1. Four games into Georgia Tech special-teams coordinator David Walkosky’s term, coach Paul Johnson’s review of special teams didn’t require sparklers and trumpets.
“Well, I think in some areas they’re improved, and in other areas we took a step back,” Johnson said on the ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday. He also characterized it as “a mixed bag.”
Statistically, the results for three of the “big four” units — punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return — are similar to last season’s. The punt-return team, though, had a smashing performance against Miami. On back-to-back returns, Jamal Golden recorded two of Tech’s three longest returns since the second game of the 2009 season.
The average starting point for opponents after kickoff returns has been just inside the 28-yard line, slightly better than last season’s 28.1 average. The comparisons aren’t entirely applicative, as the kickoff line was moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line and on touchbacks the ball now is on the 25-yard line. Kicker David Scully has 11 touchbacks on 27 kickoffs (40.7 percent) after recording seven in 43 kickoffs (16.3 percent) last season.
The kickoff-return team has averaged 17.7 yards and a starting point just beyond the 29-yard line, numbers that get a bump when removing Orwin Smith’s zero-yard return for a safety Saturday. Last season, the average return was 19.2 yards, and the average drive after kickoff started just inside the 25.
The punt team is netting 37.5 yards per kick, slightly better than last season’s 36.9. Freshman punter Ryan Rodwell will take over for Sean Poole, who suffered an upper-body injury making a tackle against Miami.
Golden’s performance against Miami demonstrated the impact of big special-teams plays. He returned a second-quarter punt 56 yards and one in the third quarter 28. Both set up touchdown drives. The return team’s average on six runbacks is 15.2 yards compared with 8.1 last season.
2. A notable addition to Tech’s home games this season is a 40×60 feet gold banner that has been waved in the north stands at the end of halftime. The flag, with the interlocking “GT” logo in the middle, has been held up atop the Swarm student section, creating an eye-catching visual more commonly seen at soccer matches.
The Ramblin’ Reck Club, the student spirit group that is the caretaker for the Ramblin’ Wreck car, came up with the idea as a replacement for the flashcard signs that it had coordinated since 1957. The club split the cost of the nearly $6,000 flag with the student government association.
3. Cornerback Louis Young (upper body) and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu did not practice Thursday. Neither has practiced this week. Their status for Saturday’s game is not certain. Guard Will Jackson, who suffered a leg injury last Saturday, is expected to play.
4. Athletic director Dan Radakovich in his weekly “The Good Word” letter to Tech fans:
“To those of you who have written or called me in the last few days and to all of you who have thought about it, I say: We’re working harder than ever. I understand the frustration you feel after the kind of loss we sustained on Saturday. The only thing I know to do is to get back to work. And that is the same for coach Johnson, the staff and our players.”
Defensive end Izaan Cross on being named a team captain, along with offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi and quarterback Tevin Washington: “It’s a big honor, to know that your teammates look at you as a leader and to know that they all agree with how you act, basically.”
5. The athletic department will hold another open house at McCamish Pavilion from 9 a.m. to noon before the football game. Ticket-office representatives will be on hand. … With a less-than-attractive opponent and a noon start, ticket demand continues to be low. Tickets were available on re-sale website StubHub for as low as $6 on Thursday evening, with prime sideline seats starting at $25.
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Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog