ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Chazz Surratt #12 of the North Carolina Tar Heels is sacked by Desmond Branch #99 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on September 30, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

4 updates from Georgia Tech spring practice

Georgia Tech took the Bobby Dodd Stadium field for its 12th spring-practice session Saturday morning. The Yellow Jackets have less than a week remaining before spring practice ends with its annual spring game at the stadium Friday night.

Coach Paul Johnson met with media following the closed scrimmage to offer his observations.

1. Stephen Dolphus inches ahead

In the competition for the No. 3 wide receiver spot, Johnson said, sophomore Stephen Dolphus has the lead, if not much of one. Dolphus didn’t play much in the scrimmage because of an injury, but “he’s done some good things,” Johnson said.

Dolphus is competing with Jair Hawkins-Anderson and Adonicas Sanders to be the third wide receiver behind Brad Stewart and Jalen Camp. The spot is important, as Johnson typically rotates at least three wide receivers. Hawkins-Anderson also is a sophomore. He scored an 80-yard touchdown reception off a hitch route Saturday, Johnson said. Sanders is a redshirt freshman.

They’ll compete in the preseason with incoming freshmen Malachi Carter and Peje’ Harris.

2. Lucas Johnson limited

Quarterback Lucas Johnson took part in the scrimmage, but was restricted to throwing the ball, something of a limitation in the Jackets’ run-heavy offense. Johnson suffered an undisclosed injury earlier in spring practice and missed the second week of the spring before returning Monday.

“We didn’t run any option with him, which makes it hard,” coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s hard to play in this offense if you can’t run the ball. But at least he got a few reps.”

Johnson called it disappointing for his quarterback, as he is in need of the practice time. Lucas Johnson is competing with Tobias Oliver to be the No. 2 quarterback behind TaQuon Marshall. The winner of that competition will get a leg up in the race to be the starting quarterback in 2019 after Marshall completes his eligibility this season.

3. Big play by Askew 

Defensive back Jaytlin Askew made one of the plays of the scrimmage, an athletic interception on a deep ball. It was one of a handful of turnovers secured by the defense, though Johnson said that a couple were the result of B-backs mishandling the ball.

Johnson also said that “overall, (the defense) did better on third downs.”

In the April 7 scrimmage, the defense recorded 20 tackles for loss in a 97-play scrimmage. Turnovers and tackles for loss are a big priority for Johnson for new defensive coordinator Nate Woody.

Asked if he believed the defense was making progress in that direction, Johnson responded, “I hope so. We’ll see. You never know until you start playing. But we’ll see.”

4. Injuries thinning depth

Injuries have piled up through three weeks of spring practice, particularly on the offensive line. Johnson said he wasn’t sure if injured players would be able to return for the spring game.

“I don’t think anybody’s serious, but we’ll see,” he said.

Johnson has not doled out praise for the younger offensive linemen, which was again the case Saturday.

“The guys who have played were decent, and the guys who haven’t played weren’t very good,” he said.

Tech has five offensive linemen who started six or more games last season: Parker Braun, Will Bryan, Kenny Cooper, Jahaziel Lee and Jake Stickler. Among others, there are four scholarship redshirt freshmen: Charlie Clark, Mikey Minihan, Zach Quinney and Boe Tufele.

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