Tech secondary has talent, lacks experience

The seventh in a series of position group breakdowns of the 2011 Georgia Tech football team:

Cornerback Rod Sweeting and safety Rashaad Reid are leading candidates to start. JOHNNY CRAWFORD/jcrawford@ajc.com

Cornerback Rod Sweeting and safety Rashaad Reid are leading candidates to start. JOHNNY CRAWFORD/jcrawford@ajc.com

Projected starters: CBs Rod Sweeting (Jr., 6-0, 181), Louis Young (So., 6-1, 190), S Isaiah Johnson (So., 6-2, 195), Rashaad Reid (Sr., 5-10, 191)

Others to watch: S Fred Holton was effective on special teams as a true freshman last year and will make a run at a starting job. S/CB Jemea Thomas will be in the mix at both positions after a productive spring and may end up as the nickel. CB Michael Peterson mostly played special teams last season but has experience to his credit. CB Ryan Ayers will also get a look for a spot in the lineup. S Lance Richardson is another possibility. The incoming defensive backs are Jamal Golden and Domonique Noble.

Key losses: Georgia Tech lost all four starters in the secondary, CBs Mario Butler and Dominique Reese and S Mario Edwards and Jerrard Tarrant. The four started a combined 107 games for the Yellow Jackets. Tarrant left Tech early to enter the NFL draft but went undrafted. Edwards and Reese were third and fourth on the team in tackles last season, respectively.

Key fact: The defensive backs have a combined 20 career starts, 15 belonging to Reid. However, it’s a group not entirely bereft of experience. Johnson started three games as a true freshman last year. Young played some corner as a true freshman. Sweeting improved considerably over the course of last season. Thomas played as a true freshman in 2009 and then redshirted last season.

Key fact II: Coach Paul Johnson said he thinks it’s the most talented secondary he’s had at Tech. Seven of the eight players in the defensive backfield two-deep are Johnson recruits. Peterson is the lone exception.

Key question: How much can talent make up for the experience shortage? Pressure will be on secondary coach Charles Kelly to hasten the secondary’s development. Defensive coordinator Al Groh can protect the backfield by using more conservative coverages, but to do so he would have to lessen pressure at the line of scrimmage. The sooner players like Young and Johnson can be entrusted, the more diverse Tech’s defense will be allowed to be.

Key development: The speedy Young has caused a stir with his progress in the spring and over the summer. Holton has been one of the hardest workers in the summer strength and conditioning program. Kelly has said the competition for jobs will be open. Thomas will likely make a strong bid somewhere in the secondary.

Outlook: Worth watching. This is a group that, particularly at the beginning of the season, will be liable to blow a coverage one series and produce a big play the next. Young and Johnson could be stars on the rise.

Your turn: What do you think?

PAST POSITION BREAKDOWNS

July 7 – Offensive line

July 8 – Wide receivers

July 11 – Running backs

July 12 – Quarterbacks

July 13 – Defensive line

July 14 – Linebackers

Ken Sugiura, AJC

122 comments Add your comment

Rduck

July 20th, 2011
11:18 am

this group should be fun to watch over the next few years…. Go Jackets!!!

carolinajacket

July 20th, 2011
11:25 am

Hope the dline can put pressure on the qbs. that will be most important, especially early on.

Who cares (the original)

July 20th, 2011
11:27 am

I think the defense will be fine, it the consistancy of the o-line that I want to see

T3

July 20th, 2011
11:35 am

Lost all respect for you Ken.

The Truth

July 20th, 2011
11:46 am

Ken – Three words for you – OPEN RECORDS REQUEST. If you make the requests, you won’t get caught with your cheerleader skirt down as you were on the most recent NCAA situation with GT. GT’s SID won’t look for you with that information like they will with the press releases, you have to request it.

Tech Fan

July 20th, 2011
11:47 am

Young is going to be a stud

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
11:48 am

Tech’s DB’s are awesome, will be nice battles for starting job.

ormewood

July 20th, 2011
11:51 am

With all of the new starting QBs on Tech’s schedule Va Tech, UNC, NC St, Clemson), and the lack of elite WR talent in the ACC, I think the Jackets secondary should hold up fine.

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
11:54 am

Louis Young is up to 200 pounds now, will be beast, fast and workout warrior, along with Holton

Tech Fan

July 20th, 2011
11:57 am

Yeah, Holton might be a suprise this season.

RambleOn84

July 20th, 2011
11:57 am

This is the most talented collection of DBs I can remember at Tech…hopefully they put it all together. The D-line and LBs have got to do their part…if they do, this could be a top 10 defense in 2012.

Taco

July 20th, 2011
11:58 am

We send great secondary players to the NFL because they get so much experience tackling folks. They make so many tackles because we SUCK up front and they have to save the day. Defensive backs at Tech carry the workload unfortunately. You better be tough and fast.

juvenal

July 20th, 2011
12:09 pm

so what do you request? we heard nothing about lsu & then boom….gotta love a country where so many folks know how to do everybody elses job-trouble is, they usually don’t know to do their own…….

Dawg in Columbus

July 20th, 2011
12:19 pm

I apologize to Tech Fans. I live vicariously through UGA football and it drives me crazy the Tech people think they are smarter than us and that they are better than us. Even when we beat ya’ll at football, you aren’t crushed like we are when we don’t win, you act like you care more about your job, your grades, or the world than you do about the most important thing in the world – college football. If your self esteem isn’t tied up in your football team, then beating you doesn’t stop me from feeling inferior. Anyway, this is why I act stupid and say negative things that are not true and get sloppy drunk…….
Please accept my apologies.

GT Fan...

July 20th, 2011
12:22 pm

Yes sir there is lots of talent in GT’s DB’field. And looking at who the YJs have returning, and who is new to the roster, it can be argued that the DB position is even deeper than A-Back.

Ryan Ayers was a 4-star coming out of HS (RS’ing last season) so there’s gotta be some talent with him too. Love the purported potential of incomers Golden & Noble!

I have faith in Al Groh … His Ds at VA always had at least 1 All-ACC type DB.

Good pt someone made on the new QBs and lack of WR depth among many of GTs opponents…that should help the young DBs gain confidence.

Can't Wait

July 20th, 2011
12:22 pm

Our Defense will dominate this year. Strongest I’ve seen in a while. Combined with a passing threat (i.e., Vad Lee’s arm), we’ll be unstoppable.

Vad Lee Passing highlights:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q2k95TtTdk&feature=related

Tech Rules

July 20th, 2011
12:29 pm

So Tarrant just got bad advice? Or did he get good advice but didn’t listen?

mp

July 20th, 2011
12:52 pm

@Tech Rules . . . i can’t remember anyone suggesting tarrant gamble on the NFL. personally, i see him as a “finesse” tackler (that’s being nice) and bit overrated as a returner. he surely didn’t turn heads last year.

i have no knowledge of this–just conjecture–but, could it be he was one of the players orwin’s spoke of from last year’s team? why else would he be so gung-ho to go pro off such a ho-hum season of play from him unless he wasn’t pleased?

slydog

July 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

this group will be gt’s most talented group of players a year from now.

Where is Lee on the depth chart?

July 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

Looks good vs. HSers

Buzzzed

July 20th, 2011
1:02 pm

If D is good, we will do well if Washington plays and moves the offense as much he did last year. If Washington steps it up or if someone better plays, we will be awesome. Still waiting for death penalties for UNC and Ohio St.

PerimeterCenterJacket

July 20th, 2011
1:13 pm

Oh the possibilities if the offense stays the same and the defense improves. And I don’t even want to let myself imagine what’s possible if it ALL takes a step forward at the same time! All I know is I’ll be in that stadium on my feet and screaming my head off for it. Cant. Wait. For Fall!

Go Jackets!

PerimeterCenterJacket

July 20th, 2011
1:18 pm

threetrone, who has time to have such a meaningless opinion of every granular detail of the uniform?! And the biggest question: Who really bases their support of the team based on it? Also, your comments about race are off-putting to everyone but yourself. Also, uniforms do not effect player performance. The players play hard no matter what. The fans do NOT stop cheering for Tech because of some shoes or striping or the colors black or navy. Please get a grip and try to discuss what we’re here for – to talk about the new GT defensive backs about to make a splash this year!

PerimeterCenterJacket

July 20th, 2011
1:29 pm

Y’know what, threetrone, on second read of your post I’m genuinely ticked that you’d even insinuate Tech alumni don’t “identify with the team” because the collective color of the team’s skin. Name a successful Southern college football team that is all-white. There is a high percentage of black people in the South relative to the Midwest, so naturally, you see more black people here in all kinds of places…it’s NORMAL! Why would you even begin to think they shouldn’t be playing for your college football team?!! And why would you even begin to think a public university like Tech should not represent the demographics of its area? Man, your comments get under my skin – which is white but a little pink too from the sun right now. Does that bother you? Are you not “identifying with me” as your fellow GT graduate? Go root for someone in red or orange….

PerimeterCenterJacket

July 20th, 2011
1:33 pm

Ok rant over…I wanna see Fred Holton and Ryan Ayers play.

Ramblin Man

July 20th, 2011
1:37 pm

The good thing is these new guys will get two games worth of experience against what should be considered lesser teams thus getting jitters out of the way. Then Gt will hopefully roll Kansas in a big payback way before GT starts the meat of the ACC games. Not sure if I will ake the first two games, but I already have tickets for Kansas and hope to see a great D on the field.

@mp

July 20th, 2011
1:58 pm

mp,

Tarrant was a huge threat last year at returning kicks, which is why no one ever kicked him a returnable ball. It was obvious game in and game out! I think Tarrant was hurt most by the year he lost due to the wrongful allegations and missing his second year. He will be steal for the team that picks him up. He was probably the fastest dude we had out there on D last year.

@mp

July 20th, 2011
2:01 pm

Also, if you go back and watch, which I wouldn’t do if I were you so just take my word for it, he was in in almost every big play we had last year, whether he got the tackle or not. He was my favorite player to watch by far and I was sad to see him leave!

@Can't Wait

July 20th, 2011
2:03 pm

I’d love to see Vad get the start, cause I just don’t want a freshman starting 3 years in a row (Washington essentially last year, Days this year -bc I don’t think Washington can cut it the whole season – and then Vad next year) but I have a feeling he is getting red shirted. Just a gut feeling. Don’t get your hopes up too much!

Agreed this DB group will be the best in years, largely because our DB has been awful in recent years, but nevertheless I think it will be one fun unit to watch!

fan of shorter passes

July 20th, 2011
2:11 pm

I sure hated it when the injured Tarrant had to be replaced with two non catches.

Haberdashery talk seems a little strange.

mp

July 20th, 2011
2:12 pm

@myself . . . tarrant overrated. the NFL definitely thought so, too.

mp

July 20th, 2011
2:21 pm

@PerimeterCenterJacket . . . i’m with you on threetone. i’ve read a lot of dumb things posted in these blogs through the years, but that has to be one of THE most idiotic posts concerning the “skin” color issue. i’m still trying to figure out what the hell slavery has to do with our unis!

you can hate the uni color all your want, threetone, but you’re a moron even mentioning we need to go with more traditional colors to make up for having blacks on the team.

GT87

July 20th, 2011
2:27 pm

Threetrone, you are an embarrassment to yourself.

St. Richt

July 20th, 2011
2:28 pm

I’ll take a talented yet inexperienced defensive backfield over the one we had last year. Any day.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
2:47 pm

@PerimeterCenterJacket, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I have been wanting to comment on threetones stupid rants for weeks now, but haven’t been able to find the right words. You said it all, and GT87, you are correct, threetone is a total embarrassment

juvenal

July 20th, 2011
2:49 pm

GT educates more African-American engineers than any other school……

GOLD PANTS

July 20th, 2011
2:56 pm

Relax guys, threetrone is probably an UGA troll. HINT— Threetrone misspelled threetone!!

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:05 pm

GOLD PANTS, I didn’t notice that. Thanks for pointing it out. However, I’m sure it’s the same guy who posts under the correctly spelled word, because the content was the same.

Buzz Me

July 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

Still have a feeling that a lot of toast will be served by the secondary this year, especially if we can’t get to the QB. Sorry, but that is the way I see it.

Ken Sugiura

July 20th, 2011
3:27 pm

I deleted threetrone’s post. we can’t tolerate that sort of foolishness.
help me out, T3. there’s plenty of reasons to not respect me. What’s yours?
The Truth – they’ve been filed. thanks for the help.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:34 pm

Ken, just out of curiosity, since you can delete a post, can you also an email address and contact the person at fault and inform him of his transgressions?

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:35 pm

oops, sorry, I left out a word. It should have read, “can you also retrieve an email address…..”

Ken Sugiura

July 20th, 2011
3:37 pm

i could, though i usually don’t.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:41 pm

Well, I keep trying to ask you another question, and it keeps getting blocke

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:42 pm

Isn’t there something that you or somebody can do to block usage of derogatory names as applied to CPJ?

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
3:43 pm

hmm, I left out the specific derogatory names that are used, and my post went through. And yet I see those names used here all the time by Georgia fans, and they are never blocked.

Ramblin Man

July 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

I am actually really excited to see what this defense does this year. With all the young talent playing this could turn into a really good D for the next three years.

flajacket

July 20th, 2011
4:00 pm

I hope they are better. I am sick of watching the DBs trying to chase down receivers for the last few years.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

They’ve got to learn not to get between the QB and the receiver. No wonder they have had to chase them down so often. And why have they almost always given what appears to be a 10 yard cushion. Hell, get on the damn receivers; just don’t get nailed for interference. DB has got to be one of the toughest jobs on the team.

Two GT facts or maybe a third

July 20th, 2011
4:10 pm

Tarrant is a deviant and GT and CPJ had to turn in their lil ACC trophy for CHEATING !!!

CPJ has won NO BOWL GAMES !!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH