Georgia Tech had a to-be-expected rusty performance in its first lengthy full-pads scrimmage of the spring during Saturday’s practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“It was pretty ragged,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I thought the defense did some good things, that was encouraging.”
The offensive line had issues throughout either trying to pick up blitzers or staying in their stance. They were flagged for several false-start penalties. The first-team unit was able to generate a push up the middle for the B-backs, but pitch plays outside and pass protection generally broke down. The line is trying to break in new tackles on both sides because the only returner with experience is Phil Smith.
“Those guys struggled a little bit up there, to be kind,” Johnson said.
They did hold off the young, aggressive defense long enough for Synjyn Days to find A-back Tony Zenon for a touchdown in the day’s only score.On the play, Days said he read the corner, who stayed up to cover a hitch route. Zenon put a move on Louis Young and ran uncovered across the middle of the field on a corner route where Days hit him with a well-timed pass.
“Synjyn did some good things, he was running for his life a lot,” Johnson said.
Days, who is competing with Tevin Washington at quarterback, said he felt more comfortable on Saturday than he has in the previous practices.
Three players on defense had solid days: cornerback Jemea Thomas, inside linebacker Daniel Drummond and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.
Thomas dropped an interception on an underthrown pass from Days, but made up for it with an interception along the sideline later in the day. The second interception, on a pass from Days, was the result of a good read and break back toward the ball. Thomas, along with cornerbacks Louis Young and Rod Sweeting, were very physical, pressing their receivers. Thomas, who redshirted last season after playing as a true freshman, also put the hit of the day on A-back Deon Hill as he came around the right edge of the offensive line after receiving a pitch. Thomas said that aggressiveness is one of the things that will help him earn more playing time.
“We’ve just got to get Jemea out there on the field,” Johnson said. “He’ll get himself out there if he keeps working and staying healthy.”
Johnson also singled out Drummond, who is making the transition from B-back to inside linebacker. He ran with the first-team alongside Julian Burnett.
“He’s a kid to whom football is really important,” defensive coordinator Al Groh said of Drummond. “He’s really bought in. He’s in the office all the time asking questions early. He’s like any good student, he doesn’t leave the classroom with any questions unanswered.”
Attaochu, who had three sacks in limited playing time last season as a freshman, had another Saturday. He said he’s working to improve his focus throughout the game instead of relaxing after good plays are made.
“I need to mature now by taking advantage of this kind of scrimmage environment,” he said. “When you get tired, look at the sideline, get the play, execute and not make mental mistakes.”
David Sims and Preston Lyons stood out in the crowded competition at B-back. Lyons had a fumble, one of several on the day, but also had some of the longer runs. Sims, who is learning B-back after playing quarterback the past two seasons, had a nice cut-back after he got through the line of scrimmage on one run. He spun out of a tackle from a linebacker and gained extra yards on another play. “It’s great having David at B-back,” Days said. “He helped me a lot with the quarterback reads. We already have a connection. I’m not sure what type of connection it is but it’s a connection.” … A high-snap led to a badly missed field goal by David Scully in the day’s only attempt … The offense committed at least five false-start penalties, including two by the back-up wide receivers. … Cornerback Ryan Ayers made a nice open-field tackle of Days on an option play. … Burnett had a sack in which he shot the gap between the center and guard on a well-timed blitz. … Defensive end Jason Peters sacked Washington after evading the right tackle. … Brandon Watts also leveled Zenon on another pitch play.
– Doug Roberson, AJC