So the first week of spring practice at Georgia Tech is completely over. And what a wild week it was. From threats of potential spying (check the entry for March 26, and yes, many of those allegations are true), to a sudden weeklong monsoon in the metro-area, the opening week of spring practice 2009 will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Quickly, on the spying thing. I'm not one to say that there are actually spies from other teams being sent to Georgia Tech's practices, but fans, if you are attending future practices at Rose Bowl Fields, do use some kind of discretion with what you watch. The Yellow Jackets have enacted a policy prohibiting media and fans from taking video and still pictures past the first 30 minutes of practice. Yeah, the rule may sound unfair, but it's a rule nonetheless that Georgia Tech has inacted in order to protect the sanctity of it's workouts. OK, on that point, I'm done. The word is out.
Now on to the rain. How crazy was it?! I mean, as I was driving from the scrimmage just now, there was this one question on my mind: "Can the word 'blizzard' be applied to rainshowers, too?" Because that was all I was, er- wasn't, seeing. In front of me, the cars' brake lights were hazy, it was foggy everywhere, rain was everywhere... I felt like I was in a blizzard, but with rain. How does that work?
OK, so I digress (and I'm pretty sure you can't call a rainstorm a blizzard of rain). But it certainly was a good thing for Georgia Tech's sake that it was able to get into some indoor facility this week. With a damp and soggy Rose Bowl Fields, there likely would have been very little positive work the Yellow Jackets could have gotten in to get better.
While I'm not sure whether they feel they got better at the end of this week or not, I do know that is their No. 1 goal in this spring season. Co-offensive line coach Todd Spencer on Wednesday was barking to linemen who had missed assignments and shouted, "We want to get better every single day! Every play, it's about getting better, guys!" Now, if you've met the on-field Todd Spencer, you'll understand just how meanacing that sounds coming from his gruff voice. The off-field Todd Spencer, however, is a much different story. Very personable.
During today's (Saturday's) scrimmage, the first of the spring for the Yellow Jackets, plenty of good and bad was seen, head coach Paul Johnson said. Below, I'll run down a list of both "the good," and some things the Yellow Jackets may consider "the bad."
1) Seeing a number of incoming recruits. I didn't count all of them, but at least four of them were at Flowery Branch both Friday and Saturday. I recognized a few, but I'm told in all, Ray Beno, Will Jackson, Izaan Cross and Daniel Drummond were among those in attendance. For the Yellow Jackets, it's good these guys become instantly familiar with Johnson's style of coaching, as well as the way the team works out.
2) Nesbitt early. Early in the day, quarterback Josh Nesbitt was fairly smooth, passing 6-for-10 with a couple of key completions. On one 35-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas, he ran around during what looked like a broken play before finding the former West Laurens standout. Following his first 10 attempts, however, Nesbitt hit a visible wall and got tired. He only completed one of his next five passes.
3) Anthony Allen's wheels. On one play during Nesbitt's second drive under center, Allen came out of the flat and caught a short pass, before putting a nasty cut on linebacker Sedric Griffin. Catching the ball with his momentum taking him to his right, Allen stopped suddenly, juked left and advanced the ball an extra 5-10 yards on an 18-yard reception. At the end of play, Griffin was left on the ground.
4) Paul Reese. As you'll see in my Notebook online tomorrow, and in tomorrow's edition of The Telegraph, Reese, a sophomore who was a former walk-on, made a big name for himself Saturday. Catching a 37-yard toss from Jaybo Shaw, he leaped high over his defender, and made an interesting cut back to his left to retrieve a pass that got the recruits and other spectators ooohing and ahhhing. The next play, he ran an option pitch to his left for 11 yards and another first down.
5) Tevin Washington. The third-string, redshirt freshman quarterback was (by my unofficial count) 3-for-3 with 73 yards passing. He also hit senior A-back Jonathan Malone with a 43-yard touchdown pass. Washington's feet were just as impressive, as he ran a 38-yard option keeper once, and scurried for a couple of more quarterback runs. After practice, Johnson, as you'll also see in tomorrow's Telegraph, was very pleased with Washington's performance.
6) In all, four touchdowns were scored, and a 28-yard field goal was made by backup placekicker Cody Hutchings.
7) The defensive line. Aggressive and fast, the defensive line didn't really seem to have missed a beat from last spring. Early in the scrimmage, ends and tackles were all in the backfield causing disruption for Nesbitt and Shaw, and even forced themselves onto some fumbles. While it is still young, the line looked sharp, anchored by performances from T.J. Barnes, Robert Hall and Derrick Morgan. Sophomore Logan Walls also got some time playing on both first- and second-team units.
1) Fumblitis, bad snaps. Again, by my unofficial count, there were eight offensive fumbles Saturday, three of which were recovered. Three of those fumbles were also the result of bad center-to-quarterback exchanges, as botched handoffs between Shaw and backup centers Nick McRae and Zach Fraysier led to the ball being placed on the ground. It isn't cause for alarm right now for Johnson, who is understanding right now (both centers are freshmen, he said, and one had never played center before last Monday).
2) Missed deflections in the secondary.
3) Secondary hurt by the longball.
4) A few dropped passes.
5) Lack of defensive scoring opportunities.
OK, so I kept "the bad" to a minimum. In part, I didn't want to paint too bleak a picture for you Jackets fans, and also because I personally couldn't think of too much that stood out as just downright bad. Sure, there were some small moments where other things happened, but none of them stood out as much as those four things. If you were to ask the coaches, I'm sure they would tell you otherwise.
Alright, that's all I've got for today. We'll have more recaps and analysis come next week. Sunday we'll take off from Tech coverage as the team rests, but I'll be back live from Atlanta on Monday afternoon for practice No. 5.
Also, log onto twitter.com/macontechtalk and check me out! There, I regularly post brief Tech-related updates, as well. And you're not late to that, I've only been doing it about a week, but already I have a strong following. Come be a part of it! And tell a friend!
Thanks for stopping by, check in with you guys next week!