Tech's Smith suspended two games

Georgia Tech offensive tackle Phil Smith will be suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules, coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday. Johnson would not specify the rules that Smith, a returning starter, broke.

Smith is expected to regain his starting position after serving the suspension. His likely replacement for Tech’s games against Western Carolina on Sept. 1 and Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 10 is either Catlin Alford or Ray Beno. Alford is a redshirt freshman. Beno played three games as a redshirt freshman last season.

The suspension further hampers the line’s objective to build cohesion after an injury-filled spring practice. Alford and Beno have received many of the first-team practice repetitions in Smith’s place. Further, starting guard Will Jackson missed his second consecutive day of practice, along with backup tackle Morgan Bailey, with injuries. Backup guard J.C. Lanier likely is out at least three weeks with a stress fracture.

“Certainly, when you don’t have a group working together, it’s a big deal,” Johnson said. “It’s been an issue this spring and now.”

The injuries and the suspension reveal Tech’s lack of depth. With the injuries, freshman Trey Braun has been working with the first team at guard and fellow freshmen Errin Joe and Shaq Mason have been the second-team guards.

No other players are suspended.

Practice report

After a series of encouraging practices, the Yellow Jackets hit a wall Wednesday, which left Johnson in a sour state. The team practiced twice, working in shoulder pads in the morning and full pads in the afternoon.

“I guess it was less than stellar,” Johnson said. “I thought at the end of the practice this afternoon, the defense had a good period. They kicked the fool out of the offense. Other than that, it was just so-so.”

Asked to clarify which parts of practice had disappointed him, Johnson replied “the whole thing” and said intensity and effort were lacking.

Trying to move up

Safety Fred Holton is making a push for a starting job, Johnson said. Holton, one of the strongest and hardest-working players on the team, is behind Isaiah Johnson on the depth chart. Asked about second-string players challenging for starting jobs, Johnson mentioned one other beside Holton, outside linebacker Brandon Watts, who is behind Steven Sylvester.

Said Johnson, “The guys who are making most of the plays are the guys who are playing, [inside linebacker] Julian Burnett, guys like that, [defensive end] Jason Peters.”

Days struggles

Judging from comments made by coaches, it is becoming evident that backup quarterback Synjyn Days is not having the best camp. On Tuesday, quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon praised Days’ running ability, but said that he sometimes has mental lapses and a lack of focus, which lead to negative plays. On Wednesday, Johnson said his hope for Days for Saturday’s scrimmage is that he “run the offense and execute at a higher level than he has so far.”

Days is the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Tevin Washington.