Georgia Tech

Changes may be coming for Georgia Tech linebackers

Georgia Tech defender Brant Mitchell sacks UGA quarterback Greyson Lambert during the 2015 clash at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech defender Brant Mitchell sacks UGA quarterback Greyson Lambert during the 2015 clash at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech is exploring ways to get middle linebackers Brant Mitchell and Bruce Jordan-Swilling on the field at the same time.

The Georgia Tech defense got a boost last week from the return of Mitchell. After missing nearly a month with a lower body injury, Mitchell came back to lead the team in tackles in the upset over Virginia Tech and was honored by the ACC as co-Linebacker of the Week.

But Mitchell’s return also limited the playing time for freshman Jordan-Swilling, who had a team-leading 11 tackles the previous week against Virginia. Jordan-Swilling played against Virginia Tech, but he did not make a tackle for the first time since the season opener against Tennessee.

So earlier this week, coach Paul Johnson floated an idea to defensive coordinator Ted Roof that might enable both Mitchell and Jordan-Swilling to be on the field at the same time.

“I mentioned to coach Roof that I thought it would be a good idea to kind of cross-train Brant” at middle linebacker and outside linebacker, Johnson said. “Then if something happens, you could put him in at the same time, and it also gives you a three-man rotation.”

Jordan-Swilling and Mitchell have only played in the middle. The outside spots have been manned by Victor Alexander and Terrell Lewis, with sophomore Tyler Cooksey and freshman T.D. Roof also getting some time.

“Bruce has been really productive when he’s played, and so has Brant,” Johnson said. “I just think it makes everybody better when you can give someone a series off, and Brant would probably be the guy to cross-train. That way Vic plays his spot and Bruce can play the one spot and Brant would be the guy, being a little bit more experienced, that could rotate.

“I don’t know if we’ll do it this week, but it’s something. … All those guys will be back next year.”

Another game unlikely: The odds of Georgia Tech adding a 12th game have not gotten any better. The Yellow Jackets would like to pick up another game to make up for the contest against Central Florida, which was canceled because of Hurricane Irma.

Georgia Tech and Georgia State almost had a deal last month, but Georgia State needed to move a game and its opponent would not agree. The Yellow Jackets have tried to find an FBS opponent. An FCS game would not count since they’ve already played Jacksonville State.

“Our administration called and called several people, but we couldn’t find anybody that wanted to play,” Johnson said.

The bowl picture: Georgia Tech can become bowl eligible if it wins on Saturday. A victory would enable the Yellow Jackets to finish second in the ACC’s Coastal Division. For now the Yellow Jackets would likely land in the Independence Bowl, the Military Bowl or the Quick Lane Bowl. Georgia Tech last played in the Independence Bowl in 2010. It has never played in the Military or Quick Lane bowls.

The bowl prospects would improve greatly if the Yellow Jackets win both remaining games against Duke and Georgia. At that point, the Belk Bowl, Sun Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl or Music City Bowl become better options.

Grant Field cited: The playing surface at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, now known as Grant Field, was named college football’s Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association. The field hosted the first nine matches for the Atlanta United soccer team and was the site of 20 major events. The organization honors the “safest and most playable natural grass surfaces.”

Georgia Tech’s Chris May, the director of grounds and turf maintenance, was previously honored by the organization for his work at Russ Chandler Stadium in 2014.