In a study conducted by AOL Fanhouse that looked at Academic Progress Rate (APR) averages for players under of 107 of the 120 Division I coaches from 2003-04 to 2008-09 school years (including APR averages for those coaches even if they were at multiple schools in that span), Tech coach Paul Johnson’s teams’ average rank of 980 was No. 5 in the nation.
The top four are Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (985), Air Force’s Troy Calhoun (985), Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (982) and Greg Schiano at Rutgers (981).
As a conference, the ACC ranked No. 1 in APR average (964) ahead of the Big 10 (956).
“You go into homes and promise parents you’re going to treat kids like your own,” Johnson said. “I want them to go to school so we try to make sure they go to school. You have to check . . . kids will miss class wherever you are. They don’t go to class here they’re not going to pass. Same way at Navy; you won’t last long if you don’t go to class.”
Days does body double
Freshman quarterback Synjyn Days has been scout team quarterback, mimicking N.C. State’s elusive Russell Wilson. It’s not a foreign role. Days – who is on track to redshirt – can move quite a bit himself.
“He runs a lot, and N.C. State recruited me and I almost went there so I’m pretty familiar with the offense,” Days said. “I just try to incorporate some of my skills into the offense, and give the defense a look because I know Russell Wilson scrambles a lot.”
Pumping up punt returns
There have been some personnel changes on the punt return unit, but they have not been disclosed.
The Jackets are averaging 4.4 yards per punt return having returned five. Opponents have returned just two against Tech for a total of 7 yards.
The goal is to spring Jerrard Tarrant, who last season averaged 13.4 yards per return (14th in the nation) and returned two punts for touchdowns. To date, he’s return four for a total of 11 yards. Daniel McKayhan has returned one for 11 yards.
“Both times [this season] where we felt like we had good returns . . . we just had to get one guy,” Kelly said. “It’s not a nine-person breakdown. It’s usually one. We’ve made some adjustments.”
Tech officials say about 46,000 tickets have been sold and distributed for Saturday’s game, whose kickoff will be at 12:01 p.m. – several minutes earlier than many “noon” kickoffs. . . . With several events scheduled downtown Saturday, fans are advised to plan accordingly for potential traffic glitches.
– Matt Winkeljohn, for the AJC