Posted: 9:21 am Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

5 Tech spring notes: Who is rising? 

By Ken Sugiura

Quayshawn Nealy, georgia tech yellow jackets

Quayshawn Nealy among Jackets with experience at linebacker. (Johnny Crawford / AJC File)

The Georgia Tech linebacking group is probably the most experienced position group on the team, and now position coach Andy McCollum has fewer snaps to divvy out, as the Yellow Jackets are using a nickel defense – four linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs – as their base defense instead of the 4-3.

Some notes from an interview with McCollum following Monday’s practice, the fifth out of 15 for the spring.

1. Quayshawn Nealy, Tyler Marcordes, Jabari Hunt-Days and Paul “P.J.” Davis all have experience, particularly Nealy and Hunt-Days.

If you’ve been following along, you know that Hunt-Days has been working at the rush end position that Jeremiah Attaochu played last year. For the time being, McCollum said, he is spending most of his time there because he is trying to learn it. (I wrote a story about the line for myajc and the paper, link here. Line coach Mike Pelton compared his development at this stage to a freshman’s.)

But, Hunt-Days will get some more time with the linebackers as time goes on.

2. Thus far, Nealy and Marcordes are operating as the first unit, Tremayne McNair and Davis with the second, early enrollee Tre Jackson and Beau Hankins with the third and Chase Alford and Marcus Allen with the fourth. Jackson’s adjustment is “what you’d expect,” McCollum said, meaning it’s a bit overwhelming.

McCollum said that all of the early enrollees – cornerback Step Durham, defensive end KeShun Freeman, quarterback Matthew Jordan and Jackson – “have a good attitude and a good work ethic and they’ll fit in well.”

3. McCollum’s ideal is to be able to swap out linebacking pairs in games. “But for them to get on the field, you’ve got to have trust and they’ve got to understand what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s great work for us in the spring to develop that right now.”

4. Marcordes looks the part, at 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, up 11 pounds from his listed weight last season. He walked into the football lobby just as McCollum was talking about him.

“Tyler’s a big, long player,” he said. “His whole thing (to improve) is just base footwork. He’s a physical player, he’s growing into it. I mean, look at him. He’s what you look for. He’s got it, but every day, he gets better and better. Tyler’s got a tremendous work ethic. It means something to him.”

I think the last sentence is at the high end of compliments a coach can give to one of his players. By comparison, again referring back to the story about the defensive line, line coach Mike Pelton said of a few players, “You don’t guys to be just satisfied with where they are. You want them to take it to another level.”

5. Allen was a highly-touted signee coming out of high school in Hilliard, Fla. He picked Tech over Florida State and Tennessee, among others, in part for the chance to play running back. Allen was at B-back for a year but moved to linebacker last year and appeared in the Alabama A&M and Ole Miss games. According to his bio, he is majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

McCollum said “the light’s not on, but looks like it’s starting to” come on. He was pleased with his play in the brief scrimmage Saturday.

“He didn’t have many snaps,” he said. “He got 14, but I told him today, ‘I saw something. I saw a little something that I’ve been waiting to see.’”

If you are a football or men’s basketball season-ticket holder, I’d be obliged if you could e-mail me for a story I am working on. ksugiura at ajc.com. Thanks.

92 comments
Jmonty
Jmonty

I am looking forward to seeing how things go this season.  Even more, I am ready to tailgate with my friends once more.  Last season was such a blast, the wife and I got season tickets.  Super, AJ, Yellerbug... you guys sold us on your gracious hospitality.  Cannot wait for the season to start!! 

BearCasey
BearCasey

@MikeBanning:  This isn't the NFL.   Academics ARE important when discussing GT football.  If you don't like it, move to an NFL or Alabama blog.

67buzz
67buzz

Ken:

Out of curiosity, where is Francis Kallon in this mix? Is he progressing towards serious playing time?

ConfederateFlagBurner
ConfederateFlagBurner

I'm not feeling the idea of playing the nickel as a base.  What about a 4-2-5 with a rover/flex position? Using a hybrid of safety and linebacker instead of a db.  

Not really feeling Hunt Days as a DE either. 

IDK maybe just go 3-4 and work the Hunt Days as a OLB. That way GT could get their deepest and most talented position players on the field. 

rallo
rallo

wow!  okay, time to do the split personality thing.

rallo
rallo

...and now we miss gailey.  as long as GT wants balance between academics and sports, we'll have 50% seasons in every sport.  

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Kind of makes it tough when you recruit to fill four spots on the field, and over the course of two years the base defense changes to two spots. Sure hope it works out for Hunt-Days at DE. We need him, and the Whitehead(sp?) kid coming in the fall, big time at the end spots.

Unlike last year, at least Roof knows exactly what he has to work with this spring.

How about the status of Harrell Ken, he was coming on strong prior to the injury last year. Is he participating in spring practice?

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

How are Isaiah Johnson and Jamal Golden doing?   Are they full speed?

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

I want to get the ball to Snoddy somehow, guy runs a 10.2 100 meter after practicing. Get him the ball.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Johnson has relatively some of the smallest players I can remember under any head coach at GT. Just take 3 steps back and look at the "big picture" when we play VT, Clemson and Miami this year.

Good to hear about who is "progressing".

But I maintain the most significant story and "progress" of the spring is the announcement that GT will allow more special admits. Our roster just needs more talent to be able to compete for ACC Championships.

juvenal
juvenal

have both, Ken......

juvenal
juvenal

"D" gonna bring it this year! Way to go Allen!

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@BearCasey  

Every single GT FB discussion shouldn't "de-volve" into an excuse making session where we blame Academics for all of our woes.

We know we have smaller pool to recruit from, everyone knows that, but we should be able to get a more talented team on campus recruiting to a BS in Business degree and a STaC degree which is what most of our FB players major in (at least those on the 2-deep), that actually play in games.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@67buzz  Even IF Kallon doesn't play BALL he did what his parents wanted and he is earning a GREAT Degree. That was the Families and HIS first concern......TECH isn't BAMA or the Football factories. Kallon EARNED a Scholarship and will put it to WORK after his time at THE INSTITUTE is done.

GTBob
GTBob

@rallo  What exactly about Gailey are you missing?

POAD2013
POAD2013

Georgia Tech's football team learned some great news Tuesday as former starting QB (and recent James Madison transfer) Vad Lee announced that he'd had a change of heart.

"I realize now my mistake in leaving Georgia Tech, and will plan to re-enroll there immediately," commented Lee. "I look forward to two more great years of transitioning Georgia Tech's offense from the spread option to the air raid."

In perhaps even better news, Lee also announced that he has a new mentor that he'll be returning with -- a former Georgia Tech great who also had a knack for both throwing and running the ball.

"In my time away from school I've made a lot of friends, but there's one that sticks out above all the rest to me," said Lee. "I'm excited to be bringing a former Georgia Tech great with me in my return. Reggie Ball has been a wonderful mentor for me both on and off the field, and I know that he'll help as I continue to improve as the starting QB at Georgia Tech."

When asked for comment, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson grunted, before mumbling something about not having his "morning Irish coffee" and "competition in spring practice".

Tech fans, are you excited to have Lee back on the Flats? More comfortable knowing that we're returning last year's starter under center?

Being that this is the internet, it should probably be clarified that this article is meant as an April Fool's joke. Hopefully you don't walk away feeling too offended.

KenAJC
KenAJC moderator

@ToeMeetsLeather Harrell is out for the spring. he injured his knee last season in his first start (off the top of my head, i think it was syracuse).


KenAJC
KenAJC moderator

@gtcaryd Snoddy had a good scrimmage Saturday, according to Paul Johnson.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 I heard the same thing last season.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@MikeBanning @BearCasey I never us academics as an excuse.  GT can recruit better.  However, it is delusional to believe that GT can compete with Alabama on a yearly basis unless Tech and Ga. State combine into a mega-university.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@MikeBanning

If you have kept up, The Hill has allowed Johnson more "special admits".  Hopefully this will accomplish better recruiting and better players.



gtg768b
gtg768b

@MikeBanning


Interesting. I think that every GT FB discussion shouldn't devolve into a lengthy diatribe about why we are terrible or why the current coaching staff should be burned at the stake. It's really funny to me how YOU of all people are accusing someone of being repetitive and off-topic

67buzz
67buzz

@POAD2013 @67buzz Absolutely agree that the old fashioned 'Tech Man' concept is still much to be admired. He was considered a real find, and I'm just curious as to how he's coming along.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@MikeBanning @ConfederateFlagBurner  

We stopped the run pretty well last year, except against Miami.

The pass defense was bad, mostly because of lack of a pass rush.

I don't think any defensive scheme will work well this season.

We will struggle to win 6-7 games this year.


GTBob
GTBob

@GTMan1949  Our total defense ranking went from 43rd to 28th last year. Pretty good improvement for a first year DC.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

Of course Ken, will delete this because theres actually GT fans that have faced reality about PJ each season.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@MikeBanning Dumb AZZ.....STANFORD isn't Sh.t BAYLOR? Notre Dame when have any of those team been GOOD? WOW they have a few good years and now you think TECH is below them? GROW THE F..K UP and look their HISTORY. Those team ain't CRAP other than DAME.

Hookedonshortpasses
Hookedonshortpasses

@juvenal You can always tell when johnson is calling for a non standard formation/pass...he places his hand on the relay player and gently pushes as the player dashes to the huddle....LOL!

juvenal
juvenal

losing big games is what hurts, strange end around calls, very simplistic shotgun when used at all....

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

I agree that Johnson's system hurts recruiting. But I think we would look a lot more like UNC running a traditional offense than FSU....unless GT changes it's curriculum such that football players don't have to take calculus.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

Super,

Try 4 qtrs. .... At the end of regulation Gurley had 72 yds & 1 rush td on 16 carries = 4.5yd avg.


In the 2 OTs TG had 4 carries for 50yds and 2 TDs.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  I will agree with you on one point , Given the  choice of having  all the injured  receivers and Rb healthy and having Mason as  qb or having  all the injuries and having  Murray , I would  choose Mason and  healthy , Gurley, Marshall, Turman,Wesley, Mitchell, Bennett, Conley Rome and   Rumph.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 So?  The receivers who replaced the injured ones were capable.   UGA only struggled when Gurley was hurt.  Murray was a nice player, but he wasn't indispensable.   Gurley is.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  Of  couse the  difference in receivers  was  extreme. 4 of  top 6  missed a mjority of  games, and  Marshall was a huge loss, would start  at most  programs. 

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 Wouldn't have mattered.   The delta between the receivers wasn't that great.   The delta between Gurley and every other running back in the nation is massive.  He's the player UGA can't lose.  

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  I wish Gurley would've  been the only injury. Wr corp was  decimated. Not  to mention Marshall,and having to play with 4th and  5th team freshmen RB. 

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeBanning I have stated before that Murray was an exceptional student.  You, on the other hand, are the last person that should be bringing that up based on your comments IN THIS POST.


Murray wasn't a great quarterback.  He was a serviceable one who holds a lot of records in counting stats because he played for four years.   Rate stats are a lot less favorable to him.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GeorgeStein

Get real Stein!

99.9999999% of all BCS programs would love to have an Aaron Murray in their program.

Good to great (at times) on the field, and a great student off the field.

Also, Murray played all 4 years behind crappy O-lines when compared to what Bama, LSU and schools like that put out there.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 Scouting the stat line.   Murray was extremely mediocre when #3 was hurt. 


Also, touchdown passes are a meaningless metric.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  over  300 yard  apssin 4  season consectutive  years  in 2011  without  a TB had  35  td passes  hardly average.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @Ghost13 @GTMan1949  Not  whining  the  JV still was able to beat  GT.. Murray rarely played  when the  games  weren't  close. Mason Redshirted in 2012  when he may have  gotten more  opportunities. FYI Murray took 4  snaps in the  4th quarter against  GT in 2011 and  none in in the  4th quarter 2012..  . 

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 that's a bad excuse, PJ had 3 more quarters to beat UGa.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@Ghost13 @SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @GTMan1949  

You want some cheese with that WHINE?  Like Tech didn't have our share of injuries also.  We were without an offensive line for most of the season.  You play with what you are dealt.  Maybe if RIcht were not so greedy, Mason would have seen more playing time during those games in which Murray padded his stats to become that record-setting QB.

juvenal
juvenal

we will be fine, George, esp. if we go more base offense & don't experiment with poorly designed & executed passing formations.....

GTBob
GTBob

@Ghost13 UGA's backups are much more talented than GT's starters. You can't just use the excuse that they had a few starters out therefore should have lost. Replacing a couple of 5 stars with a couple of 4 1/2 stars isn't going to ruin a game against a bunch of 3 stars.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 The record setting quarterback was extremely average when #3 wasn't playing.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 We had an 87 yard drive in the 2nd quarter that yielded a FG (and took up half of the 2nd quarter) and the 16 yard drive was at the end of the half (we took the ball with :34 left in the 2nd quarter).  Then we had the four in the 2nd half.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @Ghost13 @GTMan1949  like the  refs  didn't miss calls  both ways. Like the  phantom interference call that nullified a  Georgia interception in the 2nd  quarter.. Georgia played the game with a  back up qb, not  the  record  setting  senior QB  that had  made  52 starts, big  difference. Not to mention all the other starters   that were  sitting on the  sidelines injured. Basically the  Georgia JV team.


juvenal
juvenal

losing both our starting safeties hurt-gave up too many long 3rd down passes......

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  Gt dives after  the  onslaught in the  first  quarter and a half. 24, 16, 41, 75,1 and  40 yards.

Georgia drives from the 1;46 mark in 2nd  quarter.  86, 63, 74,77 and  10.  So supersizes notion that it was middle of  4th quarter  before Gurley got  untracked is a  little inaccurate.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@Ghost13 @SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @GTMan1949  

Since you want to dwell on "what if's," then you owe me one.  What if the obvious interference had been called on the mutts on the pass to Godhigh in the second half.  That would have ended the game then, because without the interference (or if it had been called), Godhigh scores

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 I think we only had four possessions, though.   One ended with the missed FG and one with the pick on the 2nd play of the drive.   It's not like we couldn't move the ball.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @Ghost13 @GTMan1949 I agrre with that in the  first  quarter , but  the  bad  Georgia  defense only gave up 10 pints after the  1st quarter and 7 in the overtime. Gt had 146 yards total offense in the  2nd half and  7 points. So they were pretty much shut  down after  the 1st  quarter.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Ghost13 It's a hypothetical, dude.   We have no idea what would have happened.   Either way, #3 was the guy the UGA offense has to have to be successful.   

Ghost13
Ghost13

@GeorgeStein @Ghost13  Mason spent the better part of the  1st 2  quarters making  bad  reads  and not  getting the Georgia into the right play at the LOS.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GeorgeStein @SupersizeThatOrder-mutt  

I plan on going unless the weather is bad.  I don't mind driving up and sitting in the rain for a real game, but not for a scrimmage.  I think AJ said he won't be going because it's on Good Friday.  I will check in with those on my email list a few days before the game, so check your email from time to time.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt Eh, you don't get extra credit for scoring at certain times.   35 points scored in two quarters is the same as 35 scored evenly across four.   That's not to say nothing could have been done differently, but I tend to think that when you have a lead, you don't give the other team a chance to take it from you.   Either way, though, giving up leads needs to stop, because if it continues, it will cost Johnson his job, which would be too bad, because I think he's a pretty good coach.

Ghost13
Ghost13

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @GTMan1949  Had more to do with poor  execution of  Georgia offense in first  quarter with Mason at Qb than GT defense. If Murray had played Gt defense  would've been shredded the entire game instead of just 2.25  quarters

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GeorgeStein @SupersizeThatOrder-mutt  

I don't disagree with you at all.  I think the defense is improving and, in fact showed a lot of improvement last year.  But another seemingly recurring theme is the offense building a lead and then, instead of going for the kill, going conservative or getting lazy or something so that instead of at least continuing to get 1st downs, they start going 3 and out.  That happened in the Sun Bowl against Utah, in the second half  of the Miami game in 2012, and against the mutts last year in the second quarter.  I think there are some other games when that pattern was followed as well.  I don't know if it's Johnson or the players, but we just don't seem to have had a killer instinct, and without that, chances are you're going to lose.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt It does seem to be a recurring theme with the defense - being given leads (often of double digits) and not being able to hold them.   They blew a ten point lead against Miami (probably should been 17) and obviously the UGA doesn't need to be mentioned.   But in 2012, they blew a 4th quarter lead against Clemson, a 17 point 3rd quarter lead against Miami, and a lead against VT with a less than a minute to play.   


People criticize the offense, but scoring has not been a real issue for us.  If the defense can continue to improve, I have no doubt we will win plenty of games.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GTMan1949  

True, but see how you would hold up if you had to be on the field that long.  Besides, the game was lost in the first half when we had to settle for field goals.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 The game is 60 minutes, not 45, if so we'd been 10-2

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GTMan1949  

Defense played their hearts out against the mutts for more than 3 quarters.  Lack of depth wore them down and finally took its toll.  There are many things you can blame that loss on, but the overall play of the defense is not one of them.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

Defense was great against Elon and Bama A&M, but couldn't hold Uga with a 20 point lead nor held Clemson or Miami.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@GTBob It definitely improved, but we still lost three games in which we scored 30 points.   That has got to stop.