A few spring practice notes, from an interview with offensive line coach Mike Sewak:
1. I’ve noted this before, but injuries have been a negative/positive this spring. Having Omoregie Uzzi and Will Jackson out has given players like Nick McRae and J.C. Lanier more reps than they would have gotten otherwise, but it has also forced coach Mike Sewak to shuffle players more than he probably would like.
Injuries to Lanier and Shaquille Mason in Saturday’s scrimmage left the line with seven of the 12 scholarship offensive linemen in the scrimmage.
2. Tackle Morgan Bailey, until an injury last week, was shaping up as one of the most improved players on the team. Bailey, a rising redshirt sophomore, has plus athletic ability but has had injury challenges since he arrived at Tech. He was putting things together this spring. Not sure if he’ll be able to come back this week.
“He seems to be enjoying the playing time and seems to be enjoying the camaraderie and seems to be enjoying the leadership role he’s taking in that meeting room now, because I can point to him and say, ‘That’s how it’s supposed to be done,’” Sewak said.
3. Bailey’s health could be a crucial factor this fall. Sewak wants three dependable players at that position; you’ll remember there was a three-tackle rotation last season. Tech has two returning starters in Ray Beno and Tyler Kidney, but after that are rising redshirt freshmen Bryan Chamberlain and Errin Joe, who haven’t made the progress Sewak was hoping for this spring. The loss of Phil Smith was not insignificant, obviously.
4. Guard is the most secure position as spring ends, with returning starters Uzzi and Jackson and rising sophomore Mason, who ended the season splitting snaps with Jackson and acquitting himself well. Trey Braun is coming on.
5. The project to make Catlin Alford a center continues. There were more center-quarterback exchange snafus on Saturday, although it’s hard to pin on one player or position. To a degree, it’s a function of different players at both positions rotating in and out.
McRae, you may remember, was the backup last season at center and started against Clemson in place of Jay Finch.
“I’d like to see [McRae] continue to develop there, too, but Catlin Alford is too good of an athlete not to be playing,” Sewak said.
Sewak wants a little more from Finch.
“I’ve been pleased with his effort at times,” he said. “Obviously, his off-the-field willingness to put the extra time, to understand it, I think has benefited him.”
6. The Tech defense is working on some different things, which has been a benefit to the offense when th e units have gone against each other.
“We are getting a bunch of twists and blitzes, which helps us,” Sewak said. “We are getting some even front (4-4), which helps us, too, because we see a lot of even front in the fall.”
Notably, Virginia Tech is one of the teams that typically plays an even front against Tech.
In case you missed it, a couple stories I wrote for the weekend, one on Tech’s internship program for its athletes and the notebook from Saturday’s scrimmage. Both are longer than the print version. Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog