Hope you’re well and read the notebook from Tuesday’s practice. Evidently, the heat and toil of preseason camp has sapped Georgia Tech’s will a little. Not entirely surprising, given that coach Paul Johnson isn’t the easiest person to please and football practice is no joyride. Still, the last few days of camp could be insightful into the team’s character.
It’s not Tech-related, but I’d recommend reading the Yahoo report about alleged malfeasance at Miami. Pretty troubling stuff for the Hurricanes. Predicting NCAA penalties is not exactly my thing (my thing is eating Pringles and gummy bears), but I think the folks at the Committee on Infractions will eventually take a healthy whack at the program and dock scholarships. If North Carolina also is hit with a scholarship loss, that would work out rather well in Tech’s favor.
Kind of crazy to think that half the ACC Coastal Division may soon be under NCAA probation. Better get your house in order, Duke.
Anyway, offensive line coach Mike Sewak answered several questions Tuesday about his unit. I’ve included the highlights.
1. The pass blocking is working better. Generally, quarterbacks had time to throw in Saturday’s scrimmage, which center Jay Finch attributed to a scheme alteration. Sewak acknowledged the same, although he put some of the improvement on better individual performance.
“What we’ve done is, I think we’ve done a better job with our pass sets and I think we know where our pressures are coming from, and our guys are getting themselves in position better,” he said. “That’s probably (the difference) as much as anything.”
As long as this holds up, this is obviously an important development. It’s cliché, but you can’t throw the ball effectively, particularly with a first-year starter like Tevin Washington, if the quarterback is facing consistent pass rush pressure.
2. The run blocking needs some more coaching up, though. Sewak said out of 109 scrimmage snaps, the line had a “couple plays” where it came off the line properly. It doesn’t mean the line play was awful – the running game wasn’t punishing, but at times it moved the ball – but it can be significantly better, evidently.
“Our guys have to come off the ball and change the line of scrimmage and everything’s downhill,” Sewak said. “If you can get downhill, that’s great, but we still go laterally. We still try to read it on the run and that’s not a good sign because the fullback, he’s trying to hit it fast and if he starts to slow up, everything kind of chain reacts on it.”
3. Trey Braun, a true freshman guard who was the lone early enrollee of the 2011 class, is doing well, particularly in comparison with the other freshmen. He’s a virtual lock to play this season, probably as the No. 3 guard behind Omoregie Uzzi and Will Jackson. Considering Jackson has had tough luck with injuries, Braun may even see a good bit of time. Sewak called his play in the scrimmage “a pleasant surprise.” Being able to participate in spring practice was a difference maker.
“He’s showed a sense of maturity for a kid his age,” Sewak said. “He takes aggressive coaching well and he’s done a good job of trying to respond to what you ask of him.”
(As an aside, I’m pretty sure I would not take “aggressive coaching” well. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a loose cannon.)
4. Speaking of Jackson, he’s come back well from a shoulder injury that kept him out part of last week. He played all of the snaps he was supposed to in the scrimmage, 49 out of 109, and did well.
5. Lastly, as I mentioned in the notebook, offensive tackle Tyler Kidney was one of four walk-ons to be put on scholarship Monday. A-back Robert Godhigh and linebackers Robert Hogan and Matt Serpico were the others. I have a lot of respect for anyone willing to walk on and grind it out as a scout-teamer, and even more for someone like Kidney who can elevate from that station into the starting lineup. As a sophomore, no less.
Kidney follows two players who have offered examples to follow, namely All-ACC center Sean Bedford and offensive tackle Brad Sellers, who started for the 2009 ACC championship team.
Like Bedford, Kidney came to Tech as a walk-on. Kidney was recruited by Navy at Northview High, but Navy passed after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament before his senior season. Kidney said Sellers has been his inspiration because they were similarly undersized.
“I was like, if he can do it, then I know I can do it,” Kidney said.
As for Bedford, Kidney said, “it’s kind of hard to live up to the All-ACC and rocket scientist. I’m trying to get my name up there with those two guys. That’d be a great honor.”
By Ken Sugiura, AJC.