1. Charles Kelly has no magic formulas. Georgia Tech’s interim defensive coordinator is just trying to emphasize the basics.
In his first interview since being elevated from secondary coach in the wake of Al Groh’s firing, Kelly endorsed a simple approach to coaching defense.
“I believe this,” he said. “I believe you try to put guys in the best situation, let ’em play fast and let the chips fall where they may.”
Tech went through its second practice of the bye week Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets will practice again Thursday and then be off until Monday. Tech plays Boston College at home Oct. 20. Players and coaches described the Wednesday practice, conducted in full pads, as energetic.
“The energy in our live drills has changed,” cornerback Louis Young said.
“He has great energy, fire, passionate,” outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said. “That’s all you can really ask for.”
Kelly said the first priority in his preparations is to make sure players know where to line up and how to execute plays. Under Groh, improper pre-snap alignment and mental errors were often problems. Coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday he thought Tech had 47 missed assignments in its 47-31 loss to Clemson, Groh’s final game.
“The biggest thing we want to do is concentrate on going back and working on the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “This game, it’s not very complicated.”
2. Aside from having a new coordinator, most players on the defense are working with new position coaches thanks to a shuffling of responsibilities. Special-teams coordinator David Walkosky is coaching the defensive line, for example.
“They’re sponges. They absorb coaching,” Walkosky said of his new charges. “It’s been a great adjustment.”
Said nose tackle T.J. Barnes of his new coach, “It’s been cool. He’s a ball of energy.”
Walkosky is leaning on Andy McCollum, who had been coaching the line and is now working with the inside linebackers. Walkosky said his plan is “to try to let them run to the ball and set them loose a little bit.”
Tech will limit the amount it plays “two-gap” defense, in which linemen were tasked with controlling the gaps to their left and right and will instead play more “one-gap.” In that scheme, a lineman is responsible only for one crease and can play with a more attacking style. Johnson said that Tech was playing two-gap defense “a lot more than anybody else in the country” and didn’t have the right personnel to play it.
3. Young called Groh’s firing “bittersweet.” Young had been recruited to Virginia by Groh when he was coach there, then ended up at Tech after Groh was hired as defensive coordinator in Jan. 2010. Young had said previously that he saw Groh as a father figure.
“It hurt a little bit, but I understand it’s a transition and that’s just part of growing up and being a man,” Young said.
Attaochu also was recruited to Virginia before Groh switched jobs.
“I shot him a text message, just telling him how much we appreciate him over here, how much he’s taught us,” Attaochu said. “He’s a man of class, so I thought I’d show him some class.”
4. Guard Shaquille Mason and center Jay Finch were among those missing practice Wednesday with undisclosed injuries. Guard Omoregie Uzzi returned to practice after being held out Tuesday. Johnson said there were no serious injuries and that “everybody should be back on Monday,” the one exception being safety Fred Holton.
5. With the bye, Tech players and coaches will have their only weekend off until December. Many won’t get too far from the game. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said he planned to watch his sons play football Saturday morning. Offensive tackle Ray Beno and Young both want to watch their younger brothers play. Barnes is going the opposite direction. He said he’s going to Daytona Beach, Fla., by himself to lie on the beach. Barnes grew up there.
“Just to get away from football for a little bit,” he said.
In case you missed it…
Notes: Jackets move forward without Groh