Hope you’re well. As the notes below will tell you, the status for Jeremiah Attaochu, Daniel Drummond and Brandon Watts remains the same – didn’t practice, questionable. Based on their not practicing, I’m not expecting them to play.
Another piece of news that isn’t in the notes is that ESPN GameDay is considering setting up shop for the Oct. 29 Clemson-Georgia Tech game. A spokeswoman for the network said it’s on a list of about four candidates for that weekend. The last time GameDay was at Tech was Sept. 2006, when the Jackets were host to Notre Dame. The decision won’t get made until Sept. 22. On to the notes.
1. Georgia Tech linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu, Daniel Drummond and Brandon Watts did not practice Wednesday, their third consecutive day out. They remain questionable for Saturday’s game against Maryland.
Attaochu and Drummond have leg injuries. The injury to Watts, a regularly-used backup, is undisclosed. Attaochu and Drummond’s likely replacements would be Malcolm Munroe and Quayshawn Nealy.
“That’s why you have a team,” coach Paul Johnson said. “One guy goes down, the next guy plays. That’s the way it works.”
Other linebackers who could possibly see time are B.J. Machen, true freshman Nick Menocal and Morgan Carter, a walk-on.
(I feel like this has been hashed over a good bit. If you’re wondering, Menocal has already played this season, so he wouldn’t be burning his redshirt.)
2. Defensive coordinator Al Groh said that Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien has been able to improve more quickly as a passer compared to other ACC quarterbacks such as North Carolina’s Bryn Renner and N.C. State’s Mike Glennon simply because he gets more opportunities to pass in games and more so in practice. O’Brien had 44, 52 and 33 attempts in his first three games before throwing only 21 times last Saturday.
Compared to a quarterback in a more balanced offense, “he’s throwing close to 100 more practice passes per week,” Groh said. “That’s what he’s been in really the last two years and so I think that’s the biggest difference, is just his familiarity with being essentially a passing quarterback.”
(More pearls from Professor Groh. He’d be a fascinating person to sit down and talk football with. The guy has seen a lot.)
3. Coaches facing Tech often make the point that the Jackets’ unconventional offense is difficult to prepare for in a week’s time. Maryland has additional burdens this week in that regard. Not only is the coaching staff, including coach Randy Edsall and defensive coordinator Todd Bradford, going through its first time preparing the Terrapins to play Tech, but they have 2.5 fewer hours than they would normally have.
In May, the school self-reported practice-time violations incurred during the regime of former coach Ralph Friedgen and recommended a limit of 17.5 hours per week for practice and games for the 2011 season, which the NCAA accepted. The standard is 20.
Said Edsall, “You can’t be real complex with what you do because you’re not going to get that many (practice) reps.”
(Edsall said in July that it wouldn’t be an issue.)
4. With a win, Johnson would become the fourth coach to defeat 11 different ACC opponents. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien have accomplished the feat. As coach at Virginia, Groh beat the 11 other teams now in the ACC but beat Virginia Tech before the Hokies were a part of the league. Saturday will be Johnson’s first time coaching against Maryland. The teams play next year in College Park, Md.
(Kind of an interesting note. I guess it’s something of a comment on the turnover in coaching in the league in recent years. It’s courtesy of sports information whiz Mike Huff, who, you may or may not be interested to know, will start his new job Monday with the football team as an operations staffer, coordinating travel and the like. My congratulations to Mike, a good guy and someone I still owe a lunch to.)
5. Johnson said he has made additional changes to the struggling kickoff return team after making changes prior to the N.C. State game. Tony Zenon will remain the returner along with Orwin Smith.
“Maybe we’ll find the right combination eventually,” Johnson said.
(Maryland kickoff man Nick Ferrara does not have a touchback in 21 kickoffs and his average kick reaches the 8-yard line. Perhaps the Jackets will have a chance this week.)
6. Johnson on Tech’s practices this week: “I’ve not had to get on them this week. That doesn’t mean it still couldn’t go better. I think they’re trying to get better.” … Maryland will wear black helmets, black jerseys and gold pants against Tech, Edsall announced in a tweet Wednesday. Outfitted by Under Armour, the Terrapins have two helmets, four jerseys and four pants, giving them 32 different combinations, not including the “Maryland Pride” uniforms they wore in their season opener. … For the ESPNU broadcast, Rob Stone will handle play-by-play and former Florida State and Falcons quarterback Danny Kanell will provide analysis.
(Let’s see: Tech has one helmet, two jerseys and two sets of pants. That makes four combinations. It would have been funny if Tech had had a fashion show to reveal its 2011 uniforms, as Maryland did. It would have taken about 30 seconds. Of course, you wouldn’t have been able to read the numbers on the home jerseys. … I must confess every time I hear Rob Stone’s name I think of the actor from “Mr. Belvedere.” … If you hadn’t seen it, I wrote a story for Thursday’s paper about practice habits and Johnson “flame-spraying” players when he wasn’t happy with their effort.)
Thanks for reading. I’ll have a Q&A with Embry Peeples up Thursday morning.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat