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Ken Sugiura

Progress slow for Tech offensive line

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Following the graduation of three fifth-year seniors, the Georgia Tech offensive line is a young and inexperienced group. Thus far through spring practice, it’s evidently playing like one.

“I don’t know if we’ve progressed as fast as we’d like to,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak said Monday following the team’s ninth spring practice session.

Among the candidates for playing time on the line this spring: Guard Shamire Devine and tackle Chris Griffin (both redshirts in 2013) and tackle Errin Joe and center Freddie Burden (missed last season with injuries).

“Everything happens with reps, and game reps,” Sewak said. “Just full-speed reps and no do-over reps.”

Do-over reps, Sewak said, are those in which the player makes a mistake, acknowledges it and wants to run the same play again. There’s apparently been some of that.

“You only get one chance,” Sewak said.

In Saturday’s scrimmage, Sewak said linemen were not creating holes but just standing their ground against defensive linemen. Burden and Joe are among those whom Sewak is waiting on for results. With an injury to Griffin at left tackle, Burden was moved to that spot Monday to get more practice time with the first string and to perhaps create a spark. Burden is returning from an ACL tear suffered last spring.

Burden “wasn’t as physical as he had been,” Sewak said. “Today was the first time I really saw him be physical.”

It was a reflection on the slow development both of Burden at center and Joe at tackle, as Sewak chose to move Burden rather than elevate Joe.

“It’s also that I’m looking for a guy because there’s going to be some holes to fill next year,” he said. “You can’t count on all the true freshmen to come in and fill them.”

Tech will welcome six incoming freshman linemen this summer. With six practices remaining, there’s plenty left to do.

“Absolutely,” Sewak said. “It’ll be a nice practice on Wednesday, and it’ll be a nice scrimmage on Saturday. Be a nice practice next Monday. It’s got to be.”

Sewak didn’t question the effort so much as the results.

“They’re a good group,” he said. “They’ve just got to take care of business.”

1. Coach Paul Johnson was more pleased with Monday’s practice following a poor display by the offense in the Saturday scrimmage.

“The tempo was pretty good,” he said.

2. That included quarterback Justin Thomas. “You’re going to have good days and bad days. You’ve just got to be consistent,” Johnson said.

Backup Tim Byerly is doing well and making progress, Johnson said. No. 3 quarterback Ty Griffin takes one step forward and one step back, typical of a freshman in his first spring.

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