Fortunately for Georgia Tech, the first two games of the season against Western Carolina on Sept. 1 and Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 10 should be glorified scrimmages because the Yellow Jackets will be without one of their key starters along the offensive line for either of the opening two games on the 2011 schedule. Head coach Paul Johnson announced on Wednesday that Phil Smith will be suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules.
As Ken Suguira of the AJC notes, the suspension may not have ramifications for the first two weeks, but it should further erode any chance of the offensive line gelling early on in the season:
The suspension further hampers the line’s objective to build cohesion after an injury-filled spring practice. Alford and Beno have received many of the first-team practice repetitions in Smith’s place. Further, starting guard Will Jackson missed his second day in a row of practice along with backup tackle Morgan Bailey with injuries. Backup guard J.C. Lanier is likely out at least three weeks with a stress fracture.
Catlin Alford, a redshirt freshman, or Ray Beano who appeared in three games as a redshirt freshman in '10 are considered the most likely candidates to replace Smith during his two-game suspension.