1. If Georgia Tech had a particularly team-first player over the bye week, it may have been guard Shaquille Mason.
After the team was released after Thursday’s practice until Sunday night, Mason went home to Columbia, Tenn., where his mother prepared a feast on Sunday – fried chicken, macaroni and green beans.
“Everything I couldn’t have right now,” said Mason, who restrained himself.
The Yellow Jackets drag a 2-4 record and a three-game losing streak into the second half of the season, which starts Saturday with a home game against Boston College. Like Mason, though, the Jackets are staying committed.
“Guys are still going out each day, trying to put their best effort forward and trying to make sure we do what we can to make sure we can get a win this week,” quarterback Tevin Washington said.
Mason and offensive tackle Will Jackson gave voice to a goal of a 6-0 finish, which would be the reverse of last season, when Tech started 6-0 and went 2-4 in the final six games of the regular season before losing the bowl game.
“That’s kind of how our approach is,” Jackson said. “We want to win these next six games, just kind of let the chips fall as they may.”
Coach Paul Johnson has described the second half to the team as a new season, Jackson said. The message, coupled with the rest provided by the open date, has evidently been therapeutic.
Said Mason, “The whole bye week and coming into this week, the tempo’s been up. It’s not like we’re down or anything.”
2. The schedules of the ACC and Tech have given the Jackets needed down time. In addition to the bye week, Tech’s fall break was Monday and Tuesday.
“I feel a lot better,” said B-back Zach Laskey, who had been taking ice baths once or twice a day to get his legs ready for practice. “I got to catch up on a ton of sleep.”
Washington went home to Wetumpka, Ala., where he said he slept half of the time he was there. With the break from classes, Jackson caught up on classwork and finally cleaned up his apartment.
“That was the big goal,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of dirty clothes and some stuff.”
3. At his Tuesday news conference, Johnson went into further detail about plans for Tech’s defense over the final six games. With the defense spiraling, Johnson fired coordinator Al Groh on Oct. 8, replacing him with interim Charles Kelly, formerly the secondary coach.
Johnson’s overarching theme was that the defense will be simpler, with fewer play calls, in the hopes of giving players less to think about. The defense will substitute more but use sub packages less. When the opposing offense shifts or players go into motion, players will very rarely change play calls. Previously, those calls apparently weren’t always communicated effectively to teammates.
“It can’t just be, ‘Go get the guy with the ball,’ but it’s like there’s some things you can do to limit (confusion),” Johnson said. “You can play three or four coverages instead of six variations of the same coverage.”
4. Backup quarterback Vad Lee, whose practice work received tepid reviews from Johnson in recent days, “had probably the best day he’s had in a while (Tuesday),” quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said.
Bohannon said that Lee has improved at running the option plays, considered to be a weak point.
“I think he’s just got to take hold of things and grind away and work to be the guy,” Bohannon said. “I think he kind of got lulled a little bit.”
5. Center Jay Finch was held out of some portions of practice Tuesday. Finch was taken out of the Oct. 6 Clemson game with a calf injury. His status for Saturday is unclear.
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