Notes from media availability with quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook.
Mills continues progress
One of the plays that got Cook most excited about B-back Dedrick Mills wasn’t even a carry, but a block that he threw on quarterback Justin Thomas’ second touchdown of the game, a four-yard run off a fake toss. Mills cleared space for Thomas, taking on linebacker Troy Stewart at the goal line near the left hashmark and driving him about five yards to the sideline.
“I was fired up by that, that he knew what to do because that was the first time that he ran that play and that he actually did a good job at it,” Cook said. “I was quite pleased.”
The play, in which Thomas tossed to an A-back motioning to the right, isn’t used often.
Said Cook, “That’s why it’s good when we do it.”
Cook was asked how often the Jackets have run it.
“You’d have to go back and look,” he said. “I’m not going to help Duke do their breakdowns.”
It's at the 1:18 mark in the video.
More about Mills
Cook gave measured praise to Mills, who ran for 89 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. He is third nationally among freshmen at 74.3 yards per game. His nine rushing touchdowns are tied for seventh nationally and are first among freshmen. Cook said that Mills will show progress in one phase of the game but might take a step back in another.
“Right now, we’re trying to put the complete game together,” he said.
Cook said that Mills need to be encouraged some when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, even though he has taken on the pass blocking part of the position better than most freshmen.
“He’s a physical kid who has a good knack for the game, so he’s not bad in pass protection,” Cook said.
Recalling Synjyn Days
Another way that Mills can improve is by making defenders miss. Former B-back Synjyn Days could do that well, Cook said. Days, he said, had a “weird knack” for switching direction that earned him a classic nickname from coach Paul Johnson – “Golf Cart.”
“Because he’d just start on a track and he’d end up making a guy a miss and it wasn’t just a juke move,” Cook said. “It kind of looked like a golf cart making a 90-degree turn in the fairway.”
And Zach Laskey
The path to improvement is no secret – repetition. Cook recalled that former B-back Zach Laskey was probably the best B-back from a technical sense, but still made mistakes.
“Things happen so fast at that position that it’s got to be habit,” Cook said. “So you’ve just got to do it again and again and again.”
Cook gave Thomas some grief for sliding on a fourth-quarter run. On a 2nd-and-10 play, Thomas broke off an option play to the right and took it back left, taking his slide for a six-yard gain.
“He’s got to know where the sticks are,” Cook said. “He’s got to know with five minutes left in the game, the clock doesn’t stop when he goes out of bounds and run for the first down. Which he could have beat the guy (to the first-down marker).
That said, he said Thomas made some good decisions with the triple option and showed decent mechanics in the pocket.