A few notes from the first day of spring practice:
1. Players were in shorts and helmets, and will be Wednesday, as well. I’d guess on Friday they’ll be in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.
Coach Paul Johnson’s impressions: “I thought the enthusiasm was pretty good. They bounced around O.K.”
He thought the conditioning level was pretty good.
2. Zach Laskey has moved back to B-back from the secondary. Johnson indicated that other players will be moved, but that it’s yet to happen. “You’re not going to do a whole lot of that on the first day,” he said. “Just kind of let ‘em get their feet under ‘em and kind of go from there.”
3. Special teams coordinator David Walkosky went through his first practice with the team. I’m told he was high energy and putting the specialists through a lot of conditioning work.
“I thought he flew around and coached hard, like I thought he would,” Johnson said.
Walkosky said that he’s 100 percent for using starters on special teams and that Johnson told him to use whatever players he needed. (I don’t think this is new.)
He also said he has watched video of every Tech game from the past three seasons since getting hired.
Special-teams coaches are known for having a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I’d never thought about why that is, but he offered a logical explanation.
“You only get one down on special teams,” he said. “You don’t get second down, you don’t get third down. Before the play, usually you have an opportunity to talk to players, so I think it’s important to use some energy to get guys going for those eight seconds.”
4. Defensive coordinator on Al Groh on the top candidates at inside linebacker, Quayshawn Nealy, Daniel Drummond and Jabari Hunt-Days (Synjyn’s brother).
“Quayshawn and Daniel got quite a bit of time in clearly what was a rookie year for both of them. A lot of positives in the year. By the same token, a lot of things that could cause this year, if they’ll take advantage of it, to be an even more positive year. It starts out there.
“In Jabari, we have a player. He’s got a significant set of skills, so we’re looking forward to giving him concentrated coaching here in the spring that was not available to him because of his position on the depth chart last fall.”
Groh also noted that Julian Burnett is doing, “from all indications, a very good job of dealing with that sudden change” of his playing days coming to an apparent end.
5. I’m working on a story for Wednesday about the competition between the quarterbacks, particularly backups Vad Lee and Synjyn Days. It’s scheduled to run Wednesday. A couple quotes from quarterbacks/B-backs coach Brian Bohannon and wide receiver Darren Waller on the first day.
Bohannon said Tevin Washington, Lee and Days were rusty.
“It wasn’t as sharp as I would have expected for three guys who have, whether they’ve played a lot or not, have been in and have an idea of what’s going on. I’d like for them to be a little sharper, so today was a little rusty. I know Wednesday will be a lot better.”
Waller said receivers did blocking drills and worked on timing routes with the quarterbacks for three separate periods during practice.
“Just getting everybody’s brain back into it, get back into football shape for where you’ve got to be,” Waller said.
Thanks for reading. The Days/Lee story should be posted by late afternoon. I’ll plan to have leftover notes from the story on the blog Wednesday morning.
6. Tech is planning to drop its final two games with BYU, at home in 2014 and on the road in 2017. With the nine-game ACC schedule starting most likely in 2013, Tech had to drop one non-conference opponent in 2014 from among Wofford, BYU, Tulane and Georgia.
Should Pitt and Syracuse join the ACC for the 2013 season, Tech won’t have the problem of dropping an opponent, as it has yet to find a fourth non-conference opponent. Tech’s non-conference opponents for 2017 (for now) are Georgia, Ole Miss and BYU. I’m going to guess that Tech would pick up a non-BCS conference FBS team or an FCS team to replace BYU.
Sorry if you already bought your plane tickets for Provo for 2017. Tough break.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog