Georgia Tech

Heat, learning curve part of early Georgia Tech football practices

ATLANTA -- The freshmen at Georgia Tech got a little taste of college football during the first week of summer camp. It took only a few days for them to realize that they were no longer in high school.

“It’s a lot of things ... speed of the game, ball security,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s a different game for them ... going a little bit faster than the high school game. A lot of it is mental toughness. You’ve got to learn to push through.”

Georgia Tech will host its annual Fan Day on Saturday. Players and coaches will be available for photos and autographs at 4 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets enjoyed a couple days with moderate temperatures this week, but they endured some hot days, too. On Wednesday, the temperatures were in the mid-90s.

Different players react in different ways to the heat, but it’s all part of the process of getting ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Alcorn State.

“The heat got to some of the guys,” Johnson said after a midweek practice. “When you’ve got 105 guys, some will do good and others will struggle with it.”

It has shown no effect on quarterback Justin Thomas, who looks as if he is ready to start the season now. Thomas connected on long passes to wide receivers Ricky Jeune and Micheal Summers and A-backs Qua Searcy and Isiah Willis. The shortest of those completions during the 11-on-11 drills was for 41 yards.

“We’ve still got a mile to go ... a mile,” Johnson said. “Until you get into pads and you start blocking, I mean, who knows?”

The defense is showing the extra depth that has been developed during the past two years under coordinator Ted Roof. By rotating more players into the game since he joined the program two years ago, the Yellow Jackets are in a much better place.

“We’ve got more depth, which allows us to get more reps at practice,” Roof said. “We’ve been running two huddles on the defense to be able to roll entire units in and out. That part is really good, and I expect that to pay dividends. The more reps we get, the better we should be.”

An example is Pat Gamble, who can play defensive tackle or slide outside and set the edge.

“I don’t prefer one spot over the other,” Gamble said. “It’s good to know that I’ve got some versatility. Any place Coach puts me, it’s good to know I can go and be successful.”

The goal for the defense is to continue to improve as a unit.

“Coming off last season, we knew as a defense we didn’t do as well as we needed to,” defensive tackle Adam Gotsis said. “We did well in the turnover aspect, but getting off the field on third down, letting drives continue too long, that was a big issue. We’re just cleaning those things up.”