5 preseason priorities for Georgia Tech

August’s heat will welcome Georgia Tech to its fall camp Friday.

Temperatures approaching 90 degrees were predicted for Friday afternoon, when the Yellow Jackets will begin their first practice in advance of the 2012 season. Coach Paul Johnson, starting his fifth season at Tech, will not lack for objectives to meet before the Jackets kick off against Virginia Tech in the opener. Here are five of the team’s biggest preseason priorities.

1. Determine depth chart at receiver, A-back

Wide receivers coach Buzz Preston will have a busy August coaching up and sorting out possibly seven players bidding for a starting spot, none of whom has made a single career reception. With Stephen Hill, Tyler Melton and their 58 career starts gone, Tech will need to develop pass-catching threats to keep defenses honest.

Among returnees, Darren Waller might be the most talented of the group that also includes Jeff Greene, Chris Jackson and Jeremy Moore. Incoming freshmen Anthony Autry, Travin Henry and Micheal Summers will get looks, too.

“My experience has been somebody will step up and we’ll find a go-to guy,” Johnson said. “We just don’t know who it’s going to be right now.”

At A-back, Orwin Smith is secure at one spot, but the rest of the rotation is unclear. Robbie Godhigh showed good form in the spring, as did Deon Hill, giving them a leg up going into fall camp. They’ll contend with B.J. Bostic, Broderick Snoddy and Tony Zenon.

2. Get ready for Virginia Tech

For the first time since 1996, Georgia Tech will open with an ACC game, a nationally-televised, prime-time showdown with Virginia Tech on Labor Day. The Hokies have the Jackets’ full attention. Players have been breaking down post-workout huddles with a chant of “9/3!” – the game’s date.

Given that the winner of this game has gone on to win the Coastal Division every year since the ACC split into two divisions in 2005, Tech won’t have a minute to waste in preparing for the Hokies. Johnson will follow the standard practice of using the first two weeks of camp to work on fundamentals and scrimmaging. The second two weeks will be spent more on scout-team work to prepare for the first opponent, in this case Virginia Tech.

Inside linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days might benefit more than anyone from a productive camp. With starter Daniel Drummond missing the game due to a suspension, the redshirt freshman will likely be in the starting lineup for his first career game.

3. Set up special teams

New special-teams coordinator David Walkosky laid a foundation in the spring, teaching his terminology and systems. He’ll have to drill further in August and find the right bodies for the various special-teams units. The Jackets will also practice his version of situational plays, like onside kicks and last-second field goal attempts.

After substandard special-teams play led to Walkosky’s hire, the new coach has infused the team with his intensity.

“We need to get out of the bottom and get to the top and Coach Wak thinks we can do that,” Waller said.

Another priority will be to sort out his specialists – kickers Justin Moore and David Scully, punters Sean Poole and incoming freshman Ryan Rodwell and long snappers Tyler Morgan and Sean Tobin.

“We think we can with them,” Walkosky said. “They’ve got to be more consistent.”

4. Find a spot for Synjyn Days

Synjyn Days, who has packed muscle onto his 220-pound frame, will continue to practice at quarterback, but coaches want him on the field because of his speed and bullish running style. So long as quarterback Tevin Washington has that spot locked, that means getting moved about in camp to see where he fits best.

While continuing to play quarterback during seven-on-seven passing scrimmages this summer, Days snuck in reps at B-back, A-back and wide receiver.

“Actually, I’m doing good at it, catching the ball, running my routes right,” Days said.

Days worked diligently on his passing over the summer, working with a private coach to improve his form.

“He’s still going to play some quarterback,” Johnson said. “We’ll go into fall camp, see where he is there.”

5. Improve pass rush

Tech’s inability to create a pass rush played a role in the Jackets’ slide in the second half of the 2011 season. Tech’s defensive third-down efficiency rate was 42.4 percent, ninth in the ACC.

Linemen T.J. Barnes, Izaan Cross, Euclid Cummings and Emmanuel Dieke will be called on to generate more pocket-collapsing thrust and outside linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Brandon Watts will have to sharpen their blitzing edge.

It’ll be required in a hurry. The Hokies converted 10 of 16 third downs against the Jackets a year ago, although Virginia Tech will have to replace four starters on the offensive line.

Said Johnson, “It makes everything better if you’ve got a guy that can get back and put some pressure on the quarterback.”

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

146 comments Add your comment

FL Jacket

August 2nd, 2012
11:47 pm

How sweet would it be to beat VPI with a superior special teams play?

Dawgs

August 2nd, 2012
11:50 pm

Just Not buying it… i think this program has a ways to go…. They just don’t have the tallent…I here Johnson and his optimism all. I just think he is trying something different by being positive instead of being … But I think they are in for about 7-5 this year…They have to recruit better!!!

Not trying to put down Tech… I would Love to beat another ACC bond tech Like we did in 2009 it would be swweeeEEET. But its not going to happen..

Dawgs

August 2nd, 2012
11:53 pm

We have a chance to go to the SEC our schedule is easy, if there is such a thing in the SEC… All we have from the west is Aubie and Old Mrs.

5150 UOAD

August 3rd, 2012
12:18 am

A Dwag not buying something but he thinks every year that the dWags will Win the SEC and be BCS Champs. Now that is funny.

5150 UOAD

August 3rd, 2012
12:36 am

Hunt-Days I hope is READY.
The WR’s really need to make a great showing in camp.
Synjyn Days needs to find a spot and get the ball.

fuzzybee78

August 3rd, 2012
12:46 am

Synjin needs to be our Anthony Allen from 09 team, bowling over CB on the edge and then blowing up the safety down the line. I like the big A backs, they fall for 3 yards after hitting the corner back.

1 4 GT

August 3rd, 2012
12:50 am

I hear & share the enthusiasm & optimism for the upcoming season. The O will keep on clicking. I think the ST & D will both be improved and contribute much more to the Success of GT football. Like every other (except for BJ & “Carnack”) fan, all we can go on is what we saw in the spring game & what we have read in Ken’s articles. Anyway, I am getting stoked. I wish trolls like Dwags would stay on their blogs tough. GOOOOOOOOOOO JACKETS THWGeorgie

fuzzybee78

August 3rd, 2012
1:10 am

5 things to an ACC title–
1) TW improves his accuracy in passing. Generally, my observation over the years is that Sr QB’s with a decent team around them are hard to beat. Lil Joe got better his SR year, Goose did too.
2) Synjyn successfully moves to A back and turns into a beast. Dude could be really good!
3) Barnes sheds baby huey and becomes Incred Hulk— almost.
4) We find at least one good receiver.
5) Coach W’s work with Special teams wins us 1 game where we are underdogs.
All of this is not a big stretch from what I’ve been reading–
can’t wait for 9/3, I really think VT’s offense is going to struggle with our D this year.
Cook the Turkey!! G Jackets—

JAdams

August 3rd, 2012
2:13 am

Yep, need to do all of these things

superDawg

August 3rd, 2012
5:11 am

5150 thats not as funny as you thinking tek will beat UGA every year.Now that is funny!

ToeMeetsLeather

August 3rd, 2012
6:42 am

Look for Hunt-Days to start and never look back. Four years(hopefully) of roaming the middle.

Waller and Greene will be fine at the wide out spots. Big bodies for downfield blocking and going up strong for the ball.

I say we see Sir Francis early on the edge in obvious passing downs. He on one side and Sneezy on the other side. Watch out.

Perfect comment about Days being our 2009 Anthony Allen, one play at B Back and the next series at A Back. That dude may be the toughest runner on the team.

Hopefully we will have a relatively injury free preseason.

juvenal

August 3rd, 2012
7:55 am

sD, hope you crow-well over your success…Kallon on 3rd. & long would help the pass rush, just tell him to find the QB…

Alabama Jack

August 3rd, 2012
8:13 am

Turkey on Labor Day – now that’s good stuff.

Jim 70

August 3rd, 2012
8:17 am

Ken, good article.

Beat the damn hokies!

Maybe we’ll see vlad in second game?

yellow britches

August 3rd, 2012
8:23 am

Is it too early to say Vad Lee is a bust? I mean, where is he? Waiting to play QB his senior year?

gt man

August 3rd, 2012
8:44 am

My advice to dawgs is to go to some technical school and learn how to spell, it’s a proven fact he can’t learn to spell , or anything else, at uga

Jacket Man

August 3rd, 2012
8:49 am

Just a couple of observations to watch out for this fall. I expect Tevin Washington to start against VA Tech, but Vad Lee will see the field on several sequences, running pistol and shotgun packages to start. He is going to be eased into more snaps over the next couple of games and will be the starter by game 4. Synjyn Days will be moved to A-Back, and by game 3 he, in fact, may be a starter opposite Orwin Smith. I expect Waller to end up being the next monster WR we’ve been known for over the past several years.

TJ Barnes is going to have a breakout season for the Jackets, and because of it, the defense will be much better than people are expecting. He may not be as big of a surprise as Nick Fairley was at Auburn his Senior season, but I think TJ worked extremely had over the spring and summer and is in tremendous shape and has focused himself on having a stellar year. Someone else already said this, but I will also make mention that I think Jabari Hunt-Days will play against VA Tech and prove that he belongs on the field day one. He will make some mistakes because of his inexperience, but he will also make plays that will more than make up for them, helping to anchor the inside LB position and ease the pain of losing Burnett. In fact, because of the size of Days versus Burnett, I think we’ll actually eventually end up seeing an “upgrade” at the position because of the height advantage we get with Days, etc. and his ability to cover the pass…

yeller bug

August 3rd, 2012
8:53 am

Keep your britches on yellow….Vad is our best passer…..needs to get a little better on the option and we need to find WRs who can catch. He’ll play this year.

wreckbone

August 3rd, 2012
9:00 am

Another article said he’s pushing Tevin. The whole reason days is going to move is he is much improved. Just relax. If you have a real program you don’t play true freshmen quarterbacks and he is rs Freshman. Johnson said he will play some. I think vad and new freshman will be a double threat years tocome. If the defense finally steps up then this could be a fun ride next few years! Johnson had been building depth on the line with rs-ing

StPeteWreck

August 3rd, 2012
9:02 am

Yellow Britches,

Is it too early to say a redshirt freshman is a bust because he hasn’t beaten out a fifth year senior in an extremely complicated offense?

I would say, yes…

fuzzybee78

August 3rd, 2012
9:24 am

Yellow–
Vad is no bust. He very well may turn into our version of Big Red’s Tommie Frazier. I’ve been watching Tech QB’s a long time and he may the most athletic kid ever. It’s just hard to push out a SR QB, especially in CPJ system. They are pushing each other and GT wins either way.

Im proud of TW, kids a class act on and off the field. I didnt graduate in 4!

Wait till next spring when we’ll be talking about Vad and JT goin at it! Oh and Synjyn to Darren off the A back pass! TD!!!!!
GO JACKETS!

Georgia DAWGS

August 3rd, 2012
9:29 am

Month of September going to be BIG for yall boys!!!

Big Crimson 75

August 3rd, 2012
9:33 am

Priority #1 for GT is simple — Find a QB.
Washington, Vad, Synjyn, J Thomas???
Who wants it? Who deserves it? Who has the most potential right now? Who has the most overall talent?
In Johnson’s Offense, the QB gets hit often.
Has any QB made it a season unscathed?
Plan B might need to be as good as Plan A.

Paddy

August 3rd, 2012
9:37 am

Being a QB in a CPJ offense might be the most difficult assignment of any college player. If you don’t master the option and its keys, you won’t see the field much. Even if you are the best passing QB on the squad. I still think Lee might be your best QB. But until CPJ is satisfied it is a mute point. Creating competition throughout the offense skill guys is what your coach does so well. Without the top level recruits, he is a maser at getting the most out of players that most schools miss out on. You may not like him but he is a very good fit for Tech, IMHO. Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!With that said, we are still going to be you like a red-headed step-child this year!

yeller bug

August 3rd, 2012
9:41 am

One addition to the offense that I would like to see implemented is a no huddle. It doesn’t have to be run all the time, but every now and then to change pace—-mess with the D—keep them off balance I think would be a great pressure tool. I understand Tech grinds it out and the whole clock management relies on a methodical 20+ second pause between plays, but a change of pace—catch the D in a bad machup, throw the ball a few times or just keep running it over and over without giving the D a chance to rest would be an advantage to Tech.

chas_jacket

August 3rd, 2012
10:00 am

Agree with jacket man’s predictions. I think Drummond may not get back on the field after VT game – JH Days is going to be a star.

Another key is obviously WR – where i think we may be better this year after a few games. I liked S Hill, but in addition to the drops, I never felt like he was aggressive going to the ball. i think any catchable ball thrown to Waller, Greene or Henry are going to be caught by the right team. Really like Waller’s size and attitude – he loves to hit people on special teams and will be a devastating blocker.

Gorilla Biscuit

August 3rd, 2012
10:28 am

Therut

August 3rd, 2012
10:35 am

I love Ga. Tech-I went to Ga. Tech-No prayer against VT. Ever notice who else recruited the players we have? William & Mary, Troy, East Tn. State etc? Did we win one recruit from Al, Ga., Auburn?

yeller bug

August 3rd, 2012
10:43 am

No prayer Therut? Aw com’on with God all things are possible and the fervrent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. GT can beat VT this year.

Therut

August 3rd, 2012
10:47 am

Yeller bug-You’re right!!!

Supersize that order, mutt

August 3rd, 2012
10:48 am

@Therut……maybe you should look at the roster of recruits. Just for one, does the name Justin Thomas ring a bell?

Supersize that order, mutt

August 3rd, 2012
10:50 am

In case it doesn’t, then he’s the QB who committed to Bama and then switched to Tech. He is a freshman now

Supersize that order, mutt

August 3rd, 2012
10:53 am

Although they won’t be here till next Fall, we also have a couple of local kids who chose Tech over UGA and several other southern schools

Stinger 2009

August 3rd, 2012
11:08 am

How about winning? How’s that for a “priority”? Any takers….?

ARdawg

August 3rd, 2012
11:22 am

So let me get this right, Buzz Preston says you guys have no passing game? Who’d have thunk?

macrotech

August 3rd, 2012
11:22 am

superDump must be working the breakfast shift!

Big Crimson 75, this really hasn’t been anymore of a problem for us as it is for any other team. It’s RARE that any team’s plan B is as good as plan A. I will admit, though; I like our backup situation better this season than I have in the past!

Therut…..what?! This isn’t about the Top 10 Party School. In football, we’ve be VERY competitive…catch a game…you’d be surprised!

3rd Down For Dummies

August 3rd, 2012
11:23 am

It’s called a “Forward Pass” for a reason…

GT Rich

August 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

Picture this moment in a game — Vad at QB, Bostic at one A-back slot, Synjyn the other A-back and Sims at B-back — you’ll have four QBs on the field at once. (Bostic was a QB in H.S.) CPJ rotates his backs a lot — he has the luxury of always rotating to have a former QB in the game ready to run the half-back pass any given play…

5150 UOAD

August 3rd, 2012
11:32 am

TAYLOR about to RUN the hurdles on NBC.

GTBob

August 3rd, 2012
11:33 am

Priority #1 for GT is simple — Find a QB.
Washington, Vad, Synjyn, J Thomas???

I think that search is pretty much over. Tevin is the man unless GT struggles heavily on offense.

Tokyo jacket

August 3rd, 2012
11:35 am

To the folks expecting “a monster year from Barnes,” the ST “to win a game for us,” or for Hunt Days to be a freshman all-American, slow down. Don’t set yourselves up for disappointment. If those three play AVERAGE, we will win 9-10 games. Last year, the ST lost us a game, the D lost us two very winnable games. We’ve basically got the same team coming back. If TJ Barnes can be just a little better, if Hunt Days can just hold his own, and if the ST can avoid losing games, this team will go 10-2.

Now, since we’re still in preseason and going to be MNC champs just like UGA, I think the most likely of the above predictions is for JHD to be a Frosh All American. He had the highest SPARQ rating of any LB a year ago. He’s added weight in his year redshirting and he’s been coached by a darn good LB coach. He should be able to put the tools together. Poor Drummond…probably won’t ever be able to eclipse JHD.

BULLDOGMANIAC

August 3rd, 2012
11:35 am

Who cares about a second rate program anyway

5150 UOAD

August 3rd, 2012
11:37 am

TAYLOR Strokes the Field stopped running after the last hurdle.

Brave Hokie

August 3rd, 2012
11:38 am

GT Rich

August 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

“he has the luxury of always rotating to have a former QB in the game ready to run the half-back pass any given play…”

___________________________________________________

So your counting on the half-back pass to lead GT to the promise land ~ is this 1933?

Supersize that order, mutt

August 3rd, 2012
11:44 am

@ BULLDWAGMANIAC……you apparently do since you are a dwag. After all, they are second rate SEC.

ARdawg

August 3rd, 2012
11:47 am

At least one of those priorities should be stronger under wire support Moobs. All of you structural engineers one would think one of you could come up with a viable solutions to your coaches sagging moobs

Supersize that order, mutt

August 3rd, 2012
11:48 am

@ ARdwag……shouldn’t you be at the Chik Fil’A kiss-in? As obsessed as you are with CPJ’s anatomy, that can only lead to one conclusion about you

ARdawg

August 3rd, 2012
12:09 pm

Supersize

LOL The occupy Chic Fila protesters are on your campus aren’t they?

You got to admit, that was funny

GTfan 2012

August 3rd, 2012
12:13 pm

Brave Hokie
August 3rd, 2012
11:38 am

So your counting on the half-back pass to lead GT to the promise land ~ is this 1933?
___________________________________________________
Shhhh…. don’t tell Beamer.

GT Lee

August 3rd, 2012
12:31 pm

AR Dwag…..

shouldn’t you be working on holding Rodney Garner’s HUGE MOOBS up?