Finishing up the day. These are the notes that will go in the paper. I sat down with defensive end Jason Peters in the office of the great Dean Buchan (Georgia Tech’s sports PR maven) for an interview on a few different topics. Peters is a bright young man and shared some thoughts detailed here and others I’ll get to later in the week. Some observations and information from Paul Johnson and some stuff you’ve already read, probably. Enough blathering…
1. N.C. State will have enough incentive Saturday when it plays Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack are coming off a humbling loss last Thursday to Cincinnati, are trying to stay in the ACC Atlantic Division race, will be playing at home before a national TV audience and have an undefeated and ranked team coming to their home field.
“We’ll definitely have a bull’s-eye on our chest,” Georgia tech defensive end Jason Peters said. “But I also understand that we need to have a bull’s-eye on their chest.”
Peters, one of six senior starters on the team, wants to be sure that the Yellow Jackets don’t lose steam after starting the season with four consecutive wins, including Saturday’s win over North Carolina. Tech is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll. N.C. State is 2-2 and 0-1 in the ACC.
“We have a chance to do something really special here, and they’re the next step in the road,” he said.
Another incentive for the Jackets is the opportunity to atone for their loss to N.C. State last year. Last September, Tech lost 45-28 – the most points the Jackets have given up in coach Paul Johnson’s four seasons – and allowed a season-high 527 yards. Defensive coordinator Al Groh said after the game that, of the 81 defensive snaps, he could only recall the team making three plays of significance. Peters said Monday that “a general lack of attention to detail” fouled up Tech in that game.
“Last year, we didn’t get it right, and this is our chance to do so,” he said.
(If you’re a Tech fan – and chances are, if you’re reading this, you are – that must be encouraging. Peters sounded a lot of the right notes, it seems like.)
Three Tech players – guard Omoregie Uzzi, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and safety Isaiah Johnson – were named ACC offensive lineman, linebacker and defensive back of the week, respectively.
Uzzi had almost 20 knockdown blocks (almost a third of the team’s total) on Saturday in helping the Jackets run for 312 yards and not allow any sacks. Attaochu had a team-high nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a tipped pass that led to an interception. Johnson had his second interception of the season and seven tackles, tied for second on the team.
Coaches named wide receivers Tyler Melton and Stephen Hill the co-offensive players of the week, Attaochu the defensive player of the week and wide receiver Darren Waller special teams player of the week.
Hill caught six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Waller recorded Tech’s first punt block since the 2008 season and Melton caught two passes for 12 yards and also contributed fierce downfield blocking.
“He’s done a really nice job blocking and playing hard,” Johnson said.
(It’s not every team where the wide receiver is named a co-player of the game after a two-catch game. Melton laid out a vicious block in the first quarter, I think, in which he kind of peeled back and put a North Carolina defender coming across the middle on his back.)
Hill and B-back Preston Lyons did not practice Monday. Hill, who tweaked a leg muscle running a pass route Saturday, is expected back Tuesday. Johnson said he didn’t know if Lyons would be ready to play Saturday. Lyons sat out Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury.
(I wrote earlier today that Hill came back. I’m now not sure he did. I thought the kickoff return he ran back was after the drop, but it was before. Tech only had one series after that play, so I don’t know. That said, it looks like he’ll be fine.)
Johnson promised changes on the kickoff return team. Saturday, the Jackets failed to get their first three returns past the 19-yard line. Johnson said players on the unit weren’t executing their assignments. Johnson said he wasn’t sure if Orwin Smith would be replaced (Hill returned one kick), “but the rest of them cats back there are gone.”
(I am going to look into the numbers a little more. I wrote down the players on the return team Saturday, but, naturally, I can’t find those notes. “The rest of them cats” – he does have a way with language.)
Milford Bennett, a member of Tech’s 1952 national championship team, died Thursday. Bennett earned two letters for Tech and was part of the 1952 team that went 12-0, won the SEC and was named national champion by the International News Service poll. He was 81. … Tech’s game against Maryland Oct. 8 has been set for a noon kickoff. It will be broadcast on ESPNU.
(RIP. My esteemed colleague Furman Bisher alerted my editor of Mr. Bennett’s passing, which was shared with me. He was part of a great team. The Jackets had four shutouts and only let one team score in double digits.)