Posted: 10:37 am Thursday, July 31st, 2014

5 questions for Tech preseason 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech A-back Deon Hill is among several Yellow Jackets vying for playing time at that position. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech A-back Deon Hill is among several Yellow Jackets vying for playing time at that position. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

 

Georgia Tech will hold its first preseason practice this afternoon, beginning its preparations for the season opener Aug. 30 against Wofford and the whole of the regular season. Plenty figures to be revealed over the course of the preseason, including answers to the following questions.

Q: Who will emerge out of the defensive line group to earn a spot in the rotation?

A: Defensive tackle Adam Gotsis is a given. Coaches are hopeful about nose tackle Shawn Green, who was a leader in summer workouts and said Thursday his goal is “to show what I’m fully capable of.” End KeShun Freeman was impressive in spring practice and fellow end Kenderius Whitehead, a junior college All-American last fall, could make a splash.

Beyond that, and perhaps even beyond Green, or maybe just beyond Gotsis, there’s questions as there is such little experience to bank on. Green said that Roderick Rook-Chungong, Nick Menocal and Francis Kallon made strides in the summer.

Said Green of Kallon, “I think he’s ready. He can really, really help us.”

Tyler Stargel and Patrick Gamble would seem strong candidates to make a push for playing time, but it would seem a pretty open race.

Q: What shape will the offense take?

A: Coach Paul Johnson has made little secret of his desire to go back to the basics with the offense following last year’s dabbling with the diamond formation and a deeper foray into the passing game.

“It didn’t work out so well,” Johnson said. “We had our worst completion percentage since I’ve been here (45.3 percent). Rather than trying to tweak things to what we thought we had, we’re going to go back to what we do. It’s exciting because our guys that are playing, they’ve embraced what we do, and it’s fun to coach ’em.”

Expect a lot of triple option, which the team actually didn’t run as much last year as in years past. Another question is how much the offense will use no-huddle, which could take some pressure off quarterbacks Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly, as Johnson could have the option to make checks from the sideline.

Also, the competition between Thomas and Byerly plays out bears watching, as it may help determine what sort of role Byerly earns during the season.

Q: Is there an A-back or wide receiver ready to be a consistent playmaker?

A: Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter proved himself last year, leading the receivers with 21 catches and four touchdowns. Behind him are a slew of candidates who have some, little or no experience trying to get in the mix. Micheal Summers is a returning starter who showed flashes. Darren Waller is now a senior, trying in one final season to make good on his potential. He’ll be suspended for the first two games, however.

“I think Darren’s got unlimited potential,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, his senior year will be his best year. He seems to have worked hard this summer. Hopefully he’ll be able to carry that over.”

Behind them, Corey Dennis also returns, Ricky Jeune and Antonio Messick will be redshirt freshmen and Qua Searcy is an incoming freshman. From seven-on-seven workouts in the summer, safety Jamal Golden said that Searcy has “got it” and is capable of making plays if he can get the ball.

“Speed, ball skills, ball judgment,” Golden said. “He’s got it. Good route runner, too.”

On the A-back side, seniors B.J. Bostic, Synjyn Days, Deon Hill, Charles Perkins and Tony Zenon will be part of a deep crew that is diverse in skills but without a pack leader.

“We all have different types of skillsets, and I feel like us putting them all together is going to be set up for greatness, because we’re already coaches on the field because we all have experience,” Days said.

Dennis Andrews and Broderick Snoddy, the only non-senior returnees, have playmaking potential but have not made significant impacts. Clinton Lynch is an incoming freshman who has already impressed Days with his work ethic.

Q: Can Tech make it through healthy?

A: It’s almost a certainty that someone will get dinged up before the opener against Wofford. The question is who, and for how long. Given the lack of experience at various positions and the general roster shortage, there are certain players on the roster whom the Jackets can ill afford to lose to injury for long periods of time.

Q: Which true freshmen will step forward?

A: It’s invariably the most tempting question of any preseason. With the aforementioned shortage of scholarship players, there’s plenty of opportunity for the incoming freshmen to earn their way onto the field this season. Early favorites include Lance and Lawrence Austin, whom Golden also touted.

“They come out, they listen, they learn, they play fast and they pick up on things really well,” he said. “They’re showing some really good potential.”

Offensive line, with six incoming freshmen, could be another place a freshman could break through, although it’s typically a tough spot to do so. Tackle Trey Klock is among the possibilities there.

Freeman seems almost a given at defensive end, and cornerback Step Durham likewise has a leg up after enrolling early.

44 comments
POAD2014
POAD2014

After all this love and forgiveness for UGa players is there ANY QUESTION if WnE, Ghost, Banning and now RuPAUL is a UGa fan and not a TECH grad or Fan?


===================================================

It is past time for someone to take a close look at how young African-American men are being raised in the Metro Atlanta Area and throughout Ga.

I would hope that Bellamy would be smart enough to figure out that playing vs. Clemson and S. Carolina on Nat'l TV is much more important than the alcohol that he consumed that night.

With the start of fall practice so close why in the hell was he drinking anyway?

Shouldn't Bellamy care enough about personal goals and team goals to avoid drinking anything that close to fall camp?

I don't understand WHY weed and alcohol are more important to so many young African-American men than being RICH, i.e. NFL money.

At some point someone will have to start taking a close look at the parents that raised the players, or didn't raise them!

re:
One of Spurrier's great lines. "He always enjoys playing Georgia early in the season because they always have three or four players suspended for the first couple of games."

Another season another group of suspensions.
=========================

Spurrier can laugh because he knows that he can get away with anything in Columbia, SC.

Spurrier is the same guy that threatened to quit if S.Carolina's Admission's Office didn't lower their entry requirement for recruited FB players.

Spurrier is also the same guy that kept Stephen Garcia around after he had about 6 DUIs during his S.Carolina playing career, he did it because he had no other decent QBs on the roster at the time.

I'd be careful about referring to Spurrier's standards on anything.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

There are 3 questions that matter:

1.  OL play

2.  DL play

3.  QB play


We're going to struggle on 3/3.  We will win the gimmies, but most likely won't be able to hang in the trenches against the Big Boys (Miami, VT, Clemson and UGA).  Same ole, same ole.

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

Very interesting read.


What a pleasure to read a GT blog without any comments from WNE/RUE PAUL or whatever he calls himself..........PLEASE continue deleting ALL of his nonsense.


Thanks!!!

GT-UT
GT-UT

Football is back!  And I'm back in ATL...got my season tickets and excited as ever.

Love reading the usual suspects!


Thanks for the coverage, Ken.  Great reading as always!

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

On offense, run the base sets over and over again until they know it completely and can execute it expertly.  Force the defenses to change before we change.  Run the ball 90% of the time and hit passes for big plays.  Kill most of the intermediate passing game and let Smelter be the go-to guy.  He's shown he can win the jump ball.   Let him.


On defense, I think switching to a nickel as the base set is probably wrong.   Assuming we can remain healthy, the strength of the defense is in the secondary.   Let them play.   Provide reinforcements to the run defense, because I think that's where we're going to be most vulnerable.   Stop blitzing in passing downs and drop more guys.   The most they can have is 5 guys in passing routes.   No sense in killing yourself to get the QB when you can drop 8 and play 1.5/1.

POAD2014
POAD2014

The first game could be scary. My birthday is that Friday night and a Tech game that Saturday? Y'all better buy your Jack early in the week.

DS_CE91
DS_CE91

It's that time of year again - ready for the greatest sport in the world, college football!!


HOPE is always a good thing to have at this time of year.  Everybody's tied for 1st.  I always try to be optimistic yet realistic about my Jackets.  This year, I just don't see playmakers.  I was one of the many (although few now will admit it) who thought last year that Vad would make a huge positive difference in our offense.  Didn't happen.  I like the energy that JT brings to the position, but I haven't seen much of the skill set yet.  Ditto for the A/B backs.  I was hoping Custis would be that difference maker who scared the other guys just a bit.  Maybe someone else will step up.


If you put a bb gun to my head and made me pick, I'm thinking 6-7 wins this year for us.  That said, I would love to be surprised with 8 or 9. 


GO JACKETS!!


PS - Excellent coverage as always, Ken.  Much appreciated, even if I don't elucidate it enough.

BSNBC
BSNBC

Will Johnson keep blaming the players for the losses? 

POAD2014
POAD2014

Time for KALLON to produce. He out grew the DE to be a NG or DT so I hope he can get it going this year.

JacketMan
JacketMan

1) Depth, stamina, and avoiding injuries on the personnel side;

2) minimizing "dumb mistakes" (penalties, turnovers, etc.);

3) improvement on defense, especially on 3rd down;

4) changing snap counts to keep defense off guard, including going no-huddle;

5) and scoring TD's instead of FG's.

If the Jackets are able to address those five areas succesfully, they can have a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division and play for the ACC Championship. If they fail in one or two, they will still play in a Bowl game. If they fail in all of them, it will be a miserable season.

GTBob
GTBob

The biggest question for me is the secondary. We were fairly awful in pass defense last year but we had several injuries and had to keep shuffling Jemea Thomas around. With Johnson and Golden back, an improved DJ White at corner, and Step Durham coming in, you would think we will improve. We certainly need to.

crackbaby
crackbaby

Lack of starters and lack of depth.  Not looking good for the Old White and Gold. 

Ellong0
Ellong0

Mark my word - the bigman #71 will be an emerger on the offensive line.  Surprised he doesn't get more mention but think he will in time 

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

With all the inexperience on the DL, unless he just can't pick it up and has trouble with the plays, I think Whitehead is a lock along with Gotsis for a starting spot.  And I don't think its totally out of the realm of possibility to see Freeman starting game 1 either.  The WR spot and QB play will be interesting to watch though.

With Waller suspended for the first 2, I think Summers is probably the best option opposite Smelter.  I'd expect Searcy to crack the 2-deep if he plays as billed.  CPJ will probably throw Dennis a bone because, even though Dennis blows catching the football and needs it to be the size of a watermelon to actually catch it, he's a senior and can also block some on the perimeter.  Thomas and Byerly will probably share snaps to start, but I think Thomas' athletic ability will have him under center nearly all the snaps by midseason.

juvenal
juvenal

did not use after Duke because cpj "(did) not like the way opposing defenses were lining up to stop it"-perhaps my favorite coachspeak, barely edging out "it's not a computer game" (hope nobody tells Madden)

juvenal
juvenal

ah, the diamond..........

GTLee
GTLee

"We're going to struggle on 3/3. We will win the gimmies, but most likely won't be able to hang in the trenches against the Big Boys (Miami, VT, Clemson and UGA). Same ole, same ole."

--------------------------------

Well saddle up, big boy, and strap on some pads and go hit somebody. You got 4 years of eligibility left, right? Otherwise you're just whining about the same old crap like that idiot Clemson Detective or whatever he calls himself these days. Sheeeeeesh

GTBob
GTBob

@birdrow So the way to get better is to start over, fire everybody, change all schemes and do things better the second time? How profound. Hey everyone, we have a football genius over here.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GTBee 

We are down 14 from last year due to injuries, transfers, grades, or dismissals.  If you're going to take pot shots, at least get your facts straight.  Better yet, quit taking pot shots and support your team......ASSUMING Tech really IS your team.

GTBob
GTBob

@GTBee Most of the guys who left the team weren't in the 2 deep at their positions.

GTBob
GTBob

@BSNBC When has he ever blamed the players for losses?

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@juvenal We used the diamond several times after the Duke game.  I remember distinctly it being used unsuccessfully in the BYU game.  We probably quit using it because Duke was the only opponent it seemed to work against.  Remember, Duke won games by outscoring people, not by shutting them down....

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@juvenal The honest answer is I don't know.   I have no fundamental objection to it, or anything else that helps our offense.   But if they elect to do it some (or often), I want them to be good at it.  Doing it just to do it doesn't make sense to me.


To the extent that depth along the defensive line is a concern, I don't see how running plays faster and opening ourselves up to more defensive plays helps much, though.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Birmingham__Jacket @AugustaJacket

"you are delusional."

____________________________________


Fact 1.  4 sacks vs Clemson and 5 sacks vs uga.  Our DL did well in the trenches.


Fact 2.  248 yds rushing (5.5 ypc) vs Clemson and 263 yds rushing (4.5 ypc) against uga.  Our OL did well in the trenches.


Fact 3.  237 yds rushing (4.6 ypc) and 3 sacks against BYU.  OL and DL did well there.


These three facts prove unsubstantiated opinion A, "we struggle in the trenches" patently false.  


There are many reasons we lost those ball games last year.  vastly inferior play in the trenches is not one of them.


Also, please use facts when debating.  Otherwise you keep looking foolish when facts are presented that prove your opinions without merit.

juvenal
juvenal

@GeorgeStein only if we score....may let a hot combo of As & WRs to stay in instead of being messengers.......

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@birdrow 

I heard that's what your shrink says about you after every appointment you have with him.  It must get awfully boring for him; I hope he charges a lot.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@AugustaJacket Bust his Butt like the crybaby he is. 

B_J just stay off the blogs until 2016 when you MIGHT get your wish for CPJ to be gone. 

Don't see TECH changing coaches after the 14 season heading into the killer 15 season unless The JACKETS only win 5 games in 14.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@AugustaJacket @Birmingham__Jacket

Did you even watch the UGA game in OT?  Why don't you ask Mike Bobo how tough he thinks our DL is.  It was so tough he couldn't decide which play to run.  So he just handed the ball to his HB 6 or 7 times in row for 14 pts.  There wasn't a DL within 20 feet of him after the holes were opened.  

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@juvenal I don't believe in the concept of "hot." If we turn it over or punt, the defense goes out again fast, too.   

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@juvenal

By "it," I was referring to GTBee.  Don't like addressing "it" as a man or even a fellow human.  Learned that from super when he addresses wienie as "ma'am."

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Birmingham__Jacket @AugustaJacket Getting beat on 4-6 plays in overtime is what you are hanging your hat on?  And that doesn't even begin to explain Clemson or BYU.


Again, facts.  Yes, Overtime was rough.  But that is what usually happens to EVERY team.  The longer you play, the more advantage the OLine hasover the Defense.  


Keep trying though.  You may stumble onto the truth eventually.