December 15, 2009

Tuesday practice notebook

With some time to rest and heal the Georgia Tech defensive line is working on building back depth after losing a pair of starters Robert Hall and Ben Anderson for the season. Defensive line coach Giff Smith has been doing a patchwork job all season to build depth and he feels good about the progress he has seen in bowl practice.

After playing the ACC Championship game with only a handful of defensive linemen causing a switch to a 3-4 defense, the Jackets are back in the 4-3 with return of Jason Peters. Defensive end Izaan Cross' switch to defensive tackle was also made permanent for the rest of this season to help build depth.

"Jason is back healthy and we are working Izaan inside. We are working Osahon Tongo and Albert Rocker as the back up ends," Smith said. "We will be able to roll the inside guys more than we did against Clemson. The outside guys it will be just a breather when Anthony Egbuniwe and Derrick Morgan need it."

Overall Smith feels better about the defensive line situation than he has since the Duke game.

"For where we are at we are about as healthy as we can be," Smith said. "I think it looks pretty good going into the bowl."

Given Iowa's size on the offensive line, Smith expects a tough challenge for his linemen in the Orange Bowl.

"We will do whatever we have to do to be successful whether it is four down linemen, three down linemen or five or six," he said. "They are very well coached on the offensive line so the challenge is there. We have to be able to stop the run and create some passing situations where we can after the passer. We have not been able to do that because we have not been able to stop the run. That has been the point of emphasis and we have had two good days of practice."

This week the Jackets are also looking at the true freshmen who are working on the scout team. On Tuesday, they scrimmage briefly and Smith was impressed with the three redshirting linemen.

"We run the freshmen in bowl practice every year to evaluate and get a jumpstart on spring," he said. "I am really encouraged with Euclid Cummings, Emmanuel Dieke and Chris Crenshaw I think the future is bright."

All-American honors for two Jackets

Derrick Morgan and Demaryius Thomas received A.P. All-American awards Tuesday. Morgan was named to the first team as a defensive end while Thomas was named to the third team as a receiver. Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson took a moment to recognize them after the practice Tuesday.

"It is great and it is a great honor for those guys. They deserve it and they worked really hard for it," Johnson said. "Both of those guys deserve it. Derrick is a great player and Bay-Bay has had a great year. They were probably both a little embarrassed when they announced it in front of the team."

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