Clear skies are expected (actually, I guess just one sky) for Saturday's spring game, which will begin at noon at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It's the return of the Saturday T-Day Game after four years of soggy Friday nights. You can watch online on ESPN3. Also, please be alert to road closures Saturday morning on campus.
Trio of quarterbacks
Starter Justin Thomas will be with the first-team offense (white team) while backups Matthew Jordan and TaQuon Marshall will split reps with the second-team offense (gold team). It won’t be a surprise if either Jordan or Marshall take snaps with the white team, also.
After moving from A-back one week into spring practice, Marshall has been among the most intriguing developments of the spring , a raw playmaker with a better-than-expected arm.
Jordan has the advantage in experience and is probably a more powerful runner than Marshall.
Thomas said Wednesday that he feels more comfortable with the A-backs and receivers, better understanding where they like the ball thrown and how they come out of the breaks in their routes.
“It’s small things like that that make a big difference, and just getting that year playing with everybody, it can make a big difference,” Thomas said.
Competition at B-back
Starter Marcus Marshall has improved his ball security and blocking. Behind him are a slew of backs trying to make an impression – Marcus Allen, Quaide Weimerskirch, KirVonte Benson and Dedrick Mills.
Mills, an early enrollee, has made an impression.
“Dedrick’s a really powerful runner,” Marshall said. “He has good balance, he has good vision, from what I’ve seen. He’s a good runner, a lot of instincts at that position.”
Line coming together
The quintet of left tackle Eason Fromayan, left guard Will Bryan, center Andrew Marshall, right guards Shamire Devine and Brad Morgan and right tackle Trey Klock has worked together for the past two weeks with improving results. Can they clear tracks for the B-backs and protect Thomas on his dropbacks?
“Early on, we started off and had some struggles and just couldn’t get it together, and making some plays, pass protection stuff, we just weren’t where we needed to be,” Marshall said. “But we kept working, kept focusing and then last scrimmage, I thought we played pretty well. I thought we played well (Wednesday), so we’ll see how we can do Saturday, but it’s coming together pretty good.”
Talent and inexperience in secondary
The gold-team defense (first team) includes Step Durham and Lance Austin at corner and Lawrence Austin, Corey Griffin and A.J. Gray at safety. (Lawrence Austin can also play nickel)
The white-team defense (second team) includes safeties Christian Campbell (converted from quarterback), Jalen Johnson and Shaun Kagawa and cornerbacks Dorian Walker, Lamont Simmons and Meiko Dotson.
The first-team secondary is not a surprise – they came into spring with more experience – but there’s room for a playmaker on Saturday’s white team to push for playing time.
“I’m proud of Dorian,” Lance Austin said. “I feel like he’s one of the cornerbacks that progressed the most for this spring. He’s been working his technique every day. He’s gotten a lot better.”
Trying to turn heads
There’s a number of defensive second-teamers who could play a significant role this fall who could have some success against a second-team offense that figures to be a little ragged on the line.
Among them on the front seven: defensive ends Anree Saint-Amour and Desmond Branch and linebackers Victor Alexander and Emanuel Bridges, an early enrollee.
Said defensive coordinator Ted Roof of Saint-Amour, “He’s come along well. Certainly not where we want him to be and not where he wants to be, but at the same time, making progress. He’s a great kid and he’s going to be a really good player for us.