With the first two weeks of preseason preparation completed, Georgia Tech has started to shift its focus toward specifically getting ready to play Boston College in the season opener. That was the emphasis early this week, as the team prepares for its trip to Ireland.
“We spent a lot of time introducing some of the Boston College stuff, especially defensively for us,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “Offensively, we do what we do. We’ve been practicing against some of their stuff.”
The defense will have an unusual task. The Yellow Jackets haven’t played Boston College since 2012, before Steve Addazio became the head coach. To further complicate matters, the Eagles are breaking in a new offensive coordinator (Scot Loeffler) and a new quarterback (Patrick Towles).
Loeffler was the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech from 2013-15. He was also the offensive coordinator at Auburn (2012) and Temple (2011) and the quarterbacks coach at Florida (2009-10). He has tutored seven quarterbacks who went on to play in the NFL, most recently Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech.
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“We’ll watch the Virginia Tech film,” Johnson said. “We don’t usually watch people. It’s more about schemes and what they do. I’m sure they’ll mix and match. Hopefully, you have a package and practice your defense so you don’t get surprised.”
Loeffler will try to work his magic with Towles, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound graduate transfer who started for Kentucky and threw for 5,099 and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. Towles is expected to solidify a position that was unstable a year ago and grow with Loeffler as the new system is put into place.
Boston College isn’t expected to deviate from its run-oriented attack. The Eagles have some good running backs in the fold. Jon Hilliman ran for 860 yards and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2014 but played only four games last year before being beset by an injury. Marist product Myles Willis is on the brink of a breakout season.
Georgia Tech is hoping another year of experience will allow the defensive front to put more pressure on the quarterback. The Yellow Jackets had just 14 sacks a year ago.
“It’s hard to say when you play against yourself,” Johnson said. “You just play and try to get guys individually better and see who is on the two-deep and who is going to pay when the season gets started.”
Injury report: Trey Klock and Jake Stickler were both back at practice Monday. Klock is the likely starter at right tackle, and Stickler is expected to be in the rotation. Still out is backup center Andrew Marshall, another who should be in the mix.
The schedule: Johnson will give the team the weekend off and begin to dial practice back. The Yellow Jackets will work out on Monday, Tuesday and Aug. 31, arrive in Ireland on Sept. 1 and play Sept. 3.
“Both teams have to do the same thing,” Johnson said.