The weather cooperated for Georgia Tech’s first day of preseason practice on Friday. Meaning it was warm. As the Yellow Jackets broke out their new Adidas practice jerseys and cleats for the afternoon practice, temperatures were in the mid-80’s.
“It was a typical first day, I think,” coach Paul Johnson. “It got warm, which is good. A lot of teaching going on, as you would expect, especially with the young guys. So you’ve got a few days of this before you go in pads and get a little bit quicker and a little faster.”
By NCAA rules, players cannot practice in full pads until the fifth day of practice. The first two days can be conducted with helmets as the only protective gear, followed by helmets and shoulder pads in days three and four.
The practice began at 3 p.m., which was by design to have the team practicing in the heat of the afternoon. It has been Johnson’s standard procedure to condition his team to play in warm weather.
The method has particular purpose this season, as Tech will play its season opener against Alcorn State at noon on September 1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The second game of the season will be at USF in Tampa, Fla., in another noon kickoff. Johnson joked at the team’s media day Thursday that “it’ll only be about 110 (degrees). So you’d better have a lot of guys ready to play. You’re not going to get through a game unless you rotate and have a lot of guys ready to play. That’s something that we’ll try to push towards.”
In 2017, the average daily high in Tampa in September was 90.5 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. A high-humidity afternoon at Raymond James Stadium would not be a surprise.
Johnson has plenty of experience practicing and playing in hot weather, having coached a total of nine years at Georgia Southern.
“I’ve seen plenty of teams come down there (to Statesboro) and melt, and the only way you can get used to it is by practicing in it and in doing it,” Johnson said. “We’ll be outside every chance we get in the heat.”
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