Sunday, August 15, 2010

Notes & Observations from Saturday....

We finally got our first glimpse of the team in action this Saturday as they scrimmaged on a muggy morning in front of a couple thousand fans at Bobby Dodd. It was a pretty controlled scrimmage as the staff elected to focus on evaluating specific areas & players but nonetheless we came away with a few observations:

  • the first team offense with Nesbitt at the helm had their way & scored on both possessions with relative ease. We'll score plenty this year so no worries here.
  • Nesbitt looked crisp & in total control of the offense. You can tell at this point his legs feel good. After Nesbitt the QB's left a bit to be desired as the ball was on the ground WAY too much in missed QB-center exchanges or missed meshes with the B-backs. True freshman Synjyn Days looks to be well ahead of any QB we've had come in since CPJ has been at Tech; the fact he ran our offense in high school is very evident although he needs desperately to improve his footwork. Days has some swagger to him as twice he popped up after a hit & let the defender know he was ready for more. David Sims continues to impress running the football. It won't surprise me to see him at B-back next year.
  • lots of rotation on the offensive line. Starters from left to right: Claytor, McRae, Bedford, Uzzi, & Barrick. Phil Smith split snaps with Claytor at left tackle but neither guy stood out. Will Jackson is battling McRae for the starting LG spot & I thought he played well on the day; I expect he'll be the starter against South Carolina State. Bedford & Uzzi are the heart of the line & both should have big years. Zach Krish is backing up Barrick & gives us some added depth.
  • Stephen Hill looked good on the day snagging a pair of catches, the most imortant being a 5 yard slant for a TD from Nesbitt where he used his body to shield the defender. Hill did let Mario Butler shake a block and make a tackle for loss later on in the scrimmage. We must get better blocking on the perimeter.
  • Kevin Cone also had a nice TD grab, leaping over coverage to snare a high throw. Daniel McKayhan also had a catch on the afternoon.
  • All the B-backs looked good on the day & we're blessed with depth & talent here.
  • The A-backs did some nice things but they continue to struggle catching the ball; a real concern for us if we can't get it fixed. Roddy Jones wasn't a big part of the game plan but I suspect that was on purpose as they know what he brings to the table. True freshman Deon Hill, who most likely will redshirt, did show nice burst on a couple of runs. No real surprises at A-back.
A caveat on our defense before we get into details: it's very hard to objectively evaluate our new 3-4 against our offense. We'll know more after the NC State game. Until then, it's a lot of guesswork.
  • The defensive line made a couple plays but I'm still concerned about our ability to stop the run when teams come right at us. Logan Walls & TJ Barnes were fine at NT but the addition of Ben Anderson, who didn't play much, I suspect as a precaution as he is returning from injury, will give us needed depth. Peters & Cross played adequately & were backed up by Dieke & Euclid Cummings, both of whom have improved from what I saw in the Spring. Dieke tweaked his shoulder & sat out toward the end of the scrimmage but should be fine. JC Lanier is back working at defensive end.
  • The linebackers are beginning to get comfortable & I was particularly impressed with the play of Kyle Jackson. Jackson was constantly around the ball making plays & looks to be fully recovered from the foot injury that sidelined him all of last year. We're still very thin at LB & will need to develop depth as the year moves forward.
  • One quick note on the LB's. Evidently my terminology for the LB's in the 3-4 is Saban-based & Coach Groh uses different terminology. Before I had the LB's as Jack (weakside OLB/Hybrid pass rusher), Will (weak ILB), Mike (strong ILB) & Sam (strong outside LB). The correct terminology is Will (weak OLB) Jack (weak ILB), Mike (strong ILB) & Sam (strong OLB). In our current defense that's Egbuniwe (Will), Watts (Jack), Jefferson (Mike) & AT Barnes (Sam). I apologize for the confusion.
  • At safety, Mario Edwards, Cooper Taylor & Isaiah Johnson all rotated equally, I expect this to continue into the season. Johnson in particular continued his strong play on Saturday & it's not hard to see why the freshman is being talked about by the staff. If Saturday is any indication, Rashad Reid has moved from corner to safety & is running with the second unit along with Jerrard Tarrant. Tarrant sprained his ankle Saturday & will miss a few practices. CPJ did said in his post-scrimmage remarks that he plans on redshirting true sophomore safety Jemea Thomas.
  • The biggest surprise at CB on Saturday was they play of true freshman Louis Young & Ryan Ayers. While Mario Butler & Dominique Reese started, Young and Rod Sweeting were the #2 unit and both played well. I expect Young to play this year after his performance Saturday. Ayers, who will need to add some weight during what appears to be a redshirt season this year, made a couple nice tackles and added an interception.
Special teams on Saturday were frankly nothing special. Scott Blair missed a 45 yd. field goal while true freshman Justin Moore missed wide right on a 52 yd. attempt (the kick had plenty of distance). In defense of both kickers the snaps on each play were poor which certainly can throw off timing. One area we can improve on is special teams so hopefully the early returns aren't indicative of what the season holds in store in this area. Our continued mediocrity on special teams remains one of the few sources of agitation for me under CPJ's watch.

Injury wise, true freshman LB Jeremiah Attaochu and RB Charles Perkins missed the scrimmage with tight hamstrings while freshman OG Morgan Bailey has a dinged up shoulder. Jarrard Tarrant will miss a couple practices with a sprained ankle while Emmanuel Dieke's shoulder appears to be nothing serious.

As a whole, I'll paraphrase Coach Johnson and say "we did some good things and some bad things" on Saturday. The talent level we're bringing in is higher than ever, a sure sign of a team on the rise. We'll score points a plenty this year but the question remains: can we stop anyone? That won't be answered until a couple games into the season.....


  1. Always like Daniel McKayan's game, what little I've seen of it. Most of what I've seen has been scrimages and practacis, but he seems to have good hands and good awareness. I'm not sure how athletic he is, as I've only seen him against the second team, but I fancy him a dark horse to make an impact at wide receiver. Thats right, I said "fancy"

    Also not surprised to hear Kyle Jackson had a good practice. He's strong willed kid with the kind of atttitude coach Groh likes. Hope he comes all the way back from that foot injury. Bloody useful, that's what Kyle Jackson is.


  2. Just some of my quick points: Jarrard Tarrant needs to have the ball in his hands....he is electric! Glad to see the True Freshman making an impact. Love the o-line depth. Brad Jefferson is scary up We will run alot to Uzzi's side. "The Nez".....nuff said. Look to see orwin smith on the rocket toss on 3rd and 4. Quinton sims is our best blocking WR. Marcus wright is our best blocking A-back. And lastly, I hope Embry buys some more of that stick'em for his hands he had last year cause we need better catching from the a-back position (like you said)..he had 2 drops that were ugly! Agreed?

  3. I do agree. i think Orwin will take over the Anthony Allen role of "bigger" A-back this season.

  4. Emry (Everyday) Peeples will get his. He'll have a game or two (like FSU & Vandy) where he breaks out and plays a huge role.

    We have a couple deep string small backs as walk ons. Super Smurfs abound.

    The 2s and 3s on D seemed to do well, unlike the 1s, but that may be more about the quality of the O than the D. I am excited to see them against a true offense. I am glad we have SCSt8 to warm up against.

    Foobaw season can't get here soon enough!