Notes: Tech faces age-gap challenge vs. BYU

By eligibility, Georgia Tech center Jay Finch is a junior, and the opponent he’ll line up against Saturday, BYU nose tackle Romney Fuga, is a senior. So they’re a year apart in age, right?

Not quite. Finch turned 21 in January. The BYU media guide doesn’t list players’ birthdates, but Fuga’s first season at BYU was in 2006. He is an example of the age advantage that the Cougars typically have because several players leave school for two seasons to serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without losing years of eligibility.

“It makes a big difference,” said Tech offensive line coach Mike Sewak, who coached against BYU when he was an assistant at Hawaii. “If you imagine (redshirt senior guard) Omoregie Uzzi still having two more years, that’s what it is. It’s guys that are bigger, more mature, their bodies have already gone through the adolescent stage and they’ve gotten themselves up in there.”

Said coach Paul Johnson, who coached with Sewak at Hawaii, “They’ll pass the look test, I promise you.”

Fuga, who was named after his father, who was named after a Mormon church leader related to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has had an extra year because he received a medical redshirt after tearing his ACL in 2010. He played for BYU in 2006 then went on a mission to Madagascar. He is the anchor of the Cougars’ 3-4 defense, ranked No. 4 in the country in total defense.

Finch, who was a high school sophomore in 2006, is OK with it. He saw matching up with Fuga (who is 6-foot-2 and 318 pounds) as an opportunity to prove himself against bigger players.

“It’s just preparing for competition to the best of your ability, and that’s all you can hope to do, regardless of if he’s 26 or 21,” said Finch, who is 6-3 and 285 pounds.

2. Johnson gave the team a break Tuesday with a practice in shells — shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. Typically, Tuesday practices are conducted in full pads and are full contact. Johnson also has shortened the length of the practices as the season has gone on.

“I think (players needed the break),” A-back Orwin Smith said. “I felt like I did.”

Smith said players responded with a more energetic practice than usual. Finch called it “an astronomical difference” between practice in shells and full pads. The linemen, for instance, don’t go to the ground to practice blocks.

“It was a nice surprise,” Finch said.

3. At his Tuesday news conference, Johnson said that there was no specific plan to play backup quarterback Vad Lee on Saturday, but that he wants to see the week’s practice before deciding on a plan.

Johnson said that his potential is obvious, but that he needs to work on his reads. Still, “he’s an exciting player and he kind of gives you a boost when he gets out there,” he said.

4. Johnson said that A-back Synjyn Days’ playing time was limited Saturday against Boston College because “he and I weren’t on the same page.” Johnson didn’t go into detail, but suggested it was an off-the-field matter relating to Days’ accountability. Days has played a backup role this season at A-back since moving from quarterback.

“He’s practicing better, and if he has a good week of practice this week, he’ll play some,” Johnson said.

5. Offensive tackle Will Jackson and quarterback Tevin Washington were among those not practicing Tuesday. Jackson, who suffered a shoulder injury Saturday, was in a sling. Washington was resting bumps and bruises and is expected to return to practice Wednesday. … A-back B.J. Bostic, safety Isaiah Johnson and long snapper Tyler Morgan were named the players of the week for their roles in the win over Boston College. Bostic ran five times for 28 yards and made clutch catches of 39 and 27 yards that both converted third downs. Johnson tied for the team lead in tackles with four and forced a fumble that the Jackets recovered. Morgan made 11 mistake-free long snaps.

In case you missed it…

Notes: Johnson’s concerns about BYU

Notes: Field-goal unit needing repair

Tech-Maryland at 12:30 p.m.

Tech vs. highly ranked run defenses

With BYU next, no-huddle issues loom for Tech

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

118 comments Add your comment

Spyro

October 23rd, 2012
9:43 pm

Days needs to get on the field; he’s too big of a body and too good of a runner not to be getting snaps. Get your game together, Synjyn!

GT Fan

October 23rd, 2012
9:45 pm

GT Fan

October 23rd, 2012
9:45 pm

Dang-it, Dos!

Ken Sugiura

October 23rd, 2012
9:51 pm

so close, GT Fan. next time.

George Stein

October 23rd, 2012
9:58 pm

As the great philosopher Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Tech4Life

October 23rd, 2012
10:13 pm

As Reese Bobby the father of the great pilosopher Ricky Bobby said, “Oh hell Ricky I was high when I said that. That doesn’t make any sense at all. You can be second, you can be third, fourth…….hell you can even be fifth.

Augusta Jacket

October 23rd, 2012
10:36 pm

Sadly I will have to miss this game. So far this year we have played the Presbyterians and the Catholics. BYU is up next. This is a year Wake should have been on the schedule…Go Jackets!

Natalie

October 23rd, 2012
10:38 pm

If it is such an advantage to have older players, what’s stopping all coaches in college FB from sending their players off to serve in the Peace Corps to get physically “matured?” taking 2 years off from FB and getting flabby has never been, and will never be, an advantage.

fuzzybee78

October 23rd, 2012
10:40 pm

Pass rush! pass rush! pass rush!

Now Im the one trick pony!!!!!!!!

Biggest thing lacking on D right now—
Question– with the D simplified can we go to a 4-3 at least on passing downs and try to get pressure with 4.

Pick the best pass rush DL and turn um loose- my picks-
Dieke DE – GotisDT – BarnesDT – Cummings or CrossDE (All tall with wing span)
Backers would be Sneezy – Hunt Days – Watts (most athletic)

Or is this too big a change from 3-4 with the coverage assignments?

Somebody help me out because this looks way to obvious and nothing from the coaches.

David

October 23rd, 2012
10:42 pm

@Natalie, stop with the logic.

josh

October 23rd, 2012
10:50 pm

Anyone that thinks missions help BYU out has never seen what these guys do for 2 years and what kind of crap shape and people-loving attitudes (which does NOT help in football) they come back with. Older =/= better or even more experienced.

Also, have you seen the crap BYU has put on the field this year. Not exactly a huge boon to that argument.

Birmingham Jacket

October 23rd, 2012
11:19 pm

Another loss!

Ken Sugiura

October 23rd, 2012
11:27 pm

Natalie – something tells me that few, if any, players would go. they’re there to play football and go to school.
josh – the no. 4 defense in the country?

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 23rd, 2012
11:31 pm

A few observations. 1) The run off the fourth down fake of the “draw off sides” tactic worked amazing well! (I almost passed out when it actually happened!) And will continue to work with other options thrown in such as a pass out in the flat or any run OTHER THAN a fullback or QB keep up the middle. Who knows – even a “hard count” once in a while might work after letting teams know they can’t bank on the same fake fourth down tactic game after game and year after year. 2) Coach has said many times VL does not know how to run the option as well as TW which I’m sure is true – as well as statements made about VL’s poor weeks of practice. I wonder if coach holds TW to the same standard as VL with regards to practice when it comes to passing and running – both of which VL does better than TW – without question. So let’s see – VL can run and pass better than TW – but coach would rather lose with TW because the only thing he does better than VL is run the option and of course we know we must stick with the option no matter what when he’s behind. Let’s not even consider the potential of playing BOTH at the same time and putting extreme pressure on the defense – for them to try to figure out what’s going to happen. 3)Our new punter Fr. Ryan Rodwell is lining up too close to the line of scrimmage and will one day have one or more kicks blocked – hopefully not in a critical game. He needs to be back three – four yards further. With his kicking ability this number of yards won’t matter down field and he might even find that he can take that extra second or so to get a better kick off. 4) Skully has finally found the key to driving the kick off into the end zone – slow, short and deliberate steps to the ball – kicking it about 1/3 of the way up the ball from the ground rather than running up to the ball with less control and getting up under the ball causing it to go up instead of out. It looks like Skully will be sidelined for a while with his hip issue but Justin Moore needs to learn the same technique. Kicking the ball is just like swinging a golf club – it’s not about how fast you run up to the ball or how hard you swing your leg – it’s all about the technique and hitting it in the “right” spot to be able to drive it. 5) Since the option is all about the “Shell Game” of who’s got the ball – why not throw in more misdirection and end around plays to keep the bull rush to the QB and fullback down which also opens up more time for the pass when that comes along. And while we’re talking about passing – we need to hit shorter routes and over the middle routes rather than try these long gainers all the time. Send somebody long as a decoy and hit the middle! Well – that’s it for tonight. Food for thought and maybe a little discussion.

Lou Piniella's cap

October 23rd, 2012
11:34 pm

Johnson said that A-back Synjyn Days’ playing time was limited Saturday against Boston College because “he and I weren’t on the same page.”
———————–

His playing time was limited Saturday? His playing time has been limited all year, so I for one don’t want to hear this stuff about why he didn’t play this particular game because of whatever reason (whether its valid of not) when Johnson knows good and well he wasn’t going to, and probably doesn’t plan on Days playing anyway. Days has done nothing but waste away on the bench this entire season.

Lou Piniella's cap

October 23rd, 2012
11:36 pm

Ken, I think Josh was referring to the BYU offense. Everyone knows they have a good D, but their offense sucks something fierce this year.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 23rd, 2012
11:37 pm

CPJ makes it obvious that if you are a slacker in practice then you don’t play on Saturday. Make them earn it, coach. ” GO JACKETS “

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 23rd, 2012
11:40 pm

My Bad – It’s SCULLY – not – SKULLY!!! Sorry

GT Fan

October 24th, 2012
1:50 am

Shake … and … Bake. That just happened!

GT Fan

October 24th, 2012
1:58 am

Sweet Lou, et al …….

PJ’s BS praising of players then NOT playing them is getting old! This if from 8/22, that’s 2 weeks BEFORE VaTech!
————————————————
Days to play ’somewhere’ for Georgia Tech against Hokies

9:09 pm August 22, 2012, by Ken Sugiura

1. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wasn’t in much of a mood to share details, but allowed this about quarterback/A-back Synjyn Days. He’s in the plans for the opener against Virginia Tech.

“We’ll see where he plays, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t play in the game somewhere,” Johnson said following Wednesday’s practice.

Johnson said he didn’t know if Days, who has spent some of the preseason training at A-back, would play at that position. Coaches want to get Days on the field to make use of his playmaking ability, but he is behind Tevin Washington at quarterback.

Coaches “really haven’t said anything, just that we want the best 11 players on the field and they said I’m one of the best 11,” Days said. “If it’s a special package or something, I’m just trying to do the best for the team any way possible, even if it’s special teams or holding the kick or something.”

Days has worked with the punt return and kickoff return teams in addition to A-back and quarterback. A-backs coach Lamar Owens said that Days is “getting there” as an A-back.
———————————-
This was 2 months ago. Days sounds excited about being deemed “one the best 11″ and is willing to help the team … “even if it’s special teams or holding the kick or something”

Yeah, I can see how a kid’s attitude might be soured a bit.

PLAYMAKER

October 24th, 2012
6:16 am

Days is great kid, a Christian kid who could be a great asset to GT recruiting. Trust me he is the type of kids parents want their kid around. But CPJ doesn’t have vision that way. He is always trying to play tough no nonsense guy. How many years has Days and others waited. Days should have gotten more snaps at QB last yeart. CPJ doesn’t seem like he could handle the big 5 stars anyway. If he would just humble himself, loosen up a little and be open to listen to change then you will see a GREAT COACH and the talents God have given him!

BIrmingham Jacket

October 24th, 2012
7:05 am

BYU will win by 14 or more.

NL Brave

October 24th, 2012
7:11 am

I seriously doubt that the GT Coaching Staff would recruit any Morman High School athlete who plans on serving a two year mission. Mike Sewak needs to button up and get the offensive line ready rather than making an issue out of age difference.

Awesomeb

October 24th, 2012
7:55 am

It seems like our coaches spend the entire week before a game offering up all the reasons why the other team should win – just in case they do beat us. That strategy works ok when you lose 2 or 3 games each year. But when you start losing 5-7 each year, it starts looking like you are spending more time trying to get your excuses prepared than getting the team prepared. Come on coach, get your GSU swagger back. You use to be the man and there were no excuses. Just go out there and be the coach you use to be (not scared of anybody, never taking your foot off the gas with a big lead, etc).

Rome Jacket

October 24th, 2012
8:41 am

this GT team needs a total renovation from the coaches to this playground scheme that is ineffective. We dont have the athletes to play with these teams in our conference & we are unable to efficiently recruit the best athletes in our state. until we do this we will be a lower tier program living off the success of our past. im tired of our program being in the shadows of UGA…

10per

October 24th, 2012
8:45 am

All of you wondering where Days is on game day…is it possible ball handling issues continue to be a problem? Being big and fast does not mean much if you cough the ball up regularly. If he’s not showing well in practice it is hard to call his number in a game.

uafuneman

October 24th, 2012
8:54 am

Amen Rome Jacket

uafuneman

October 24th, 2012
8:56 am

Tech can and should beat UGA at least 4 times in a ten year span. Nothing less should be exceptable.

uafuneman

October 24th, 2012
8:56 am

my bad, acceptable

George Stein

October 24th, 2012
8:57 am

You have an opportunity to make a lot of money with that knowledge, Birmingham.

George Stein

October 24th, 2012
9:03 am

The reson 18 year olds don’t go to NFL is because they aren’t allowed, GTJason. The most valuable commodity in the NFL – and sports in general, really – is potential. The rest of your point is probably accurate, though.

I’d love to see you try to explain this “playground scheme,” Rome Jacket.

carolinajacket

October 24th, 2012
9:06 am

So they run a 3/4 defense and are 4th in the nation and we run a 3/4 and can’t stop anybody. Seems like it must not be the 3/4 defense thats the problem. I remember when Barnes was a freshman and the other players raved at what a beast he was, what happened? Why do we have absolutely no pass rush at all?

Andy

October 24th, 2012
9:24 am

I agree that it is an advantage to be two years older, but there are disadvantages to being away from football for 2 years. When these guys serve missions they have zero time for football, and hardly any time for exercise at all, other than walking or riding a bike. There are a lot of college football players who do not make it back onto the field after their missions because they have been away from it for too long. So the mission is really a two-edged sword for football players.

ToeMeetsLeather

October 24th, 2012
9:44 am

BYU has put their numbers up while playing weak rushing teams. I say we gash them for 300 plus. If we can generate some type of pass rush, we win by 10.

Coach, please give Days a few touches come Saturday. The dude’s a beast running the ball.

carolinajacket

October 24th, 2012
9:57 am

I certainly want to see what Days can do, but its hard to complain about the A Backs production: 10.6, 8.6, 7.5, and 7.2. Those are pretty impressive stats.

North Ave Killer Beez

October 24th, 2012
10:01 am

Day’s should transfer, he’s sacraficed everything coach has asked. He looked much better than TW in the spring game yet still get’s the bench. Imagine a kid who works as hard as Day’s and never see’s the field being on the wrong page with CPJ. What a meat-head coach. I think I would probably start slacking off a bit in practice too if my coach had his head that far up his bottom.

trueblueeagle

October 24th, 2012
10:06 am

As a life long tech fan I just can’t see this team winning another game this year. Something has gone wrong and I don’t think it can be fixed this year. Have not seen the fire-in-belly that a team needs to be a winner from this team.

George Stein

October 24th, 2012
10:19 am

The irony of someone who doesn’t know how or when to use apostrophes calling another person a meathead is precious.

btgt69

October 24th, 2012
10:20 am

Let’s see: BYU runs 3-4 and is No. 4 in the country? Maybe our defense can learn something from their films.

North Ave Killer Beez

October 24th, 2012
10:32 am

Habitual, oops!! I think you meant priceless though. TW apologist kill me.

Old Dog

October 24th, 2012
10:40 am

To Hell with Tek, today,tomorrow and every other day!

...Take The Wheel

October 24th, 2012
10:50 am

One thing for sure is we will HAVE to use all of our tools this week. We can’t afford to be too predictable. This game could very well come down to strategy. When you are outsized on the field, strategy becomes more important. And i do believe the strategy from last week was a good direction. Use Lee in the pistol a few times to keep their defense guessing. Let’s also get Days and Laskey in there for a few runs. Snoddy, is a track and field sprinter, let’s see him on a couple returns.

If we get by BYU we have a good chance of winning 4 in a row.

...Take The Wheel

October 24th, 2012
10:57 am

TW crucifists kill me.

Delbert D.

October 24th, 2012
11:06 am

I’ve watched parts of 3 BYU games this year: Utah State (because I was intrigued with the Aggies’ multiple sets triple option offense), Boise State and Notre Dame. Their defense is tough against the run. I’ll be at the game on Saturday, and I think it will be a close one.

JT

October 24th, 2012
11:18 am

The biggest age gap you will see on the field is between BYU’s star running back and everyone trying to tackle him. There will be at least a couple of years’ difference, but not in the direction you think: Jamaal Williams is a true freshman and just turned 17 in April (he skipped the 2nd grade).

As it turns out, most of BYU’s star players did not serve missions (WR Cody Hoffman, OLB Kyle Van Noy, DE Ezekiel Ansah).

When serving a mission, you almost always get out of shape, you forget plays, and you lose technique. You may mature a little physically, but you definitely mature mentally and emotionally. Most of the guys coming back have a better work ethic and are less likely to get rattled in a game than they otherwise would have been. On the other hand, part of that mental maturity leads some players to realize that there is much more to life than football, causing some to lose the “edge” they once had. It varies from player to player.

In short, the option to send players off to the Peace Corps (or wherever) for a couple of years is open to every coach. Notice that no one takes it. With the exception of a few teams (mostly located in and around Utah), most coaches would much rather have their players stick around than serve a mission.

Born2Buzz

October 24th, 2012
11:22 am

I hate to agree with the now missing in action WnE, but it seems obvious now that Days should have been shifted to Safety. We could sure use him there. Maybe next year?

B’ham Jacket, have you ever ventured over from Bama and witnessed a game in person? You are the type of fan that keeps us from filling up BDS, just whining and complaining. I’ve never seen you post a positive word on these blogs. Hey, it’s homecoming. If you really are a Tech man, why don’t you man up and come home to the flats. Then you can bitch and moan at the team in person…if they actually lose like you say they will.

I say we run all over BYU and win this one by 14. Vad and TW both have a good day and our D becomes solid again. I know I will be there cheering on the boys.

GT Dude

October 24th, 2012
11:24 am

If our D continues to rush the passer like we have in the previous 7 games, we will not win this weekend. We need to have at least 3 sacks and 3 more hurries

GT Dude

October 24th, 2012
11:30 am

@B2B – you tell him :-)

Ed

October 24th, 2012
11:34 am

This tired non-issue again?! A senior for BYU at age 24 has played no more football than a senior at age 22. A 6.5″ offensive lineman at age 24 and the same size lineman at age 22 is somehow an advantage? College players go thru thousands of reps in training during their careers. Do you somehow think a guy that is two years older is getting more reps ? They are not playing football on church missions. Comparing a player that went on a mission to one that didn’t, when they are both seniors they have played and practiced the same amount of time. Where’s the advantage? If anything, being away for two years may be a disadvantage. If we’re talking about size and experience there is no advantage. No BYU player somehow gains more athletic ability because he went on a mission. Everyone talks about maturity. Where’s the maturity? In what area is two year older player displaying more maturity? The younger player has practiced just as much, has had just as much discipline and training on the field. Sounds like a lot of hot excuse air! – Ed

gt4ever

October 24th, 2012
11:34 am

@Takethewheel….
Very funny 4 in a row…. I like your optimism, but I wouldn’t bet on winning 4 in a row..