ATLANTA — At separate parts of Saturday afternoon’s season-opener against South Carolina State, Georgia Tech lost a pair of its starters, when safety Cooper Taylor and offensive lineman Will Jackson were removed from the ballgame.
Jackson’s was the injury that likely was most visible to those in the Bobby Dodd Stadium stands, as the redshirt freshman went down during a play with an apparent leg injury in the first half. After being helped to the sidelines, trainers were seen evaluating his left leg. Taylor was removed later, head coach Paul Johnson said, due to a “heat-related” condition.
During his Sunday evening teleconference, Johnson had no further news to share about their prognoses and potential returns. He did add, however, that Jackson’s injury, once believed to be a knee sprain, was an ankle sprain.
“We don’t have any idea, it’s Sunday now,” Johnson said, before adding about Jackson: “He wouldn’t be able to play (Monday)."
Johnson also offered that Jackson’s injury, once believed to be a knee sprain, was an ankle sprain.
“You just don’t ever know with a sprained ankle,” Johnson said.
Since classes are canceled for Labor Day, the Yellow Jackets are expected to practice late Monday morning. They will return to their afternoon schedule when classes resume Tuesday.
Georgia Tech’s kickoff Saturday at Kansas will be at 11 a.m. Central Time.
Before leaving with his injury, Taylor had four tackles.
Catching Johnson’s eye
A pair of young Yellow Jackets turned Johnson’s head on multiple occasions Saturday, starting with Macon native Julian Burnett.
“(He) was a man on special teams,” Johnson said. “He cracked a couple people.”
Burnett, the former Westside product who started three games as a true freshman last season, finished with a pair of tackles. Both came as the inside linebacker contributed in Georgia Tech’s kick coverage game.
In addition to the sophomore, true freshman Jeremiah Attaochu had a strong first performance, Johnson said. Also working into the Yellow Jackets’ coverage game, Attaochu had two tackles.
Penalties were a concern for both teams, as they combined for 16 infractions. Personal fouls and illegal contact penalties were among the most flagged miscues. Of the 16, South Carolina State had 10 penalties, and lost 94 yards in the process. … The teams combined to go 4-for-4 on fourth downs. … Georgia Tech, among the nation’s leaders in time of possession last season, barely eked out the advantage in the category over the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets had the ball 30:35, South Carolina State had it 29:25.
“I was hoping after I hired him, that in the first quarter, he’d go out there and tackle somebody.” – Johnson, referring to new defensive coordinator Al Groh, after witnessing a slew of missed tackles at the start of the game.