These are the notes filed for the paper. Paul Johnson was not a happy guy this afternoon. Practice apparently didn’t go so well…
Georgia Tech offensive tackle Phil Smith will be suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules, coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday. Johnson would not specify the rules that Smith, a returning starter, broke.
Smith is expected to regain his starting position after serving the suspension. His likely replacement for Tech’s games against Western Carolina Sept. 1 and Middle Tennessee State Sept. 10 is either Catlin Alford or Ray Beno. Alford is a redshirt freshman; Beno played three games as a redshirt freshman last season.
The suspension further hampers the line’s objective to build cohesion after an injury-filled spring practice. Alford and Beno have received many of the first-team practice repetitions in Smith’s place. Further, starting guard Will Jackson missed his second day in a row of practice along with backup tackle Morgan Bailey with injuries. Backup guard J.C. Lanier is likely out at least three weeks with a stress fracture.
“Certainly, when you don’t have a group working together, it’s a big deal,” Johnson said. “It’s been an issue this spring and now.”
The injuries and the suspension are revealing Tech’s lack of depth. With the injuries, true freshman Trey Braun has been working with the first team at guard and fellow true freshmen Errin Joe and Shaq Mason have been the second-team guards.
No other players are suspended.
After a series of encouraging practices, the Yellow Jackets hit a wall Wednesday, which left Johnson in a sour state. The team practiced twice, working in shoulder pads in the morning and full pads in the afternoon.
“I guess it was less than stellar,” Johnson said. “I thought at the end of the practice this afternoon, the defense had a good period. They kicked the fool out of the offense. Other than that, it was just so-so.”
Asked to clarify which parts of practice had disappointed him, Johnson replied “the whole thing” and said intensity and effort were lacking.
Holton making a run
Safety Fred Holton is making a push for a starting job, Johnson said. Holton, one of the strongest and hardest-working players on the team, is behind Isaiah Johnson on the depth chart. Asked about second-string players challenging for starting jobs, Johnson mentioned one other beside Holton, outside linebacker Brandon Watts, who is behind Steven Sylvester.
Said Johnson, “The guys who are making most of the plays are the guys who are playing, (inside linebacker) Julian Burnett, guys like that, (defensive end) Jason Peters.”
Judging from comments made by coaches, it is becoming evident that backup quarterback Synjyn Days is not having the best camp. Tuesday, quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon praised Days’ running ability but said that he sometimes has mental lapses and a lack of focus, which lead to negative plays. Wednesday, Johnson said his hope for Days for Saturday’s scrimmage is that he “run the offense and execute at a higher level than he has so far.”
Days is the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Tevin Washington.
Tech will have single practices Thursday and Friday followed by the first of two scrimmages Saturday morning. It will be the first time the team uses Bobby Dodd Stadium since the field was re-sodded at the end of June. Johnson plans to run more than 100 plays.
I’m not sure what camp-related stuff I’ll post Thursday, as only Johnson was available Wednesday, but I did talk to a few former Tech guys in NFL camps this week to get their thoughts on rookie life.
By Ken Sugiura, AJC