ATLANTA — When Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson announced his two permanent team captains last week, he said he would also give two other players that same honor on a rotating, week-to-week basis.
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By Thursday afternoon, he should have an idea who those first two temporary captains will be.
“I’ll probably have the staff pick one on offense and one on defense,” Johnson said.
Earlier this preseason he named starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt and inside linebacker Brad Jefferson — both native Middle Georgians — the Yellow Jackets’ permanent captains. But joining them each game for the coin toss will be another two players, likely both seniors.
The Yellow Jackets have 16 scholarship seniors on their roster.
For Jefferson, the honor of being declared a captain extends beyond the coin toss and even beyond the field.
“Being the team captain, a lot of work comes along into it,” Jefferson told The Telegraph last week. “People just see captains just walk out on the field, but it’s a lot back in the background. They (other players) can call me whenever they’re in trouble or something, I’ve just got to be there with them.”
Embattled Heels prepare
This has been the summer of rumor and intrigue, claim and counter-claim and absolute mystery in college football.
And much of it has fallen in Butch Davis’ lap.
The North Carolina head coach has had to deal this offseason with rampant allegations of misconduct by his players. First, it was the agent soap opera, as agents and their runners were alleged to have provided benefits at parties to current Tar Heels. Then, there was the academic fraud scandal that rocked Chapel Hill, N.C. to the core.
The fallout from the academic issue still hasn’t been resolved with the NCAA reviewing the matter. Several players allegedly had papers written for them by Davis’ nanny. As a result, some believe the NCAA will suspend them multiple games. If that happens, they likely would miss North Carolina’s Sept. 18 home opener against Georgia Tech.
On Wednesday, during the first weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference, Davis remained mum about the dark cloud hanging over his program.
At the start of his comments Wednesday, he said he didn’t “have the ability to answer questions” unless they “relate to the LSU game.”
The Tar Heels play the Tigers in Atlanta on Saturday as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the Georgia Dome.
Davis went on to add that the program was in “holding mode” until the NCAA finished its review process. Some reports from North Carolina indicate that process could be completed within the next day or so.
Regardless of the circumstances, Davis said his team has trudged on admirably in preparing for LSU.
“We had our first practice for the week (Tuesday) and you could tell the difference; you could see it was game week,” Davis said. “They understand, it’s time to go and play and put the distractions behind us.”
Hokies’ tough openers
The last two season openers have been anything but easy for Virginia Tech.
In 2008, the Hokies were upset by an upstart East Carolina program. The next year, they lost to Alabama on prime-time, Georgia Dome stage as part of the nationally-televised Chick-fil-A Kickoff. They lost that game, too.
Now, with a new year and another big program looming on the horizon for their first game, the Hokies are hoping to learn from their most recent mistakes.
“You learn it usually gets down to a play or two in games like this,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said on Wednesday’s teleconference.
The Hokies lost the East Carolina game by five points, the Alabama contest by 10.
This season, Boise State looms with another nationally-televised opportunity for the 10th-ranked Hokies, as the third-ranked Broncos visit presumed neutral FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Happening in Virginia Tech’s neighboring state, the contest is expected to have much more of a hometown feel for the Hokies than the Broncos of the Mountain West.
But even despite the geographical advantage, Beamer knows that against such a big-time opponent, this game could go either way.
“I see pluses and minuses when you play a team like Boise State,” Beamer said. “In the summer, your preseason practices are better, you prepare better.”
Programs with uniform contracts tied to Nike on Wednesday had a chance to unveil a series of new looks their teams will sport this season. Some variations of the uniforms were worn by various programs during the late-season and bowl schedule last year.
Two ACC programs in particular were among the new-look recipients: Virginia Tech and Miami.
At times this season, Miami will don an all orange uniform known as the Nike Pro Combat that features searing designs and stripes. The Hurricanes will also wear green helmets with those uniforms.
The Hokies unveiled a new black uniform that features similar futuristic pipings and designs. The numerals on the jerseys are in orange, while the helmets are a metallic black with the maroon “VT” logo featured prominently on the sides. As a tribute to Virginia Tech’s military programs, those uniforms will be worn Monday night.
“The players picked them out,” Beamer said. “But we’re very excited about it and it’s done to honor our ROTC program. It’s all good and it’s something different to start off the year.”
Shout out to whom?
During Johnson’s portion of the teleconference, the Georgia Tech head coach was asked about South Carolina State and its strong performances in the last two seasons.
“You don’t win 20 games in two years without having good players, knowing what you’re doing and having a good system,” Johnson said.
While he may have been trying to describe the Bulldogs, winners of back-to-back MEAC championships, Johnson could have easily been talking about another team — his.
In the two years since he took over the program, Johnson has led Georgia Tech to 20 wins and has sent multiple players to the NFL. His system, a spread option-based offense, is also very unique. Because of the Yellow Jackets’ success, some may even call it good, too.