Some odds and ends from spring practice.
1. Paul Johnson on backup defensive tackle Francis Kallon: “Really, Francis is the key. If we can work Francis inside, then that frees Pat (Gamble) to play outside.”
Gamble figures to play in a rotation with Adam Gotsis and Jabari Hunt-Days (if he regains his academic elgibility). But if Kallon proves dependable enough, Gamble can play the strong side defensive end spot where he thrived at the end of the season. Defensive line coach Mike Pelton spoke encouragingly of Kallon earlier in the spring, saying that he was showing a “burning desire” to improve.
2. Marcus Allen has done well in his return to B-back, considering his lack of experience there. Allen, who came to Tech as a B-back, later moved to linebacker and then wide receiver before going back to B-back when Quaide Weimerskirch was lost for the spring with a foot injury.
“I thought Marcus Allen did pretty good,” Johnson said. “Most physical guy by a mile at that position.”
Allen has worked with the second-team offense behind C.J. Leggett, who is evidently facing some challenges.
“Runs straight up,” Johnson said of Leggett. “He’ll figure it out.”
Allen, you might remember, was a recruit of note coming out of Hilliard, Fla. A cousin of Georgia greats Champ and Boss Bailey – Allen picked Tech over Florida State and Nebraska, among other schools, in part because Tech offered him the opportunity to play running back, while others sought him as a linebacker.
He is one of those that, to this point, little has been heard from since his arrival. In two seasons, he has played five games.
“Marcus is a great kid,” Johnson said last week. “I was telling somebody coming off the field, he’s one of my favorite kids on the team. Whatever you ask him to do, he does it with a smile and goes and gives you 100 percent.”
3. An interesting insight (or interesting to me) about a defensive focus during spring practice: the defensive backs have been spending a significant amount of time improving their transitions – the steps taken to go from backpedaling to breaking on a route or to pursuing a ballcarrier. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said that, from watching game video last season, he realized that it needed improvement. Considering that a poor transition might mean missing a pass breakup or tackle by a half-step and a better one can mean making those plays, it could be a meaningful improvement.
“Because that impacts the completion percentage, it’s going to impact tackling, it’s going to impact yardage after catch, it’s going to impact tackling and pursuit angles,” Roof said.
I plan on writing more about this for myajc and the paper.