech will surprise many and have a better passing game this fall and repeat as champs.
I expect to watch Tech play in Charlotte this fall!

JAdams

April 27th, 2010
3:04 pm

Great article! Good job wraping up the spring. I only wish there had been more articles like this one durning practice.

Stinger

April 27th, 2010
3:06 pm

National Championship here we come.

Would you believe 30-0 GT in tonight’s baseball game? I would not be surprised.

indianman

April 27th, 2010
3:14 pm

go georgia bulldogs

indianman

April 27th, 2010
3:14 pm

stinger you are dreaming

Surprised

April 27th, 2010
3:16 pm

Wow, no disrupting comments from the leghumpers yet? Amazing that a moronic pup troll hasn’t polluted the blog… yet.

Surprised

April 27th, 2010
3:17 pm

…oops! Spoke too soon, indianman has filled the role already.

We_Run_This_Country

April 27th, 2010
3:27 pm

It’s a breath of fresh air to read about football! I can’t imagine being a Bulldog fan and having to read about players being arrested, put in jail, or kicked off the team. Just when you start to feel bad for them, you remember they are Bulldogs and they deserve everything that is happening to them!

Go Yellow Jackets! THWG!!

Reality

April 27th, 2010
3:28 pm

Dwyer fell in the draft primarily because of his performance in the combines. He ran a rather slow 40 which really concerned most teams as they need speed at RB.

He’ll be a fine pro, but won’t really burn up the ground…. likely a short yardage specialist.

GT alumni

April 27th, 2010
3:30 pm

No bulldogs are on here because none of them really care about GT Football, it is second rate football in a poor conference

Delbert D.

April 27th, 2010
3:48 pm

That 3:30 poseur doesn’t know the difference between “alumni” and “alumnus.” Not a college guy.

Jackets Forever

April 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

Heck, as one of our own players so accurately observed a few years ago: “You have to remember, half our students don’t even realize we have a football team.”

wiley

April 27th, 2010
3:56 pm

Your right GT Alumni they are too concerned with their second rate football program.

DYNAMICBIGBOY

April 27th, 2010
3:57 pm

HATE TO TELL ALL YOU BUMBLEBEE BACKERS BUT YOU JUST DON’T HAVE THE TYPE ATHELETES TO RUN THE 3-4 DEFENSE. THAT, ALONG WITH THE FACT THAT YOUR OFFENSE WILL NOT BE AS GOOD AS LAST YEARS , SPELLS TROUBLE ON THE FLATS FOR THE DEFENSE. MOST OF YOUR BIG GAMES ARE AWAY THIS YEAR SO I LOOK FOR AT LEAST 3-4 LOSSES EVEN IN A SUB-PAR ACC.

DawginLex

April 27th, 2010
3:57 pm

9-3 2 conference losses. At VT-L and at UNC-L. Will get revenge on UM at home and beat Clemson again. Lose in Athens.

Gator Bowl. VT vs FSU for title

Dawgs

April 27th, 2010
3:58 pm

Have you seen the train wreck in Athens at the QB position? Arrests? Dismissals? Transfers? Just be thankful that you’re not a Dawg fan!

wiley

April 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

Oh I spoke too soon here they come! Lets hear your opinions because we all know they matter.

HBTD

April 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

Does anyone really care???

Dawgs

April 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

Just remember wait until next year… 2011 that is, the Dawg Nation will be unstoppable.

Not Disappointed

April 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

I look forward to the season beginning. Ramblin Wreck!

DawginLex

April 27th, 2010
4:04 pm

why such a bunch of smartalecs? I posted an opinion on a blog.

As far as UGA goes, Murray is a redshirt freshman who will improve as the season goes along. He has a veteran OL in front of him and 2 talented runningbacks and 2 senior fullbacks along with AJ Green and Orson charles to throw to.

goatD

April 27th, 2010
4:04 pm

To GT alumni (which, of course, you could never be): Yeah….it is second rate enough to be a Top Ten program. Jealousy is hell, ain’t it?

DawginLex

April 27th, 2010
4:07 pm

Meyer wanted Murray to run the spread. CPJ will want him after this year when Nesbitt leaves.

HBTD

April 27th, 2010
4:08 pm

If you didn’t make it to the T-Day debacle this year, don’t feel bad. No one attended. The program apparently has close to zero appeal as there were a few 100 in stands to witness PJ’s magic show, and the team quit (what’s new for tech) because it started to rain. Hahahahahahaha!! BTW, who put the home schedule together this year for your team?? No wonder attendance is low.

Jackets Forever

April 27th, 2010
4:10 pm

I know we are not going to get many four and five star recruits, but can we at least get some guys that attract enough interest to have been evaluated? All our commits so far on Scouts are listed as “NR”. I mean, is any other school even recruiting them?

Obvious

April 27th, 2010
4:11 pm

HBTD – no one cares about Dawgs or Dawg fans here… move along lil’ puppy

Obvious

April 27th, 2010
4:12 pm

Jackets Forever – posing as a GT fan is pretty pathetic even for a Dawg

Logan Gray

April 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

I’m outta here! Let’s see what St. Richt does with Murray; UGA is one hit away from having a true freshman at QB! LMAO

DawginLex

April 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

Wiley we matter to all the UGA obsessed idiots that show up on our blogs non stop. I post an opinion about Tech’s season and get smartalecked to death.

I’ll take your advice and leave since there is no possibility of sane, rational discussion over here.

wiley

April 27th, 2010
4:17 pm

DawginLex…that wasn’t aimed at you. It was aimed at the trolls…example: HBTD. Your opinion was very respectful…and I appreciate the class that you have shown. If only other fans, tech fans included, could show the same class.