Posted by Chip Patterson
Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is ready to get football started. After a dismal 6-7 season that ended with a 14-7 loss to Air Force in the Independence Bowl and the new NCAA sanctions that vacated their 2009 ACC Championship, the Yellow Jackets are ready to write some new history on the field. Fifth-year senior Roddy Jones was the elder representative for the team in Pinehurst on Sunday, and he was excited to talk about the upcoming season. Georgia Tech's spring practices received mixed reviews, but one thing that was obvious in the Yellow Jacket's "T-Day" spring game was an improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Jones elaborated on what has made the unit better on Sunday.
"I see a lot of athleticism on [the defensive] side of the ball," Jones explained. "They're starting to understand more, and they are going to fly around this year. One thing you will definitely see is guys running to the football, like I said a lot of athleticism. They are going to be very talented and very fast, and hopefully hungry."
Of course, some have argued that the strong showing by the defense in intrasquad scrimmages has been due to a significantly weaker offensive line. Head coach Paul Johnson said after the spring game that the quarterbacks were "running for their lives." According to Jones, the line has been a spot where the players have focused on improvement over the summer - all under the leadership of All-ACC offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi.
"I've seen a whole lot of work put in by the offensive line. Uzzi has done a great job of organizing them and having them talk through things," Jones said. "He's kind of the elder statesman on the offensive line, between him and Phil Smith. He's done a great job of making sure everyone gets on the same page, because it all starts with them. We can't do anything without [the offensive line], and they understand that. Omoregie knows what it's like to be a part of a really good offensive line, one that won us an ACC Championship. So he's been really driving that home for the young guys."
As far as the guys behind that line? It's a crowded group of players all looking for their touches, thankfully Paul Johnson's option offense allows for plenty of rushers to find time on the field.
"There's a lot of depth in the backfield," Jones elaborated. "We've got probably 4 or 5 guys at A-back who have a lot of playing time and a lot of experience. We've got 4 guys at B-back who can all play. They might not have the experience that we have at A-back, but they are all very talented, ready, and hungry to show what they can do. I think everyone does a great job of being ready when their time comes and that's what it's about."