A bit late in the week, but comments from offensive line coach Mike Sewak:
1. He was very pleased with right guard Shaquille Mason’s performance against Wofford, saying he was strong technically, creating movement at the line of scrimmage, advancing to the linebacker level and “coming off the ball and putting people on their backs.”
Mason was credited with putting a team-high 12 defenders to the ground, out of 57 for the team.
“You can tell he’s worked real hard,” Sewak said.
2. Likewise, right tackle Chris Griffin, who was next to Mason, “played really well with some of the combo blocks, with pass protection. They did a nice job with their footwork, cutting people off on the back side,” Sewak said.
As for center Freddie Burden, “I was pleasantly surprised with Freddie,” Sewak said. “He was in a competitive situation. He didn’t always do right, but there was a little bit more fight in him than I had seen in the past. I think he had that nervous energy about him.”
Sewak added that Burden played well against the starting nose tackle, and then adjusted his game when a backup came in and continued to maintain an advantage in leverage. Both Burden and Griffin made their first career starts in their first career games.
Johnson also was complimentary of Griffin and Burden, saying “both probably played as good or better than some of the guys who’ve played.”
3. Left guard Trey Braun and left tackle Bryan Chamberlain “still need some work,” Sewak said. “I thought they did some good things at times.” B-back Zach Laskey ran behind them for the game’s opening touchdown.
Sewak said the team “needed more than we got from them” when they were at the point of attack.
4. Sewak said he was “very disappointed” not to be able to play any second-team linemen. Coach Paul Johnson said at least some of the second string will get into the Tulane game, and that center Andrew Marshall “might be the one freshman who probably does play this week.” Other freshmen on the No. 2 line are tackle Trey Klock and guard Shamire Devine.
5. Of Tulane defensive tackles Corey Redwine (from Creekside High) and Tanzel Smart, he noted their strength and size superiority over Wofford’s linemen.
“They eat up more space,” he said. He liked ends Royce LaFrance and Tyler Gilbert and linebacker Nico Marley (whose father Rohan played for Miami and whose grandfather was Bob Marley).
The defense is apt to shift around pre-snap, he said, “so you have to rely on your rules and take a good first step and read and react to how the defense unfolds.”
Coaches weren’t sure of how Tulane will line up defensively, as occasionally happens with Tech opponents. Typically, the opposing defensive coordinator is someone Johnson has faced before, or he has played against a similar offense, such as Navy or Air Force, which gives coaches an idea of how the defense will line up.
Johnson and Sewak had both faced Wofford and coach Mike Ayers when both were at Georgia Southern. Sewak said he and Johnson thought Wofford would start out with one particular look and then switch to another, “and we were very close on both of those assumptions.”
There was no such history with Tulane defensive coordinators Lionel Washington and Jon Sumrall. Coaches looked for clues within the option plays that Rice, UT-San Antonio and Louisiana-Lafayette ran against the Green Wave last season.
“This is a completely new group,” Sewak said. “I’d like to say, ‘Hey, they’re going to line up exactly like this,’ but I think we have to prepare for four different defenses.”