1. Georgia Southern will receive $700,000 for playing. When then-athletic director Dan Radakovich and then-Georgia Southern athletic director made the agreement in 2009 to play this year, there was no agreed-upon compensation because there was uncertainty if Georgia Southern would move up to FBS or not, senior associate athletic director Ryan Bamford said FBS schools receive considerably more for guarantee games than FCS teams, as they’re more prominent opponents. Wofford received $250,000 to play Tech two weeks ago, for instance.
2. Freshman B-back C.J. Leggett will not play Saturday. Coaches have been watching him closely in practice the past couple of weeks, trying to determine if he is ready to contribute. He has been promising, but an injury set him back in the preseason.
Leggett continues to practice with the “varsity” offense – meaning the players practicing against the scout team, preparing to play – but has not shown enough familiarity with his assignments, coach Paul Johnson said. No decision on playing a true freshman is truly final until the end of the season, as injuries can play a part, but it is looking more likely that he’ll take a redshirt.
Synjyn Days will continue to back up Zach Laskey. Johnson said he’d like to give Days more playing time.
3. Freshman wide receiver Qua Searcy was one of two players to portray Georgia Southern quarterback Kevin Ellison on scout team this week, an acknowledgement of Ellison’s athletic ability. Searcy played wide receiver and defensive back at Lamar County High.
Freshman Chase Martenson, who actually played quarterback at Marist, was the other scout-team quarterback.
4. Defensive end Roderick Rook-Chungong said he is working on his power pass-rush moves. He said that, going against taller, long-armed offensive tackles (Rook-Chungong is listed at 6-foot-3), the speed moves that he feels are his strong suit may not be as effective, so “I have to run through them,” he said.
5. Linebacker Tyler Marcordes is “doing good,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said, as he recovers from a leg injury suffered in the preseason. A projected starter coming out of the spring and seen by some as a potential breakout player, Marcordes played more last Saturday against Tulane than he did in the opener against Wofford.
(I asked Roof “How is Tyler doing?” which gave him pause. “We’ve got so many Tylers,” he answered. Besides Marcordes, he has another Tyler M. – Merriweather, an end – and Tyler Stargel, another end. There’s also walk-on defensive back Tyler Teknipp. That doesn’t even include another walk-on defensive back, Roderick Tyler. According to Social Security data, the name peaked in popularity in the mid-90’s – it was the fifth most popular boys name in 1993 and 1994 – around the time current Tech players were born. Former Tech receiver Tyler Melton undoubtedly approves.)
More germane to Saturday’s game, Roof had a statistic about Georgia Southern at the ready Tuesday – against N.C. State, the Eagles averaged 19.2 yards per completion.
“They’re throwing home run balls,” Roof said, “so our secondary has to do a great job of defending the deep ball and tackling in space this week.”
6. Offensive line coach Mike Sewak on his group’s ability to make changes on the fly: “When we made the adjustment on the sideline, 99 percent of the guys did it and then one percent didn’t. I talk about giving me your eyes on the adjustments when we make the adjustments. I talk about giving me your ears when we’re making error correction on Saturday or we’re going to try to change a scheme. I thought for the most part, they responded by doing what we asked them to do. But I also think there were a couple times when we were just clueless to it. Whether it was a lack of focus, whether it was crowd noise – even when we played at home, I was disappointed in the first game, because we were talking about something, we went out there and messed it up again. You don’t get that opportunity to mess things up. You get one time to fix it and when it gets fixed, it should be fixed for the game.”
7. An interesting stat, courtesy of the Georgia Southern assistant sports information director Rose Carter: Johnson will become the 10th active FBS head coach to have played a former team for which he was also the head coach. The first nine are 10-0 (Nick Saban has beaten both LSU and Michigan State). The others: Maryland’s Randy Edsall (Connecticut), Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (Maine), Michigan’s Brady Hoke (San Diego State), Virginia’s Mike London (Richmond), San Diego State’s Rocky Long (New Mexico), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (Arkansas State), South Carolina’s South Carolina (Florida) and Massachusetts’ Mark Whipple (New Haven).
8. Another tidbit from the Georgia Southern media notes: The “GATA” acronym that has become associated both with Georgia Southern and Georgia has its roots at Tech. As a defensive coordinator at Georgia preparing the Bulldogs to play Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Erk Russell saw the initials “GTAA” – Georgia Tech Athletic Association – and transposed them for his purposes. If you’re wondering, GATA stands for “Get After Their (plural form of a mild profanity).”
9. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports South with Matt Devlin (play-by-play) and former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe (analyst) on the call. I had the opportunity to play golf with Grobe in a scramble at the ACC media days event in 2013. A pretty good golfer and genial person. The thing that stuck with me from our round was that, at some point, he slowed down the cart to pick up some small piece of trash – like a napkin or an empty sleeve of golf balls – and threw it away. It wasn’t any sort of heroic act, obviously, but probably something that nine out of 10 golfers wouldn’t think to do.
The game will be on 1230 AM and 98.9 FM due to the Braves-Rangers game starting at 1:05 p.m.
10. A Georgia Southern poster for Saturday’s game playing off the AMC series “The Walking Dead” went mildly viral on Twitter this week.
The poster, created by the Georgia Southern athletic department, was the idea of football player personnel director Vic Cabral. The Walking Dead is a series set in post-apocalyptic Atlanta. It has zombies in it. My colleague Jeff Schultz likes it. That’s about all I can tell you about it.
The school buses are a Georgia Southern tradition, dating back to when the team actually traveled to road games in school buses due to the program’s meager finances. The team still pulls up to home games in school buses.
I realize it’s not the point, but the team would be choosing an odd way to leave Tech by taking Freedom Parkway.