Georgia Tech

Jackets brave heat for 'OK' first practice

ATLANTA — When he met with media members Thursday afternoon in the shadows of Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson offered a refrain all too familiar to the veterans in the pad-holding, camera-toting bunch.

Asked how his players looked during their first day of workouts, Johnson gave his trademark polite smile and a shrug and said, “It was OK.”

Similar words were uttered by the coach following the opening days of practices for the last two years.

Always staying even keeled, and not really speaking all that high, and not really speaking all that low about his team, either, he suggested that he got the type of practice that is indicative of a team trying to get back in playing shape under the sweltering glow of a late-summer Georgia sun.

“We were missing a few of the freshmen who were finishing up finals, but I think we got some stuff accomplished for the first day,” Johnson said.

It was a first day that held Johnson and his troops under drastically less of a microscope than they may have been during first-days of the past.

With an ACC championship trophy resting freshly on Georgia Tech’s campus, gone now are the questions wondering if Johnson and his spread option offense can compete at the BCS level. Gone are the questions wondering if the Yellow Jackets’ high expectations should be tempered. Gone, too, are the media and fans sitting on top of the hill, dissecting their every step.

In a rare move earlier this week, Johnson — through his sports information department — announced that practices would be closed to anyone other than players and coaches. Previously, his preseason and spring camps were open to the public.

So now, without people staring at them during every station, how do the Yellow Jackets play?

“It does seem a little different,” B-back Anthony Allen said. “When there’s a big play or someone runs for a long gain or runs like they could score a touchdown, there isn’t anybody up there going ‘ooh and ahh anymore.’”......

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