August 12, 2009

Position battles heat up on cool day

After almost a week and a half of extremely warm temperatures, the Georgia Tech football team enjoyed a much cooler cloud covered practice Wednesday morning in the Rose Bowl. Head coach Paul Johnson was pleased by the improved effort the team gave during the first of two practices on Wednesday.

"It felt like the fall like football weather," Johnson said. "I liked the tempo and it was a lot cooler, so we will have to see how it goes this afternoon."

While the Georgia Tech offensive line is battling injuries to Austin Barrick (knee), Brad Sellers (concussion), Nick Claytor (hip flexor) and Zach Fraysier (unspecified), the influx of five freshmen offensive linemen has helped offset those setbacks.

"We are working hard at mastering our techniques," offensive line coach Todd Spencer said. "I think our knowledge, the speed of the game, the pace of practice and the depth is a lot better. I am really encouraged by that."

Spencer says the depth has really pushed the competition on the line in camp.

"Competition is going to make everybody out here better," Spencer said. "Guys are competing for positions and they are being graded and watched. There is no doubt competition raises the bar."

One of the main competitions is at the center position where returning senior starter Dan Voss and junior Sean Bedford are battling for the top spot.

"That is a good competition between Voss and Bedford right now," Spencer said. "We still have a month before we tee it up to play a game and those guys are fighting it out everyday to get better. I am not even sure who was in the first huddle today."

The five freshmen offensive linemen have impressed Spencer as they have been called upon to fill in for injured veterans in the last couple of days of practice.

"I hate to single out the freshmen, but we have five guys in there getting some work," Spencer said. "We have had some guys hurt and we have thrown the freshmen in there and they have gotten some good work in there and they are all working hard."

Washington getting second look

With Jaybo Shaw sidelined with a concussion, redshirt freshman Tevin Washington has been getting a lot of reps as the second team quarterback. Johnson says he has been pleased with Washington's performance lately.

"I thought Tevin had a better morning and he did some good things," Johnson said. "Anytime you get reps it is going to help you and he has gotten a lot of reps. I think we will get Jaybo back here shortly and we will go from there."

True freshman David Sims has also benefited from additional playing time after fellow freshman Jordan Luallen sprained his ankle last Saturday. Currently only starter Josh Nesbitt, Washington, Sims and walk-on Jim Henry are healthy enough to take snaps at quarterback for the Jackets.

Barnes moves up

With defensive tackle Jason Peters sidelined with an unspecified injury, redshirt freshman T.J. Barnes had an opportunity to work with the first unit on Wednesday morning.

"Jason Peters is out a little bit and we are trying to get some things done with him, so Barnes is out there," Johnson said.

At the defensive end position true freshmen Izaan Cross and Emmanuel Dieke are making hard pushes for playing time behind starters Robert Hall and Derrick Morgan. Coach Johnson thinks Hall will be able to hold down his spot this season.

"Robert is working hard and he has done some good things," Johnson said. "I think Robert will be fine. I do not have any concerns about Robert."

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