In practice, the starters and backups expected to play in games run plays against the scout team, which mimics the coming opponent’s look. That being the case, scout-team players don’t have much opportunity to learn Tech’s schemes and plays and, further, to do so well enough to help the Yellow Jackets win games. It’s especially so given the fact that they were put on scout team in the first place because coaches judged them not ready to contribute on the field.
Could special teams be another route?
“I guess,” Johnson said, “but I’m not going to put ’em out there just so I play them. They’ve got to give us a chance to win.”
Johnson also had qualms about giving freshmen a handful of plays in four games – at which point another game would require them to use a season of eligibility. That plan could backfire if there were a string of injuries at that player’s position and then he had to play a fifth game in an emergency role, thus burning his redshirt with fairly minimal return.
Using redshirting freshmen in emergency situations might be the most likely way that Tech uses them in four games or fewer. Guard Connor Hansen, for instance, played three games in a backup role last season as a freshman when line depth grew thin.
Another situation might be a player who develops over the course of the season enough to the point where coaches determine he can help in the latter part of the season. Coaches sometimes shuttle players from scout team to what they call the “varsity” to develop depth. Such a freshman might be used now where he wouldn’t have been previously.
But, for freshmen wanting to see the field this season for certain, the preseason is essential.
“Sometimes we’ll roll guys back and forth,” Johnson said. “But if you don’t want to be on the scout team, you’d better show something the first two weeks (of preseason).”