ATLANTA — A pair of injuries at center last Saturday forced Georgia Tech into quite the tough spot.
Just six plays into the game against North Carolina State, down to their third-string, never-used backup, the Yellow Jackets were forced to thrust redshirt freshman Ray Beno into the action, pushing him toward his career debut
Although it appeared the young player, who typically works at offensive guard, gave his best effort, it wasn’t enough.
Georgia Tech was rolled 45-28.
This Saturday, however, the Yellow Jackets don’t expect to employ such a similar youth movement, as they welcome senior starter Sean Bedford back into the fold.
“He practiced a little bit (Wednesday),” head coach Paul Johnson said.
And will Beno be his backup?
Likely to Beno’s dismay, no. Second-stringer Jay Finch also will return when the Yellow Jackets travel to Wake Forest on Saturday night, Johnson said.
“They did alright, they looked good to me in practice,” Johnson said.
Finch went down first, succumbing to a hamstring injury during last Thursday’s workout. When he was officially listed “Out” for the contest against the Wolfpack, Beno slid into his spot.
Then, during the game, as the Yellow Jackets ran a dive play early in the first quarter, Bedford was kicked hard in the shin and had to be removed. All this week, Johnson seemed unsure if he would be healthy enough to make a return.
“See? I was coming back. You guys didn’t have much faith in me,” said a smiling Bedford, sporting a padded wrap around his right shin.
The veteran leader, whose voice other players said they were desperate to hear in huddles after being down early last week, was very praiseworthy of Beno’s efforts, particularly given the circumstances under which he was tossed into the game. Not only has Beno spent most practices training at guard, but he also didn’t dress the first two games for an unspecified reason.
“He did a lot better than how I remember doing in my first game, so my hat’s off to him,” Bedford said.
The addition of Bedford and Finch should tighten up an issue coaches had been preparing the last few days to gameplan around. In addition to Beno, backup guard Zach Krish had been taking snaps at center, and was expecting to see time against the Demon Deacons.
“He’s only one person,” co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak said of Bedford. “But he’ll do a good job. His intensity and his desire and his drive is contagious. So Sean’s a good leader, and it’s good to have your leaders on the field. It’s a calming influence, too, sometimes.
“The ship has a rudder and Sean can do that for us at times.”