Shortly after the completion of spring practice, Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis became the first of likely several Yellow Jackets players who will be named to an award watch list when he was included on the list of candidates for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to the nation's top defensive player for his impact on and off the field.
Gotsis, a second-team All-ACC selection last season, totaled 36 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss, and two blocked kicks.
Just before the end of the spring, Gotsis spoke about the progress of the defense, his own personal development and his summer plans. The second part of the interview will post Monday.
Q: Can you compare how this spring has been practicing with the defensive line group to the fall, when you had fewer players?
A: Definitely just a lot more learning. We’ve got a lot of guys in there, new guys. A lot of guys who played a bit last year, but didn’t really have the impact that they needed to have. It’s been a lot of learning for a lot of younger guys, and a lot of the older guys, as well. We’ve got Jabari (Hunt-Days) coming in, so it’s teaching him the new stuff. Us older guys (are) kind of learning the way for those young guys. It’s been good. It’s been a learning process, but it’s been good.
Q: What are one or two things you wanted to get better at?
A: Personally, I just wanted to get better at pass rush, getting off the ball, using my hands, being more violent with my hands. That’s definitely a thing you always want to improve on. Just understanding what type of sets I’m going to get from the offensive line, whether it’s going to be a pass set, draw set, just understanding offensive line sets.
I think that’s a big thing, the mental aspect of the game. As a “d” line as a whole, I think we definitely accomplished a lot. I think a lot of guys are better from when we were out there the first day of spring. A lot of guys understand the system now and understand how they need to play in a system. They can’t just be individuals out there.
Q: I know that improving the four-man pass rush was a priority. It sounds like that’s gotten better.
A: Definitely. We’ve been working, doing a lot of one-on-ones with the offensive line. We give them credit. They give us a good look when they can. And Coach (Mike) Pelton’s doing a great job with us, working our hands, getting us thinking about getting vertical in pass rush and in the backfield, actually making a move at the line of scrimmage or making a move on our man when he gives us a set. The coaches have done a good job in that.
Q: What offensive linemen have you gone against the most?
A: I try to jump around from Freddie (Burden) to “Chambo” (Bryan Chamberlain), Trey Braun, a bunch of guys. I try and just go with everyone so I’m getting a different look every time. It’s not, you know, one guy and you know what his weakness is so you can just (attack) it. I like to jump around and just be fair with everyone. I try and give them a good look now as well, because they need to get a good look for the season. It’s helping each other, and that’s the main thing.
Q: What's something that you know now about looking at sets that you didn’t know before?
A: Just more detail. I knew a lot coming into last year, just watching film with Coach “P” and things like that and just watching film and understanding certain down and distance situations, what’s going to happen. The biggest thing is just repetition and getting it in the spring.
Q: Who are a couple guys you’ve seen as most improved, either on the line or elsewhere?
A: Definitely Pat (Gamble). He’s always improving. He had a good year last year, played a bit last year. I feel like he can go out and play a whole game where he’s at now. (Rod) Rook-Chungong had an awesome spring, as well. He’s definitely up there. I’m expecting him to play a lot this year. Those two probably are the main two.
But also, a lot of those young guys have come along. (Early-enrollee) Kyle (Cerge-Henderson) definitely surprised me, especially going against the option. It’s tough to come in and go against that. He definitely did a good job in coming and really fitting into the system well and doing his job.
Q: What have you seen out of Rod?
A: Just improved. Just his mental aspect of the game. Coach always jokes like, two years ago, some plays Rod wouldn’t have made, he wouldn’t have made those plays against the option. This year, he’s making those plays, so you can see he’s developed as a player, mentally and physically. He’s able to get a good squeeze on the tackle if he’s down blocking. He’s able to make a play on the quarterback if he pulls it. He’s just done an awesome job this spring.