Tech's Jones doubtful for Western Carolina

Georgia Tech will likely open its season against Western Carolina on Thursday night without one of its leaders, A-back Roddy Jones, who is doubtful with an undisclosed injury.

Coach Paul Johnson said Jones, who has started 39 games and was designated as an opening-game captain, was "dinged up." Jones has started every game in which he's played, and has only missed one through three seasons.

Embry Peeples would start in Jones' place opposite A-back Orwin Smith. Jones ran for 353 yards last season with a 6.8 yards-per-carry average. Johnson also said that either Catlin Alford or Ray Beno will start in place of left tackle Phil Smith, suspended for two games for violating team rules.

Coaches had considered moving guard Will Jackson to tackle and starting true freshman Trey Braun at guard. Johnson said Braun will be used as the No. 3 guard and will play. Fellow true freshman guard Shaquille Mason likely will play, as well.

Wide receiver Tyler Melton will start, with true freshman Jeff Greene backing him up. Johnson indicated Melton's senior class standing played a role in the decision. Greene will get his share of snaps. Another true freshman, Zach Laskey, will return punts, a trouble spot for Tech last season.

Laskey caught punts with more ease than other players auditioning for the job and isn't bad as an actual returner, Johnson said.

Kicker Justin Moore secured the placekicking and kickoff specialist jobs, beating out walk-on David Scully.

Quarterback update

Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said that quarterback Tevin Washington has thrown the ball much better since preseason training began than at any time since arriving in 2008. Washington did a lot of work over the summer in 7-on-7 passing drills.

Of Thursday's game, said Bohannon, "I want to see him run the offense, be efficient, take care of the football, move the football, do the things that are necessary to help us win ballgames. That's really all we've ever asked of those guys, and I want to see him do it on a consistent basis."

Johnson said he hadn't come up with a definitive answer on how to split time between Washington and backup Synjyn Days, "but I suspect they'll both play."

Youth is served

Johnson said of the 64 players the team will take to the team hotel Wednesday, 20 are either true or redshirt freshmen. A class breakdown of the 45 players on the two-deep depth chart (there are three players listed at B-back): Eight seniors, 12 juniors, 15 sophomores, 10 freshmen. There are five true freshmen, including three on the offensive line.

"There's going to be a lot of young guys, so it ought to be interesting in a lot of ways," Johnson said.

The remainder of the players will stay in their dorms or apartments Wednesday, attend class Thursday and dress for the game.

Preparing for pistol

The Tech defense will fly a little blind Thursday, as Western Carolina will debut a new offensive scheme, mostly using the pistol formation, in which the quarterback lines up about four yards behind the center with a running back behind him. The team has prepped by watching video of last year's Catamounts team and working against the offensive scout team running the pistol.

"We'll just kind of have to adjust as we go," Johnson said. "I think with the quarterback they have, I think they'd be a little more geared towards throwing it than running it."

Western Carolina's starting quarterback is Brandon Pechloff, who played in five games as a true freshman and started two.

Etc.

The team practiced in pads and shorts Monday after having the weekend off. "It's amazing just how two days of rest gives your body the legs that you thought you weren't going to get back," defensive tackle Logan Walls said. … Besides Jones, A-back Marcus Wright is questionable. A-back B.J. Bostic and guard J.C. Lanier are out. … Western Carolina will receive $250,000 for playing Tech. The contract was executed in 2007.

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