ATLANTA — During his weekly news conference Tuesday morning, Miami head coach Randy Shannon said there were some aspects of Georgia Tech’s offense that concerned him.
Specifically, he said he was worried about the Yellow Jackets’ penchant for chop blocks.
“It’s a major concern because chop blocks are part of what they do,” Shannon said, according to a transcript released Tuesday evening by the ACC. “It’s always the backside of (a play), not the front side. We are going to work on it in practice. I don’t know if the officials will see it. They probably will not see it, but it’s part of what we have to work on.
“We have to work on it and tell our guys that we can’t depend on officiating to help us. If the guy gets you, you have to get up off the ground and keep running. The difficult part of it is that you can lose somebody due to it, and you don’t want that to happen.”
The Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes meet at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
It should be noted, chop blocks are deemed illegal by the ACC and NCAA, and occur when two offensive players engage a defender and one goes high to block him, while the other goes low. It is a practice Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has in the past said his staff does not condone, nor teaches.
Johnson, having spoken to media Tuesday morning during his own news conference, was unavailable Tuesday evening.
Instead of promoting chop blocks, the Yellow Jackets do practice cut-block and crack-back block techniques, in which single slot backs or offensive linemen dive at defenders’ legs to take those players out. Those plays, as long as executed parallel to a defender where he could conceivably see it coming, are legal.
Georgia Tech has committed just two chop blocks all season. Last season, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer complained post-Georgia Tech’s win over the Hokies that the Yellow Jackets slipped the chops in on his team.
In an earlier part of the transcript, he said that he will practice with his team this week the art of getting “cut” in order to simulate the game conditions.
“People say why do you do that, well, that’s what happens and we want to get the guys’ bodies used to it and bending at the knees and getting off blocks,” Shannon said. “That’s the only way you can prepare for it.”
Shannon is expected to speak on Wednesday morning’s ACC coaches’ teleconference.
The last time the Yellow Jackets faced the Hurricanes, they wrapped up a three-game-in-12-days tour that included contests against Jacksonville State and Clemson to start the year. In humid Miami, they were dominated 33-17 on the same field they would ultimately lose the Orange Bowl later in the season.
With his team’s chances of a repeat ACC championship all but completely gone, Johnson believes a shift of goals and priorities is in order. As a result, he has not forgotten the humiliation of the Yellow Jackets’ only conference loss last season, and hopes his players remember what it felt like to lose to Miami, too.
“I am not worried about me getting ready to play because I am competitive and I know what it’s about, but you have to point out to the guys what you are still playing for,” Johnson said during his news conference. “You are playing for bowl eligibility, you are playing for a winning season; you are playing for pride.
“Revenge is a good motivator for those who care, and they spanked us pretty good last year. I haven’t forgotten; I hope they (his players) haven’t.”
Georgia Tech’s 1990 national championship team will be on hand Saturday as it is honored on the field before and during the Yellow Jackets’ contest against Miami.
Owners of a co-national title with Colorado, the Yellow Jackets that year won the Citrus Bowl over Nebraska to finish atop the UPI coaches’ poll with the Buffalos.
But in a similar 20th anniversary celebration in Boulder, Colo., the Buffalos claimed they were honoring the “consensus” national champions from that year. Georgia Tech finished second in most other polls that year, despite a widely disputed “fifth-down” that was accidentally awarded to the Buffalos in a game against Missouri during the season. With officials absent-mindedly giving them an extra down on a key, late-game drive, the Buffalos were able to score a touchdown for a win that likely kept them in national title contention.
As a result, the Yellow Jackets think if any team ought to have been consensus champions, it was them.
“It’s shameful, it really is,” former Yellow Jackets defensive end Coleman Rudolph said. “The fact that those guys knew they were getting that fifth-down, you look back at it, and you’re like, you’ve just got to be kidding me.”
Rudolph and four other players from the 1990 team were on hand during Johnson’s Tuesday press conference.
With the former players in the room, Johnson had this to say about Saturday’s reunion and the year head coach Bobby Ross led the Yellow Jackets to championship: “That is a great accomplishment and certainly we are proud of what they did. It speaks volumes of Coach Ross. I had a chance to know him when I was at Navy and he was the head coach at Army. We played against each other two or three times and I have always had a lot of respect for him.”
The Yellow Jackets continued to have a lot of red during their practice, as several players donned the brightly-colored no-contact jerseys Tuesday.
Once again, center Sean Bedford, guard Will Jackson, receiver Stephen Hill and defensive end Logan Walls were sidelined. Walls, who sported a sling around an arm Monday, walked without it Tuesday following practice.
In addition to those starters, senior B-back Anthony Allen missed the workout for an undisclosed reason, as well.
Johnson on Tuesday said quarterback Joshua Nesbitt has spent the last two days resting at his Greensboro home, as he recuperates from a Monday surgery to help re-set his broken right forearm.
The senior was expected to return to campus Wednesday, Johnson said.
The Yellow Jackets’ starting signal-caller the last three seasons, Nesbitt saw his final regular season come to a close last Thursday when he was run from the game at Virginia Tech with the injury incurred while trying to complete a post-interception tackle. He still hopes to return in time for a postseason bowl, but that also will be incumbent upon his teammates winning at least one more game be eligible for that opportunity.