Spring football is finished and in the books at Georgia Tech. Head coach Paul Johnson is busy wrapping up a series of post-practice conferences with his players. Johnson and the other staff members will be on the road Monday to start visiting recruits.
With the first game against Alcorn State awaiting on Sept. 1, and with fall camp still three-plus months away, there remain questions about what’s ahead for the Georgia Tech football program. Here are five things we learned from spring practice.
Good progress for 3-4 scheme
The new 3-4 defensive scheme has progressed well. It will allow players to play and react. It will likely lead to more negative plays, but will also offer big-play opportunities for the opposition.
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“The difference (from the 4-3 defense) is everybody out there knows what they’re supposed to be doing,” sophomore linebacker Jaquan Henderson said. “Not a lot of thinking. That’s the main thing. Guys are making plays and putting guys in position to make a play.”
Up in the air for backup QB
The backup quarterback job is still undetermined. Warner Robins native Tobias Oliver got a lot of reps in the spring when Lucas Johnson missed time with an injury. But Johnson had a nice spring game (143 yards passing, one touchdown), while Oliver struggled behind the third-team offensive line. But neither has a chance of surpassing starter TaQuon Marshall, who had a productive spring but missed the spring game because of strep throat.
O-line still huring
The offensive line needs to get healthy. Andrew Marshall was already out with knee surgery and Kenny Cooper went down with an unspecified injury that required surgery. Cooper, who Johnson praised last season, could be back for fall camp. All-ACC candidate Parker Braun and Jake Stickler were sidelined with less serious injuries and did not play the spring game.
The bright spot may have been Jahaziel Lee, the starting tackle, who was moved to center two days before the spring game. Johnson said Lee will continue to work there, too.
“We’ve got to mix and match those guys,” Johnson said. “We’ll continue to work Jahaziel there and if we get Kenny back and Andrew back, we’ll sort it out and get the best five out there.”
Linebackers should flourish
The linebackers may flourish in the new defense. Brant Mitchell and Bruce Jordan-Swilling will start on the inside and the outside guys like Victor Alexander and Henderson have the speed to attack. The group is growing in confidence as they spend more time in the 3-4.
“It’s growing more and more every day,” Mitchell said. “It’ll grow more when I learn what’s going on around me and the defense learns why we’re doing what we’re doing. My comfort level increases day by day. There’s be more meeting time and film studies in the summer and that will help us put one foot in front of the other and keep progressing.”
Roster shaping up
After going through the spring, the staff has a better idea of their two-deep roster. With a solid group of freshman joining the team in the fall, there will be competition at many spots, with opportunities for new faces to play.
“When we start back in the ball we’ll have a good idea of who to work with,” Johnson said. “In spring everybody gets reps and everybody is playing But to be honest, there are guys who played the whole (spring) game and when it comes to fall camp, they won’t get any reps.”