Archive for July, 2012

Uzzi named preseason All-ACC

Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi was the Yellow Jackets’ sole representative on the preseason All-ACC team, released Wednesday. Uzzi, a two-time All-ACC pick, was named on 57 of 68 ballots, second most of any offensive lineman, one fewer than Clemson center Dalton Freeman.

A-back Orwin Smith, safety Isaiah Johnson, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, kicker Justin Moore and center Jay Finch were also among the top four vote-getters at their respective positions.

Offense

Pos. Name (Votes)                                          Ht      Wt       Class             Hometown

WR  Conner Vernon, Duke (41)                      6-2     195      Senior            Miami, Fla.

WR  Sammy Watkins, Clemson (68)                 6-1     200      Sophomore    Fort Myers, Fla.

TE    Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (35)             6-4     …

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More Paul Johnson from ACC Media Days

Lots of stuff from Paul Johnson’s group interview at ACC Media Days in Greensboro, N.C., that didn’t get into my story in Tuesday’s paper. Some of it you’ve probably read, some new stuff. Read on…

1. The biggest difference that special-teams coordinator David Walkosky has made thus far is in motivating players to want to be on special teams. Previously, Johnson said, many players played on special teams because they knew it was expected of them.

“I think there’s a renewed excitement,” he said. “Everybody’s looking forward to doing something a little different.”

(Wide receiver Darren Waller spoke with reporters Wednesday and mentioned the same thing, saying that because of his enthusiasm, intensity, various schemes and bag of gadget plays, players want to participate.)

That said, “The proof’s in the pudding. We’ll see when we start playing if we’re better.”

2. With one assistant (Mike Sewak) coaching the offensive line instead of two, graduate …

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Paul Johnson prefers 16-team playoff

GREENSBORO, N.C. - To Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, the adoption of a four-team playoff to determine a national football champion is merely a step in the right direction.

Johnson, who won two FCS (then Division I-AA) national championships at Georgia Southern by outlasting 16-team fields, said he would prefer a similar format for FBS.

“You take 11 [conference champions] and then you add five at-large [teams], give ’em a chance,” Johnson said this week at ACC Media Days. “If your conference hasn’t done well, you become the 16th seed. You have to go play against No. 1, but at least you had a chance.”

Of eight ACC coaches who were surveyed, three agreed with Johnson in expanding the format, although they favored an eight-team playoff instead of Johnson’s 16. Two professed a wait-and-see stance and two would like to stay at four.

Besides Johnson, those favoring expansion liked the idea of giving champions of the five “power” conferences – ACC, …

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Coaches react to Penn State penalty

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia coach Mike London now knows he’ll have an opponent to play in the second week of the season. The Cavaliers will play Penn State Sept. 8 in Charlottesville, but until Monday morning, the possibility of an NCAA death penalty hovered over Penn State for its involvement in the sexual abuse scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky.

Prior to the announcement, London said,  there were “all kinds of thoughts about what might happen.”

Speaking at ACC Media Days, London and other coaches tried to digest the impending wreckage that will be the Nittany Lions program.

“Now that we know what it is exactly [the punishment] looks like, it may be more devastating what it is right now than receiving the death penalty because of the implications of years from now,” London said.

Among the sanctions: a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and a limit of 65 scholarships starting in 2014 for four years. The limit for the FBS level is 85.

“At the end of …

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Dabo Swinney giddy over Clemson’s future

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t thinking just about the 2012 season. He’s got bright hopes for the Tigers well into the future.

“There’s no doubt we’re headed in the right direction,” Swinney said at ACC Media Days. “It’s going to be an exciting decade for Clemson football.”

Swinney was asked what the next step for his team is after winning an ACC title in 2011, his third full season. He responded that it was to build a consistent winner, one that is ranked annually and occasionally has “that special year.”

Clemson finished 24th in the Associated Press poll in 2009 and 22nd in 2011, sandwiching a 6-7 season in 2010. The Tigers were picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State in a media poll.

“We need to put three, four, five good years together and I really think we’re built to make a run at Clemson,” said Swinney, noting the Tigers have only 11 seniors this season. “There’s no reason why Clemson …

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Paul Johnson at ACC Media Days

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s optimism regarding the 2012 season didn’t cause any jaws to drop, given the hopeful talk that every coach at ACC Media Days offered Monday. Regardless, with fall camp opening Aug. 3, Johnson sounded like a coach who likes the work his team has done over the summer.

“I love the attitude of our team right now,” Johnson said in a 47-minute interview with a gaggle of reporters.

Johnson was pleased with the reports he has received about new strength and conditioning coach John Sisk, hired in May to replace Neal Peduzzi. He also expressed his optimism about new special-teams coordinator David Walkosky, Johnson’s first special-teams only coach.

Regarding special teams, Johnson said he sees a difference in attitude among starters.

In the past, “it’s kind of like they’ve done it because I think they knew I kind of wanted them to and it was expected,” he said. “Now they’re more excited to do it than they have …

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Tech picked second in ACC Coastal

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Georgia Tech was picked to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division behind Virginia Tech in a media poll at ACC Media Days. Florida State received 60 out of 95 votes to win the league championship.

It is a seeming ritual of the ACC kickoff event to pick the Seminoles to win the league, only to see them fall short in the season. Since 2005, when the league split into two divisions, Florida State has been picked to win at least the Atlantic Division, if not the league title, six of seven years. The Seminoles have made it to the ACC title game twice in that span.

Ten voters picked the Yellow Jackets to win the Coastal and three picked them to win the league title.

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins narrowly defeated Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas as preseason player of the year, 25 votes to 21. No Georgia Tech player received any votes.

ACC championship votes

1. Florida State 60

2. Virginia Tech 18

3. Clemson 13

4. Georgia Tech 3

5. N.C. State …

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Tech has four available scholarships

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Georgia Tech is four scholarships under its 85-player limit, giving coach Paul Johnson potential to offer scholarships to Penn State players considering transferring following the NCAA’s punishment for its involvement in the sexual abuse scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky.

The NCAA has granted immediate eligibility to Penn State players who leave the school to play elsewhere. That offer, on top of the program being docked a total of 40 scholarships and facing a four-year bowl ban, could lead to an exodus of talent out of State College, Pa. The 85-player limit, though, may not even matter. The Washington Post reported Monday morning that the NCAA is considering waiving scholarship limits for schools that accept Penn State transfers.

Broadly speaking, Tech faces multiple challenges and may not wade too deeply into the fray, or at all. First, the staff does not have a wealth of connections to Pennsylvania high schools and coaches, which have …

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Video: Tevin Washington at Media Days

Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington talks about the season ahead at ACC Media Days in Greensboro, N.C.

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Tevin Washington at Media Days

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington was his typical positive self Sunday, giving reports on the work that he and the team have done over the summer to prepare for the season.

“I’ve been working on everything,” Washington said. “When we start the season, we’ll see how much better my game is.”

He also provided his insight into the second half of last season, in which the Yellow Jackets finished 2-5 after starting the season 6-0. Washington said the team became complacent after the strong start.

Going to play Virginia in the seventh game of the season, “We felt like we were just going to go in there and take it,” he said. “We found out the hard way” the necessity of preparing each week.

Washington said it took the team two weeks (the Jackets lost the following week to Miami) to recover, when they beat then-undefeated Clemson.

Said Washington, “I think experience-wise, it taught us a valuable lesson going into this …

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