Four observations from Pinehurst

Greetings-

Hope you’re well. I’m headed back home from Pinehurst after two days of interviews at the ACC football kickoff. There’s a lot to sort through, though you’ll be surprised to know that every coach and player is excited about the season and believes his team has a chance to compete for an ACC title.

The focus Monday was the hour that Georgia Tech Paul Johnson spent talking to print media. While most of the time was spent answering football questions, he answered plenty about the recent NCAA ruling, and became a bit impatient with the questions.

I wrote about it for Tuesday’s paper. I don’t know how interested you are in hearing more about it. He talked a lot more about the upcoming season than the NCAA investigation and sanctions, which I’m guessing you’d like to hear more about. So, four things I learned from Johnson.

1. He has considerable hope for the offensive line. I wrote about this previously, that his outlook has improved since the spring, but he shed a little more light on it Monday. He acknowledged the youth – two new starters, four second-string players who are sophomores or freshmen and have played a four three games – but said “We’ve got some guys who can do what we want them to do.”

It bears noting that all of the linemen in the two-deep are players that Johnson recruited. He pointed out that the group he expects to start didn’t get a lot of time together in spring practice because of injuries, but he said he was encouraged by the group’s athletic ability and potential, players like Jay Finch and Morgan Bailey, among others.

“I’m actually excited about our offensive line,” he said.

2. Vad Lee might have a little more chance to play this fall than I previously thought. My take on the incoming freshman quarterback was that he would almost certainly be redshirted given the short time he would have to digest the offense. Comments from Johnson at different times downplayed the possibility. However, Johnson said coaches will “take a good, long look at Vad in fall camp. If we feel like he gives us the best chance to win, we’ll either play him or have a package for him or have something that he can do.”

It’s probably parsing, but to me Johnson left the door open a little more to the possibility of Lee playing.

3. Johnson likes the personality of the team. Plenty has been written about the team being more dedicated and so forth after going 6-7 last season, but Johnson shed a little more light on what he’s seen.

“This is a fun group to be around,” he said.

Players are often hanging out in the football offices talking with coaches, he said, which is a little different than the past. He allowed that it might have something to do with the fact that the team is largely made up of players he recruited. That’s probably true to an extent, but it’s also true that many of the team leaders were recruited by Chan Gailey, players like Roddy Jones, Logan Walls, Jason Peters and Steven Sylvester.

“Sometimes when you don’t do as well, it kind of draws everybody together, too,” Johnson said. “You find out who your friends are and who your enemies are.”

4. Cornerback Ryan Ayers is transferring to Liberty, as I mentioned it in the notes. Ayers turned down offers from Georgia, Alabama and Auburn coming out of South Paulding High and was going to compete for a spot in the lineup, behind Rod Sweeting on the pre-camp depth chart. Johnson said a member of Liberty’s strength and conditioning staff is someone he grew up with and considers a brother, and “from a personal standpoint, he felt like that would be something he needed to do.” Johnson also said Liberty offered a major that Ayers was interested in.

Johnson granted the release. “I think that might be a good move for him,” he said.

5. Tech has a new poster boy in Albert Rocker. The former linebacker had a year of eligibility remaining but had graduated, and was offered a job with Microsoft. Johnson said Rocker would have helped the team this season, but Johnson thought the choice was obvious.

Said Johnson, “I’m like, that’s what you came to Georgia Tech for. Here’s your opportunity.”

Johnson liked the idea of using Rocker as part of his recruiting pitch, putting a picture of Rocker next to those of NFL players Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas in recruiting send-outs.

“I’m just as proud of him as the guys who are in the NFL,” Johnson said.

My buddy Matt Winkeljohn wrote a piece on him worth reading last week.

95 comments Add your comment

juvenal

July 26th, 2011
8:55 am

he’s right-let’s move on…….

juvenal

July 26th, 2011
8:56 am

Steele rates us 114 on experience……

kingster

July 26th, 2011
9:08 am

Well the def back field is kinda young and full, good luck in the future Ryan A. , thanks for giving Tech a chance and I am sure you will play a lot at Liberty and they will have a wonderful team, take care and good luck young Man.

BigTimeTechFan

July 26th, 2011
9:19 am

Congrats to Albert Rocker, great story, also wish Ayers the best. Can’t wait to see how the QB battle turns out, Sure Johnson will make the right choice on the starter, the last time Tech was this unsure at QB the starter turned out to be Joey Hamilton.

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
9:20 am

I hope the team is as grumpy as Johnson is.

Not worried at all about the line or the offense in general. We’ll move the ball against almost anyone. Hopefully we won’t put it in the ground so much this year, though.

Nice job, Al.

Steele is a moron, Juvenal.

Dawg 23

July 26th, 2011
9:21 am

Nov score
dawgs 47 yech 17

GTKurt80

July 26th, 2011
9:22 am

I think we’ll see huge improvement on D, course plenty of room for improvement. Size, depth and especially experience on the D front will open opportunities for our LBs.

Liked CPJ’s comments about OL, they will open some holes. A-backs best talent on O. Lyons will be steady at B-back, but if Perkins comes on, watch out. I think our receivers will “catch” more balls this year, but the big question for me is at QB. My gut says Days with Tevin as a solid backup, don’t think Vad will be able to come on fast enough.

Our schedule sets up nicely. Key game is VaTech, difference between a good year and potentially a great year.

This season is going to be fun, can’t wait for “toe meets leather”.

BigTimeTechFan

July 26th, 2011
9:23 am

Dawg 23 – Can’t wait to see if your right, I’m so ready for the season to start.

JACKETfan12

July 26th, 2011
9:28 am

Hahaha. It just keeps getting more funny each time I read these forum posts by UGA fans. 47-17? Really, Dawg 23?? The UGA GT game has been close nearly every year that they have played. It is always a close game. I wouldn’t keep honking your own horn, either. UGA had problems last year just like Tech.

juvenal

July 26th, 2011
9:33 am

Ken, any idea when picture day is?

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
9:34 am

Sat 8/6, Juvenal.

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
9:40 am

Do we still get to play the game, Dawg 23?

crawl

July 26th, 2011
10:06 am

@ George Stein –

Why should we bother? UGA has a quarter century advantage in head-to-head wins, and that even includes 3 of yech’s “wins” when they used non students as players.

Tech Fan Since 1950

July 26th, 2011
10:12 am

Folks we have the right coach at Georgia Tech. He fits the Institute to a T. The future is very bright. Tech is unique and will do its own thing…and will do it well.

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
10:16 am

Agreed, 1951.

Then write to your AD and inform him of your desire to cease playing Tech, crawl.

bill of habersham

July 26th, 2011
10:16 am

Who cares ? We have 11 games that we have to deal with first. One at a time, one at a time. The Jackets cant waste mental energy responding childish pre season comments.

crawl

July 26th, 2011
10:19 am

Why? It has traditionally served as a great warmup game before the post season.

Tech fan

July 26th, 2011
10:20 am

The only sense of pride Georgia fan’s have is in beating Tech. Pathetic. Win a National Title Tech, let’s go!

Tech fan

July 26th, 2011
10:21 am

lol, Yea UCF truly is the game above all games crawl.

GT Rich

July 26th, 2011
10:22 am

On a per game average, Tevin moved the ball better than Nesbitt last year BUT Tevin repeatedly turned the ball over in the red zone, whereas Nesbitt made the right choices to put points on the board. In the spring game, Tevin couldn’t move the ball and just settled on turning it over. CPJ won’t put up with those results for very long. Look for Tevin to share snaps with Days for three games and then someone getting the nod from there on out. Vad’s chance might come later in the year because of the way he performs in practices or out of necessity because the other guys get dinged up.

Great story on Rocker getting drafted by Microsoft.

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
10:24 am

Which is it, crawl? You ask why bother playing and now you’re saying you don’t want to stop playing.

Grow up already, son.

jacket

July 26th, 2011
10:26 am

I think that the Albert Rocker story is a huge recruiting tool. If recruits don’t see it that way, then Tech is not the right school for them.

crawl

July 26th, 2011
10:30 am

No, I simply proposed the question, thats all. Personally there is nothing better than witnessing the worst fan base in the nation, year in and year out, having their hopes and dreams detroyed before my very eyes ;)

Danny

July 26th, 2011
10:33 am

UCF did in one try what yech cannot accomplish wuth an annual opportunity, so I wouldnt go too far with the Golden Knights talk, winner

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
10:38 am

Why would you pose a question if you don’t want to entertain the answer?

You’re just a child looking for attention. I will no longer respond to you. As I said before, grow up.

lucky21

July 26th, 2011
10:44 am

People watch out if Paul Johnson is excited and happy with his OL because he doesnt give out compliments much and so if hes remotely happy, then I’m ecstatic about our prospects

juvenal

July 26th, 2011
10:55 am

crawl-ditto……

K-9

July 26th, 2011
10:56 am

@ tech fan , 11th all time in wins, 4th all time in bowl wins and 6th all time in bowl appearances. I think Georgia will hang their hat on this as opposed to the gimme at the end of November.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 26th, 2011
11:00 am

crawl, you are obviously talking about the mutt fan base, since all your hopes and dreams have gone for naught more often than not, even when you beat Tech.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 26th, 2011
11:02 am

K 9, and still only ONE verified NC

K-9

July 26th, 2011
11:11 am

The NC georgia claims are just as verified as the ones tech claims. At least 1980 was undisputed.
since 1967 Tech has the same number of 1 and 2 win seasons as 10 win seasons. Tech tradition = ancient history. .539 winning percentage since Dodd left .

Supersize that order, mutt

July 26th, 2011
11:12 am

K 9, check the records. Tech has 4 verified NC’s, and 2 more unverified ones. THUGa has ONE verified one and 4 unverified ones

gtfanfrom1951

July 26th, 2011
11:12 am

Dawg 23
If UGA has one o-lineman get hurt the season will get UGALY in a hurry! Now with no o-line and no running game do realy think that UGA will win more than 6 games.

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
11:16 am

If we’re so irrelevant, why are you spending your time talking about us, K-9?

doc

July 26th, 2011
11:17 am

again ken, sterling info. glad for the insight.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 26th, 2011
11:17 am

K 9, a shared title does not mean a meaningless title, like you infer. Just ask the likes of LSU, Bama, Michigan, USC, and quite a few others who had shared NC’s

George Stein

July 26th, 2011
11:20 am

UGA will probably have a better defense, 1951. I expect the JC nose tackle they have coming in to make a big difference. Whether he’s the next Terrence Cody or not, I don’t know.

UGA will be fine, but I don’t see the ten wins many of their fans see. But we can agree to disagree on that. Good thing is, we get to play games in give weeks.

Ken Sugiura

July 26th, 2011
11:29 am

thanks, doc.

fez

July 26th, 2011
11:35 am

Hey super, how many girls did Yech’s thugs put in the hospital this weekend? I still cannot believe you approve of that type of vile behavior.

crawl

July 26th, 2011
11:37 am

Its not a matter if relevance, its a matter of picking on the weakest link, which is obviously anything associated with the insects

Put Me In Coach

July 26th, 2011
11:41 am

Yes, Ken. I think if Vad can perform in camp at a level on par with his high school days, CPJ will play him this Fall. The average fan doesn’t know important a great arm is to CPJ…

Nadar

July 26th, 2011
11:42 am

How sad is it that the cheaters still try to tout Michigan St.’s and Colorado’s titles as their own

Ron

July 26th, 2011
11:52 am

If Radakovich wants to fill the stadium, CPJ needs to play Vad Lee. The fans want excitement and hope of winning with big plays and that is the very thing Vad can give them…

Tokyo jacket

July 26th, 2011
12:12 pm

Big time…negative on that. The last time GT was unsure on the QB situation before the season started, a freshman named Reggie Ball wound up starting instead of AJ Suggs. I’m still convinced, by the way, that had Reggie Ball had a coach like CPJ, he would have been All-ACC.

RambleOn84

July 26th, 2011
12:18 pm

It hurts to lose Ryan Ayers in my opinion. He would have been another great addition to our talented secondary. But good luck Ryan…I hope everything works out well for you.

Ignore all the losers.

RambleOn84

July 26th, 2011
12:19 pm

Agreed, Tokyo.

Ball had exceptional raw talent. The problem is he was still raw by his senior year.

I haven’t looked at the numbers recently, but I’m pretty sure he actually got WORSE with every year he played under Gailey.

Nesbitt For Heisman!!!!!

July 26th, 2011
12:29 pm

Never forget!!! Lol!!!!

Keith Brookings

July 26th, 2011
12:35 pm

I bees sorry 4 how I acted in da Ga dome. I beehaved like a typical moronic, delusional, enraged, bitter, jealouds Tech fan. I was just so mad to see all the promise and upside them dirty brids have and I bee tuck on a sowwy Cowboy team.

Please take this braindead redneck back :(

repeat offenders

July 26th, 2011
12:36 pm

GTfan 1951, UGAs backup offensive linemen would start at Tech.

RambleOn84

July 26th, 2011
12:45 pm

Repeat offenders:
Good for them