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Synjyn Days ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and threw for 46 yards and a score to lead the Gold squad to 21-7 victory over the White on Saturday.
I am going to revisit the five topics I discussed pregame and will add one more.
The Quarterback Battle - Synjyn Days was electric on the ground all day, rushing 24 times for 122 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. He was 2-of-7 through the air for 46 yards and completed an 11-yard touchdown to B.J. Bostic. Days really impressed running, both in the framework of the triple option and by making something happen when plays broke down.
One of the highlights of the day was Days jumping over DB Jemea Thomas trying to convert a first down. He struggled throwing the ball early, but put together three consecutive beautiful long passes in the second half that showed a lot of promise. One negative I saw was that he looked indecisive at times in the pocket, torn between forcing a throw or making a play with his feet.
Tevin Washington, on the other hand, had a very up-and-down game. He completed 10-of-26 passes for 134 yards, but struggled rushing the ball for only 37 yards. He was sacked three times and had five turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles.
One major positive from Washington was the obvious development of a mid-range passing game. At times in the past it has seemed as if the Tech passing offense has either been a short dump throw or a bomb downfield, but Washington and the A-backs had great chemistry in the 10- to 20-yard range.
It was only one game, but Days has clearly closed the gap on the depth chart. I would imagine that the battle will continue until close to kickoff on September 1st.
Al Groh's Defense - This was definitely one of the highlights of the game. The squad had four picks, created backfield pressure from multiple angles all day, and defended passes downfield well. LB Quayshawn Nealy really stood out, leading the team with eight tackles, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery.
Line Play - The defensive line performed well all game, generating pressure and making tackles at the point of contact for the most part. The other side of them doing well, however, is that it appears the offensive line struggled. Whether that is more of the defensive shining or the offensive line struggling remains to be seen.
The Runners - B-backs Preston Lyons and Richard Watson combined for 98 yards on 17 carries and looked game ready. Lyons was the bruising up the middle type back and dragged defenders with him for extra yards with every carry, while Watson was able to get in the open a little more and broke for a 15-yard touchdown. David Sims had 33 yards on seven carries from the position as well.
The A-backs looked season ready as well. Embry Peeples had three catches for 48 yards, and Tony Zenon had two runs for 22 yards. A ton of guys got chances so no one racked up major numbers, but they looked to be about right where they should be at this point of practice.
The Receivers - Daniel McKayhan had one catch (from B.J. Bostic on an A-back option) for 35 yards, and freshman Marty Alcala hauled in one for 35 yards as well. Stephen Hill was targeted a couple of times and had one catch for six yards and Tyler Melton had one catch as well. The receiving game was focused mostly around the A-backs finding open holes in the defense. One negative from the corps was some struggles on perimeter blocking in the run game.
The Kicking Game -This was definitely one of the major negatives of the day. Three punters, Sean Poole, Chandler Anderson, and Michael McDonald all did well, but the placekickers combined to go 0-for-3, missing on chances from 49, 47, and 28 yards.
For more on the Jackets, head to From The Rumble Seat.
Spring practice for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets comes to a close Saturday afternoon when Paul Johnson's players battle it out for spots on the roster. Kickoff is set for noon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Fans can park for free before noon in Peters, Klaus, or other parking lots around campus, but after noon there will be a charge, so get there early. There are plenty of festivities planned before the game, and gates 4, 5, and 7 open at 11 a.m. Afterwards, head over to Russ Chandler Stadium to see Danny Hall's squad try to clinch a series victory over Boston College at 3 p.m.
There is only so much you can learn from a spring game, but here are five things I am going to be watching:
The Quarterback Battle
Redshirt junior Tevin Washington gained valuable game experience after Joshua's Nesbitt's injury last season and entered the spring with the top spot on the depth chart. He still holds this spot, but has and will continue to receive plenty of a challenge from Synjyn Days. David Sims will also receive his chances running the offense while also getting carries at B-back. Who can manage the triple option, provide a playmaking spark, and be able to throw the ball effectively?
Al Groh's Defense
The defensive side of the ball is traditionally ahead of the offense in any spring practice, but Groh's defense seems to have had an especially impressive spring. The squad struggled last year adjusting to the new 3-4 system, ranking 64th nationally in total defense. With one year of experience in the system, the players have played faster and with more confidence.
Coach Groh commented on the identidy of the defense to the AJC: "That seems to be a little clearer for the players this time around."
The front seven seem to be fairly set in their spots, with Logan Walls, Izaan Cross, and Jason Peters all returning on the line and a linebacker corps that has plenty of experience. Brad Jefferson and Anthony Egbuniwe need to be replaced, but Julian Burnett, Jeremiah Attaochu, Steven Sylvester, and Brandon Watts all have shown great potential. Other players to watch here are Quayshawn Nealy, Albert Rocker, and Daniel Drummond, the former running back that switched to the defensive side of the ball this offseason.
The secondary, however, has to replace every single starter from last year and will see plenty of battle on the depth chart. Players to watch here include Isaiah Johnson, Rod Sweeting, Fred Holton, Louis Young, and freshman Ryan Ayers.
The defensive line as previously stated has plenty of experience. I will be interested to see how they have improved working together in the system and if they can provide run support at the line of scrimmage and produce any pressure in the backfield.
The offensive line, however, is not nearly experienced. Starters Omoregie Uzzi, Will Jackson, and Phil Smith are all back, but All-ACC center Sean Bedford leaves a huge whole in the line that will need to be replaced. Jay Finch got plenty of playing time last season at that spot and will most likely be the starter, while Ray Beno, Nick McRae, and freshmen Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey will be in the hunt for a spot as well.
The A-backs and the B-backs will be one of the spotlight positions on Saturday as they usually are in the triple option. The A-back squad is absolutely loaded coming into 2011, with Roddy Jones, Orwin Smith, Embry Peeples, and Marcus Wright all having plenty of experience. B.J. Bostic had a handful of impressive plays last year and will be looking to improve in his sophomore year. Tony Zenon and Deon Hill will battle to make it into the rotation, while Charles Perkins will get looks at both back positions.
For the first time under Paul Johnson, there isn't a clear cut leader for the B-back position. Johnson's first two years featured Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen carried the load last year. It appears that veteran Preston Lyons holds a slight lead at this point of practice, but Richard Watson, David Sims, and Perkins will do their best to be the next 1,000 yard-rusher out of the backfield.
The struggles of Georgia Tech's passing offense last season were well documented. With the loss of Kevin Cone and Correy Earls, the only receivers that have caught a pass in game action are Tyler Melton, Stephen Hill, and Daniel McKayhawn. How much have those three and the A-backs improved their catching skills in the offseason?
Football spring practice and spring game kickoff dates have been announced for Georgia Tech and the rest of the ACC. The Jackets get spring ball going a little later in the year than most of the conference, beginning practices after all but two teams and holding their T-Day Game before only Maryland's spring game.
Teams with the most questions to address during spring ball: Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech, UNC, N.C. State, and Clemson need to figure out new quarterbacks, N.C. State lost significant talent while bringing on very few contributors, and Maryland and Miami have new head coaches. So let's say Miami and N.C. State.
Duke starts the conference off well before it's even spring -- in fact, the Blue Devils reach their spring game just after spring begins, making this more of a winter practice period, right? Their spring game actually lines up near the end of March Madness. If Duke basketball loses in the Elite Eight, the football spring game could be the next morning. If Duke reaches the Final Four, Duke sports in general will have more attention on them than normal. Does Duke always schedule their spring football so early? Can't believe I've written so much about Duke spring football on my day off.
|School||Spring Practice||Spring Game|
|Boston College Eagles||March 15||April 16|
|Clemson Tigers||March 7||April 9|
|Duke Blue Devils||Feb. 16||March 26|
|Florida St. Seminoles||March 21||April 16|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||March 28||April 23|
|Maryland Terrapins||March 29||April 30|
|Miami Hurricanes||March 5||April 16|
|N.C. State Wolfpack||March 17||April 16|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||March 16||April 9|
|Virginia Cavaliers||March 16||April 2|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||March 30||April 23|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||March 15||April 16|