Hope everyone was safe in the nutty weather we had Monday. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard a weather alarm go off before. That was just before I got in the car to speak with coaches and players. The good thing was there wasn’t much traffic and the rain actually wasn’t too bad.
I spoke with defensive end Izaan Cross, partly for a story I’m planning on writing about defensive tackle Logan Walls and partly to get his read on how he thought the line did. He was helpful on both accounts.
Q: How do you feel like the line did?
A: We did good. Our first three, there’s definitely areas that we can improve on. We would have liked to have gotten to the quarterback more, but I feel like we played the run very well, defeating bocks and it was a decent debut for us this year.
Two cents: A pretty honest answer. I think most players at any level tend to focus on the positive – which is understandable – and will bring up areas of weakness or that need improvement only if you ask specifically.
Q: Was the game a confidence booster?
A: It could be used as a confidence booster. We were excited to play another team. We came out on fire and that was good for us.
Two cents: Not a very good question, but it’s noteworthy that he mentioned coming out strong as an accomplished goal. Coach Paul Johnson had mentioned prior to the game that he wanted to see excitement and effort out of the team, I imagine partly because it would be easy to sleepwalk through Western Carolina and also because those were two areas that sometimes lacked last year.
Q: About the pass rush, what could you have done better or was anything lacking?
A: Not necessarily lacking, it’s just that we didn’t get 30 sacks, so we didn’t have a phenomenal game of getting to the quarterback. I guess you can always say that we can improve. I guess we could condense the pocket more, just push the tackles back, create less of a gap. I’d like for us to get off the field on third down a little bit better than we did on Thursday.
Two cents: Hopefully you read it this way, but the 30-sack comment was hyperbole. I don’t think he would be unhappy with, say, a 20-sack game. But, again, a fairly candid assessment that went beyond, “We just need to execute better.”
The third-down numbers weren’t great. Western Carolina was 8 of 18 and 5 for 12 in the first half. I imagine one series that got a good look from coaches was Western Carolina’s drive for its second touchdown, in which quarterback Brandon Pechloff converted third downs of seven, four and six yards with pass completions against the first unit.
Q: What have coached told you about Middle Tennessee State so far?
A: I watched the Purdue game. We played them last year. They kind of do the same things they did last year. If we just focus on what we need to do in our game plan, I feel like we’ll be O.K.
Two cents: MTSU has new coordinators on both sides, but apparently they use the same stuff, to use a football term. (that was a joke) (but it kind of is a football term)
Q: Did you get together with teammates on Saturday?
A: Me and Logan and another one of our d-linemen watched it today. We saw a couple things, but Coach (Al) Groh gave us the game plan, and that’s what we practiced on today.
Two cents: It says something that players are doing video work on their own. It’s not like it’s completely unusual, but it speaks well of Cross, Walls and this third mystery player.
Q: What is Logan doing better this year?
A: Logan, he’s been a leader for us. Since this transition into the 3-4, he’s been consistent every game. He just works hard every day, day in day out. He gives great effort, something that we see. It gets pointed out every day on the film so we learn. He’s been our leader on the front for us. He’s the guy in the middle. He’s the nose guard.
He’s the one that’s going to get double-teamed and triplet-teamed more than any of us. Somebody that can sit there and somebody that can take that on throughout a game on a daily basis earns some respect.
Two cents: My favorite part of this answer was what he said about Walls’ effort getting pointed out every day. It almost makes it sound like Walls is the star pupil in that regard. Coaches do love talking about effort.
Q: This is a random question, but some fans were saying they had a hard time seeing the jersey numbers. Did anyone you know tell you that?
A: Someone that had come to the game told me that it was hard to see the jersey numbers because it was light. I had somebody else tell me that as well. It’s not something I’m worried about.
Two cents: For the record, I don’t think he is uncaring about the matter, just that it’s not exactly his balliwick.
Q: What do you think about the road uniforms with the blue numbers?
A: I thought the uniforms this year look nice. It’s definitely a changeup I would actually like another jersey color, but that’s beyond my power. For what we’re working with I think it’s a good changeup.
Two cents: Interesting. Might make for a story at some point. I’m curious what you think about the tradition of home whites.
Q: Did you see Georgia play Boise State?
A: I did watch them play.
Two cents: Lips buttoning…
Q: What was your takeaway?
A: That Boise State’s pretty good. That was my takeaway. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Two cents: Lips buttoned.
Johnson has his weekly news conference at 11:30. I’ll try to get up a few bullet points after he speaks, and then another post-practice blog around 8:30.
Some extra reading: Murfreesboro Daily News Journal story about quarterback Logan Kilgore.
And birthday greetings to the inimitable Matt Winkeljohn, my former AJC colleague and the distinctive voice of Sting Daily, which you can (and should, if you haven’t) sign up for here. Matt and Jon Cooper do a great job of bringing plenty of Tech coverage.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat