Tuesday Tech Review: Breakdown of B-backs

Georgia Tech B-back Marcus Allen will start preseason camp at the top of the depth chart.

Georgia Tech B-back Marcus Allen is in a three-way competition with Patrick Skov and Marcus Marshall to earn the starting job. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Monday, Georgia Tech quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook gave an evaluation of the three B-backs remaining in the competition to win the starting job. The overriding reality is that all three – Marcus Allen, Patrick Skov and Marcus Marshall – have a lot to learn.

“We’re still at practice 10, and the three guys that are getting the majority of the work, they haven’t gotten the work before, so it’s still just practice 10 (overall) for them,” Cook said. “Even Marcus Allen, in the springtime, he probably only had three practices there, too, so we’re still real early with those guys. They’re still learning. With every rep, they can’t get enough live repetitions. They’re getting better.”

Cook said he would hope Skov could be similar to Zach Laskey – physical and rarely tackled for a loss.

“That’s what you’d hope for, a kid that’s built like that,” Cook said. “I think that’s kind of how he sees himself. He’s tough, he’s not going to avoid contact.”

Skov is 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds and solidly built. Laskey was listed at 6-1, 218 last season.

Regarding Allen, Cook said that “he’s a guy that has been in the program for a while now. He plays fast, he knows what to do. He’s a veteran guy. He’s not afraid.”

Marshall, Cook said, has “got really good feet. He’s got a burst. He’s an acceleration. He’s still working on a lot of things – technique, ball security, all the things that are really fundamental to the position.”

It may be the case that Marshall has the highest ceiling of the three but the least experience. Cook made the point that, despite the perception of the position, there is plenty to learn.

“The B-back does more than just run the dive for us,” he said. “Despite what people think, there’s a lot to that job description. He’s still working on completing all the different things.”

The trio are rotating to give each practice time with all of the quarterbacks. The group was lightened Monday with the move of Mikell Lands-Davis to A-back. The pecking order, Cook said, is assessed daily.

My sense of things is that, barring one of the three taking control soon, they’ll all play early, particularly in the first two games (Alcorn State and Tulane) with coaches hoping that one emerges. At that point, Quaide Weimerskirch, whose foot injury in the spring prompted Allen’s return to B-back, is expected back. An early enrollee, hwould seem a candidate to redshirt, given that he’ll a) need to return to game shape; b) isn’t that far himself along the learning curve. But, plenty can happen between now and then.

Tech No. 19 by Sports Illustrated

Tech is ranked No. 19 in the Sports Illustrated preseason ranking, third highest among ACC teams behind Florida State at No. 9 and Clemson at No. 12. The preview of the Jackets isn’t the most insightful, but it does have an interesting quote from a coach speaking behind the curtain of anonymity.

“Game-planning for their offense is totally different. Nothing you do during the course of your season is going to help you. Planning for them can actually put you behind with other teams.”

It’s nothing groundbreaking, but the last part was interesting, the idea that preparing for Tech actually hinders a team over the remainder of the season. It didn’t hold up much last season. Tech’s first 11 opponents in 2014 were 9-2 in their next game, including 4-2 in conference games.

Stewart impressing early

One of the bright spots among the incoming freshman class thus far is wide receiver Brad Stewart. Coach Paul Johnson has mentioned him at least twice since camp began, including at media day.

“He really adjusts to the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s got great ball skills. He’s got good feet. I think his challenge is to become a little more physical, to make that transition, but we’re excited about him. He’s everything I thought he was. He’s a good athlete.”

At wide receiver, it seems a little unclear after Micheal Summers and Ricky Jeune, both on track to start. Johnson hasn’t been enthralled with Antonio Messick, saying he need to play more physically. Stewart, it would appear, will get a clear shot at playing time.

New in ’15: Stewart brings impressive transcript, highlight reel

Searcy moving up

As reported Monday night, A-back Qua Searcy has moved to the front of the pack at A-back. Johnson said that, if the season were to start today, Searcy and Broderick Snoddy would be the starters. Searcy would be the first freshman to start at A-back since Roddy Jones in 2008.

“He’s very athletic, he’s good with the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s a good receiver. He’s got to work on some other facets and get better, but Qua’s going to play a bunch. He’s definitely going to be in the A-back rotation.”

Tech ratio changing

When the semester begins Monday, the freshman class will have a 59/41 male/female ratio. In the 2014 fall semester, the ratio was 66/34. Five years ago, the freshman class was 70/30. Tech is safely within Title IX compliance mandates for athletics, but should the trend continue, it could have implications.

Adding a women’s sport is a possible outcome, though not the only option, and it would likely be years off. At an athletic association board meeting in June, school president G.P. “Bud” Peterson mentioned three potential women’s sports additions if the school were in a situation to do so – soccer, lacrosse and crew. The ACC sponsors competition in all three. The challenge with the first two would be space.

Peterson has been mindful of the possibility. When Roe Stamps Field, an on-campus recreational field, was renovated two years ago, it was done so in a way that the facility would meet NCAA specifications for women’s soccer or lacrosse. However, the field doesn’t have any seating, though there are provisions for it.

Tech has a strong crew club. Space would be less of an issue, as the team trains on the Chattahoochee River, but a new team would still require office space and weight-lifting accommodations. Given the budget and space constraints, and the fact that a new team would not create any appreciable revenue to offset costs, the changing ratio is something the school and department is undoubtedly tracking.

Cheeks at Kennesaw State

Former Tech defensive end Chaz Cheeks is now at Kennesaw State and will play for the Owls in their debut season. Kennesaw State is coached by former Tech assistant Brian Bohannon. Cheeks left the team following the 2014 season.

On the topic of transfers, former Georgia Tech linebacker Anthony Harrell, who transferred to Florida after being suspended in the summer, has run into some tough luck in Gainesville, Fla. He is in a walking boot after a foot injury and has been held out of practice.

Message from Cottrell

Freshman A-back Nate Cottrell sent out a message to friends, family and Tech fans from his Twitter account following the news that he is out for the season with a knee injury.

https://twitter.com/nathancottrell5/status/630915002808070144

Message from Johnson

The coach recorded this video to promote the department’s new account on Snapchat, a video-messaging smartphone app.

Georges-Hunt working on form

Georgia Tech forward Marcus Georges-Hunt has found a way to make use of his rehabilitation time as he recovers from his broken foot. Georges-Hunt, who is scheduled to return with the team from its week trip to the Bahamas for three exhibition games, watched video of his shooting form from last season and picked up on a technical flaw.

“Sometimes my elbow was going out instead of just staying straight in, keeping it in the pocket,” Georges-Hunt said. “That’s one big reason. And I was letting it go on the way down (instead of at the apex of his jump) when I was shooting.”

Georges-Hunt shot 28.8 percent from 3-point range, contributing to the Jackets’ overall 26.7 percent rate from 3-point range, 343rd out of 345 Division I teams in the NCAA. He actually finished well, hitting 12 of 28 3-point attempts (42.9 percent) in his last 10 games.

Georges-Hunt, who has yet to be cleared, has worked on his form by shooting from a chair at a 10-foot goal, concentrating on keeping his elbow in.

Coach Brian Gregory said that Georges-Hunt should be cleared to practice by the start of fall workouts shortly after the start of the semester.

Tech, Gregory seeking benefit from Bahamas trip

Fan day warrior

I don’t know if you’d call this person the winner of Tech’s fan day, held Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but it deserves mention. In a story on the Tech website, writer Jon Cooper found a Tech grad who lives in Las Vegas and who took a red-eye flight Friday night to make the event, and then planned to return home Saturday night.

“I want (the quarterbacks’) autographs to show my kids 30 years down the road,” Haynes Killen told Cooper.

Last 20

Georgia Tech front four holding steady

Georgia Tech’s search for right guard continues

Nate Cottrell out for year, Mikell Lands-Davis moves to A-back

‘Football nerd’ Sean Bedford takes spot in Tech radio booth

5 things I learned at Georgia Tech media day

After scrimmage, Paul Johnson not happy with offensive line

Georgia Tech aims to lead again in rushing, third-down rate

‘Battle’ underway at Georgia Tech B-back competition

Georgia Tech seeking consistency from Micheal Summers (myajc)

Tech A-back Nate Cottrell sidelined with injury

Bedford to replace Jones in radio booth

Tech playing in NIT Season Tip-Off

Tech has 75/1 odds to win CFP

Johnson on first full-pads practice: ‘A mile to go’

7 camp notes from offensive line coach Mike Sewak

3 camp notes from Justin Thomas

(Late) Tuesday Tech Review: David Sims joins coaching ranks

For a change, depth for Tech on defensive line

Justin Thomas to take part in contact drills

Heat challenges Jackets, who go in full pads next


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