First, sorry about the filters. It seemed like they were out of control today. I apologize. Here are the notes. As you may have already read, it doesn’t look good for Jay Finch to play Saturday, which is not good for a couple different reasons. Nothing against Nick McRae, but he’s quicker off the ball than McRae and is just more experienced. Onto the notes.
1. Georgia Tech will most likely be without starting center Jay Finch for its Saturday night game against Clemson. Tech coach Paul Johnson said Finch is “probably out” for the game with a lower-leg injury.
Finch has not practiced this week after sustaining the injury on Tech’s first play from scrimmage in the loss to Miami last Saturday. Nick McRae, who replaced Finch last Saturday, would be his likely replacement.
“He’s played well,” Johnson said of Finch. “I think for the most part, anytime you lose a starter, it’s tough, but it’s like I’ve said before, the next guy’s got to step up.”
McRae, along with guards Omoregie Uzzi and Will Jackson, will have their hands full. Clemson nose guard Brandon Thompson is projected to be the first tackle taken in the NFL draft.
“I think [Finch's injury] affected them a great deal” in the Miami game, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday.
On his Wednesday night radio show on 790 the Zone, Johnson said that he hopes Finch will be back for the Nov. 10 Virginia Tech game after the open date and that Morgan Bailey will back up McRae, assuming Finch can’t play. It would be the second career game for Bailey, a redshirt freshman who has fought injuries since coming to Tech.
(I owe a debt of gratitude to the fan who asked Johnson about Finch’s prognosis. I asked about Finch after practice, but didn’t ask about his availability for Virginia Tech. Fail for me. Don’t know if you heard it, but the callers were not the typical “We love ya, Coach” variety. One guy told Johnson he needed to hire a special teams coordinator, which got his goat a bit, but hung up before Johnson could fire a question back at him.)
2. Despite Clemson’s offensive firepower, Tech won’t play any more conservatively on defense than usual, secondary coach Charles Kelly said.
“We’re going to play what we play,” he said.
The Jackets will have to be mindful of Clemson’s various formations and motions, know where the Tigers’ playmakers are and communicate well before the snap. Tackling the ball and preventing yards after catch will be other keys.
“I think what it’s going to boil down to is our individual battles summing up to us winning the play,” defensive end Jason Peters said.
(This is going to be a stress test for the defense. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris tries tries to run 80 plays a game – Tech ran 62 last game – which means quick snaps as soon as the ball is placed. Players are going to have to be on their P’s and Q’s.)
3. Johnson said he’ll keep his kicking and punting specialists the same Saturday as last week – David Scully on kickoffs, Justin Moore on field goals and Sean Poole on punts. Asked if Zach Laskey would field punts again, Johnson replied, “We’ll see when the game starts.”
Of the team’s practice this week, Johnson said that “it’s hard to be real up-tempo. Guys are banged up, beat up, so I think they’re focusing on what we’re trying to do with our game plan.”
(If I had to guess, I’d say Laskey will be out there again. For his sake, I hope he gets another chance.)
4. The betting spread on the game has dropped a half-point to a point from its opening line because of money being wagered on the Jackets. Most lines initially had the Tigers as a 4-to-4.5-point favorite. Caesars Palace sports book analyst Todd Fuhrman said that among professional gamblers, “there is some appetite out there in the market to take Georgia Tech as a home underdog.” Johnson’s success against Clemson – he is 3-1 against the Tigers – has made the Jackets a popular bet among “sharps,” Fuhrman said.
(That was interesting, I thought. Fuhrman said he thought the less-informed betting public will lay money on Clemson and the professional bettors will go with Tech. Take it for what it’s worth.)
5. Mike Patrick (play by play), Craig James (color) and Jenn Brown (sideline) will call the game for ABC. The game will be broadcast across the Southeast and into Pennsylvania, Indiana and Arkansas. The rest of the country will see the Stanford-USC game.
(I think they did the Tech-N.C. State game, if I’m not mistaken. I guess “Jenn” is the popular spelling among sideline reporters. My friend Jenn Hildreth, who works for Fox Sports South, does the double N. I guess one day when I replace Erin Andrews, I’ll go by Kenn Sugiura. For a lot of reasons, that would be a bad day for television.)
Thanks for reading. Come back Thursday morning for something or other. Please follow on Facebook and Twitter.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog