Breaking down Tech o-line

Greetings

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

616 comments Add your comment

buzz nation

April 16th, 2012
9:39 am

jadams

April 16th, 2012
9:45 am

Good job Ken.

AugustaJacket

April 16th, 2012
9:48 am

Good article. I hope they open some running lanes this fall.

BigTimeTechFan

April 16th, 2012
9:48 am

Shaping up to be one of the best OL in the country. If they come together as planned Tech will be top 5 in the country in rushing.

Georgia DAWGS

April 16th, 2012
9:48 am

I am afraid I am here too little on the defense and this is a bad thing!! My canine gut feel is the Tech Defense has most likley taken a step or two back. It would mostlikey benefit Tech to go to a 40 look up front as well. They have serious personell issues on the Defensive front to be playing a 3-4 with a Nose guard.

I see a 6 maybe a 7 win season at best due to poor defnesive front play..

Yall Bring Giff Smith and Tenuta back and yall could be a force to be rekond with

Georgia DAWGS

April 16th, 2012
9:51 am

Can’t see why Paul Johnson can’t get the right staff or peronel for Defense… Just don’t understand it.

Birmingham Jacket

April 16th, 2012
9:54 am

Giff Smith was a great recruiter— something our current staff obviously has little interest in or ability to do.

We have personell issues all over. That’s what you get when you get outrecruited by Marylands, Wake Forests and UConns.

EGM

April 16th, 2012
9:55 am

Its about the talent, or lack there, of on defense. It has always been.

Ted DiBiase

April 16th, 2012
9:56 am

The dwags need not concern themselves with our defense…

Losing Burnett hurt, but we are stacked at linebacker. Jeremiah Attaochu will be All-ACC (at least).

Our D-line play will improve as well, though it probably is the weak link right now. We finally have some physical, experienced players.

The secondary will be an excellent group. Louis Young is the best corner you haven’t heard of. Sweeting is also really underrated. Jemea Thomas, Isaiah Johnson, Fred Holton coming back. I think (and hope) this is the strength of the entire team.

If our D can be just average yardage wise, but cause turnovers, this could be a really special year.

I think we will be.

Ted DiBiase

April 16th, 2012
10:00 am

Our recruiting is good enough to do what we need to do…I don’t care who you put at Tech, we won’t be pulling in Top 5/Top 10 classes.

The problem has been lack of experience in the defense. This year, we’ll have a lot more upperclassmen on the D — with now three years of experience in this defense.

I’m not going to say we’ll have a great D. I think we might, but of course I can’t be sure.

I am going to say that they’ll surprise a lot of people this year (including a few people who insist on posting here).

George Stein

April 16th, 2012
10:05 am

To the extent anyone believes the recruiting rankings, then the recruiting is about where it always has been. It would be nice to at least deal with facts.

George Stein

April 16th, 2012
10:05 am

To the extent anyone believes the recruiting rankings, then the recruiting is about where it always has been. It would be nice to at least deal with facts.

George Stein

April 16th, 2012
10:10 am

Did the defense add the wrinkles for the benefit of the offense or was that something new that they were working on, Ken? Thanks.

DesignerJacket

April 16th, 2012
10:18 am

We’re switching to a one-gap style in the 3-4, so there is some significant scheme adjustment the players need to learn. It’ll be an asset for this year since we still don’t have a behemoth at NT ho can be dominant enough to let us go to a two-gap. So, while the kids have had 3 years in Groh’s defense they are still learning some new stuff for this season.

crackbaby

April 16th, 2012
10:20 am

O-line was a liability last year but they were young and inexperienced. I hope what you foresee comes true, BigTime. I don’t see it but hopefully Sewak is poor mouthing to get these guys to perform.

Ted – agree whole heartedly with the DB assessment. From the first games last year, you could see the talent level in the D backfield.

But – this blog is about he O-line. Don’t let the troll hijack it.

crackbaby

April 16th, 2012
10:30 am

@ Gdawgs

Tech won 8 games last year in a rebuilding year. 2012 will be better.

Ken S. Article on O-line

April 16th, 2012
10:35 am

[...] S. Article on O-line Breaking down Tech o-line | Georgia Tech Looks like we are real close to having two separate lines capable of playing if everyone is [...]

Burdell

April 16th, 2012
10:39 am

Not enough room in the Edge Center for Tenuta’s ego…

I, too, am hoping Sewak is bad-mouthing in an effort to get these younger guys to step up…only time will tell.

just saying

April 16th, 2012
10:51 am

maybe Ken when you talk to CPJ ask him if he ever talks to Giff Smith anymore. Tell him there are fans on the blogs wishing his return. I cannot imagine anybody wanting to stay in Buffalo that long. Maybe Giff would come back if someone would pick up the phone, just saying…

Tenuta did a great job at GT. I hated CPJ did not ask him to stay on board.

student athlete

April 16th, 2012
11:06 am

If the OL is not significantly improved Sewak needs to move on; he can poor mouth all he wants, the bottom line- this is the year the OL shines or Sewak has to go- no other position group on the team has experienced the personnel issues of the OL.

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
11:08 am

“maybe Ken when you talk to CPJ ask him if he ever talks to Giff Smith anymore. Tell him there are fans on the blogs wishing his return. I cannot imagine anybody wanting to stay in Buffalo that long. Maybe Giff would come back if someone would pick up the phone, just saying…

Tenuta did a great job at GT. I hated CPJ did not ask him to stay on board.”

Tenuta did a great job? Are you serious? Tenuta did a great job one week, then the next we gave up 40 points. There was nothing consistent about John Tenuta.

As for Giff Smith, yeah he brought in some studs SOME years…but overall he didn’t bring in consistently good athletes like McCollum has. I don’t think bringing back Giff Smith helps our recruiting out a whole lot, to be honest with you.

GT Fan

April 16th, 2012
11:09 am

Thanks for the hard work, Ken!

I read that Sweeting played some safety on Saturday. Can you look into why they’re moving our best cover corner from his natural position? He’s the only other defender besides Julian Burnett to receive All-ACC honors. We don’t have too many of those type of defenders right now on the roster.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
11:27 am

@ FLJ……I am in COMPLETE agreement with you regarding Tenuta. His defenses looked spectacular at times, but more often than not, they looked average at best, and sometimes downright awful. Guys need to remember that his defense was almost completely responsible for one loss at UVA, and didn’t contribute much to the other loss up there. The players on Tenuta’s defenses looked like they performed only when they WANTED to—-no discipline whatsoever

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
11:31 am

That should have read other LOSSES at UVA, We lost every time we played up there while he was DC, plus at least once in Atlanta.

Hayseed Dixie

April 16th, 2012
11:36 am

Tenuta’s gone for a reason.

Ken, do you think our o-line performance and capability is the largest factor for the shotgun being implemented?

GTBob

April 16th, 2012
11:41 am

I see a 6 maybe a 7 win season at best due to poor defnesive front play..

Name the 7 teams that we will lose to this season and please give us a detailed explanation for why our defense will be worse this year then last year.

Tokyo jacket

April 16th, 2012
11:45 am

@Million Dollar Man – sweet name and you’re right. We don’t need a great defense. We need a slightly average defense that plays well on third downs. If you look at total years of experience in the system, we’re much better off than last year. CAG has always said it’s a three year process.

@ GTfan, probably because he knocks the crap out of people and/or we’re looking at more blitzing this year, which would mean more cover skills needed at the safety spot.

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
11:53 am

GTFan…

Jamal Golden and Jemea Thomas are also excellent cover guys…and Isaiah Johnson routinely gets beaten in one-on-one coverage situations…so if a Safety tandem of Fred Holton and Rod Sweeting allows us to better matchup against TE’s and deeper routes while also providing physical run support…I’m all for it.

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
11:54 am

BTTF’s enthusiasm is contagious. I see an experienced O-line that should exceed expectations. I expect more yardage for Sims and Smith and more time for the QB to plant his feet and zip the ball.

yeller bug

April 16th, 2012
12:08 pm

300 yds on the ground and 180 by air each week, a special teams that does better than average (e.g. doesn’t lose or set up losses) and a D that will bend but make critical 3rd down stops and we’re 10+ wins and in the ACC champ game. Sounds like a lot, but we’re really not too far off.

BigTimeTechFan

April 16th, 2012
12:14 pm

Like how Ken reports as opposed to Chip at UGA, Chip is fine but he gets to overly enthusiastic. Like Spring game report how back-ups played so well, used example where backup defender caused fumble. Yet it was a backup QB that fumbled the ball.

Tech reports seem more real, does not give all credit to defense when Tech QB’s fumble, but states that as concern about QB play.

Jacket Man

April 16th, 2012
12:21 pm

Spring practice is a teaching and evaluation period and people shouldn’t read too much into what’s being written about the personnel “issues”. New offensive and defensive schemes are being installed and players who haven’t had much playing time are getting a ton of reps so, naturally, issues will be occuring.

I can tell you several players have really caught the coaches eyes, like Jabari Hunt-Days, who will be hard to keep off the field. He has been an absolute terror this spring and with his size, speed, and strength, he can create havoc and make a huge impact for the defense. Fred Horton is back and is showing the injury won’t slow him down, so the defensive backfield is going to be tremendous. Synjyn Days is electric with the ball in his hands and has to see the field; perhaps even as an A-Back, where he’s being cross trained. And Vad Lee has shown that he is the real deal passing the ball and even making terrific runs and improving his option reads. The offense is working on some the Urban Meyer spread option offense (think Tim Tebow/Percy Harvin), and Vad really seems to excel in this formation.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
12:22 pm

@ BTTF…..let’s face it….Ken is the best. We are very fortunate to have him

George Stein

April 16th, 2012
12:22 pm

I don’t think you’re far off, yeller bug. As much as people focus on the offense (because it’s different, and that scares people), the defense and special teams are the keys to the season.

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
12:24 pm

OL might be the deepest, most experienced unit on the field.

Uzzi, Finch, and Jackson on the interior are solid, as are their regular backups (Mason, McRae, Braun). I’m worried about Tackle because those guys do a lot of scooping on LBs to cut off the backside, but then they also have to pass protect against the other teams best pass rusher. That’s why we need a guy like Morgan Bailey healthy…

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:26 pm

Who do you think the starting A-backs will be, Godhigh and Smith?

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:29 pm

FL Jacket…Tyler Kidney showed some ability scooping and a cutting off pursuit last season.

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
12:30 pm

HT…

I think in the Spring the upperclassmen have a natural advantage from being in the system. I think Godhigh will definitely play in the fall…but the rotation might be pretty deep

Orwin Smith
B.J. Bostic
Robby Godhigh
Deon Hill
Synjyn Days/Charles Perkins

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
12:31 pm

HT…

Kidney is about 6′2″ 270. I would think at that weight you can move pretty well. I’m just concerned about how strong he can be at that weight, and can he withstand a pass rush?

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:32 pm

Good point, FL Jacket. Do you see Tony Zenon in that rotation or do you see him as a return specialist?

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:34 pm

Would Perkins pull double duty as an A-back and a B-back?

juvenal

April 16th, 2012
12:34 pm

Ken, ask Doug how many times i asked him about the shot-gun…Super, Fridays don’t work for me……

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:44 pm

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
12:22 pm
@ BTTF…..let’s face it….Ken is the best. We are very fortunate to have him
——————————————-
Ken is great. I hope he stays the Tech correspondent for a long time. Ken also allows for more free expression than Chip, unless you type the words red_neck or yes_ter_day. Ken even allows WnE to post his drivel on here where a couple of the login required Tech message boards have banned him. If you read StingTalk or GTSportsTalk, you will find posts saying their boards have improved a million percent (that’s what it says) since WnE was banned. I wonder if this board would likewise improve if WnE was banned?

While I find him hysterical, the old adage might be true that if he repeats his lies long enough and loud enough, they will eventually become accepted as the truth.

North Ave Killer Beez

April 16th, 2012
12:45 pm

We absolutely miss Giff Smith. We should have done everything in our power to keep him at Georgia Tech.

FL Jacket

April 16th, 2012
12:46 pm

HT…

Forgot about Zenon, he’ll be in there. I think the A-Back rotation will be deeper than the Orwin Smith-Roddy Jones-Embry Peeples rotation we saw in 2011.

I definitely think we could see Tony Zenon, B.J. Bostic, Jamal Golden, and a couple other guys returning kickoffs. I like Jemea Thomas returning punts because he has terrific ball skills and instincts.

I think their trying Perkins at A-Back to get him familiar with it. Depending on what Marcus Allen does in the Fall, Perkins might be on his last position change…kind of like David Sims was last year.

North Ave Killer Beez

April 16th, 2012
12:47 pm

Someone mentioned top 5 in rushing. Sorry but that means squat when your the worst passing team in the country. Then you line up with the big boys and can’t run for $HIT.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
12:50 pm

@ juvenal……good to see you back on the blogs. Sorry you can’t do Fridays. Would have loved for you to join us.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 16th, 2012
12:54 pm

@ HT, I am sure there are some people who fall for gollum’s garbage, but as long as the rest of us continue to point out the fallacies in his posts, then there is hope. I WOULD, however, love to see him banned. But at the same time, I would hate for Ken to be guilty of the same censoring tactics that Chip Towers and others use. As far as the words that won’t get past the filters, I don’t think Ken has anything to do with that. The last time anybody pointed out to him the problem with yes_ter_day, he didn’t know about it and was as puzzled as we are. Red_neck, I am sure, is an AJC-wide ban, and it’s totally stupid.

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:54 pm

The improved passing game should open up the run (option) even more. That’s why the experienced O-line making plays will be crucial.

HighTech

April 16th, 2012
12:58 pm

Supersize…I take it you have a little bit of fun kicking Gollum around on this blog. lol.