At Georgia Tech, the value of All-ACC center Sean Bedford’s return to practice Wednesday can hardly be overstated. He figures to help the Yellow Jackets Saturday night at Wake Forest.
He left last Saturday’s loss to N.C. State when his right shin was leg-whipped by the shin of a Wolfpack player on the Yellow Jackets’ second possession.
With backup center Jay Finch out with a hamstring injury, Tech went with redshirt freshman Ray Beno. His college debut took him through the first possession of the second half and senior Zach Krish – a former walk-on – finished the game. Tech rushed for a season-low 247 yards, 96 yards below average.
Finch returned to practice as well, and coach Paul Johnson said, “They both went and looked good.”
Beno and Krish had their hands full. It is the center’s job to call blocking schemes for all of his linemates, often audibilizing at the line of scrimmage. Beno said after the game he didn’t change many calls.
Making matters worse for the offense, N.C. State middle linebacker Nate Irving became the ACC defensive player of the week after registering 16 combined tackles and assists, 4.5 tackles for lost yardage and two sacks. In the Wolfpack’s first three games, Irving had 11 combined tackles, half a tackle for lost yardage and no sacks.
Bedford is wearing a soccer-style shin guard on his heavily wrapped leg.
“There was definitely some bruising down their fairly deep. All I know is it hurt . . . a lot,” he said. “On any given play, the tackles will have to relay information to me and the quarterback so we can make our calls and figure out what we’re doing. We need that communication. I think Beno did a very valiant job for his collegiate debut.
“But ultimately to expect somebody to know the intricacies of playing center after a handful of days on the job, it’s just unreasonable. I’ve been playing this long enough that on any given play, I don’t have to think about my assignment. It’s second nature and I can make sure we’re aligned correctly, and in the best position to succeed.”
– Matt Winkeljohn, for the AJC