Georgia Tech holds its final scrimmage on Friday before heading out to Ireland for the season opener. It won’t a full-out hard-hitting affair, but is instead expected to be more of a run-through rather than an opportunity for players to impress their coaches.
“We’ve got a checklist of things we’ll try to hit,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “We’ll have coaches in the box, simulate halftime, simulate pregame stretch … just to get guys who haven’t done it accustomed to what’s going to happen on game day.”
Johnson admitted that Wednesday’s practice might have been the first time that the team has hit the wall. The team has been worked hard and Johnson said practice wasn’t as crisp.
“I felt like I had to challenge them a bit,” he said.
For the final scrimmage, the defense likely will get 30-40 plays against the scout team. The offense will get 40-50 plays “if they’re playing correctly,” Johnson said.
The goal for the scrimmage, Johnson said, is to “be sharp, have guys focused, not have substitution errors, get 11 on the field on special teams. I’ll usually hold one out and grab one and them to stand by me and see if the backup is paying attention, if the coach is paying attention … all the stuff that can happen in a game, you’ve got to be aware of.”
The team will get the weekend off, have a light workout in full pads Monday and practice in shells on Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving for Ireland.
“We’ve still got a lot of stuff to do to get ready,” Johnson said. “I think the kids want to play somebody and we’ll start to find out where we’re at. … I think they’re ready to play a game. I think everybody is. It’s been a long camp.”
The return game
The Yellow Jackets are starting to settle on the primary candidates who will return punts and kicks. Last year, Jamal Golden was the main return man for both, and his graduation has left a big hole.
The punt returns job likely belongs to sophomore Brad Stewart, who has much-needed sure hands. Qua Searcy and redshirt freshman Omahri Jarrett are also under consideration.
The leading candidates to return kicks are J.J. Green, Lynn Griffin, Nathan Cottrell and Dedrick Mills.
Cottrell missed last season with an injury and was slowed by a balky hamstring during preseason camp. That has put him behind some of the more experienced candidates at A-back.
“It depends on how he does,” Johnson said. “Five or six (A-backs) are going to play and he’s fighting, trying to get to that line.”