Some post-practice notes. Nothing of great substance, unfortunately, although a number of players were held out. I wouldn’t worry about it unless it continues Tuesday.
1. Monday, Georgia tight end Orson Charles was named a finalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s premier tight end.
No one on the Georgia Tech coaching staff is ready to challenge the honor.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” secondary coach Charles Kelly said. “He’s got really good size, he runs like a wide receiver, adjusts to the ball well. They can put him in position where he creates mismatches at times.”
Tech has had its share of challenges defending tight ends. Saturday, Duke tight end Cooper Helfet caught six balls for 45 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. Against Virginia Tech, Chris Drager had a 14-yard touchdown catch. Charles, 6-foot-3 and 241 pounds, leads the Bulldogs with 35 catches, with five touchdowns and a 12.4 yards-per-catch average.
“He makes catches that wide receivers would like to make,” defensive coordinator Al Groh said.
Tech faced another finalist, Clemson’s Dwayne Allen, earlier this season. Hobbled by a turf-toe injury, Allen caught four passes for 32 yards.
(Tech has played a number of excellent tight ends this season, starting with Charles and Allen. Helfet, N.C. State’s George Bryan, Kansas’ Tim Biere, Maryland’s Matt Furstenburg and Virginia’s Colter Phillips all were on either the preseason or midseason Mackey Award watch list.)
2. Georgia Tech is a 6-point underdog to Georgia and has lost nine of its last 10 to the Bulldogs. After practice Monday, Tech coach Paul Johnson sarcastically played the woe-is-us card.
“They’ve got a heck of a team,” Johnson said. “Won nine in a row, SEC East champs. Hopefully we can stay with them.”
Johnson interrupted a question about his players not needing much motivation this week by saying they are “probably scared.”
And why would that be?
Said Johnson, “We haven’t beaten them in a long time.”
(Johnson said this all deadpan and was obviously being sarcastic. I don’t know what exactly to read into it, but I’d say he’s not dreading the game’s outcome like some Tech fans seem to be.)
3. Several players were held out of practice Monday, including wide receiver Stephen Hill, A-backs Orwin Smith and Roddy Jones, cornerback Louis Young and center Jay Finch. Johnson said the team is “pretty beat up” but did not seem overly concerned about their availability for Saturday. Young, for one, said he expected to play Saturday.
Johnson said B-back Preston Lyons, who missed Saturday’s game against Duke to rest injuries, should play Saturday. Johnson wasn’t sure if Charles Perkins, who played in Lyons’ place, would also get snaps.
“We’ll see how practice goes,” Johnson said.
(I wouldn’t be worried unless the same players are all held out Tuesday. I think saying players are “beat up” sounds like they just need a breather.)
4. As is always the case, Johnson also reviewed officials calls and non-calls in addition to his team’s performance. Often, he has conceded that officials made the right calls on plays he argued during the game.
Asked about calls made Saturday, Johnson replied, “I’m not getting into that one. I need to keep my cash.”
(I thought the pass-interference penalty against Jemea Thomas was pretty questionable.)
5. Tech will have classes through Wednesday, and Johnson will follow a normal practice schedule through that day. On Thanksgiving, the team will practice in the morning, have lunch together and then players will be released until Friday. … Coaches named wide receiver Tyler Melton, linebackers Brandon Watts and Jemea Thomas the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the game.
(Melton is turning it on in his last few games. He has seven catches in his three games, and I think I read one of his catches against Duke was an ESPN top 10 selection.)
Thanks for reading. Again, let’s keep things clean.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog