1. A couple answers to questions that were asked on the mailbag on Wednesday that I didn’t have answers for. One regarded the possibility of freshman offensive linemen Trey Klock and Gary Brown moving to defense. I sort of tweaked the question, because, as I thought about it, I don’t know if it would be impossible to move them now, but it would be asking a lot because they would be so behind.
To give it some context, true freshmen sometimes end up getting redshirted instead of playing because they miss a week or two of camp, as that time lost sets them too far behind to be ready to contribute meaningfully. At this point, coaches wouldn’t have the time to teach the scheme and techniques and give them practice repetitions while trying to preparing for the next game. In an emergency, you’d have to do it, like when Maryland had to get one of its linebackers (Shawn Petty) ready to play quarterback against Tech in 2012. But, otherwise, it's highly unlikely.
So, I asked Johnson if he had considered such a move going back to the preseason.
“Who would you move?” he asked.
I said he would probably be a better judge than me.
“No, there’s no one to move,” Johnson said. “They need to play better. Francis (Kallon), Pat Gamble, there’s a lot of guys. They just need to play.”
The other question was about guard Shamire Devine, who was taken out in the middle of a series against Georgia Southern. I said it was due to conditioning, and a reader said that wasn’t the case and that I should ask Johnson.
Johnson’s answer: “He got tired. Six plays, he was winded.”
Johnson said that Devine’s conditioning is “way better than it was,” but that at his weight (Johnson put it around 350-60), being able to go a whole series is difficult, particularly in the heat.
“He could have played longer, but it just looked to me like he was gassed,” Johnson said, “and I didn’t want him to turn somebody loose down in the red zone.”
2. Klock, by the way, appears headed for a redshirt.
“We really think Trey’s going to be a really good player, but the worst thing you can do is to put a young guy out there when they’re not ready,” Johnson said. “He’ll keep working, and we’re excited about all those freshman linemen, but right now, Andrew Marshall, he’s about the only one that’s going to play.”
Klock is still listed as the No. 2 right tackle, but Errin Joe, Kyle Stallard and Eason Fromayan would play ahead of him in case of an injury to starter Chris Griffin. (One example of how depth charts aren’t always a true reflection of coaches’ thinking.)
That may end up being the case for B-back C.J. Leggett, also. (Leggett is actually a good example of how missing a week of camp (or more) can set a freshman back. Had he not gotten hurt in August, I imagine he’d be playing.)
3. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof’s state of mind:
“We’ve got to find a way to pressure the quarterback. Because nobody in America can sit back and play coverage all day. You’ve got to find ways to get to quarterbacks, but at the same time, when you add people to the rush, you take ’em out of the coverage. When you do that, you’ve got to get home and you’ve got to affect the quarterback and that’s something that, when we blitz, we’ve got to be able to do that. We can’t all get picked up or have six one-on-ones and guy’s sitting there patting the ball.”
4. I don’t know what uniforms Tech is wearing, but I can confirm it’s not the throwbacks. My guess would be either the white on white worn against Tulane or the white honeycomb jerseys (which, frankly, is most of the available options).
5. I am working on a story for myajc and Saturday’s paper about Justin Thomas and asked Johnson about his leadership ability at Tuesday’s news conference. He gave an interesting response about the nature of leadership.
“You know why guys follow anybody? Because they believe that they’re going to help them achieve their goals. That’s the only reason anybody follows anybody. If it feels like that, Hey, I can count on this guy and he’s got my back and he’s going to help me get to where I want to go, so I’m going to sell out and I’m going to do everything I can to help him, because he’s doing that for me. That’s what happens, I think.
"The best leaders are those guys. The guys who do all the talking – you can do all the talking you want, but if I’m playing and I turn the film on, and I see you lollygagging and you ain’t busting your butt, don’t talk to me. I might not say anything, but I’m tuning you out, because you’re talking the talk, but you ain’t walking the walk. I want to see, if it’s third down and short, if you’re willing to put your head down and go in there when I’m bloodying myself up trying to block the guy or if you’re going to lay down on me.
"If you’re going to lay down on me, I ain’t so sure I want to strain myself to help you. I think it comes from that. Guys, I don’t care what you’re playing, it could be jack rocks. You want to be on a team with guys that are competitive, that you can count on, that you know it matters (to them), if you’re a competitive guy and you want to win.”
There was a follow-up question about Joshua Nesbitt.
“He was a great example of that. I think from a player’s standpoint, or a coach’s standpoint, I had confidence in him. It’s like I’ve’ said before. The game (against) Wake Forest in overtime (in 2009), it’s fourth down and everybody’s got their opinion on what to do, and he comes over and looks you in the eye and he goes, ‘I’ll get it.’ I trusted him, because I knew he would, or he’d give every ounce in his body to do it. (If he came up short), it wasn’t going to be from (a lack of effort). And he wanted it. Those are the kind of guys you follow, and you trust to get it. If they come over to the sideline and you go, Hey, can you get fourth-and-2?’ ‘Well, maybe, but I might could pitch it to him.’ You ain’t so apt to do it then.”
(Nesbitt ended up scoring on the play, a three-yard touchdown run, to give Tech a 30-27 overtime win to advance the Jackets closer to the ACC Coastal title.)
6. For the game, Dave Pasch (play by play) and Brian Griese (analyst) will handle the call. Former Tech quarterback Tom Luginbill will be on the sidelines. I believe the last Tech game that crew handled was the North Carolina game last year.
7. The box score from the 2008 Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game was shared with me yesterday. It was pointed out to me that walk-on R.B. Clyburn started that game at wide receiver because Demaryius Thomas couldn’t play because of an injury.
Nothing against Clyburn, but that was a pretty significant loss. The other starter was Tyler Melton, who was a true freshman. Nesbitt was 5-for-8 for 109 yards, including two completions to Melton and Zach Fisher, another walk-on. Roddy Jones had a 41-yard touchdown reception. Those with memories of the game likely recall the late-hit flag on Cooper Taylor that enabled the Hokies to keep alive a fourth-quarter drive that led to the game-winning field goal.
Looking back at the play-by-play in the box score, I remembered that Nesbitt just missed Jones on a wheel route on the ensuing drive with about 2 ½ minutes left that would’ve been a big gain. Typical of this series of late. One or two plays has decided the game.
8. My colleague Doug Roberson wrote an insightful story about the Johnson-Bud Foster matchup . He spoke with former quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon, former quarterback Tevin Washington and Foster (as well as Johnson, Zach Laskey and Shaquille Mason) for it and got some good stuff out of each.
The two outside linebackers will line up close behind the defensive ends. They will then move around between gaps before the snap. The movement prevents the quarterback and offensive linemen from setting the blocking scheme before the play starts.
“They don’t define what they are going to do at the snap. You have to read it as you go,” said former quarterback Tevin Washington, who was 0-2 as starter against Hokies.
Definitely worth a read. I’ll tweet it out and put it on the Facebook page. You can read it free with registration.
9. Weather for Saturday in Blacksburg, Va., according to the Weather Channel: High of 76, mostly sunny, no chance of rain.
10. Georgia Tech has lost the past four games in which it was the underdog, all in 2013 – Miami, BYU, Clemson and Georgia.
The last time the Jackets won as an underdog was the 2012 Sun Bowl, when they were a 7.5-point underdog to USC. The last time they won as a road underdog was against North Carolina the same season. They were also a 7.5-point underdog in that game.