6 Tech spring practice observations

Greetings-

Hope you were able to make the spring game Friday night. It was a strong turnout and it wouldn’t surprise me if the GTAA stays with Friday, or at least re-visits it, in years to come. Some thoughts from spring practice.

1. No change at quarterback spot

It was a much anticipated competition between Synjyn Days and Vad Lee, but it doesn’t appear that much changed in the pecking order. Both improved over the course of the spring and shrunk their flaws, but neither made an unimpeachable case to be the No. 2 behind Tevin Washington, let alone a challenger to the top spot.

“The other guys are both very talented and good at certain things,” coach Paul Johnson said. “As I said, they’ve got to get better at what their weak spots are.”

In this offense, and probably any other, limiting mistakes and turnovers is crucial, no matter what a quarterback’s big-play potential is. That is where Washington’s advantage is, developed over four years in the system, a season and a half of starts and tireless work to hone his game.

After the spring game, Johnson said that if the season started today, Washington would be the starter and saw Lee and Days as situational-type quarterbacks.

“The goal is to make them not situational players and to be able to do the whole thing,” he said.

2. Defense should be better

As with all projections, it’s hard to know for certain until the fall, but tweaks to the scheme and the development of the defensive line should make this unit better. Ends Izaan Cross, Euclid Cummings and Emmanuel Dieke look capable and nose tackle T.J. Barnes may be ready to realize his potential in his final season. Perhaps the biggest question of the summer, literally and figurative, will be how much conditioning work Barnes and backup Shawn Green put in in order to be ready for the season.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” defensive line coach Andy McCollum said. “We’ve got to have a great offseason. We’ve got to have a great summer. T.J. has done some things that we hadn’t done in the past that I’m excited about.”

(Note: You’ve probably heard all of that before. For whatever it’s worth, and I’ve written this before, Al Groh’s defense made a much bigger statistical jump Year 2 to Year 3 at Virginia than Year 1 to Year 2.)

3. The secondary is a strength

This looks like the best unit on the team. Four of the top five players back, with Fred Holton returning from injury. Further, cornerback Jamal Golden made more than his share of plays in the spring. There is the matter that the secondary spent the spring lined up against one of the least experienced units on the team, so it was easier to stand out, but the talent in this group is hard to deny.

“I think those guys are a lot hungrier this year, more physical with our receivers,” Washington said. “They come out and just compete every day, try to make plays on the ball, put the defense in a position where they feel like nobody can come out and thrown on them.”

4. Special teams still wobbly

I would guess that new special-teams coordinator Dave Walkosky will make a difference on the return teams most quickly. Where he’ll earn his money is his development of punter Sean Poole and kicker Justin Moore into consistent performers. As I think I’ve written before (and will probably write again), both have the capability but the juniors have yet to prove themselves as routinely dependable.

Poole has said the team’s goal is to lead the nation in net punting, which would be quite a leap from 54th last season. That said, he’s got the leg to do it. Doing it each punt is the trick. Walk-on Michael McDonald and signee Ryan Rodwell will give him competition.

5. Wide receivers a waiting game

It didn’t appear that any of the four returners – Jeff Greene, Chris Jackson and Jeremy Moore and Darren Waller – made heads turn this spring. Moore probably made the biggest gain, and I think Johnson likes the group, but wants a little more. I’d say that in the same way that it was tough on Stephen Hill in 2010 to feel a burden to replace Demaryius Thomas, and probably unfair, so the same holds for these four.

That said, the signees – Micheal Summers and Travin Henry and possibly Anthony Autry – will get an opportunity to play this fall.

“You’d like to see some guys make plays on some deep balls,” Johnson said, “but you’ve also got to throw ’em inbounds and give ’em a chance to make a play.”

6. A-backs bear watching

This might be the most intriguing bunch on the team. Orwin Smith is a proven commodity and it appears Robert Godhigh will be dependable and there’s a crop of younger players with playmaking ability but not much experience after that. The A-back rotation usually goes three or four deep, so one or two out of B.J. Bostic, Deon Hill and Tony Zenon will have to prove themselves consistent enough to warrant heavy snaps.

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

948 comments Add your comment

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
11:05 am

Great work Ken…

Again, I wish I could have been at the Spring game on Friday night. Even though our OL was held together with duct tape, I still feel good about our defense showing out – especially in the first half.

The backup QB spot needs to be settled by end of Fall. If it’s Synjyn, Vad is too good to be sitting there with Dennis Andrews and Justin Thomas coming in. If the back up is Vad, let’s get Synjyn on the field at A-Back and emergency QB.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:05 am

First ??? WOW!!!

Anyway, I LOVED the Friday night format. I hope Tech keeps doing that. It was also a lot of fun meeting up with some of the other bloggers and enjoying the night together.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:06 am

@ FLJ……dang, you beat me. There had not been any posts when I started typing. So now, I am second. Awwwww. LOL

And, as GTBob would say...

April 23rd, 2012
11:07 am

…what about CPJ suspending Drummonds for JUST 1.5 games for being a stupid college student (as he got into Drummond’s face and asked him if he was stupid or something, just as he did trht other player on national TV a couple of years ago)…that is what he asks when Richt suspends players for being stupid college kids…

At least that is what GTBob would be asking over on the UGA blog, except right now he is on the high school blog castigating the UGA b-ball team over Tony Parker…

Goose Godsey

April 23rd, 2012
11:07 am

Georgia DAWGS

April 23rd, 2012
11:13 am

Its all talk with the Defense… I need to see action out of the front 3 or 4 what ever you call their defense..

On techs Offense they need their big play reciver to come forth… Loosing that Hill guy REALLY hurt even though he dropped like over a dozen big balls last season

GTBob

April 23rd, 2012
11:14 am

At least that is what GTBob would be asking over on the UGA blog

I have already addressed the Drummond situation. Try to keep up. For the record, I did think the 1.5 game suspension was a joke and it should have been much harsher.

5150 UOAD

April 23rd, 2012
11:14 am

FNL was great and a lot fun for the family. It does beats Sat. Noon in the heat with so many other family obligations competing with the game.
Barnes looked like he dropped a whole 6 year old child worth of weight. He should have the stamina to be an impact player this year.

Georgia DAWGS

April 23rd, 2012
11:14 am

I don’t the defense has improved… why should it have??

I think its anothe 7 win season this year.. they can’t stop anyone.. Poor defensive line play.

Georgia DAWGS

April 23rd, 2012
11:15 am

Enter your comments here

GT fan

April 23rd, 2012
11:15 am

Hopefully a couple of AG’s defensive studs will breakout this Fall. If not, he might be out of a job.

He had plenty of outstanding D players at UVA. Now, just needs some here at GT! If it can be down there, it can definitely be done here.

I’d like to see the punters shoot for CONSISTENCY more than #1 in net punting (from 54th in 2011). Consistency would seem to be a much more attainable goal. Although, I guess if you’re #1 in net punting then that can’t be done without consistency.

5150 UOAD

April 23rd, 2012
11:16 am

georgia dwag……whatever Tech calls it’s Defense is the same thing UGa calls it’s defense.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:17 am

“another 7 win season” ??? I think maybe you should look at the records over the past 4 years. CPJ’s teams have only had one year with less than 8 wins

GTBob

April 23rd, 2012
11:20 am

I don’t the defense has improved… why should it have??

Another year of experience. A good returning secondary. Hunt-Days and Attaochu. TJ Barnes looking better. I am not expecting miracles but I do think our defense will be better this year.

dawgfan

April 23rd, 2012
11:24 am

Ken, how was the live music and fireworks show? I’m glad Georgia Tech is above cheap little gimmicks to get the “sidewalk fan” interested in their football program.

As always, Georgia Tech=JOKE.

Hamilton

April 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

Who was the kid wearing #3, scrambling and almost broke loose before they took him out and put #2 in?

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:31 am

dwagfan, you’re a putz. So what’s wrong with adding features to improve the overall quality of the evening? There was an actual game-day atmosphere Friday night, instead of the usual BORING spring-game atmosphere. The game itself was still the focus, and lots of things were learned in the playing of the game. So what if you have 30,000 people who have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than fight the traffic and parking in Athens to watch what I am sure is a boring Spring game there too (they ALL are); it sounds like we both had about 30% of the stadium capacity at our respective games.

GTBob

April 23rd, 2012
11:32 am

I’m glad Georgia Tech is above cheap little gimmicks to get the “sidewalk fan” interested in their football program.

I’m pretty sure that no spring game for any team had any sidewalk fans attend.

George Stein

April 23rd, 2012
11:36 am

I feel pretty sure that the story of this season will be based on the performance of the defense. The offense is what it is – a highly productive, high scoring unit that most teams will struggle against. If the defense can stop the run without having to commit more than six to doing so, the defense will improve.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

I imagine that scheduling the game for a Friday night helped attendance; that’s one of the reasons I went to a Spring Game for the first time in 40 years; the concerts and fireworks didn’t convince me to go. I doubt the concerts got anybody there other than maybe some of the students on campus. I didn’t even go near the pre-game concert and left immediately after the conclusion of the game. Glad they had things like that, but I was there for the game.

dawgfan

April 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

at 0730 hrs, CMR had a bowel movement, it was #3 on the Bristol Stool Scale. It was brown in color and weighrf 14.3 oz. There was no corn. Results were sent to King and Towers.

Thanks,

dawgfan = CMR’s official poo inspector

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

@ George, obviously it’s a little hard to gauge the quality of the defense when they’re up against their own teammates, but I DID see a level of intensity Friday night that I haven’t seen much of lately, and I saw some speed and quickness of defense too. I think the D may have finally turned the corner.

Robert the Yellow Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
11:40 am

The VT game is huge and I think we really want to win it and will.
If Days’s problem is turnovers, just sub him now and then and tell him to run it.
Actually no need to tell him.
His problem is he makes the decision to keep it most of the time but he does look like the second coming of Joshua.
Tevin should look at his form in the Clemson game to figure out what he did so right that night.

George Stein

April 23rd, 2012
11:43 am

I dunno, SS. I don’t think we should – or could – read too much into what happens in a spring game. We’ll know more by about 11:30 P.M. on September 3.

I will say I learned that the hype around Vad’s arm is valid. He can spin it.

GTfan 2012

April 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

I was there with the wife and all three kids. Great atmosphere. Proud to say my youngsters all made it through the whole game, even the fireworks.

Anybody who know anything about the GT roster would know that this wasn’t the cleanest game simply because of the OL play. With 4 guys out who will see significant PT during the season, we only had 10 OLs (including walk ons) for both teams in the spring game. So, we had walk ons playing the entire game on both sides. Not a good recipe for seeing how consistent the offenses could be.

Jabari Hunt-Days was a revelation to me. He was everywhere. He’s still young and makes mistakes, but for a guy who has never seen a college snap, he was incredible. Makes me feel a lot better about the loss of Burnett and Drummond suspension.

GT Lee

April 23rd, 2012
11:46 am

From what I saw the WR’s really need to improve. The best receiver we had was Deion Hill (sp?) and I believe he’s an A-Back. Hope the WR’s put in a lot of extra time this summer.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:47 am

@ George, I agree, and I didn’t mean what I posted to imply otherwise. I just meant that there were some good SIGNS of improvement there Friday night. Whether they translate to real game play won’t be known till Labor Day. And, yes, I liked Vad’s passing too. He won’t in all likelihood start against VT (nor should he), but I DO think he is the future for Tech, and that future may come sooner than later.

George Stein

April 23rd, 2012
11:52 am

Fair enough, SS.

Vad looked very comfortable in the second half. He had that one ball in the first half that Golden should have picked off, but he also had Jeremy Moore drop one. He needs to learn to take a snap from under center and get the reads down. Those are both things that can be taught, rather than something that is intrinsic to a player. I’m very excited about him.

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

If you guys had to gauge an MVP on either side of the ball…then who would it have been?

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

@ George, at first, I think we will see him more in the shotgun when he comes in, until he gets comfortable running the option in a real game situation. And CPJ wisely didn’t let anybody see that Friday night.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:56 am

Vad Lee on offense and maybe Attaochu or Hunt-Days on defense…….that’s my feeling anyway.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
11:57 am

@ FLJ, check your email……my long overdue response to you should be there.

Robert the Yellow Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
11:59 am

I like having a special team’s coach instead of 2 OL coaches.
Better late than never.
I also like being loaded at QB.
In 2008, who was it we nearly lost to when 1st and 2nd string QBs were injured?
And no production from 2nd string QB in 2008 vs FSU nearly cost us that game after Joshua was injured.
I recall 4 injuries – one for a quarter vs Uga – in Joshua’s career.
The Bama guy is plenty good too but a likely red shirt.

1 4 GT

April 23rd, 2012
12:00 pm

The “Friday Night Lights @ the Flats” was enjoyable. 1st myth I want to debunk–contrary to what the Georgie trolls say, there were plenty of very attractive girls strolling around campus. 2nd myth I want to debunk–see #1. 3rd myth I want to debunk–see #1! As for the football, the first half was disappointing, to say the least. The teams seemed to settle down in the 2nd half. I’ll just say I am optimistic about the coming season. Some improvement in defense & special teams play with consistent play from the offensive side will give GT a shot for a realistic chance at a real good year. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO JACKETS THWGeorgie

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:00 pm

Thanks SS. I got it and will reply soon.

5150 UOAD

April 23rd, 2012
12:00 pm

Hunt-Days for sure.

George Stein

April 23rd, 2012
12:01 pm

I thought Attaochu looked like he was ready to take The Leap, FLJ. Hunt-Days looks like a 25 year old man in a 19 year old’s body. Louis Young had a nice tackle on a goal line play that I thought showed he has the physical abilities to make plays, too.

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:02 pm

Robert…

Gerdner Webb, unfortunately that idiot POS who later cost us the ACC championship almost lost us a game against a mediorce-level FCS opponent

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
12:02 pm

@ FLJ…..take your time; God knows I did…..LOL Besides, as long as my response was, you’re probably still reading it……LOL again

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:03 pm

(Gardner Webb)

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
12:05 pm

@ FLJ…..I assume you mean Calvin Booker, but refresh my memory. How did he later cost us the ACC championship. I have forgotten now

FL Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

SS…he was the one who gave the merchandise to BeyBey without telling him he worked for an agency

Robert the Yellow Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:07 pm

@1 4 GT.
Most of the O line was out.
In my 60 years, I have seen one spring game my grandfather took me to.
I was tempted this year but family concerns made it impossible.

Jacket Man

April 23rd, 2012
12:07 pm

I think it’s still a bit unclear as to how the QB situation will hash its way out as the Offensive Line wasn’t working at full strength,and Tech’s coaches were calling limited plays, so we didn’t really get to see how well the offenses can be run by Synjyn Days and Vad Lee under those conditions. Had the entire playbook been opened up, who knows how the defense may have had to adjust and how the offense could have then been successful.

I would also suggest that both Joshua Nesbitt and Tevin Washington had no experience in the offense when they stepped on the field the first time. Synjyn showed some level of success that exceeded Tevin in the final regular season game last year against UGA, and to be honest, while Tevin has shown he is competent running the offense, he has also shown that he doesn’t excel in any component. He isn’t an elite runner nor is Tevin an elite passer. This became evident as the season progressed last year and Tech’s record began to slip.

At this juncture, it may be true that Tevin starts against VA Tech, but I fully expect to see Vad Lee get a ton of snaps as well as several during the next several games, then take over as starter by the fourth game of the season. Synjyn is too valuable a runner to keep of the field so I can see him being converted to an A-Back opposite Orwin Smith, setting up one of the most dangerous rushing offenses in the country. If the wide receivers can pick up the slack, then the entire offense will become even more difficult to prepare for.

Robert the Yellow Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:10 pm

Thanks FL Jacket.
If it happened again that the 1st & 2nd string were out against lesser competition, Vad would take over and provide an easy W.

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
12:11 pm

Thanks, FLJ……I HAD forgotten that Booker was the one who did that. DAMN !!!!

Supersize that order, mutt

April 23rd, 2012
12:11 pm

@ Jacket Man……I agree 100% with your 12:07 post

1 4 GT

April 23rd, 2012
12:12 pm

I would pick Vad Lee for offensive MVP & Jabari Hunt-Days MVP on defense.

AugustaJacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:16 pm

Drove up to the Flats with the family on Friday. Everyone had a great time. I wonder where that shotgun formation we’ve been hearing so much about was? Defense looked good but with a decimated O-line I don’t feel entirely comforted. Hopefully we’ll make a good run this year.

Robert the Yellow Jacket

April 23rd, 2012
12:19 pm

I am a Tevin defender though not against him losing the job if PJ thinks either of the next two were better.
Tevin gets too much blame.
Against Virginia, our lines got beat on both sides of the ball.
Against Miami, an uncorrected play by the punt returner gave them a gift TD.
Someone near me in the stands early in the year had a fit when the punt returner gambled on picking the ball up but did not fumble it that time. He was right.
So no special teams coach was a big factor in Miami loss.
And wasn’t it an extra point miss that cost us a 35 all tie late in the game vs Uga.
Tie it up and no telling what happens.
We take Tevin’s excellent game vs Clemson for granted.
He also did not lose the Bowl game and passed it well.
Coaches lost the bowl with predictable play calling late.