OK, I've got to begin this post with a little bit of an apology to you good Georgia Tech folks. As you may (or may not) have noticed, there were no updates from practice this past Wednesday. Yes, that's because I wasn't there, and No, I didn't want to miss it. Unfortunately for you guys, I had to zip back down I-75 to Macon to tend to some things for the paper there. Blame it all on the crumbling industry.
But that was last week, and now we're closing it down and embarking on another. That was the only practice I missed this spring, and by golly, it'll for sure be the last. I caught Friday's high-strung workout, and was in attendance earlier this morning (Saturday), catching the final tune-up before next weekend's T-Day Spring Game. Oh, and with the game coming up this week, I'll try to provide you guys with some updates on game day protocol as I hear things. I'll post all that info here on the blog, and maybe some in my notebooks this week. The game is free and open to the public.
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So let's get to it.
Of course, the highlight of the scrimmage came on just the first series, when starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt went down with an unclear injury. After the practice, head coach Paul Johnson told the small few media types that Nesbitt likely hurt himself when he was tackled at the end of an option keeper run. He said it doesn't appear to be major, although, he did go on to add that he wasn't sure if Nesbitt "seperated" his shoulder. Separation sounds kind of serious, but we'll stick with the old ball coach on this one for now; expect Nesbitt to return to practice late this week, and to participate in the T-Day Game.
Before he left the scrimmage, Nesbitt looked pretty strong. He was 1-for-2 passing, completing a 6-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas. He also ran the ball well, rushing for nearly 40 yards on just four carries. Moving the team down the field, he was poised to take the Yellow Jackets offense into the end zone.
But when he left the field, the drive did not stall. Backup Jaybo Shaw entered and right away took the Yellow Jackets to a touchdown, scoring three plays after his entry on a 10-yard touchdown run to his right.
When it was on, the quarterback play was solid Saturday, as it did all the scoring -- minus a 36-yard field goal by Chris Tanner. Shaw ran for three touchdowns, while third-string signal-caller Tevin Washington -- who also played some with the second teams -- ran for another.
Another thing to note from the workout was the fact that Georgia Tech rotated a ton of players into various positions, competing with hybrids of the first and second teams. Some of that was done to accomodate the quarterback switch, but it also was done to give the players as many game-speed looks as they can get before next week's Spring Game.
At cornerback, Rashad Reid, Jerrard Tarrant and Michael Peterson revolved into the position with both units, playing alongside sure-fire starter, Mario Butler. At "Wolf," accomodating Cooper Taylor's absence due to knee injury, linebackers Mario Edwards and Steven Sylvester played significant time at the outside linebacker/extra defensive back position. At receiver, filing in for an injured Tyler Melton, receivers Kevin Cone and Quentin Sims seemed to get a lot of playing opportunities, playing alongside top receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Alright, with all that done, let's take a look at our weekly Good and Bad:
~Jaybo Shaw. Had good reads in the option game, made his pitches at just the right times, and held onto the ball when he needed to. He's continuing to grow into the offense, and has shaken some of the problems he had at the start of the spring; namely, turnovers. A part of three fumbles during the first scrimmage, Shaw only had one Saturday.
~Marcus Wright. A 5-foot-8 A-back (personally, I think he's closer to 5'7, 5'6...) from Texas, Wright is beginning to emerge as a valuable piece of Johnson's offense. On Saturday, he had a few strong runs for positive yards, and even came away with one of the big highlights of the day, when he uprooted Reid on a low block during a 14-yard run by Anthony Allen.
~Bay-Bay's block. Wright wasn't the only one laying big hits. Demaryius Thomas, a former West Laurens standout, said a rude "Hello" to fellow Middle Georgian Brad Jefferson early in the scrimmage. With Nesbitt scrambling, Jefferson was closing in on a big tackle-for-loss opportunity. But little did the Johnson County native know, Thomas was lurking close by. Thomas lowered his shoulder, and gave Jefferson a hard bone-rattling block that left the linebacker stunned, and the spectators ooohing and ahhhing. Definitely the big highlight of the day.
~"National Championship." Maybe this one should be at the top of this list. But this should bode well for you Yellow Jackets fans. The team's focus is in the right place. As Georgia Tech wrapped up its team huddle at the end of the scrimmage, the players shouted the words "National Championship," and broke the huddle. That is their top goal coming into next season.
~Lucas Cox. He was out Friday with a thigh injury, but returned to action Saturday. On one run, he cut back across the field for a 27-yard first-down scamper. He was brought down some three yards shy of a touchdown. On the next play, Shaw took it in for a score.
~Nesbitt's injury. It may be mild, and it may be minor, but an injury to the starting quarterback is never a good thing. Judging from what Johnson said about the injury, one would think Nesbitt would be out for at least a few days while they let the injury heal before the Spring Game. Of course, he missed nearly all of spring practice last season following a hamstring injury.
~Kicking game. In fairness, the Yellow Jackets have barely done any work this spring on their kicking game, but like last fall, it has become the bane of their existence this spring. For the second consecutive week, a kicker missed an extra point during the scrimmage. Sure, it's nothing to be alarmed about -- especially considering the fact that some of these guys are young, walk-ons, and are backups trying out for a spot.
~Fumbles. The fumbles went back up Saturday, as the Yellow Jackets committed five, unofficially. Washington was the culprit behind a few of those as he bumped into offensive linemen at times, jarring the ball loose, and misread pitches and handoffs to his ballcarriers. Johnson even got on him one time for making a bad read and tossing a poor pitch to A-back Jonathan Malone.
OK, that's all the updates I have for you guys today. Continue to check back to macon.com throughout the week as I'll be filling you all in as we head to the Spring Game. Also, follow me on twitter.com/macontechtalk for constant updates on Georgia Tech football. Thanks for stopping by!