Coach Johnson held a press conference yesterday to discuss the state of the team heading into spring practice. Below are the first seven minutes of what ended as a 25 minute question & answer.
As always, CPJ was funny & direct (and VERY concerned about where we start next season in the polls...). Some highlights & things we thought worthy of passing on:
- As many as 8 players may miss spring practice due to injury and several players are still recovering from off-season surgery. Off the top of our head those who most likely will sit out spring: Ben Anderson (DL/ACL), Robert Hall (DE/knee), Chris Jackson (A-back/PCL), Phil Smith (OT/ankle), Josh Nesbitt (ankles), Preston Lyons (B-back/shoulder), & Kyle Jackson (LB/foot). That's seven, damnit, who's the eighth....?
- Roddy Jones will be at all football practices unless there is a chance he will "play meaningfully" in a baseball game. CPJ expressly stated that pinch-running in a 15-6 game was not "meaningful". If a situation arises they will work it out....
- Spring practice "is a chance to focus on fundamentals & coaching....as opposed to game planning."
- There really isn't a depth chart at this time, particularly on defense, & people are listed simply by seniority. According to CPJ, "it's not worth the paper it's printed on". One goal of spring practice is to enter the Fall with a 2-deep depth chart.
- With Josh Nesbitt out this spring the majority of quarterback reps will be split between redshirt sophomore Tevin Washington & redshirt freshmen Jordan Luallen & David Sims. Washington will start with the "ones". Just a guess but this most likely is simply due to seniority. This spring will "be a good opportunity find out where Luallen & Sims are & what they can do...". We expect one of those two to emerge as the back-up to Nesbitt in 2010 & his heir apparent in 2011.
- With the new scheme things on the defensive side of the ball are in a state of flux. "Defensively we're going to move some guys around until we see where they fit. More than likely I'm going to move a defensive lineman or two to offensive line....maybe a week into spring". CPJ mentioned weight & conditioning as factors that would play a role in defensive linemen moving over to offense. T.J. Barnes was named as a likely candidate. Coach also pointed out the move(s) would help even out the numbers between scholarship offensive & defensive players.
- CPJ singled out two prospective B-backs for praise: "I'm excited about Richard Watson. We're going to start Charles Perkins out there at B-back & see but I've been really impressed with him in morning drills. He's definitely a player. I mean, it's not like, ok, you're the anointed one, here you go partner. There will be some competition there, too....". Take note: CPJ has not proven effusive in his praise of players since his arrival on the Flats. For him to single out a true freshman who has only been on campus since January is HUGE. Expect Perkins to be in the mix for playing time at B-back early.
Expect Charles Perkins to be in the mix early.....
- We are deep & experienced in the secondary & at A-back, according to Johnson.
- On Tech's preseason ranking: "if we're not picked in the preseason polls I'll be just devastated". As I'm sure you already know, his tongue was firmly planted in his cheek & this remark drew universal laughs from those in attendance....
- Johnson is looking for consistency on special teams & as far as placekicker Scott Blair is concerned, "we're just going to tell him everybody we play is Clemson...."
- Johnson included this nugget in a response about Josh missing the spring (he will be at practice, although not participating physically, & will be counted on for leadership & mental reps): "we're going to do some different things this spring, some stuff we're going to add. We're to the point now where we can add some things, a little bit, to the package." When asked about replacing BayBay, Johnson added "we're probably going to get the A-backs more involved in the passing game". Will we see the run & shoot look? Doubt it, but the possibility is there. I do expect a more diverse route tree for the A-backs & more use of the "stack" set this season as Jones, Peeples & Jackson all have good hands.
- Freshman B.J. Bostic will start at A-back & may see QB reps, if necessary. Johnson is "trying to find a way to get him on the field the fastest". Johnson has also not ruled out using Bostic on returns this season.
- CPJ singled out the offensive line as a point of interest this spring: "the spot where it's going to be interesting in the spring, I think, is offensive line. You know, we've got some young guys who we're going to get a chance to get a really good look at. I think that they may be an upgrade, but they have to show us & we'll see". Paging Messieurs Foster, Beno, Finch, & Jackson, please meet coaches Johnson, Sewak, & Spencer at the opportunity gate. Your ticket to the big time awaits....
CPJ was, as always, direct & engaging, with little coach speak or beating around the bush. It's wide open this spring & it will be very interesting to see which players seize the opportunity.....