Paul Johnson’s plan for freshmen against Alcorn State

Georgia Tech opens its 126th season Saturday against Alcorn State at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Jackets return 15 starters from last year's 5-6 team. Alcorn State is the four-time defending Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division champion. Tech is 88-34-4 all-time in season openers. The Jackets are 8-2 in season openers with Paul Johnson as coach. Tech opened the 2015 season against Alcorn State with a 69-6 win. The 2015 season opener marked the last time Tech scored 28 points or more (34) in a quarter.

Should Georgia Tech’s season opener against Alcorn State on Saturday get out of hand, there won’t be a flood of freshmen getting into the game for their first collegiate snaps.

For players he plans to redshirt, coach Paul Johnson indicated Tuesday that he will be judicious with the four games that they’re allowed to play while still being able to redshirt that season, as a new NCAA rule permits. Johnson said that the team will probably dress between 75 and 80 players “because of sideline management.” There are 117 players on the roster. In past years, it has been typical for redshirting players not to be in uniform for home games.

While the rule change offered the possibility that coaches might want to get likely redshirts into early-season games for the sake of experience, particularly those whose outcome has been decided, Johnson will not do that.

“Come Game 6, we might need some of those kids to play four games on special teams or whatever,” Johnson said.

There are a handful of freshmen who will play this season, including Stinger linebacker Charlie Thomas, safety Juanyeh Thomas, wide receiver Malachi Carter and linebacker Quez Jackson. Johnson said earlier this week that he plans to redshirt quarterback James Graham unless he decides that the Yellow Jackets need his help to win games this season. It appears most of the 23-player class will be redshirted, if possible.

“I don’t think you just let all the freshmen (play) and you dress ’em all, you put ’em all on special teams on Saturday and turn ’em loose and say that’s one of their four games,” Johnson said. “I think you have to kind of gradually think it out and go with it from there.”