August 31, 2009

Jackets prep for three games in 12 days

Game week is here five weeks into fall practices and the Georgia Tech football team delivered one of their best efforts of the fall on Monday afternoon. Head coach Paul Johnson said the energy looked good from the team and that there is a lot of work to do give the quick turnaround between the first three games of the season.

"I thought it was good and we got some good work in," Johnson said. "We worked hard and you could tell it was game week. They know we have one more day in full pads and then we start tuning up. We have to play three games in 12 days, so it will be fun."

Georgia Tech fans may see a lot of rotation in the first game because of the increase in the amount of depth on the field.

"We are going to try and the game and we will play as many guys as we need to play to win the game," Johnson said. "We are deeper than we have been, so we may be able to play more if we can keep everyone healthy."

The Jackets have pretty much settled on the starters for the Jacksonville State game and Coach Johnson released a depth chart earlier in the day.

"We pretty much know who is going to play and they should have released that today," Johnson said. "Those will probably be the starters unless something crazy happens."

One of the players named a starter was Sean Bedford who has edged out returning starter Dan Voss for the starting nod in the first game. Coach Johnson says the two players will rotate in the first game.

"Sean will be the guy, but they will both play," Johnson said. "There are positions like that where both players will play. Whoever is playing the best in the game will play the most."

Johnson says he is not concerned about starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt building up a rhythm with either one of the potential starting centers.

"It is not that hard to take a ball and make a snap," Johnson said.

The Jackets had one of the worst return games in the conference last year and Coach Johnson hopes starting cornerback Jerrard Tarrant will pick up the punt return game.

"Jerrard would have been our punt returner last year. He has a knack for it and hopefully he can help the return team," Johnson said. "Some guys are more natural at it than others and he has been natural at it. Hopefully it transfers over to the game."

Starting free safety Cooper Taylor will back up Tarrant at punt returner. Coach Johnson hopes the new punt returners along with

"Last year our return game was awful," Johnson said frankly. "There is no other way to say it. We need to get better at kick return and punt return. We won't know anything until we play somebody in a game."

Defensive Line Outlook

Defensive line coach Giff Smith has had his starting rotation set on the defensive line since the spring.

"I think we have improved especially since the start of the spring to this point here," Smith said. "Robert Hall has played a number of snaps here and Derrick Morgan has had an outstanding camp. Ben Anderson and Jason Peters have also had outstanding camps and they look very comfortable."

Outside of the starters, several players emerged in fall camp as competitors including true freshman defensive end Izaan Cross and redshirt freshman defensive tackle T.J. Barnes.

"The young guys are coming along well and Anthony Egbuniwe has had a nice fall, but he needs to get healthy. Izaan is a true freshman who has developed and I think he will be able to help us this year. How soon, we will see. Inside both T.J. Barnes and Logan Walls have both gotten better with each practice. I feel comfortable putting them in a game situation. We moved Osahon Tongo and Albert Rocker to the defensive line and they will be able to give us some depth and those will be the 10 guys we use."

20-hour rule

In the wake of allegations of the Michigan football team, not following the NCAA 20-hour rule for player participation with teams coach Johnson responded that the Jackets stay well below the standard. The current rules allow for four hours a day and up to 20 hours a week of participation in things like mandatory team meetings, practices and required weight-training sessions.

"We don't even come close to the 20-hour rule," Johnson said. "I never worry about it because we never come close to it. Once the season starts we don't even get remotely close to it."


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