Georgia Tech’s offseason passes a milestone Wednesday when coach Paul Johnson, quarterback TaQuon Marshall and linebacker Brant Mitchell represent the team at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C.
Here are five questions/topics that they will be addressing from assembled media.
1. The health of Kenny Cooper
Kenny Cooper’s spring-practice foot injury left questions at the center position, with reverberations throughout the whole offensive line. Coach Paul Johnson said at the end of spring practice that Cooper’s recovery time was three months, meaning he could be ready just before the preseason begins at the start of August.
A returning starter and one of the more productive players on the Tech offense last season, Cooper is an important piece of the puzzle for the Jackets heading into the season.
Johnson can give updates on Cooper’s health and his projected return time. The same goes for offensive lineman Andrew Marshall, who missed the 2017 season with a foot injury and is returning for his senior season.
2. Reports on freshmen
There may not be too much to be gleaned, but Johnson, quarterback TaQuon Marshall and linebacker Brant Mitchell will be asked about their impressions of the 18 scholarship freshmen who arrived on campus in June. (Even better would be questions for them to do impressions of those freshmen.) Since arriving, they’ve been taking part in summer strength-and-conditioning workouts and likely also in team-led position drills and 7-on-7 workouts.
Undoubtedly, some among the group will be playing this coming season. Last year, nine players of the 24-member freshman class saw playing time.
3. Progress in summer workouts
Marshall and Mitchell, elected captains in January, can share their observations about how the workouts have gone this summer – who is working hard, who is improving, etc.
They can also communicate in what ways the team is being motivated to redeem the 2017 season. A year ago, team leaders were challenging teammates not to continue the pattern of falling back after a successful season (as in 2010 and 2015).
4. Opinions on new rules
Coaches have had a summer to mull over how the new rule on kickoffs – any kickoff fair caught inside the 25-yard line will be considered a touchback, with possession starting at the 25 – will affect play and how teams might use it to their advantage.
Also, in June, the NCAA changed the rule on redshirting to allow for any player who plays in four or fewer games to keep their redshirt. While it’s a rule seemingly without drawbacks, it’s unclear how much this will actually be used. Coaches will be surveyed for their reactions.
5. The new defense
Mitchell likely will field plenty of questions about new defensive coordinator Nate Woody and what sort of impact the change in scheme and coaches will have on Tech’s defense. After installing the scheme in spring practice, team members have been able to meet with coaches for video and whiteboard sessions this summer.