I spoke last week with Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington. Forthwith, a summary of the first half of the interview, including updates on the offseason and a look back at 2011. Fittingly, it’s 13 items.
1. Last Friday, the team completed its last of six coaches runs workouts, in which players do a circuit of conditioning drills, each monitored by one of the coaches.
Toughest drill: Bags with secondary coach Charles Kelly. Seven tackling bags are laid out in a line, and players have to high step over them and then sprint through a cone five yards beyond the bags, then run back after the whole group (12 or 13 players) finishes.
Then they weave through the cones, sprinting forward and backpedaling, and keep going until the three-minute period ends.
“The bag drill, you’re tired because you’ve been running (the entire time). At the other stations, you get a little break in between. You might get 15 seconds or 20 before it’s your turn to go again. But in this one, you’re just running the whole three minutes. We don’t get any break. You might get three seconds depending on when the last person comes through the bags.”
2. On if it’s more mentally or physically challenging: “I think it’s both. Physically, it puts you in shape. In no time during football, spring practice or even in the fall, do you do that much running at one time but as far as just getting yourself conditioned physically and mentally, it makes you push through. Because everybody gets tired. Nobody out there will be fresh and can just go through every time and not get tired when you go through the coaches runs.
Mentally you see what you’re going to do when you get tired. Are you going to push through or are you going to feel sorry for yourself or are you going to mentally tell yourself that you can pus h through the drill and get through it no matter what.”
3. On the player in the best shape: “I think it’s probably between Louis Young and I’d have to say Charles Perkins. Those two, they’re pretty good. I’d have to say three. Robbie Godhigh. Those three they don’t seem to get tired. They get tired, but they don’t show it.
4. Washington organized passing workouts all through February, twice a week after team conditioning workouts in the afternoon.
“Just quarterbacks and receivers and A-backs, just work on timing, route running and just throwing routes on up.”
The workouts lasted about an hour to 75 minutes.
“It’s five quarterbacks, so everybody’s getting reps. I think it’s six receivers and you’ve got four A-backs so everybody pretty much got reps. We’d go one rep at a time so everybody gets a chance to coach each other up. So we try to work through and just work on whatever everybody wants to work on.”
On his role coordinating the workout:
“I just kind of organize it, try to let everybody know what we’re going to throw. I try to make sure that when we’re out there, we’re getting some work done as far as grouping everybody together and making sure that we all at least look like we know what we’re doing. That’s about it.”
5. The five quarterbacks were Synjyn Days, Vad Lee, early enrollee Dennis Andrews and Tim Byerly, a walk-on transfer from Middle Tennessee State.
Washington on Andrews: “He’s still young, but he looks like he’s going to be ready to go when we start spring practice.”
(I’ll have his thoughts on Days and Lee in the next installment. This isn’t, like, my attempt to build suspense. I asked him later and I haven’t gotten that far in transcribing.)
6. The defensive backs came out “maybe two of the four weeks” that the quarterbacks, A-backs and receivers threw. “It wasn’t anything too physical, but just (to) make sure they can stay in their game.”
7. On the importance of practicing the passing game when the team doesn’t throw much: “I’d say, since Coach (Paul) Johnson has been here, there hasn’t been a year where we didn’t have passing situations come up where we didn’t throw the ball. Every game I’ve played in, every game I’ve seen since I’ve been here – I mean, every game I think anybody’s seen – that situation will come up. And when the passing situation does come up, you’ve got to be able to execute it well.”
8. On wanting to throw more: Every quarterback wants to throw. It’s a pleasure being able to throw the ball, but we’re going to do whatever works, whatever puts the ‘W’ on the board.”
9. Washington said he’s been watching a lot of video from last season, particularly the losses. On what he found lacking: “Personally, just execution, being able to continue to execute week in and week out, pick up the execution and making sure you do your job the best you could to give your team the best chance to win.”
10. Asked if there were plays that bug him, he said, “I can probably name five off the top of my head.” He mentioned two plays in the loss to Virginia, the first of which took place on the first series. The play was a vertical route for Stephen Hill, but Virginia blitzed.
“I could have just easily thrown it to the A-back; he was wide open at the line, but instead, I continued in my drop and I tried to throw it to Stephen.
“I got hit as I threw the ball, as I let the ball go, and it was an incomplete pass, but it could have been a first down (if the pass had gone to the A-back) and probably would have been the difference in the drive.”
(Tech got the ball for its first drive down 7-0, then was hit with a holding penalty on first down. Washington’s pass, incomplete to Hill, was on 3rd and 12. After punting, Virginia took over on Tech’s 45-yard line and scored on the third play for a 14-0 lead. Had the Jackets earned a first down on that play, “it would have been a big momentum swing, I think,” Washington said.)
11. The second in that game was an interception in the second quarter after Virginia had scored to take a 21-14 lead.
“We had another play-action pass play and I threw a pick on the play. It was on the right sideline throwing to Steve. If I would have just sat him down instead of throwing down the field, if I would have just threw it back shoulder and made him stop and catch the ball, it would have been a big play.”
Chase Minnifield intercepted instead, setting up a Virginia field goal for a 24-14 lead. Virginia won 24-21.
The game hardly came down to those two plays, but momentum-changers nevertheless.
12. A third play was in the Virginia Tech game, “where I don’t think anybody was on the same page.” On the first drive of the second quarter, Tech started on its 7-yard line ahead 7-0. On the first play, Washington pitched to Roddy Jones for a two-yard gain.
“I should have got down here and forced the corner to make me pitch it or run. There was nobody else out there,” he said. “Everybody, the safety, went the other way. So it would have been a big play.”
His conclusion: “I pitched it too soon. Nobody made me pitch it.”
13. As for a play he was particularly proud of, he named his 31-yard touchdown pass to Hill in the Sun Bowl, as it broke a passing slump in which he hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass in the previous seven games after recording 10 in the first five.
The pass, he said, “for that game, anyway, gave us some momentum in passing the football.”
That’s about all he said about it. It’s interesting, perhaps telling, that he went into detail about the plays he’d missed, but glossed over the touchdown pass.
More Thursday morning. Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog