Nealy, Hunt-Days hold firm in Tech middle

From Doug Roberson:

On-the-job training seems to be working our fairly well for Georgia Tech’s Quayshawn Nealy and Jabari Hunt-Days.

The inside linebacker tandem is playing more than most expected because of the career-ending injury to Julian Burnett and early-season suspension of Daniel Drummond. But Nealy and Hunt-Days are playing well as the Yellow Jackets (2-1) prepare to take on Miami (2-1). They are Nos. 1 and 2 on the team in tackles and are helping Al Groh’s defense limit opponents to a respectable 3.6 yards per run and 4.4 yards per play.

“…Everybody in that group had to move up the ladder than 10 months ago,” Groh said. “They had good ability and good want-to and applied themselves.”

Their work started anew in the offseason, when it was announced that Burnett wouldn’t return after suffering a neck injury in last year’s Sun Bowl. It was later announced that Drummond, who started six games last year, was suspended for the first six quarters of this season, including the key opener against Virginia Tech.

Nealy started seven games last year, so he had game experience to draw from. Hunt-Days redshirted. Though physically gifted at 6-3, 252 pounds, he was an unknown.

The time they’ve spent in the film room and hanging out playing pool and video games seems to be paying off. Groh said there’s a difference between drawing the formations up on a board and saying what they are, and doing it in a game when the formation may change as many as three times in a few seconds. He said Nealy is one of several players who are good at recognizing and communicating, calling this group of defenders the best talkers he has had in his three seasons at Tech.

“Me and Jabari take it on like a brotherhood,” Nealy said. “We’ve been taking the initiative. We’ve spent extra time establishing what Groh’s trying to do. That’s how we are building on it.”

Approaching it like a brotherhood is something Nealy said he picked up playing alongside Burnett. Nealy said though Burnett was undersized, he taught him to play with passion and reminds him of that when the two talk sometimes in class.

“I learned that no matter you’re size – Virginia’s line was all 6-6, 315-plus — it doesn’t matter how big you are as long as you go hard and do your best,” Nealy said.

Hunt-Days is learning that lesson every day. Groh and coach Paul Johnson said it’s evident Hunt-Days is improving each week as each new situation he goes through is catalogued. He leads the team with 19 tackles, including 12 solo stops. Nealy is tied with safety Isaiah Johnson with 18 tackles.

“It was an opportunity,” Hunt-Days. “I took it and am doing the best I can right now.”

The duo, along with backup Daniel Drummond, will have their hands full against the Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson, whom Groh said can do more damage than any player they’ve faced. Just a freshman, Johnson has scored six of the Hurricanes’ 11 touchdowns. He is averaging 9.4 yards per carry, 10.6 yards per catch and 33.9 yards per return.

If things are going well against the Hurricanes, expect Tech’s defensive line to set up a wall and force the plays back, where Nealy and Hunt-Days should be waiting to rack up more tackles.

“It’s a team effort, we rely on each other to do our jobs and make plays,” Hunt-Days said.

Thanks for reading.

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Notes: Perkins out for long term

Notes: Plenty of mistakes vs. Virginia

66 comments Add your comment

ColaJacket

September 20th, 2012
9:48 am

Hunt-Days is a very good player.

chas_jacket

September 20th, 2012
10:08 am

Agree. Said it before – doubt Drummond gets his job back.

Harvey from Docs

September 20th, 2012
10:08 am

Thanks for writing it. :)

I expected better things from the defense this year and they have not disappointed.

Having Drummond out worried me but it looks like a blessing in disguise.

FL Jacket

September 20th, 2012
10:14 am

Hunt Days and Nealy actually sounds like a Law Firm..

www

September 20th, 2012
10:33 am

these guys are players…

GTfan2012

September 20th, 2012
10:42 am

Hunt-Days was in no way an unknown to those of us who follow GT football. This is a kid that played one year of LB in HS and had 150 tackles. This is a kid that had the 2nd highest SPARQ score at one of those SPARQ events the summer before his senior year. This is a kid who would have gotten a lot more recruiting attention if he hadn’t committed to GT so early (he was a 4* on Rivals). This is a kid who has gained 20 lbs of solid muscle since he got to GT. This is a kid who many of us thought would beat out Drummond even before the injury/suspension. Nealy and Hunt-Days are doing exactly what you want your ILB in the 3-4 to do, lead the team in tackles.

reebok

September 20th, 2012
10:43 am

This is by far the best D we’ve had in 3 years…looking to stuff the ‘Canes offense and break the 3-game skid against those guys. Miami is really big up front…

Jacket Man

September 20th, 2012
10:52 am

These guys are “prototypical” 3-4 LB’s, and the best part is they are gaining experience for next season, when the schedule actually favors the Jackets (home games against VA Tech, Clemson, and UGA). With the team giving these guys, and players like Vad Lee and Jamaal Golden, quality playing time this season, they are setting themselves up for a special season next year. Now if they can manage to actually beat some teams they are supposed to lose to this season (it’s a pity they lost to VA Tech), like Clemson,, and not trip up on games they should win, like Saturday, then they really set themselves up to start next year highly ranked, and then who knows what could happen.

OldSchoolTechFanatic

September 20th, 2012
10:56 am

LOL @ Fl Jacket

OldSchoolTechFanatic

September 20th, 2012
10:58 am

D is looking good !!! I hope they keep working hard. This offense should score 24 or more points every game. If this D keeps playing the way it does, watch out for the Yellow Jackets !!!

SansWorld

September 20th, 2012
11:12 am

The LB corps, and these guys specifically have really stepped up. Without Burnett, this was one of the biggest question marks entering the season.

Really all of the question mark areas have been answered, and generally exceeded expectations, despite injuries and suspensions.

LBs
D line
B-Back
WRs
Special teams

As long as the jackets keep winning, WeN will be MIA.

5150 UOAD

September 20th, 2012
11:17 am

with 1/4 of the season done I’m not even thinking about Next Year.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 20th, 2012
11:20 am

CAG knows what he is doing. Very exciting ” D.”

yeller bug

September 20th, 2012
11:39 am

@FLJ–Yep a lawfirm that specializes in hit and run

GT Fan

September 20th, 2012
12:21 pm

That’s what I was thinking UOAD ….

Jacket Man, REALLY!?! GT’s played 3 games, THREE, and you’re focusing on NEXT year???
————————–

JHD is a beast, and he’s only getting better! We GT fans will not forget J.Burnett, but JHD & QN are making it easy to not miss him at LB. Unfortunately, many times it takes an injury or suspension (and in GT’s case, both) for players like JHD & AHarrel to show what they can do. JHD is leading the team in tackles … I doubt he even has a handful of tackles had DD not been suspended. IMO, JHD is the starter, and DD is the backup from here on.

GT Girl

September 20th, 2012
12:21 pm

Cute comment Yeller bug.
Hunt-Days has been great this year, especially as a RS Freshman! Nealy playing very well too!
Go Jackets! Whip the ‘Canes!

Jmonty

September 20th, 2012
12:21 pm

@Give me a break… I disagree.. CAG does not… A have said a few times… The 3-4 is a very position demanding defense that relies on gap assignments and secondary positioning. The alignment can be disguised in many formats. However; the scheme remains the same. CAG seems to lose sight of that, at times. When players are out of place, that is a coaching issue. Missed tackles will happen, it’s part of the game. But defensive breakdowns and position issues happen, CAG has to be held responsible. I’m not saying the “D” isn’t better.. Because it is. However; the fact remains the same.. If and when we play a very offensive team, the “D” and the weaknesses will be exposed. The best defense is ball control. The more you have the ball, they less time they have to score. Just have to watch the big plays.

Tokyo jacket

September 20th, 2012
12:49 pm

Somebody on here said of Drummond’s suspension “Hunt-Days is going to step in and never look back.” I agreed then and I agree now. Four year starting LB in the making. If Attouchu is the prototypical OLB in this defense, I think it’s safe to say Hunt Days is the prototype MLB. And, it looks like we have the prototypical QB waiting in the wings.

Now we just have to play the games!

DecaturHurrianceAlum

September 20th, 2012
12:55 pm

Georgia Tech isn’t number 14# Kansas you are not going to be passing the ball you will score because we are loaded with so many freshmen on D, win I don’t think you win this game,. Also
this is why your coach Paul Johnson is saying polls don’t matter our team have beat GA Tech twice when they were ranked over all 5 times since meeting in 1999 both teams are tied since 4 to 4 since Miami joined the ACC. I don’t know where these clowns on the AJCblog are coming from saying GA-tech has beat Miami 5 times or 4 times.

Pre ACC
1999 Gator Bowl: Miami Hurricanes vs Georgia Tech
Miami 28 , Georgia Tech 13

Since joing the ACC

2004 Miami 27, G-Tech 3
2005, G-Tech 14, Miami 10
2006, G-Tech 30, Miami 23
2007, G-Tech 17, Miami 14
2008, G-Tech 41, Miami 23
2009, Miami 33, #14 G-Tech 17
2010, Miami 26, G-Tech 10
2011, Miami 24, #20 Georgia Tech 7

You guys act like

DecaturHurrianceAlum

September 20th, 2012
12:57 pm

you have a 10 and 0 record against The U

Jacket Time

September 20th, 2012
12:59 pm

Love the attitude of these guys what a team!

5150 UOAD

September 20th, 2012
1:01 pm

DecaturHurrianceAlum……is MATH Challenged.

Tokyo jacket

September 20th, 2012
1:04 pm

@Reebok – so was Virginia

@Jacketman – the last time we finished a season without a loss to an unranked Team (at the time we played them) was 1990. What you’re describing is the difference between a Top 25 team and a Top 10 team. Our last best shot was 2010 when lost to an unranked UGA team. Looking at how we’re playing NOW and our remaining schedule, the three biggest risks to finally winning all games against unranked opponents are THE U, UNC, and BYU. I think we’ll win two of three.

Jacket Time

September 20th, 2012
1:05 pm

The all-time record is 10-7 decator alum. Which of those games you mentioned were we #3 and lost? Oh wait that was you guys.

Jmonty

September 20th, 2012
1:08 pm

I kind of like the score in 2008 :) I sure hope we can drop another 41 on the U this Saturday.!!!

Burdell

September 20th, 2012
1:10 pm

What is a Hurriance anyway?

Born2Buzz

September 20th, 2012
1:16 pm

Hunt Days will go down as one of the best LBs GT has ever had…IMO. Sadly I suspect he will be gone after his Jr year. Kid is a stud!

Not to rain on this love fest...

September 20th, 2012
1:55 pm

…but all defenses are linebacker oriented, and this one is no different, so these guys better be the leading tacklers even if they are in the wrong position on every snap!

They have looked good, though it is really difficult to say if they are “playing well”, or if they are just ‘playing’ since the inside LB’s are supposed to make plays – and the closer to the line of scrimmage they make plays also means that the DL in front of them are doing what they are supposed to do to keep the LB’s free to make tackles…

Hayseed Dixie

September 20th, 2012
1:59 pm

Uh oh, Dinich has picked us to win, big-time:

“Georgia Tech 42, Miami 21: Sorry, Canes, but I’ve got three words for you: Not even close. The Jackets will have home-field advantage, confidence from a division win over Virginia and the better defense.”

This can’t be good.

Great article, Ken. You’re hella consistent.

crackbaby

September 20th, 2012
2:12 pm

Bold predictions up there for Hunt Days. Hope they come true.

Tech has had a bunch of outstanding LBs over the last 30 years. Jerrelle Williams, Calvin Tiggle, Keith Brooking, Daryl Smith, Key Fox, Phillip Wheeler, Gary Guyton. Probably missed a couple (but not Ted Roof or Ron Rogers – they were not quite top tier).

crackbaby

September 20th, 2012
2:13 pm

Can’t wait for game time!

GTVegas

September 20th, 2012
2:24 pm

I really hate to say this, but Decatur Alum reminds me a bit of Reggie Ball, counting to four seems to be a challenge. Now, in Reggie’s defence the marker on the sideline said 3rd down, wonder what this guy’s excuse is? One last thing with respect to our friend from the U, does the guy any any real education, the posts are painful to read.

As for Heather’s prediction, I really wish she would keep any comments, especially positive ones to herself. Hopefully, her curse will be broken on Saturday.

GTVegas

September 20th, 2012
2:25 pm

Should have been “defense” and “have any”.

GTfan2012

September 20th, 2012
2:49 pm

I did not realize we beat Miami 4 years in a row from 2005-2008. Thanks, DecaturHurrianceAlum. I was worried about this game, but you helped put our current 3 game losing streak in perspective. These streaks come and go, and right now we definitely want to face a young team that has given up a ton of yards and points and not yet found its identity offensively or defensively. I think we hang 35 points on UM and hold them to 2 TDs and 2 FGs. I say 35-20, GT.

SansWorld

September 20th, 2012
3:20 pm

DecaturHurrianceAlum,

Will you be wearing your “we invented swager” t-shirt Saturday?

SansWorld

September 20th, 2012
3:27 pm

DecaturHurrianceAlum,
Did you type this with your thumbs on your smartphone? Quite a post.

[...] showing love to our ILB corps of nealy and JH-D Nealy, Hunt-Days hold firm in Tech middle | Georgia Tech Reply With Quote [...]

Ramblin Man

September 20th, 2012
3:34 pm

how is the u so young again. Seems like I have heard about baby canes for the last three years.

GT Dude

September 20th, 2012
3:35 pm

as for Heather, how did she get that job????

comment

September 20th, 2012
3:53 pm

I absolutely Heather D from ESPN. She’s an even bigger Tech hater than WnE. Seriously, this has to be the one time she has favored us.

juvenal

September 20th, 2012
4:15 pm

GTfan, many forget that streak when they are bashing Reggie….

GT Geoff

September 20th, 2012
5:09 pm

Great article Ken. That’s why you are the best in the country.

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
6:11 pm

FYI….I find this ironic to say the least….lot of mixed commentary on the Georgie board….Dwags defensive stats….nat’l rank scoring defense 46th @ 21ppg….total defense 42nd @ 345.3 ypg….rushing defense 57th @ 145.3 ypg….passing defense 43rd @ 200ypg….Georgie is 3 & 0 with wins over Buffalo Bulls….Mizzou Tigers?….Florida Atlantic Owls?….what ever happened to that high powered vaunted, feared #5 in the land Georgie/Grantham defense….HMMMMMMMM???

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
6:13 pm

I don’t wanta hear none of this stuff about so & so is injured or suspended. A top 5 (last year?) defense, even with some guys out, should not be ranked this low against this level of competition this year. Selah.

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
6:35 pm

GOOOOO JACKETS THWUM THEGeorgie

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
6:37 pm

THWGeorgie….can’t believe I did the above….GOOD GRIEF

230gr Full Metal Jacket

September 20th, 2012
6:38 pm

“Selah” — 1 4 GT, you’re giving me Bisher flashbacks!!!

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
6:50 pm

I know….it’s to mystify the dwags…………………………….

1 4 GT

September 20th, 2012
7:00 pm

HMMM….maybe I shoulda said “confuse”….???????????????????????

MORGANTECH

September 20th, 2012
7:08 pm

Off topic but uga will have another great class coming in,and still not win another N.C for another 32 years. If tech had their players ,we would stay in top 5 every year. all they can do is win 8 to 10 games a year ,and sweat a win out against a high school off every year. Dont feel bad dawgs, you still get to talk about H.W .