These are the practice notes that will go in the paper. The other lads on the beat and I spoke with B-backs/quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon, which I’ll post Wednesday morning. Herr Bohannon was informative as usual. Most of the stuff in here got touched on, I think, in the last few posts. Maybe of most interest to you is that Stephen Hill practiced and Preston Lyons is expected to play.
You might also be interested to know that my colleague Michael Cunningham spoke with Tyler Melton about his role in the Georgia Tech offense. Melton is one of the best interviews on the team and I presume you will be pleased to hear that Melton explained his downfield blocking using the Pythagorean theorem. That story should be posted Thursday late afternoon.
Thanks for reading.
1. Four games into the season, Georgia Tech is undefeated and first in the country in total offense, scoring and passing efficiency and second in rushing.
The Yellow Jackets are doing it despite hardly ever running their staple play, the triple option. They ran it four or five times in Saturday’s win over North Carolina. In other games, Tech might run it 15 times.
The offense’s success is testament to the flexibility of the spread option scheme, the depth of playmakers and the playcalling of coach Paul Johnson. Defenses are geared up to stop the triple option, Johnson said, so he’s called other plays to counterattack.
“No use forcing it,” Johnson said.
It doesn’t hurt that he has playmakers in wide receiver Stephen Hill and A-back Orwin Smith, along with quarterback Tevin Washington distributing the ball efficiently. A-backs Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples and B-back David Sims have been a part of a combined nine plays of 20 yards or more, too. Johnson said the diversity of talent makes the team “kind of unique” in that he doesn’t scheme for one particular player to get the ball, as he has done in the past with home-run hitting B-backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen.
“You just kind of run the system,” he said. “If they want to take away David Sims, then, O.K., we’ll give it to Orwin Smith. If they want to take away Orwin, we’ll do whatever.”
Thus far, 11 different players have had runs, passes or receptions for 20 yards or more.
“I think that’s the neat thing about what we do right now, is you don’t know who’s week it’s going to be,” quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said.
(It would seem that Tech won’t get the projected production from the B-back spot that Johnson predicted before the season (around 1,300 yards). Something tells me that’s not a big concern with Tech fans right now.)
2. The Tech defense has plenty to clean up after last Saturday’s game. While amassing seven sacks and two interceptions and coming through with two crucial stops at game’s end, the Jackets had problems with alignment, communication, tackling and pursuit angles.
“A lot of [the problem] was just being out of position completely, not really doing what you were supposed to in the defense,” outside linebacker Steven Sylvester said. “Once a play unfolds, you have certain responsibilities that you were supposed to do, and a lot of the times, we weren’t even doing that.”
At times, particularly as the noise in Bobby Dodd Stadium ramped up, players had a hard time hearing each other and were missing signals from the sideline, defensive end Jason Peters said.
The Tar Heels scored touchdowns on all three of its red-zone opportunities. Tech opponents, in fact, have scored 11 touchdowns in 13 red-zone chances. Tech is tied for 100th out of 120 FBS teams in red-zone defense.
(That last number is rather astounding. Like some of the special teams, that has to improve or it could very well end up costing Tech at some point.)
3. After sitting out practice Monday, Hill returned Tuesday. B-back Preston Lyons and wide receiver Jeff Greene, who sat out the North Carolina game with undisclosed injuries, will be available to play this Saturday. Johnson said that he wants to get more playing time for A-back Tony Zenon. He didn’t play much against North Carolina, which Johnson called an oversight. “We need to get him in some,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that against North Carolina, offensive tackles Ray Beno and Tyler Kidney played a little better than Phil Smith, in his second game back after a two-game suspension.
“He’s still a little rusty, so I expect him to play better as we go along,” Johnson said.
The kickoff specialist spot will again be determined in practice, between Chandler Anderson and Justin Moore.
(A three-tackle rotation is helpful for Tech. The line needs all the useful depth it can get. I spoke with Moore after practice. He’s trying to work his way out of his kickoff issues and is hopeful things will get corrected. He said he thought the issues were timing related, “but I think I’ll get there very soon because I know I have to.”
4. Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was named the Football Writers Association of America/Bronko Nagurski national defensive player of the week for his three sacks, nine tackles, one forced fumble and one tipped pass against North Carolina. He will be added to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the nation’s best defensive player.
(He’s going national. It’ll be interesting to see how he follows up last Saturday.)
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat