Things you may not know about Georgia Tech prior to its Saturday homecoming game against Duke.
1. Team members were quite eager to wear the new navy pants that they’ll wear Saturday to go with the white jerseys with blue numbers. It’s believed to be the first time that Tech has ever worn that color pants in team history.
The increased number of combinations has been received well. There’s three different jerseys (white with gold numbers, white with blue numbers and navy with gold numbers), three pants (white with blue accents, gold with blue accents and navy with gold accents) and two helmets (gold and white).
“It’s definitely nice,” quarterback and team captain TaQuon Marshall said. “I get to ask the guys what they want to rock, and we try to put our own little flavor on it.”
One combination that has yet to be worn is navy jersey and navy pants.
“I would love that all blue,” A-back Qua Searcy said.
2. It may not happen Saturday, but offensive lineman Jahaziel Lee may move back from center to offensive tackle, leaving Kenny Cooper, who is working back into condition to play a full game, to be the full-time center.
“At the end of this week, when we have a bye week, we may be able to work ’em both in there somewhere, but it’s not fair to one of them in a position that they don’t practice and play a lot,” coach Paul Johnson said.
Lee has been practicing at both tackle and center, a position he moved to after Cooper suffered a foot injury in spring practice. Another possibility is to move Cooper to right guard, where he could possibly rotate with right guard Connor Hansen.
“Whenever coach needs me out there, I’ll go play,” said Lee, who has indicated his preference for center over tackle, where he played as a freshman and sophomore. “It’s nothing new to me.”
Hansen has impressed in two starts at right guard.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Lee said. “He’s going out there, being physical. He wants to play, he wants to help the team and he’s going out, he’s hitting and he’s knowing his assignment and he’s doing a great job.”
3. A-back Omahri Jarrett is earning Johnson’s trust, but the rotation will likely stay a three-player group with Clinton Lynch, Nathan Cottrell and Searcy.
“You start rolling four guys at A-back, then they all end up playing 30 plays,” Johnson said.
4. Johnson gave a rather lofty compliment to freshman wide receiver Malachi Carter, saying that he is probably as developed as any freshman receiver that he can remember. To this point, Brad Stewart may have had the most productive season for a freshman wide receiver (not counting redshirt freshman in Johnson’s tenure, starting five games and catching seven passes for 93 yards.
5. Marshall on playing Duke after last year’s 43-20 loss in Durham, N.C.:
“I didn’t really think too far ahead about it, but it’s definitely one of those games that I want to get back because I know we didn’t play too well in the second half last year. So definitely looking forward to this year. Just trying to have fun with it and just fly around.”
6. Cornerback Tre Swilling, who missed the Clemson game for violating a team rule, declined to explain the nature of the offense this week in his first media availability since that game.
“I learned from my mistake,” he said. “I kind of want to keep it forward and focus on the team as a whole.”
Swilling said that Johnson’s change in policy to take away playing time from players for minor rules violations (it had previously been to run at 6 a.m.) has been very effective.
“We all love this sport a lot,” he said. “We love the school that we play for. When you make the kind of mistake that hinders your teammates and have to look at them in the face and tell them that you’re sorry for it, you kind of take it to heart. But I think it’s effective, for sure.”
7. Despite being held out of the game, Swilling stayed on the field after the game for the marching band’s post-game performance. Swilling he stays for the alma mater, win or lose.
“I’ve always been taught growing up just to win with dignity and lose with dignity, as well,” he said. “Not saying any of my other teammates didn’t, but this is kind of something in high school we kind of did. It’s kind of just been a childhood thing growing up and up and up and just kind of something that I do. I mean, they came out there to play for us and cheer us on, so I just stay out there and kind of do the same for them.”
8. Duke has a 59/31 run/pass ratio, which comes as good news for inside linebacker David Curry.
“Me and Brant (Mitchell) have definitely talked about that, how we’re like, we wish teams would try to run the ball a little more, because we want to get some tackles,” Curry said. “I mean, it’s been different.”
As they were coming from behind, Bowling Green and Louisville ran 61 times and threw it 93. Tech’s difficulties in defending the pass have likely contributed to the tilted ratio.
9. Freshman linebacker Charlie Thomas started his first game against Louisville and came up with two recovered fumbles. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he were to start again, backed up by Victor Alexander.
“First of all, he’s athletic,” Curry said. “He flies to the ball. We love that in this new defense, you want guys that are going to fly around and get to the football. He brings, I would say, a slightly more athletic build to that position.”
10. After playing early, freshmen Jordan Domineck and Justice Dingle are now on the defensive scout team. Domineck had been playing Jack linebacker and Dingle had played defensive end. Domineck has played three games and Dingle four. The move would indicate that, barring injuries to players ahead of them, the plan is for them to redshirt under the new rule permitting players to appear in up to four games and still claim a redshirt season.
Two freshman cornerbacks, Zamari Walton and Jaylon King, have both played three games. They are still candidates to play, Johnson said.
11. Fans attending the game may want to arrive before kickoff, as a flyover by two F-18 Super Hornets has been scheduled. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Craig Candeto is familiar with the aircraft. Candeto, a Navy grad, flew the Super Hornet before being medically discharged from his post.
12. Among recruits visiting the game Saturday: Colquitt County High kicker Ryan Fitzgerald, who started off the season with makes from 51, 53, 55 and 57 yards.
13. Johnson disputed the notion that Tech is practicing better since the loss to Clemson.
“I haven’t seen practice change one bit from the week where we were playing Clemson to the week when we played Bowling Green and Louisville,” he said. “Now, we’ve played a lot better and, quite honestly, they probably weren’t as good (as Clemson). That’s what happens. That’s why you play out the season.”
14. Johnson’s memories of the Gardner-Webb game in 2008, the 10th anniversary of which was Thursday:
“We won,” he said. “You know the other thing I’ve learned in 40 years of coaching. Nobody remembers who you played. They just remember whether you won or lost. And they don’t remember when you won most of the time. They just remember when you lost.”
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