The second scrimmage of the spring season seemed to end a lot better than the first. Participating in an unofficial game workout Saturday morning inside Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Yellow Jackets returned to their home facility for the first time of this early-year workout session. (Last week's scrimmage was scheduled to be held at Bobby Dodd, but rain forced the Yellow Jackets up to Flowery Branch, to the Atlanta Falcons' indoor facility).
Talking to head coach Paul Johnson after the workout, it became apparent that there was a lot more good than bad this week. Last week, however, was defined by a true mixed bag of results as fumbles, botched snaps, and just rough offensive effort combined to give the Yellow Jackets the less-than-successful workout they hoped to see. Now sure, there were some things the Yellow Jackets did Saturday that didn't go quite according to plan, but it is still early in the spring season, and there's still tons of time to correct them.
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Where offense struggled last week, it was the defense's turn to have problems, as the Yellow Jackets' defenders didn't tackle or challenge Georgia Tech's offense quite as much as they had the week before. There were a number of missed tackles (I think of A-back Lucas Cox running through LB Kyle Jackson on one occasion, as well as A-back Marcus Wright slipping a tackle, keeping his balance, and falling forward for a 15-yard gain).
There was one bright spot for the defense, however, and it came on one late series, when defensive lineman Jason Peters leapt up to bat down a Josh Nesbitt pass, and instead held on to the hard-thrown ball, and grabbed it for a 4-yard interception return. It was the defense's only interception of the day.
Talking about Peters reminds me of a conversation I had with AJC Tech beat writer Larry Hartstein at practice earlier today. We were talking about how some of the guys we've written stories about this week were letting us down in the scrimmage and weren't playing like we talked about in our stories, and lo and behold, here was Jason Peters. Earlier this week, co-Tech beat writer for the AJC, Ken Suguira, wrote a piece on Peters about how he's making a case to start at right tackle . So yes, Peters made Ken look good, but what about Larry and I? It was a hard day for some of the guys we talked to this week, and then lo and behold, one of my guys came through.
Earlier this week, I wrote a story about receivers Tyler Melton and Demaryius Thomas, and how their relationship at the position may have a major impact on Tech's offense. I thought it was a good time to talk to both of them because it seemed like they had been enjoying a really strong spring to that point. And then today's scrimmage came. Thomas hauled in a couple of big catches, but none of them were as amazing as one of Melton's plays. Sprinting toward the back of the end zone, Melton leapt high and caught a one-handed pass from quarterback Josh Nesbitt, before coming down in bounds and hauling in a 3-yard touchdown reception. Thanks, Tyler. You made me look good.
Here are a few other "good" sights from The Flats on Saturday:
~Jaybo Shaw. Was a part of three fumbles and botched snaps last week. This week, zero fumbles, and he was 2-for-2 in leading his team to touchdowns.
~Richard Watson. He rushed 13 times and carried the ball unofficially for nearly 80 yards. He also had a short-yardage touchdown.
~Scoring. Last week, Georgia Tech only scored four times. That includes a 28-yard field goal. This week, the Yellow Jackets only scored via the touchdown, and they got seven of those: Shaw ran for one; Nesbitt passed for about a 17-yard TD to Thomas (OK, so Bay-Bay made me look good, too); Nesbitt also passed to Melton for a 3-yard TD; Watson rushed for one; Preston Lyons rushed for two; and Anthony Allen rushed for one.
~Penalties and fumbles down. Not sure if the refs were holding their whistles, or if this is because Georgia Tech is playing a clean game, but there were only three penalties total called. None were for Holding. One was a Chop-Block (still not sure who it was on, but it was on the right side of the starting unit); there was a false start on o-lineman Cord Howard; and there was a rough facemask by Peters. But that was it. And there were only four fumbles, all of which were the result of bad option pitches.
~Marcus Wright. Started at A-back in place of Lucas Cox on Saturday, and had a slew of strong runs, including that 20-yarder where he broke the tackle. Johnson was very impressed with him after practice.
~Nesbitt broken tackle. QB Josh Nesbitt picked up about a 20-yard run on one option keeper when he burst through a hole by shoving his friend, linebacker Brad Jefferson, off of him.
~Jefferson sack. OK, I couldn't leave Jefferson hanging like that. On one of Nesbitt's drives, Jefferson got his revenge, when he jumped into the backfield and leapt toward the quarterback with one hand. Grabbing Nesbitt with his right hand, Jefferson completed a firm sack of his buddy.
OK, that's all I've got on this update. It's such a nice day in Atlanta, that I'm going back outside right now, and I'm going to take it in. Glad you stopped here, and I'll check in with you with updates throughout next week. Be on the lookout, too next week. I'm going to take a slight detour from the hard-news features and try to give you guys some off-beat, unique features on the team. There will still be daily notebooks, so you'll still get your hard news from Tech. Thanks again for stopping by!