Georgia Tech

As Georgia Tech sees gains in tackling stats, blocking is still a work in progress

Georgia Tech fans looking to find a rainbow among the team’s poor 1-3 start can find it with an examination of how the team has tackled through the first portion of the season.

Blocking and tackling are the two pillars upon which football success is created. That tenet is echoed by every high school and youth league coach in the country. So, when it comes that those portions of things at Georgia Tech, at least the players have proven they can tackle.

“Every single game we have tackled at a high level,” coach Geoff Collins said. “The guys understand through the trials how to make sure they’re covering for each other and playing up and playing responsibly.”

Linebackers David Curry and Charlie Thomas both understand the need to make tackles. Through four games, Curry has 29 tackles and Thomas has 28. Since 2005, only four others have had more tackles through the first four games, with Macon’s Julian Burnett leading with 36 in 2011.

A side benefit has come from the development of depth. Collins said as many as 30 players are being used on each side of the ball. That cuts down on the amount of playing time, but helps develop depth.

“They embrace it,” he said. “Charlie and Bruce (Jordan-Swilling, another linebacker) both played 42 plays. There was no animosity. Zero stats. They get to play really hard when they’re in there. Same thing on the back end; we’re playing 11-12 defensive backs every game. They know they can play as hard as they can.”

But while the tackling portion has been a positive, Collins said the blocking part remains a work in progress. The transition from blocking in an option-based offense to a spread attack has been more difficult than many expected. Collins said the staff is “chipping away” at the old blocking mindset that had been in place for 11 years during the Paul Johnson Era. And the transition hasn’t been helped by the number of injuries.

“Unfortunately, there have been a lot of moving pieces on the offensive line,” Collins said.

Starting left tackle Jahaziel Lee and center Kenny Cooper are out for the year, but both are eligible to come back for another season and are expected to do so. Lee broke his fibula against The Citadel and Cooper sustained an undisclosed injury at Temple. Mikey Minihan has missed time with injuries. Chronic back issues forced veteran Brad Morgan to quit playing football before the season even began.

As a result, Georgia Tech has used three walk-ons to play substantial minutes this fall: Chet Lagod, Hamp Gibbs and William Lay III.

“If you’d asked them in camp, they probably didn’t see getting on the field much,” Collins said. “Now they’re getting meaningful snaps. When a walk-on has to step up, he does. We’re coaching them at high level and they’re getting better every single day.”

Camp out for the year: Wide receiver Jalen Camp has undergone an undisclosed surgery and will miss the rest of the season. The staff has been managing his lingering issue all season. In four games he has seven receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown, all coming over the last two weeks.

After conferring with Camp and his family, the decision was made to have the surgery and use this season as a redshirt. That will give Camp the chance to return for a full, healthy season.

“Everything we do is for our players,” Collins said. “He has a future in this game and for him to have the best opportunity, we thought it best to have (the surgery). The staff managed Camp’s playing time and he had the surgery on Tuesday.”

Looking ahead:

  • Kickoff for the Duke game on Oct. 12 has been set for 12:30 a.m. in Durham.
  • The Yellow Jackets will wear their new gray uniforms this Saturday against North Carolina.
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