Roof with updates on Georgia Tech position battles

Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof provided updates on a few position battles on Tuesday for his group, which allowed averages of 25.8 points and 368 yards per game last season.

Coach Paul Johnson said he would like to see the defense reduce its yards allowed per play (5.8; Tech’s was 5.9) and to create more defenses. He said better execution by the offense will help the defense.

Roof said the defense is moving fast in camp in learning the schemes, but that’s by design. They are aggressively installing the defense and then will go back and refine.

“They’ve responded well and are working hard,” he said.

Here are some of the position battles Roof talked about:

Outside linebacker: Redshirt freshman David Curry, who played at Buford High School, and junior Terrell Lewis are working with the first team in the 4-3 defense.

“It’s an ongoing battle and making both of them better,” Roof said.

Lewis played in 12 games last year, making 12 tackles. He played in 11 games as a freshman.

Middle linebacker: Roof said there's a good battle between sophomore Brant Mitchell, who had three starts in 12 games last season, and senior Chase Alford, who played in 12 games last season. Roof said both players became more lean in the offseason and moving better than last year. Alford is listed at 222 pounds in the media guide after being 227 last year; Mitchell is listed at 236 pounds after being 235 last year.

“When you have those battle and are rotating reps – hey what I do matters today – that’s a good position,” Roof said.

Cornerback: Juniors Lance and Lawrence Austin are having good camps, according to Roof. Redshirt sophomore Lamont Simmons, who sat out last year as a transfer from USC, is battling junior Step Durham. Redshirt freshman Dorian Walker is trying to find a position in the secondary after playing several spots in high school.

Free safety: Sophomore A.J. Gray has improved his ability to recognize offenses and communicate what he is seeing, according to Roof. Gray played in 10 games last year, making 21 tackles. With Gray's instincts, athletic ability and drive, Johnson has said that Gray "could be one of the all-time great players at Georgia Tech."

“Gray was a guy we knew had a lot of ability last year,” Roof said. “Then he got hurt. He’s playing better right now, too. Another year in the defense, hearing the same terms, the same words, same techniques, you should get better.”

Roof said last year was fast for Gray and was a lot of “see ball, hit ball; see receiver, cover receiver. Now, he’s learning he has to play within framework of what we are doing.”