Georgia Tech coaches scheduled a staff meeting scheduled for Thursday morning to discuss which first-year players would dress and which would be redshirted. Some of those decisions have been made – quarterback Christian Campbell, for example, is running the scout-team offense and will redshirt – but several others have been undetermined.
Defensive end Anree Saint-Amour is an example.
“He’s one that we’ll talk about (Thursday),” coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday. “It’s a long season. Just because you’re not in the mix at the start doesn’t mean you won’t be in the second game, third game.”
Defensive tackles Kyle Cerge-Henderson and Brentavious Glanton are two more. It’s possible one could redshirt and go down to the scout team and the other practice with the “varsity” – Johnson’s term for players and backups expected to play. It’s also possible that players will dress for games but only be available on an emergency basis.
“Y’all will be able to figure that out when they don’t go in the game,” Johnson said helpfully.
(Sorry if you’ve read this 10 times already this preseason. It seems like I’ve dwelt on it more than most preseasons. Part of it is the size of the class and part is maybe the number of positions where a lack of depth has put freshmen in competition, like at A-back and wide receiver.)
At the same meeting, the depth chart was expected to be determined for the Alcorn State game. It is expected to be released Friday or Monday, depending on when Tech receives the Alcorn State depth chart.
2. Jalen Johnson, moved from safety to wide receiver Monday, is in the midst of figuring out how to play his new position. He was switched for depth purposes – there was a lot at safety and not as much at wide receiver.
“It’s going to be a process for him, how quickly he can learn where to go and what to do, see if he can get in the mix,” Johnson said.
3. Tuesday, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he hadn’t seen any of the first-year freshman corners – Meiko Dotson, Dante Wigley and Dorian Walker – move ahead of the other two.
“They’re still deep in the learning process,” he said. “I don’t think any of them are comfortable yet with the techniques and the calls and the speed of the game, but I think they all have a chance to be good players at this level.”
Coaches are hoping one or more can make a convincing case to play this season on special teams to get used to college game speed.
4. Former defensive lineman Izaan Cross is beginning his second season as an assistant coach at North Atlanta High, a few miles up Northside Drive from Tech. Cross is two more classes shy of his Tech degree and is serving as an in-school suspension instructor. He plans on finishing degree work (history, technology and society) next summer. When he does, all 16 members of the 2009 signing class who stayed at Tech four years will have graduated.
5. Secondary coach Joe Speed on cornerback Chris Milton, going into his senior season as a returning starter: “I’m looking forward to him continuing to make sure he pays attention to the details of his assignments and just grinds on every play. And he knows how important it is as a field corner, how isolated you are up there. He knows if he makes a mistake, hands go up in the air.”
The field corner plays on the wide side of the field; the boundary corner plays on the side where the ball is being snapped. The “hands go up in the air” phrase was referring to a touchdown, in case you missed that.
6. Jamal Golden has played in 42 career games at Tech – 11 as a freshman, 14 as a sophomore, three in the 2013 season that he received a medical redshirt year for, and 14 last season. The school record for career games played is 54, held by T.J. Barnes, Rod Sweeting, Jemea Thomas and Corey Dennis.
7. Johnson on former Tech All-American Shaquille Mason, now in position to start at guard for the Patriots. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a really good player.”
8. On Tuesday, safety Demond Smith said he was “feeling great” despite the toll that the preseason typically takes on the body. Smith attributed it to taking care of his body, including eating well and stretching a lot. He acknowledged, though, that he eats a lot of candy.
“I really don’t have a favorite, but I always have Skittles.”
The comment reminded me of one of the funniest things (not to oversell it) I’ve ever read on Twitter, courtesy of center Freddie Burden.
9. Another semi-random offering from Smith, whom I am working on a short feature about for later this week. Smith was a quarterback on the scout team in 2011, and he particularly remembered portraying Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd prior to the Jackets’ upset of the Tigers that season. But he said it helped him later on be more familiar with Clemson’s passing concepts, and what he called “eye-candy routes. They do a lot of motion to get you off. (The scout-team experience) just helped me with my eyes. I could say it helped me train my eyes.”
10. Another tidbit from Burden, for a story I am planning to write for next Thursday's paper and myajc about the offensive line. I asked him to describe the other four starters on the line. The following is his breakdown of left guard Trey Braun:
“Trey Braun, you know about him – engineer, smart guy. He’s married, so, you know, he kind of goes home to his wife a lot. He’s not around as much, which is a good thing. It’s a good thing – we don’t want to get his wife unhappy.”
11. Devine is continuing to work on his weight and conditioning, offensive line coach Mike Sewak said.
Asked if he was at a point where he could play through an 18-play drive, Sewak said, “Yeah, but I don’t know if he could back-to-back 18.”
12. A-backs coach Lamar Owens about Broderick Snoddy: “I’m hopeful, optimistic. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do in fall camp. I know he’s just as excited as anybody to get back out there. I’m extremely proud of Broderick and the way he’s fought back and (is) set up to graduate. I’m just excited for Broderick. I’m excited to watch him play this year.”
Owens has something of a fragmented group in terms of players’ knowledge of the offense and position. Snoddy and Isiah Willis know plenty. Clinton Lynch has been an A-back since joining the team last preseason. Qua Searcy switched to A-back prior to spring practice. TaQuon Marshall and Omahri Jarrett are first-year freshmen who started camp as A-backs. Redshirt freshman Matthew Jordan was moved over from quarterback a week into camp, and first-year freshman Mikell Lands-Davis moved over from B-back a couple days later.
“I think one thing about coaching, you always have players that are at different learning points,” Owens said. “Some guys are seniors. Some guys are freshmen. And I think as a coach, you have to understand that and understand how to reach each learner. Sometimes that means you have to meet with them a little extra, sometimes you do walk-throughs on the field. I think you’ve got to do whatever it takes to help the learner catch up to the older guys.”
It's not often you hear a player referred to as a "learner." It says something, I'd think, about Owens' approach.
13. Having already earned his bachelor’s in December 2014 in business administration, linebacker Tyler Marcordes is using his final semester to earn a second degree in computational media. He is taking four classes this semester.
“It’s going O.K.,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than, obviously, the classes I’ve taken before, but it takes a lot more time. But it’s something I enjoy.”
I am also working on a blog post about Marcordes. His comment on the defense’s progress: “We still have a lot of work to do, obviously. It’s still early, but I think we’re all starting to feel more comfortable.”
14. High praise from Johnson regarding the team’s staying away from penalties in the team’s scrimmages: “It hasn’t been bad. That part of it hasn’t been terrible.”
15. With linebacker Chase Alford and A-back Isiah Willis going on scholarship, Tech is at 85 scholarships for the academic year. Tech has 15 scholarship seniors on the roster, although right tackle Errin Joe could apply for a hardship waiver and extend his eligibility into 2016. Joe missed the 2013 season after a shoulder injury in the preseason.
16. Walk-on quarterback Chase Martenson suffered an undisclosed injury and will not be available for the Alcorn State game. Martenson has been the third-string quarterback. Brady Swilling, another walk-on, has returned to quarterback from B-back for the time being.
17. Defensive end Kenderius Whitehead may be on the outside looking in at the end rotation. Whitehead entered the preseason as a No. 2 end. He came to Tech after transferring from Georgia Military College following a year at N.C. State.
“We’ll talk about it (Thursday),” Johnson said Wednesday. “Right now, probably not.”
Johnson said it was a matter of consistency.
18. Former Tech receiver Jeff Greene, who left Tech in Dec. 2012 to transfer to Ohio State as a walk-on, may have a chance at snaps with the offense in the Buckeyes’ season opener against Virginia Tech Sept. 7. Ohio State will be without four top receivers, three by suspension. The fourth, Noah Brown, broke his leg Wednesday. Greene played special teams last season and caught one pass.
Former Tech wide receiver Corey Dennis, who came to Tech in the same class as Greene, is a coaching intern with the Buckeyes and is assisting wide receiver coach Zach Smith. Dennis is the son-in-law of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, having married Meyer’s daughter Nicki, a former Tech volleyball player.
19. Lastly, the Tech marketing office is offering fans the opportunity to be on a digital billboard around Atlanta next week in advance of the season opener. Fans are asked to submit their best Tech fan photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and phone number in the body of the e-mail. Deadline is Friday at 5 p.m. Up to five fans’ photos will be on the billboards, and two of the five will receive five tickets to the Alcorn State game and a VIP tailgate experience for them and up to four guests.