Notes from Monday’s practice that will go in Tuesday’s paper. I’ll add some comments later. I’ve got to grind a little more. Thanks for reading.
1. Georgia Tech may take on Maryland without two of its starting linebackers, including star Jeremiah Attaochu.
Neither Attaochu, an outside linebacker, nor inside linebacker Daniel Drummond practiced Monday. Coach Paul Johnson rated both as questionable and was less than precise about their chances to play Saturday.
“I don’t know if he’ll play, but he’s O.K.,” Johnson said of Attaochu. “We’re not going to have to shoot him or anything.”
Johnson said Drummond’s injury “might be a tad worse” than Attaochu. Both sustained leg injuries in Tech’s win over N.C. State Saturday.
Their likely replacements would be Malcolm Munroe (Attaochu) and Quayshawn Nealy (Drummond). Munroe primarily plays special teams and Nealy plays special teams and on the “dime” defense. Munroe made some noteworthy plays, including a sack, but was inconsistent.
Defensive coordinator Al Groh said that Nealy has played increasingly better in the dime defense, but that his responsibilities don’t compare with what he would do in the base defense. He was hopeful that Nealy will gain experience if Drummond sits “and become more of a full-time player.”
Johnson also reported that long snapper Tyler Morgan is out after sustaining a hand injury in the game. He was replaced by Sean Tobin.
(The Jackets have had favor with injuries so far this year. I think the past two games were pretty physical. We’ll see how they make it through the rest of the year, because they’re pretty thin in some areas.)
2. It could be a rough week of practice for Tech. Johnson said that video review of Saturday’s 45-35 win showed “a lot of stuff to correct. I couldn’t even begin to start.”
Two areas are run defense and kickoff returns. Tech gave up 195 rushing yards to the Wolfpack, which had been averaging 85.0 yards on the ground.
“It wasn’t real good,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the kick return team “wasn’t worth a [crud]” and that, after making personnel changes last week, he’ll make more this week. Tech’s best field position off a kickoff prior to the final onside kick try was its 30-yard line.
Johnson did say that new kickoff specialist David Scully did “O.K.” and will keep his spot as long as he practices well.
(The new cats that replaced “them cats” apparently weren’t the solution. An explosive offense covers up a poor return team, but consistently starting around the 23-yard line is no formula for a championship. This goes beyond the returner.)
3. Johnson said video review of the game showed that the spot on a third-quarter fourth-and-1 run by quarterback Tevin Washington at the N.C. State 3-yard line was inaccurate and wrongly denied Tech a first down. He also said that a 15-yard clipping penalty later in the quarter was unwarranted, as “the clip was nonexistent.” He said the team will send in the plays to the ACC office for review.
Johnson acknowledged that on a holding penalty on A-back Orwin Smith that wiped out a 71-yard touchdown run by A-back Roddy Jones, “I could see why they’d call it.” Johnson was irate after the penalty because it was called by an official who was far across the field.
(I wonder if Johnson will send the official he was barking at after the Smith penalty a bouquet of flowers with a card that says, “Oops! Sorry for screaming at you on national television!” Actually, no, I think I know the answer to that one. I imagine he might say, “They didn’t send me one for the bad spot.”)
4. Kicker Justin Moore was named the ACC specialist of the week for making all six of his point-after tries and a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to help Tech secure its victory. Moore is 34-for-34 in point-after tries this season.
Coaches named defensive end Izaan Cross, Jones and Tobin as players of the game. Jones had five touches for 64 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown reception, and executed assignments with proficiency. Cross had two tackles and graded out well. Tobin cleanly handled his snaps after replacing Morgan in the first half.
(You could make a case again for Jemea Thomas on special teams, but I’m partial to long snappers. I may be the only reporter in Super Bowl history who wrote stories at two different Super Bowls profiling the snappers. In his first college game, at a position where it isn’t hard to screw up, he did his job and went unnoticed.)
5. Tech will play its Oct. 15 game at Virginia at 3:30 p.m. … Tech has sold all but 2,500 tickets for the Clemson game Oct. 29. Sales for this Saturday’s Maryland game are considerably lower. Tickets are available at 1-888-832-4849 and ramblinwreck.com. … The athletic department has hired Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, who designed and conducted an extensive fan survey for Tech in the spring, as a consultant on ticket sales and marketing. Herbst-Lucke, who has won multiple Peachtree Road Race masters titles, won a 5K in Syracuse Sunday with a 5:21 mile pace. … Tech’s win over N.C. State will be replayed on CSS Tuesday at 4 and 9 p.m.
(A good hire, I think, and evidence of how much Tech is trying to move tickets. I spoke with Herbst-Lucke for the story I linked and was impressed. I will blog on this topic before too long.)
Thanks for reading. I’ll have something up in the morning – I’ll aim for 9 – and then the post news conference update. (Update: It’s going to be mid-afternoon. Sorry for the delay.)