Mostly reconstituted notes for the Monday print edition. More on Monday.
1. Against an overmatched opponent, the Georgia Tech defense did what it could do. The Yellow Jackets shut out Presbyterian College for 59 minutes and 55 seconds and built on a credible performance against Virginia Tech in last Monday’s season opener.
In its 59-3 win Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Tech limited the Blue Hose to 243 yards – almost a quarter of them were gained on their final drive, when they scored a field goal with five seconds remaining – and permitted two third-down conversions out of 16 attempts. The Jackets applied pass-rush pressure, hit hard and forced three turnovers.
“They’re really talented defensively,” Presbyterian coach Harold Nichols said. “Coach (Al) Groh does a lot of things that make it hard for you to prepare for.”
Tech wasn’t playing a powerhouse. Big South teams were outscored by an average of 46.4 points in five games against BCS conference teams in 2011. Quarterback Tamyn Garrick was playing his second career game. The starting offensive line had a total of six career starts going into the season.
Regardless, it was solid tune-up work after Tech’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Hokies, in which the Jackets allowed 326 yards. The Hokies gained more yards last season in every game but one.
“We made some critical mistakes during the (Virginia Tech) game, but for the most part, our defense didn’t do too bad,” said defensive end Izaan Cross, who recovered a fumble that stopped a Presbyterian third-quarter drive at the Tech 7-yard line. “We wanted to expand on the positive things that we had going on in that game and take another step forward.”
Tech forced eight three-and-outs and batted down at least three passes from Garrick. Cross attributed it to his quick releases and Tech’s pass-rush pressure.
“Anytime that happens and the receivers aren’t running very deep routes, the ball comes out low and it’s coming right at us, so we’ve got an opportunity to put our hands up,” he said.
2. The Tech offense gouged Presbyterian for nine plays of 21 yards or more. Quarterback Tevin Washington completed passes of 40, 45 and 50 yards (the 45-yarder went for a touchdown to A-back Robbie Godhigh) and turned a triple-option play into a 58-yard touchdown run.
The 712 yards of total offense was the second highest total in school history, following last year’s 768-yard outburst against Kansas. Wide receivers Jeff Greene and Jeremy Moore both caught their first career passes. It was Tech’s first game under coach Paul Johnson that Tech scored four touchdowns covering 45 yards or longer.
However, the Jackets lost three fumbles in a game for the first time since the 2010 Independence Bowl. Washington fumbled when hit in the backfield in the second quarter. Quarterback/A-back Synjyn Days fumbled on a 2-yard run into the end zone, also in the second, a turnover that was returned 91 yards. Washington and B-back Charles Perkins lost control of a mesh handoff in the third quarter.
“Offensively, we were O.K. in spots,” Johnson said. “We were sloppy, had the ball out too much. We’ve got an issue or two there we’ve got to correct.”
3. Cornerback Louis Young and inside linebacker Daniel Drummond returned from suspensions that kept both out for the Virginia Tech game. Young, his right forearm and hand heavily bandaged, played most of the game. Drummond, whose suspension lasted through the first half, played the second half, though he had to leave the game at one point after re-aggravating an ankle injury.
“You could just tell he was ready to get in, even with his hand being messed up,” safety Jamal Golden said of Young, who was also suspended for last season’s Sun Bowl. “I don’t think that bothered him any.”
B-back David Sims did not play to speed his recovery from a stress fracture in his shin. A-back Orwin Smith played on a limited basis after hurting his shoulder against Virginia Tech. Offensive tackle Morgan Bailey was cleared at the beginning of the week to return from a high-ankle sprain but was unable to play.
4. Two true freshmen, wide receiver Anthony Autry and defensive end Adam Gotsis, played their first collegiate snaps. A handful of redshirt freshmen, including quarterback Vad Lee, B-back Broderick Snoddy and defensive back Chris Milton, did the same. Johnson noted the play of all three. Lee produced 183 yards of total offense with a touchdown run and pass, Snoddy scored on a 2-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter and Milton was credited with three tackles.
“It was good to have a game where you could get those guys out there, and hopefully now the next time they go out there, they won’t be as wide-eyed and doing some silly stuff at times,” Johnson said.
5. The Tech special teams delivered results. With T.J. Barnes pushing back a guard, Brandon Watts blocked a 43-yard field goal try. Punter Sean Poole and the coverage team netted 42.3 yards per punt. Kicker David Scully recorded five touchbacks on nine kickoffs. Neither the punt nor kickoff return game produced much. … Cornerback Rod Sweeting wore No. 40 in honor of former linebacker Julian Burnett. … The announced attendance was 41,678, the smallest home crowd since 40.652 watched the Oct. 2010 Middle Tennessee State game. … Georgia Tech has a 3:30 p.m. kickoff for its Saturday home game against Virginia.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog