6 observations from Georgia Tech’s Saturday practice

Georgia Tech's scrimmage Saturday April 20, 2019 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In the foreground, wide receiver Stephen Dolphus lines up against cornerback Jordan Huff.

Notes and observations from Georgia Tech’s scrimmage, its second of the spring, Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Media were permitted to watch the last 30 minutes of the practice. Tech will conclude coach Geoff Collins’ first spring practice Friday with its spring game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

1. Plays of note: Running back Dontae Smith made a multiple-effort play to break free from a scrum at the line of scrimmage, cutting back to his right and running down the east sideline for a run of perhaps 50 yards. … Defensive lineman Kelton Dawson batted down a third-down pass. … Wide receiver Tija'i Whatley caught a deep ball of perhaps 40 yards from walk-on quarterback Liam Byrne for a touchdown. … Early-enrollee freshman cornerback Jordan Huff had a nice pass breakup. … Defensive tackle Chris Martin had a sack on a fourth-down play in a two-minute drill. ... Early-enrollee freshman wide receiver Ahmarean Brown got behind the defense for what could have been a long touchdown, but the pass from quarterback Lucas Johnson was just long. (Wet conditions were not conducive for passing.)

2. Early-enrollee freshmen Sylvain Yondjouen (defensive end) and Huff continued to get snaps with the "A" defense. Likewise, Brown regularly plays on the A offense at slot receiver.

“Jordan Huff made a bunch of good plays,” Collins said. “Ahmarean Brown (also). Sylvain is doing really good.”

3. The scrimmage ended with an overtime scenario.

Both the Waffle House (A offense, B defense) and Coca-Cola (B offense, A defense) teams went scoreless in the first period – cornerback Tre Swilling ended the Waffle House possession with an interception and then kicker Wesley Wells missed from about 42 yards for Coca-Cola.

(The designations are based on the sidelines that the teams use. The Waffle House team is on the east sideline, as the Waffle House in Tech Square is east of the stadium, while the Coca-Cola team is on the west sideline, as the company’s headquarters are southwest of the stadium.)

In the second overtime, quarterback James Graham ran the ball in from about the 15-yard line on a broken play for the Coca-Cola team. The Waffle House team then answered with a touchdown when quarterback Lucas Johnson scored on an option keeper from about the 12. The offense stayed on the field for a winner-take-all two-point conversion.

Both teams were chanting from their sidelines in anticipation of the final play. Coming unimpeded from the left side, safety Kaleb Oliver brought down Johnson to give the Coca-Cola team the win.

The overtime work was part of Collins’ effort to reinforce situational awareness.

“A couple guys, we had to educate them – here’s what you do when you win the toss, here’s what you do when you lose the toss,” Collins said. “So it’s a process of educating them on all of the situations and everything that big-time programs do.”

4. Walk-on wide receiver Josh Blancato caught a 59-yard touchdown pass early in the scrimmage and also had back-to-back catches on another drive. Blancato, who as an A-back last season played in one game as a redshirt freshman, has caught coaches' attention this spring.

The team wears GPS devices in practice that track distance covered, speed, changes of direction, quick accelerations and the like, and Collins said that, after the first 10 or 11 practices, Blancato and Brown “have hit some of the highest speeds, accelerations, velocities throughout the entire spring. Really excited about him. He’s done a great job for us learning the offense, knowing the offense and then playing at a high level.”

5. Quarterback Tobias Oliver has been held out of practice in recent days because of an injury. Collins said Saturday after the team's scrimmage at Bobby Dodd Stadium that he is day to day, "so hopefully we'll know more going into the spring game."

Collins did not identify the injury, but Oliver was wearing a protective brace on his right hand at the scrimmage.

Georgia Tech graduate assistant coach and former Yellow Jackets offensive lineman Errin Joe (dark shirt) walks off the field after a team scrimmage April 20, 2019 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Joe and other costumed graduate assistants helped put on an Easter egg hunt after the practice for children of coaches and staff.

6. The team held an Easter egg hunt at the stadium following the scrimmage for children of coaches and staff. Graduate assistants wore Easter bunny costumes during the practice.

In Other News