You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Georgia Tech defense facing a leadership ‘vacuum’


Georgia Tech brings back eight starters on defense, but defensive coordinator Ted Roof has concerns about replacing the three he lost — linebacker P.J. Davis, defensive tackle Patrick Gamble and defensive end Rod Rook-Chungong.

“Because that was a very, maybe underrated, under-noticed part of our defense last year with the leadership of Pat and P.J. and Rook and (linebacker) Chase Alford,” Roof said. “All those guys, that does leave a vacuum and it’s up to the guys coming back to be able to do that.”

With eight starters back, there’s plenty of candidates for players who can carry the banner with the passion and toughness that Davis, Gamble and Rook-Chungong exemplified. Linebacker Brant Mitchell, defensive KeShun Freeman and safety Corey Griffin are but three. The four other returning starters in the secondary — Lance and Lawrence Austin, Step Durham and A.J. Gray — are four more.

“There’s some guys that have played a lot of football,” Roof said. “A lot of guys are trying to step up, but it’s got to be a consistent step up. It can’t be seven days we’re up and we’re rolling and one day we’re not. There’s got to be some consistency with the leadership and that’s something we’re trying to develop.”

How Brant Mitchell plans to become more impactful for Georgia Tech

Safeties coach Andy McCollum said he is looking for a lead-by-example type.

“It’s easy to be a rah-rah guy when things are going good,” he said. “P.J. was a guy that, when things were going down — Pat Gamble was the same way — they’re guys that, when things are going tough, they’re going to rise up their play.”

Gamble, a captain, and other team members asserted their leadership towards the end of the season after the Jackets gave up 636 yards in a 48-20 loss at North Carolina on Nov. 5. The yaradge total was the second highest allowed in school history. Gamble sought more from himself and his teammates, and the defense’s play picked up in the final four games, all wins for the Jackets.

That’s something that I’ll always remember those guys for ,” Roof said earlier in the spring.

Mitchell acknowledged the void left by Davis.

“It’s hard,” he said. “It takes the whole team. It takes everybody coming together and playing as one. It’s not 11 on 1, it takes all 11 guys. I think that’s a big thing with us. I think we have really good chemistry and I think that started last year in the offseason. We tried to get close as a team and stuff, and I think if we come together, we can fill all the spots that need to be filled.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Dream defense unable to slow Sky in 82-78 loss
Dream defense unable to slow Sky in 82-78 loss

Returning from a lackluster road trip and hosting the slumping Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream needed some home cooking on its annual Pride Night. It didn’t get it. The Dream’s offense couldn’t keep pace in an 82-78 loss Friday night at McCamish Pavilion. Atlanta (5-6) has lost five of its last six games. “Tough game to lose...
Braves win with key plays by rookies Swanson, Camargo
Braves win with key plays by rookies Swanson, Camargo

It was like old times on Friday for Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and third baseman Johan Camargo. The pair played infield for Double-A Mississippi last season and are doing it with the Braves now that Camargo is getting regular playing time. Each made superlative defensive plays to hold off Brewers rallies during the 5-4 Braves victory at SunTrust...
Adams becomes a complication for Braves — in a good way
Adams becomes a complication for Braves — in a good way

If only Matt Adams hadn’t gone on his galoot-free diet and had reported to the Braves looking like he was smuggling grapefruit in his uniform. Were only he the typical left-handed masher that he appears to be at first glance, mindlessly pumping baseballs into the shift and either hitting home runs or taking a seat. Then we wouldn’t be going...
Phillips big early, rookie infielders huge late in Braves’ 5-4 win
Phillips big early, rookie infielders huge late in Braves’ 5-4 win

Hours after unveiling a new Braves T-shirt bearing his likeness and showcasing his Stone Mountain roots and proud ATLien status, veteran Brandon Phillips had a home run and two RBIs to help his squad and pitcher Mike Foltynewicz take a lead on the way to continuing their recent surge in a series-opening win against the Brewers. But it was a pair of...
Former Norcross star Diamond DeShields leaving Tennessee to be a pro
Former Norcross star Diamond DeShields leaving Tennessee to be a pro

Former Norcross High School star Diamond DeShields will not return to the Tennessee women's basketball team for a final season. DeShields, a daughter of former major-league baseball player Delino DeShields, would have been a redshirt senior. "Diamond has opted to forego her final collegiate season,” Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said...
More Stories