Practice notes, along with some stuff you’ve seen if you read the news conference notes. To answer your question, Jeremiah Attaochu and Daniel Drummond both practiced. Read on…
1. Students at Georgia Tech concluded their two-day fall break Tuesday. The Yellow Jackets have a slight reprieve of their own this week as they prepare for Miami on Saturday.
Coach Paul Johnson is easing up on players this week with concerns about tired legs after playing seven consecutive games on top of four weeks of preseason camp.
“I think that might explain a little bit where we’ve been the last couple weeks,” Johnson said, referring to the team’s lackluster play in a win over Maryland and a loss to Virginia.
Tuesday, when they normally practice in full pads for full-speed contact work, the Jackets practiced in shoulder pads and shorts and also had practice time shortened to 18 periods, about five fewer than normal.
Center Jay Finch, nursing an injury sustained in last Saturday’s game, called it “an early Christmas.” Quarterback Tevin Washington said players had more energy in Tuesday’s practice.
There were “a lot of guys flying around, ready to go play this week,” he said.
With no classes Monday or Tuesday, Washington said he slept about two hours later than normal and used the time to catch up on homework and watch extra game video.
“Hopefully we can get to the gate and be a little fresher and play fast like we did early on in the year,” Johnson said.
(I asked wide receivers coach Buzz Preston if he observed players with a renewed commitment at practice. “Well, we’ll find out Saturday,” said the coach. This could be exactly what they need, or maybe the opposite. Who knows?)
2. Linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Daniel Drummond both practiced Tuesday. Drummond is expected to be ready to play. Johnson said Attaochu is “75, 80 percent [Tuesday], and we’ve still got time.”
Both players sustained leg injuries in the Oct. 1 N.C. State game and did not play in the past two games.
(Attaochu working in practice is a good sign, but he’s still got some healing to do. I wonder if maybe he’d dress Saturday and be available if necessary, as was the case with Drummond last Saturday.)
3. Defensive coordinator Al Groh’s assessment of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, who is second in the ACC in passing efficiency with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions:
“He looks like he’s playing the best that I’ve seen him play in the years that we’ve played against him, and we’ve played him every year (beginning in 2008, when Groh was at Virginia). There seems to be a poise and a patience to his play that was (missing, and was) maybe the reason for some negative plays that balanced out the very positive plays that he would have.”
(He’s completing 67 percent of his passes. Pretty danged good.)
4. Johnson said that he will open up the placekicking job this week. After his 52-yard attempt was blocked Saturday, Justin Moore is 4-for-8 this season. Moore has had trouble raising the trajectory of his kicks. One possible challenger is Chris Tanner, who was 14-for-14 on point-after tries in the 2009 season.
“It may be Justin,” Johnson said. “I’m not saying he’s not going to kick, but we need to see improvement this week.”
(Michael Cunningham talked to some of the candidates this afternoon for a story for Wednesday. I doubt any of them used the Pythagorean theorem to explain their kicking, like Tyler Melton did for his downfield blocking, but I know his story is going to have at least one pretty interesting detail that you’ll have to wait till the story is posted late Thursday to find out. I suppose there are plenty of physics formulas that you could use to explain placekicking.)
5. Johnson was asked about the post-game coaching squabbles at the Georgia-Vanderbilt and Detroit Lions-San Francisco 49ers games last weekend. He said that 99 percent of the time, the handshakes are cordial, but that coaches have so much invested, emotions can fly. Johnson said he tries to mind his manners.
“Nobody wants to have, ‘Hey, my guys kicked your [butt], huh?’” he said.
(He sort of went off topic in answering this question and was sharing a pet peeve about how some fans will e-mail him and make suggestions or ask him if he’s thought about a certain strategy. “Yeah, we know that. We watched the tapes,” he said, mimicking his answer. “We’re here, like, 14 hours. ‘Did you think about this?’ I thought about everything that you can think of, I think.” I’ve heard or read North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams say something similar, something to the effect that he feels like someone giving him coaching advice is sort of like him giving a doctor medical advice.)
6. The team practiced in the rain for most of the afternoon but retired to the indoor facility when it turned into a downpour. When practicing in heavy rain, Finch said, “you can’t even hear the guy next to you because all you can hear is the rain thumping on your helmet, so it’s nice to have the indoor facility.” … Johnson praised the play of backup defensive back Jemea Thomas and said that “I think you’re going to see him play more here down the stretch.”
(Finch is a rather quotable young man. Typical offensive lineman. I’m not sure how Thomas gets on the field more than he is unless he’s subbing for one of the safeties, but I think he deserves a chance to show what he can do. He’s a playmaker.)