1. Georgia Tech offensive tackle Ray Beno is enjoying his moment in the sun.
In the Yellow Jackets’ 42-24 win over Duke Saturday, Beno caught a deflected pass, broke a tackle and ran for a key third-down conversion on a drive that ended with a touchdown. A Youtube video of the reception was closing in on 10,000 views Tuesday evening.
“I’m getting a big reaction from it,” he said. “I see people in the halls at the school, they’re like, ‘Beno! Good catch” – people I’ve never talked to.”
Beno took a photo next to a life-size poster of former Tech star Calvin Johnson in the football offices. His fellow linemen have given him grief over it, touting him for the Heisman Trophy and calling him Ray “Biletnikoff” Beno after the famed wide receiver.
True to offensive lineman form, Beno said he’s staying humble and not getting a big head.
“I’m just glad I made a play on Saturday,” he said.
Said coach Paul Johnson, “Now that we see he’s capable, we’ll have to get a whole system for him or a whole set of plays, see if we can pitch it to him on the option.”
2. A-back Orwin Smith (ankle) and guard Omoregie Uzzi (undisclosed) were among those held out of Tuesday’s practice. Johnson was hopeful that the Jackets will face Georgia with their full complement of starters. With the season grinding on, Johnson has been holding out players from parts of practice or entire practices to rest bumps.
“We’re going to play seven straight games again without a break,” he said. “If you don’t back off on them a little bit, you’re not going to have anybody left.”
Offensive tackle Will Jackson, who has not played since the Boston College game five games ago because of a shoulder injury, has returned to practice and will play Saturday. Morgan Bailey, who took over his right tackle spot, will remain the starter.
3. In his lengthy news conference Tuesday, Johnson spent time discussing quarterback Tevin Washington and backups Vad Lee and Justin Thomas. Johnson praised Washington for his consistency and said that Washington has at times borne the brunt of criticism for the shortcomings of teammates, a hazard of the position.
“I think he’s been resilient, he’s kept a pretty good attitude,” he said. “He’s just been a good kid, a good teammate, somebody that likes to compete. I think he’s gotten the max out of his ability.”
Johnson said that both Lee and Thomas have “that ‘it’ factor” as quarterbacks. Lee’s confidence is one reason why he said he has not rushed him onto the field.
“My big concern with him has been not to throw him to the wolves before he’s ready to be thrown to the wolves and lose that (confidence),” he said. “You want that guy to think he can beat the world, so we’ve kind of brought him along slowly.”
4. The flu bug that was passed around the team last week and kept defensive end Izaan Cross out of the Duke game still persists. Johnson caught it himself.
“We’ve got several guys with it,” he said, “so it’s an issue.”
Johnson called it “a viral thing” that seems to be working its way out of players’ systems in three or four days.
“You just don’t want a large group to get it Wednesday, Thursday,” he said. “That’d be the killer.”
Center Jay Finch, who dropped down to 250 pounds last year with an illness, has been taking precautionary measures.
“I started drinking Robitussin and taking Mucinex a month ago, just in case,” he said. “This always happens.”
5. Johnson on Georgia’s defense: “I mean, they’ve got some big jokers. That nose tackle (John Jenkins), they list him at, what, 350? That joker’s got to be closer to 400 pounds. He’s huge. He’s a big man.”
6. Johnson’s radio show will air regularly on Wednesday at 7 p.m. from the Hudson Grille Midtown. It can be heard on 790 the Zone and 106.7 FM.