Tech offense, defense prepare differently

There’s a bigger difference between Georgia Tech’s offensive and defensive philosophies than the obvious.

Whereas coach/offensive coordinator Paul Johnson has said over time that the Yellow Jackets plan more for an opponent's plan than its players, that's not as much the case on defense.

Tech (1-1) has been scheming for Saturday's ACC opener at North Carolina (0-1) to disrupt UNC overall and bottle up certain players, and wide receiver Jheranie Boyd and quarterback T.J. Yates in particular.

"We start everything saying, 'Think players first and then plays,'" Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh said. "We always want to know what players need any particular attention, if they can cause you to lose.

“If that wasn’t an issue, then the NFL people wouldn’t make a big deal out of first-round draft choices or recruiting people wouldn’t make a big deal out of top recruits. They’re the ones who are supposed to make a difference.”

In the Tar Heels’ only game, a 30-24 loss to LSU in the Georgia Dome, Yates completed 28 of 46 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd caught six for 221 yards and a score. The return from suspension of senior running back Shaun Draughn has been emphasized, too.

The goal is to mix up what Tech does -- such as play press-man coverage on a receiver sometimes, and other times not -- and change personnel.

“Frequently, it is wide receivers [who draw special attention] because a lot of times those guys are the home-run hitters ... who have a chance to make a big play,” Groh said. “Whether we change up coverage or the player against him, the technique we’re using.

“With a pass rusher, if you look at a fella you’re going to rush against, a real pass rusher figures out, ‘How am I going to rush against this guy for four quarters?’ It’s not, ‘This is the move that is going to work against this guy.’ There might be a move that is giving the guy trouble, but you can’t run it 30 times. And if you’re a corner against a wide receiver, you’ve got to have some change-ups.”

Roddy returns, position changes

Starting A-back Roddy Jones returned to full practice Wednesday, when Johnson said, "he's fine." Jones wrenched his foot or ankle at Kansas.

The coach suggested Tuesday that personnel changes were likely. He was evasive Wednesday.

Asked if the decisions are made, he said, “Probably.” Asked if he could review them, he said, “Probably not.”

Based on observation, Will Jackson may return to starting left guard after missing a game with a knee sprain. Redshirt freshman Brandon Watts is pushing up at inside linebacker. Changes at wide receiver, defensive end, safety, and on special teams are reasonable possibilities. None is certain.

Backfield en flux

The starting A-backs Saturday were Marcus Wright and Jones, but this week's depth chart shows Jones and Orwin Smith, who Johnson hyped last week only not to start him. Wright is listed behind Jones.

An hour later while doing his radio show, he said that senior B-back Lucas Cox was going to be on the field more and that he was going to be in a position where he had never been.

But who knows?

At his radio show two weeks ago, he said Tech had a new shotgun coach. There is no shotgun coach, and the man Johnson pointed to in the crowd was a friend of Johnson.

Then again, maybe the Jackets are going to bust out a tight end.

Passing game

Contrary to what Johnson and players say in public, passing-game struggles have been acknowledged internally and tended to in meetings, film review and practice. Work is being done.

Ask quarterback Joshua Nesbitt if he's creating anxiety for himself in passing situations by taking into consideration what's written and said about Tech's passing problems, though, and he plays company man.

“Oh no, not at all,” he said. “I play like I got the world on my shoulders already. I can’t put any more pressure on myself.”