ATLANTA — Anthony Allen ran like he was angry.
In addition to violently tearing his cleats into the Bobby Dodd Stadium turf on Saturday and churning his legs to the tune of 195 yards rushing and three touchdowns, the Georgia Tech B-back plowed his body into and through defender after Virginia defender, adding to his prolific, banner performance.
It was the type of display that left him walking away Monday with the ACC’s co-offensive back of the week honors. Sharing the weekly award, his outing was deemed by voters an equal to North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson’s 328-yard passing showing in a Wolfpack win over Boston College.
It marked the first time Allen claimed the honors in his career.
But as good as his numbers appeared on paper, Allen thought his latest game could have gone even better.
“I still didn’t finish as many runs as a wanted to,” he said after Saturday’s 33-21 win. “There were still a couple of long runs where I should have just trusted my speed and kept going, and I tried to cut back into a guy.”
Head coach Paul Johnson was pleased to hear Allen’s resolve to improve upon such an afternoon, but still wanted to reiterate the fact he believed his running back played well.
“I thought he played very well, but I’m sure there are things he sees and he thinks he can get more,” Johnson said. “That’s the way he should be; he shouldn’t be satisfied. If you leave anything out there, you ought to have high standards for yourself, and he does.”
Senior center Sean Bedford credited the offensive line for finally giving Allen a little more time to break through a defensive line and get into space. While the blocking wasn’t fully perfect, Bedford contended, it did a better job of giving the running back the type of space he hadn’t fully been able to realize in earlier games this season.
“It’s extremely rewarding for us, because we’ve struggled to get him going this year; which is mostly on us (on the line),” Bedford said. “He runs hard every game, we just have to open up those holes, and when we open them up, we see what the results are.
“He just keeps those legs pumping and he’s so tough to bring down.”
McCollum and another former team
Three weeks ago, when the Yellow Jackets hosted North Carolina State, defensive line coach Andy McCollum had a homecoming of sorts.
This Saturday, one week after defensive coordinator Al Groh had his own form of a reunion, McCollum will be having a more modified one when Middle Tennessee State comes to the Flats.
From 1999-2005, McCollum served as head coach of the Blue Raiders. Unlike with North Carolina State, where he coached from 2006 until last season, he knows far fewer familiar faces in Murfreesboro, Tenn. now.
“I don’t have anybody on that team that I recruited,” McCollum said. “(Three) weeks ago, I just left those guys and left on very good terms. I was very close to (North Carolina State) Coach (Tom) O’Brien. Five years ago, that was a different story. I have great respect and have a lot of friends at Middle Tennessee, I’m proud of the things that we did there and so there’s a lot of things you could say. But this is about Georgia Tech.”
The focus this week will not be on how many handshakes or hugs he’ll give out pre- and post-game. Instead, it will be about getting his current troops ready for a potentially third-consecutive victory.
“My only concern right now is to get Georgia Tech better. We improved this week (against Virginia), we’ve been improving up front on getting physical,” McCollum said.
Of the improvements McCollum specifically cited, one was about the play of defensive tackle T.J. Barnes.
Barnes is “continuing to be a presence” on the inside, McCollum said of the 350-pound interior nose tackle.
In addition to Barnes’ steady progression, the Yellow Jackets have gotten solid contributions from fellow defensive tackle Logan Walls and ends Izaan Cross, Robert Hall and Jason Peters, McCollum said.
As far as Peters, the starter who had four tackles and a sack, is concerned, McCollum has begun seeing the full energy he has been waiting for.
“He played really physically, but he’s got to be doing that all the time,” McCollum said.
Following Monday’s practice, Johnson said offensive guard Will Jackson will be OK to play Saturday after working out with the team for the first time in more than a week.
Jackson left the Wake Forest game nearly two weeks ago after re-injuring an ankle.
While Jackson should return, there will not be a final prognosis on offensive tackle Phil Smith until later in the week. Against Virginia, Smith went down with a right ankle injury. He was seen Monday afternoon walking on crutches and with his ankle wrapped.
“We still haven’t ruled him out,” Johnson said, pointing at Smith.
Clemson kickoff, TV set
The Yellow Jackets’ next ACC game, Oct. 23 at Clemson will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on ABC and ESPN, the ACC announced Monday.
The game will be seen on ABC regionally, and on ESPN in other markets.
“He’s like Russell Wilson on steroids.” –Johnson on mobile, quick Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher, who the Yellow Jackets must keep in the pocket, their head coach said.